Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 26, 1961

Are We To Pray For Physical Blessings?

Jesse G. Jenkins, Fort Worth, Texas

Prayer consist of praise to God (Matt. 6:9; Psa. 30:1), thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6; Psa. 105:1), confession (1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5), and petitions (Phil 4:6; 1 John 5:15).

For what can a Christian petition God? On the one hand we know that the Christian can ask in prayer for some things, and on the other hand we know that there are some things for which the Christian is not to pray. He is not to pray for God to love him (Jno. 3:16) or for God to be willing to save the lost (2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, the only way to determine just what the Christian is to pray for is to go to the Bible and see for what he is authorized to pray.

Petitions can be divided into two categories: (1) Petitions for spiritual blessings, and (2) petitions for physical blessings. All agree that we are to pray for the spiritual blessings, but some argue that we are not to pray for physical blessings. Does the Word of God teach the Christian to pray for physical blessings? I emphasize that it matters not what you or I think about it, or whether we see logical reason in it or not, or whether we understand just how prayer is answered or not. The one thing that does matter is: does the word of God authorize it?

"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matt. 6:11) Some say that this passage has reference to miraculously giving bread. But when Jesus gave bread miraculously it was not the results of the prayer of the believer; it was to produce belief in the unbeliever. (Jim. 20:30-31) The Christian is taught to both work (2 Thes. 3:10) and pray (Matt. 6:11) for his bread.

Paul instructed the Romans to "strive together with me in your prayers to God for me. (Rom. 15:30) In the next two verses he specified four things that he wanted them to pray for: (1) 'That I may be delivered from them that do NOT believe in Judea." (2) "That my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints," (3) "That I may come unto you with joy," (4) "and with you be refreshed." It is significant that at least three of these are physical in nature.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the Revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:7-9) Here is an example of Paul praying for a physical blessing. The Lord told him that He was not going to grant his petition, but the Lord did not instruct him that it was wrong to pray for physical blessings.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks, be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Tim. 2:1-2) Here we are expressly commanded to pray for kings to the end that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life, i.e., that peace (a physical blessing) will be preserved.

"But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf." (2 Cor. 1:9-11) Thus we see that Paul, by inspiration, commended the Corinthians for praying in behalf of his physical welfare. If it were true that the Christian is not to pray for physical blessings, surely Paul would have told the Corinthians so instead of commending them for so doing.

One says, "If we pray for the sick to get well, we are praying for a miracle." But this is no more praying for a miracle than it is to pray that a sinner will be saved (spiritual in nature). In either case we pray that the means used will have the desired effects, i.e., that the doctors and medicine will effect the physical cures and that the gospel preached will effect the saving of the sinner.

One says, "I prayed for the sick, and they did not get well. So I know we are not to pray for the sick." By the same reasoning I could say, "I prayed for a sinner, and he did not obey the truth. So I know we are not to pray for the sinner to be saved." In either case the evidence is not sufficient to warrant the conclusion.

With so many passages in the New Testament (I have not listed all of them) authorizing the Christian to pray for physical blessings, the answer to our question is evident: THE CHRISTIAN IS TO PRAY FOR PHYSICAL BLESSINGS ALSO. Brethren, let us not be guilty of rejecting that which is authorized just because we cannot, with our finite minds, fully comprehend it.