Are There Spiritual Roots to Illness and Disease?

(Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema)

You sure wouldn't think there are spiritual roots to illness when you look at the way Western medicine treats sickness. Their primary focus is to provide a drug to deal with the symptoms. 60 to 80 percent of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3 percent of patients receive stress management help. According to Occupational Health and Safety news and the National Council on compensation of insurance, up to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints. There is an entire 50- page book, written by a Protestant minister, detailing the spiritual roots of diseases. It is A More Excellent Way to Be in Health by Henry W. Wright.

Could We Get More Healing if We Discerned the Spiritual Roots?

The possibility of spiritual roots to illness and disease is an interesting question, for if many diseases do have spiritual roots, and I am seeking healing, I sure want to ask the Lord what spiritual roots are nourishing this illness or disease, so I can repent of them and be delivered and set free.

Jesus warned the lame man whom He healed, "See, you have become whole. Sin no more lest something worse happens to you" (John 5:14). So it seems clear that Jesus, to some level connected sin to infirmity.

Acts 10:38 sums up Jesus's ministry by connecting healing with oppression by the devil: "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." Demons (unclean spirits) were rebuked and cast out as a method of healing: "The demon threw him down and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and returned him to his father" (Luke 9:42).

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Covenant blessings and curses sure connect sickness and infirmity and health and prosperity with obedience or disobedience to God's commands (Deut. 28:1-68).

Stories About Getting to the Root Causes of Illness

Malcolm Smith relates a story of asking the owner of a health store how long it would take a healed person to get sick again if they didn't change their life-style. The answer was, "about six months."

This is why I always provide space in my prayers for God to speak and counsel me concerning any spiritual roots to the illness I am battling to overcome. I understand that what is seen in my body, very likely has come from the unseen spiritual world (Heb. 11:3).

A group of three or four of us were praying for healing for pain in the shoulder of a young woman. After we prayed twice, she said, the pain was somewhat less, but there was still a "pain in her neck." Well, that was easy to diagnose. I simply asked her, "Is there someone in your life who is a pain in the neck to you?" Tears welled up in her eyes, letting me know we had hit the nail on the head. So I instructed her to picture the person and the hurt, and speak these works. "I choose to forgive you, to release, you and to honor you, in Jesus' name." At this point of my life, I would have also prayed to sever any ungodly soul tie between her and this other person. In any case, we prayed two to three more times for healing, each short, 30-second prayers, and she kept checking for release of pain. Eventually all the pain in her neck was gone. She was healed, but first we removed the spiritual roots of the condition, which were anger, judgment and bitterness, by having her forgive and release the person.

Prayer Approaches That Help Get to Root Causes

My guess is, more people would get healed and stay healed if we guided them in searching for spiritual roots to the disease, and then led them in repentance of these sins. We do exactly that in our healing prayer workshop, Take God's Medicine Three Times A Day and Unleashing Healing Power Through Spirit-Born Emotions, as well as other prayer approaches we recommend.

Clear Gaze, Clear Eye and Full of Light

Truly we are transformed by what we gaze upon (2 Cor. 3:17-18; 4:17,18). If I constantly see Jesus at my right hand (Acts 2:25; Ps. 16:8; Heb. 12:1-2), then kingdom peace, joy and health (Rom. 14:17) can reign in my body, because I am assured that the Most High rules and reigns (Dan. 4:24), and no one can do anything to me that God has not allowed (John 19:10,11).

"The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light" (Matt. 6:22). Satan, says look at fate, the power of evil, your weakness, sin and failures, and live in fear and stress. The Bible says, God keeps us in perfect peace if our imagination is stayed upon Him.

Lord, let me only picture Your realities, Your truth, Your kingdom, which is constantly increasing (Isa. 9:7). Let my eye be clear so my whole body will be full of light. Thank you, Lord! I live, rejoicing evermore (Phil. 4:4).

Mark Virkler, Ph.D., has authored more than 50 books in the areas of hearing God's voice and spiritual growth. He is the founder of Communion With God Ministries and Christian Leadership University (, where the voice of God is at the center of every learning experience. Mark has taught on developing intimacy with God and spiritual healing for 30-plus years on six continents. The message has been translated into over 40 languages, and he has helped to establish more than 250 church-centered Bible schools around the world.

This article originally appeared at

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