6.3 The Diagnosis: What Is The Father Saying?


The second step in the healing procedure is making a diagnostic decision, that is, identifying and clarifying the root of the person’s problem. The diagnostic decision answers the question, “Why does this person have this condition?” This is a crucial step in the healing procedure, because it determines the type of prayer needed to bring healing. In fact, this procedure overlaps with the first step (the interview). While I am interviewing the person, on a supernatural level I ask God for insight into the ultimate cause of the condition. These insights usually come to me through words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and distinguishing of spirits. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads us through the diagnostic step. He walks with us, accompanying us through the process. (And) in the end, the burden for healing is on him, not us. John Wimber

Our Theme: ON HEALING.

In truth, most of the church-at-large in our Western society looks at physical healing as something that should be left to the doctors.
 Now don’t get me wrong. John Wimber thoroughly believed in the great blessings of healing that can come through the hands of modern medicine. But he also believed that Jesus of Nazareth still has a healing ministry and that ministry is still accessible to those who are willing to step into it, learning from the Master along the way. In the earliest days of the Vineyard movement, John and Carol Wimber were invited by the Lord to explore the ancient art of healing as practiced by Jesus and his disciples in the first century. Yet, for most of Wimber’s life prior to the Lord’s invitation, he saw supernatural healing as something to be avoided. In his testimony, I’m a Fool for Christ, Whose Fool are You?, he states clearly that before the Holy Spirit invited him to explore the healing ministry of Jesus, as described in the New Testament, healing in church settings was something he readily associated with charlatanry and swindlers.

But all that changed as he began exploring how Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the sick. In truth, Wimber’s 5-step healing model (see previous blogs in this section on Healing) was developed as Wimber unpacked the countless healing stories found throughout the New Testament.

Step two in this model, the diagnostic decision, came as a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit as John was reflecting on the healing stories found in the gospels. There, on so many occasions, we find Jesus ministering to people in ways that seem inconsistent to the way our human intellect operates.

Take, for example, the lame man who was brought to Jesus by his friends (Mark 2:1-12). After working their way through the crowd, this man’s friends cut open the roof of the building Jesus was ministering in and lowered their friend down on ropes so that he might be touched and healed by Jesus. It’s apparent from Mark’s gospel that everyone expected Jesus to pray for the lame man, healing him so that he might walk again. But Jesus surprises and even shocks the crowd by saying to the lame man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

This statement caused the religious leaders in the crowd to push back at Jesus, declaring that only God can speak words of forgiveness over people. Most pastors take this text and preach about how Jesus, as God’s Son, did have the full right to speak forgiveness over the lame man. And while that truth is evident in this story, Wimber took this text even further and saw, in this same story, a prime example where Jesus is apparently listening to the Father at the same time the lame man and his friends are looking specifically to Jesus for physical healing.

In John 5, Jesus declares to his friends that he only did what he saw the Father doing. And in this case of the lame man (in Mark 2) who was looking for physical healing, could it be that the Father was whispering into Jesus’ ear that this man’s healing was somehow connected to a sinful condition? While the text doesn’t reveal an answer for us, I find it intriguing that rather than going into a prayer for physical healing, Jesus takes the conversation in a completely different direction. Rather than addressing the physical ailment of this lame man, Jesus directs his comments (through the prompting of the Father?) onto issues of sin.

As John Wimber suggests, when you and I are praying for the sick, it’s vitally important for us to be listening to both the person we are preparing to pray for and to the Holy Spirit at the same time! I’ve found, over the years, that if I truly listen carefully, the Spirit does, very often, give me indications of how to direct my prayers, as I begin to pray.

I recall one incident when my wife and I were preparing to pray for a woman who was asking God to open her womb so that she and her husband might have a child. They had been childless for years and all of their attempts to get pregnant, even with the help of medical assistance, had proved fruitless. As we were listening to her story, both Sandy and I got a sense from the Lord that we were to not immediately pray for her request to get pregnant, but were to ask her a bit about some painful experiences she had in the past. Thank God, one thing led to another, and after a powerful time of prayer, breaking off old wounds of unforgiveness, we finally prayed for her to become pregnant. A few weeks later, she came back and told us that God had finally answered their prayers. They were pregnant!

That story confirmed for us, once again, that Wimber’s suggestion to listen carefully for the Father’s diagnosis before entering into our prayers does truly play a major role in the way you and I should pray for those who are seeking healing from above.


Thank you, Jesus, for explaining to us how you operated in your ministry. If you intentionally chose to wait for the Father to show you what to say and do, how much more must I be willing to do that same thing? Holy Spirit, give me both a patience to wait and an ear to hear, as I learn the fine art of healing. For your name’s sake. Amen!


  • How often do I assume that I know what to pray for without ever waiting for God to give me his direction or guidance on how to pray?
  • What practical steps can I take in slowing down my actions so, like Jesus, I will find myself doing and saying only those things I sense the Father asking of me to say and do?

So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?

Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others! 

Click here to go on to the next blog in this series…

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