Military standing orders from May 1791In a disciplined yet hugely scattered organization such as the army, it is vital for troops to have clarity of direction.

In the midst of the confusion and chaos of battle, the Commander-in-Chief needs to have all their soldiers operating with discipline and common purpose, so that the greater strategic plan can be achieved as effectively as possible. In order to do this, standing orders are given.

Standing orders provide individual soldiers with default commands, so that they can be operational at all times. In the absence of other specific instructions, standing orders enable the army to keep fighting the enemy, even when lines of communication back to HQ seem to be blocked.

When it comes to facing down ill health, all disciples of Jesus are likewise given standing orders from our Commander-in-Chief Jesus. As we read from the Gospels, He repeatedly and unambiguously instructs us to go and heal the sick.

In fact, we can summarize our standing orders like this: unless we hear a clear direction not to heal, our permanent instruction from Jesus is to heal the sick, cast out demons, and proclaim the Kingdom.

Sometimes Christians wonder whether they can pray for healing, as if somehow we need special permission to attempt such an exceptional move, whereas Jesus makes it abundantly clear that to minister healing should be our default posture. As we go through life and walk with others as they face sickness, almost always we are to look for the opportunity to bring the healing power of Jesus into that situation.

So, the essence of our standing orders when facing sickness is, ‘Heal the sick’!

Of course, once we understand and commit wholeheartedly to our standing orders, then Jesus can paint a little more nuance into the command.

The instruction to heal the sick does not give us license to operate in ways that are pastorally crass. Don’t forget, success in prayer for healing is that the one we pray for experiences the love of the Father.

Likewise, people are not projects, and sometimes it will take a while in a relationship or situation for us first to model love and build bonds of connection, which will then create a bridge for us to offer prayer for healing. There is no standard rule for how long this will take – it could be seconds, it could be months. But we should always operate out of a heart of love and compassion, which is emotionally intelligent about the relational context.

There are also times when God seems not to bring healing. In Chapter 3 of this book we discuss some of those situations (for example, when preparing someone for death).

However, in spite of these exceptions to the rule, it is vital that we approach healing the sick with a knowledge that our standing orders from Jesus are to heal and deliver. Put another way:

Healing the sick should be normal and normative for a disciple of Jesus.

If He wanted us to be cautious about dispensing healing, then wouldn’t Jesus have mentioned it at some point while healing people or teaching on it? Instead, He simply tells us to heal the sick (including four out of the five times when He commissions us to declare the message of the Kingdom).

Our default setting should be to find out what is wrong, and out of a heart of love for the one who is sick, lay hands on them and invite the Holy Spirit to come with power and glorify the name of Jesus through His healing touch. We are to do that unless we sense another clear direction from the Lord.



  1. When are you cautious about dispensing healing? What’s caused you to absorb an underlying theology that is not obedient to Jesus’ challenging call to heal the sick?
  2. How can you make healing the sick normal and normative in your daily life?

The above content is an excerpt from our new book, Healing the Sick: Biblical and Practical Wisdom for Healing the Sick in Naturally Supernatural Ways.

Check out the early reviews on Amazon, where the book is available in both paperback and digital formats.

And if you’ve read and enjoyed the book, please could you do us a quick favor by posting a review there? That will greatly help other potential readers. Thank you!


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