Should you pray for healing for your child with additional needs?
Parents of children with additional needs often have to wrestle with their own - and others' - views on healing. Kay Morgan-Gurr offers some tried and tested advice.
A question I’m often asked by parents of children with additional needs is about the ‘healing issue’.
You know how it is: a well-meaning person with a big hopeful grin comes up to you, and you know what’s coming next. The first words spoken are either “God told me….” or “Can I pray for healing…” usually without waiting for an answer. Then, of course, there are the ones who don’t even say anything – they just pray like a ninja on a mission!
As parents of children with additional needs we have to wrestle with our own perspective and theology, whilst also dealing with insensitive Christians who feel they have a right to pray for our child – sometimes without permission.
Some parents wrestle with how to pray. If they pray for healing, are they refusing to accept who their child is, and if they don’t pray for healing, are they refusing all that God has for them? It often feels like an emotional minefield.
Before I move on, let’s acknowledge that there is a difference between healing and curing.
Healing can be acceptance and a joy in who you are regardless of ability.
Cure is what it sounds like – no more illness, additional need or disability.
Can God cure – yes, there are well-documented cases of this. But is curing a ‘right’ for all Christians? No, it isn’t. Does God see children with additional needs and disabilities as ‘less than’ a child with none? No. When the Bible talks about children there is no distinction, it’s just children.
Parents do vary in how they view the healing debate, which is absolutely fine.
Some parents view their child from the perspective of Psalm 139 verses 13-16 – God’s perfect creation. They are sure that their child is still able to receive all that God has for them and will pray for that on their behalf. They no longer pray for ‘curing’ as their endpoint, just help with the things that can make life difficult for any child with additional needs.
Other parents, even though they love and accept their child for who they are, will pray for both curing and healing. And that’s ok.
It’s also ok to walk the middle ground, sometimes closer to one view, and sometimes closer to the other.
There is something in all of us that will often wordlessly groan at God. At the centre of that groan is the desire for both healing and curing. We are not saying we don’t accept our children, it’s just the heart cry of a parent who wants the best for their child. Don’t feel guilty about that.
If you are worried about how you should pray for your child, take a look at James 1 v 5:
‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’
So, ask God how to pray!
But what of those well-meaning Christians who are constantly offering prayer for healing? More often than not they are strangers with a poor theology of healing, on a mission to heal the world. But occasionally they can be well-meaning folk in our own churches who see our children as a ‘prayer project’. Either way, it can make us feel as though they view our child as ‘not whole’.
Our reactions to them can vary: anger, guilt, sadness, awkwardness.
There is a huge debate on how we should respond in this situation, which will also be affected by what sort of day we are having, but I don’t want to end with that debate. I just want to touch on one feeling that sometimes comes out of this – what if I’m angrily turning away someone who could pray good things for my child?
Can I encourage you by saying just two things?
God is bigger than that – if you miss the message, He will find another way to speak that message to you.
Listen to the opening words the person uses. Is it specific? If the Holy Spirit is truly using them, it will be about a specific thing rather than ‘healing’.
Our children are truly amazing….as they are. Let’s pray that others begin to see that too.
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