Why Does the Laying On of Hands Not Always Work?

The Bible says we shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. It also says that we should call for the elders to anoint the sick with oil and pray over them so they can be healed. But most of us have probably had an experience when we have prayed for someone to be healed with no result. So why does the laying on of hands not always work like it should?

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18 KJV

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:14-6 KJV

The Doctrines of Christ

In Hebrews 6:1-2, we find the foundational Doctrines of Christ. They are repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:1-2 KJV

We see in this Scripture that the laying on of hands is the fourth doctrine listed. Perhaps the laying on of hands does not always work like it should because it is not the first doctrine of Christ. Are we running ahead of ourselves? These doctrines are in order, and we must do the first one first. All of these doctrines are important; in fact, Paul admonished the readers in the previous verses that they were not as mature as they should be. So, this list of doctrines was a reminder of what they should have already known.

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV

Before the Laying On of Hands: Repentance from Dead Works

To move on to the fourth doctrine of the laying on of hands, we must perfect the first doctrine: repentance from dead works. What are dead works? Things like anger, rage, bitterness, envy and jealousy, and fear. These are not negative emotions or psychological defects—these emotions began a long time ago when we were tempted by an invisible kingdom that trained us in these things so that they became part of our personalities.

We all want the blessings of heaven promised to us as a result of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. But Jesus fulfilled this work in obedience to the Father. Is it possible that we are trying to appropriate the finished work of the cross while in disobedience to the Word of God?

Often, when we become born again, there are still things in us that are not of God. We need to go back and remove these things completely so that they are not there. Hebrews 12 says we must throw off the sin that so easily besets us.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

God is a Good Father

God is a good Father; He does not let His kids go off and do whatever they want without telling them no. As parents, we know we cannot do that because kids will end up hurt. Telling kids “no” is not a negative concept but an act of love.

God is honest with us—He tells us like it is in love. He told one of the churches in Revelation to repent and rebuked them because He loved them. It may be difficult to hear, but He corrects us in our disobedience because He loves us.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19 KJV

Even to the woman caught in adultery, Jesus told her to go her way and sin no more. He did not say to go her way, keep sinning, and then come back for forgiveness again. Jesus set a standard for conduct: the standard was not needing to be forgiven. He is not interested in us going through multiple healings and deliverances; He is more interested in us being changed spiritually than being healed and delivered. His will is not really to heal us—it is for us not to be sick in the first place. Healing is just a bonus of the cross.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8:10-11 KJV

God Wants to Heal Us

God wants to heal us of everything. He wants us to prosper and be in health. He wants us to have soundness of mind and good relationships with people around us. We are to be forgiving people, peacemakers, and full of mercy. He wants us not to pay attention when hard things are done to us or keep a record of wrongs. When we are obedient in these areas, we are a mirror image of Him and emulate Him.

2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:2 KJV

There are things in our lives that are not good. Things like anger, rage, and bitterness are not good for mankind. For example, if someone has high blood pressure and is trying to have faith to be healed and it has not happened yet, is it possible that there is a dead work in their life like worry or fear? These are called dead works because they produce death and not life. Worry is work that will get us nowhere. But if we are serving fear, we can repent to the Father and be forgiven. When we have dealt with the dead work and are no longer worrying, nothing will hinder the application of the finished work of the cross.

Are we trying to receive blessings when we are unrepentant from sin? This may be one reason why the laying on of hands does not work like it should. This is what the Church needs to be taught worldwide instead of “God doesn’t heal.” We must teach repentance from sins and dead works so our faith is not shipwrecked.

Before the Laying On of Hands: Faith Toward God

The second Doctrine of Christ is faith toward God. Do we really believe God’s Word? The Bible says everyone has been given a measure of faith. If someone says we have not been healed because we do not have enough faith, this is not true! The Bible says that even a tiny mustard seed of faith is enough to move a mountain.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3 KJV

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20 KJV

We have enough if we only believe, but we can always pray, “Lord, increase our faith!” How do we have more faith? Romans says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We need to be continually renewed by the washing of the water of the Word.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 KJV

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26 KJV

Faith toward God is essential; remember, the doctrines are progressive, and we cannot bypass any of them. If we have faith without sanctification according to the first doctrine, it will overthrow our faith. We must have both faith and repentance from dead works.

Before the Laying On of Hands: Baptisms

The third doctrine of Christ is baptisms. At Be in Health, we teach the four baptisms listed in Scripture. The first baptism is water baptism. Jesus was water baptized as a statement in the physical world of His decision to follow the Father. When we are water baptized, it shows we are dead to sin.

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: Matthew 3:16 KJV

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21 KJV

The next baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not just baptized in water but also with the Holy Ghost. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit gives us the power to go out and do the works of God.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:38 KJV

The third baptism in Scripture is the baptism of fire. It is a cleansing process meant to rid the vessel of impurities; everything that cannot withstand the fire will be burnt up. This is where Jesus is Lord over everything in our lives, and we purge any areas where Jesus is not Lord. This is how the Bride makes herself ready for the Bridegroom, and we put to death the things that are not of the Lord.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Matthew 3:11 KJV

The final baptism is being baptized into the Body of Christ. We cannot exist without one another. We are to be fully immersed in people; this is how the Kingdom of God can be seen in us. Are we fitly joined together into one Body?

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 KJV

The Laying On of Hands

After repentance from dead works, faith toward God, and baptisms is the fourth doctrine: the laying on of hands. Again, according to Mark 16, we should lay hands on people, and they should recover. What do we do when we pray in the name of Jesus, lay on our hands, and nothing happens? Do we pray more? What do we do when He does not answer prayers? Perhaps it is not working because it is the fourth doctrine and not the first. It is a progression, and there are three before it.

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17-18 KJV

Mark 11 tells us that forgiving others is a condition of being forgiven. Similarly, there are conditions for the laying on of hands to work properly. Have we already perfected the first three doctrines?

24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:24-26 KJV

Resurrection and Judgment

The final two Doctrines of Christ are the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Are we preparing for eternity? Are we preparing for the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment? Everything has been put under the lordship of Christ. These are His doctrines—the One who is in charge. He will judge us in the end, individually and personally. Will we give an account of good or evil as believers in the earth?

If we are preparing for this journey as a born-again son or daughter, we must look at these Scriptures. The first four doctrines prepare us to meet our King; the last two are what happens when we meet Him. We can prepare ourselves now before we get to heaven; we do not have to wait. Invite heaven into Earth now to work with you in the name of Jesus. That is the power of the risen Christ.

Final Thoughts

Rather than saying it is not God’s will to heal us, if we are not healed, maybe we have not been healed because we did not understand something in these verses. We should not blame God while we excuse ourselves in the application of righteousness.


Bonus! Free Printable Poster:


Additional Resources for learning about Why Does the Laying on of Hands Not Always Work:

Why Does the Laying on of Hands Not Work Like It Should What part of the Old Covenant was not done away with in the New? This teaching will help you comprehend God’s Covenant of Salt with mankind. How to purge yourself to be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.


Would you like to read more about Why Does the Laying on of Hands Not Always Work?

Healing and Honesty

The Journey of Sanctification

What is Walk Out?

By Be in Health| 2023-10-16T08:15:58-05:00 October 13th, 2023|Encouragement|0 Comments