Should one pray for healing only versus seeking medical care only?

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Should one pray for healing only versus seeking medical care only?

pray for healing or seek medical care

In my over 40 years as a physician, I’ve had to counsel many patients who have a deep religious faith who wrestle with choosing praying for healing only or seeking medical care only. My dear friend, Al Weir, MD, a practicing oncologist in Memphis, TN, and a previous president of the Christian & Medical Associations (CMDA) recently penned a devotion to healthcare professionals on this question. I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. I appreciate Al and CMDA allowing me to post it for you.

Here’s Al’s devotion, which he titled, “Eutychus.”

“Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’” (Acts 20:10, NIV).

She’d been absent for 16 months after a diagnosis of breast cancer. She chose not to manage it with a scientific standard of care, but to trust God and natural remedies. She now returned for an ultrasound to see if the tumor was still there and how bad it was. My exam confirmed its presence. We then began the long process of explaining to her why she should consider the scientifically proven way to manage her breast cancer.

The battle between faith and science is a battle in people’s minds, not between two great opposing forces. In my discussion with her, she shared her faith in God and the spiritual. “I’ve seen spiritual healing,” she said. I then tried my best to lay out for her my understanding of the integration of faith and science in healing.

First, I affirmed her faith in God. I totally agreed with her that God has the power to heal outside of science and can do so if He chooses.

I shared my faith in God. I, too, am a born again follower of Christ who seeks to follow and obey Him. I shared my own experience with miraculous healing when I was a child, my hopeless brain degeneration, the anointing of oil at my aunt Eunice’s church, confirming that God does heal miraculously when He chooses.

I shared my experience with several others who had chosen to deny God’s gift of science and had suffered a progression of their cancer despite trusting God that they would be healed. My own understanding was they had misinterpreted God’s Word to them, not that their faith was inadequate.

I explained that the tools we use in science are all God-given. Our scientific medical skills are nothing more than the uncovering of truth God has placed in nature and allows us to discover to decrease the suffering of people He loves.

I suggested there is great beauty and power in the faith she has, but we should place our trust in the God who loves us, not in our own faith. Sometimes we want so much a thing that we assume God wants it as well. We feel that God will accomplish what we desire if we just believe hard enough—when, in truth, in this case He did not give us that word, that promise of healing. We end up placing our faith on that which we most hoped for, rather than that which He has decided is best. We listen to our own desire rather than the voice of God.

All of us are guilty of this at some time in our lives.

I encouraged her to trust me and the science that God has given me with her care, working with God for her good. I then prayed with her, asking for God’s healing and God’s will first.

I don’t know if I convinced her. Time will tell. Her husband did say before they left, “You are the first doctor who understands us and has not told us that we should do it their way or die.”

Dear Father, Guide us when we trust in you, that we listen to the whisper of your voice and not the shouting of our desires. Amen

Al Weir, M.D. is a hematologist and oncologist in private practice in Memphis, Tennessee, and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee. He serves as the national president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations and lives with his family in Germantown, Tennessee. He is the author of:

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2024. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.


  1. Scott T. Keller says:

    Excellent explaination looking at whole issue .

    • Dr. Keller,

      I thought Dr. Weir did a great job. Hope all is well with you.


      • Steve Gaskins says:

        Hello Dr. Larimore,
        I appreciate you sharing this message. It describes one of the greatest difficulties we face in the practice of medicine.
        It is ultimately not in our hands to understand or declare a final diagnosis.
        Thank you,

        • Dr. Gaskins,

          Thanks for the note and kind words. I think Dr. Weir did a great job. And, don’t you think it’s an amazing thing that we get to with with and for the Great Physician!?!?


  2. John L Pfenninger, MD says:

    Walt. Can you give me your email address?
    Jack Pfenninger

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