Praying About Growing Older

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2002

I am writing this article from the beautiful hills of North Carolina where I'm visiting my dear friend, Tommy Tyson, and his children. Tommy has just passed his 80th birthday, and we are praying for each other. Part of what we are praying for is simply the wear and tear of the passing years.

Several years ago, when I wrote about praying for the aging process, two publishers wrote to ask whether I would like to write a book on the subject, but I begged off because I had already written everything I knew in that one article.

But I have had a few more ideas recently because I am faced every day with the reality. So here goes!

The simple comparison I've come up with is that I'm something like my old car, a '91 Toyota Camry. It's been a faithful car and still, after 160,000 miles, gets nearly 30 miles a gallon. As cars go, it's an incredibly healthy car. And yet two things inevitably happen:

one is that the parts wear out;
the other is that sludge builds up, and
I need to change the oil every 3000 miles.

It just struck me that we are a little like that. After playing tennis and jogging for years and years, the cartilage and cushioning between the joints has worn down. It's not there any more-and it hurts where joint hits joint.

Then like the sludge, the plaque builds up in the arteries and veins and the circulation is impaired. Just as the car grows sluggish, our energy becomes less. Just as a car may stall at a stoplight, we fall asleep in meetings.

I'm not sick; I'm very healthy, in fact. My eyes are actually better at distance than they used to be; my hearing is good. But I had to give up running, and I limp a bit.

So do I pray for healing? Even though I'm not sick?

My answer to everyone who hurts a· bit and limps a bit is "yes."

We hesitate to ask for prayer, because this aging process happens to everyone and we don't like to call attention to ourselves and fall prey to self-pity. But yes, I believe Jesus has mercy on us and would like to help, just as you would like to help relieve the pain of anyone who is struggling with pain.

Let me tell you what I've come up with on how to pray and maintain our vitality.

First, I need someone who loves me enough to pray with me every day. This would be ideal, wouldn't it? You can't just go to a prayer meeting every day; you feel embarrassed to raise your hand and ask for prayer if you are not really sick. And yet you need prayer to repair the wear and tear of every day.

Your husband or wife, or a special friend, would be the ideal person to pray. If they are about the same age, they understand what aging is like and can sympathize. "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be," said the poet Robert Browning. If you don't have someone to pray with every day ("Give us this day, our daily bread"), perhaps you can find a friend who can manage once a week.

The way you can pray 1s simple. Just lay your hands on any aching joints and ask Jesus to let his strength flow into those joints to loosen them, to take down the inflammation, and to take out the pain. After that, praise God, or re­main in silence, or pray in tongues, but leave your hands on that hurting neck or aching knees-or what- ever-for five or ten minutes.

Then, perhaps pray for five minutes with your hands on your spouse's or friend's head or shoulders and ask Jesus to fill him/her with his life and strength-to renew any flagging vitality.

If there are problems with the heart or circulatory system (the "sludge," the plaque),* you might ask Jesus through his Sacred Heart to renew your friend's heart and to repair any damage the heart has sustained over the years. If the circulation is the problem, ask Jesus to flood your friend's arteries and veins-through his Precious Blood-to wash away any plaque or circulation and to restore the elasticity of the circulatory system.

I believe you will see wonderful-although perhaps gradual-changes take place. Most beautiful of all, you will experience the presence and the person of the Risen Christ. If you get bored saying the same prayer every day, make up your own prayer-or pray in tongues (Judith and I try to pray at the beginning and end of each day together).

Here at Tommy's we pray.for one another several times a day on our retreat. One of our special friends is also here. She has been in constant pain in her neck for over a year and is slated for an operation next week for three herniated cervical discs. We don't know whether she will still need the operation, but all the pain left after 15 minutes of prayer!

What do we have to lose? Wouldn't it be wonderful if older Christians prayed with one an­other in nursing homes and retirement centers? What a gentle revolution-that wouldn't cost a thing, except time-would be wrought in our tired, sick world!

On this retreat at Tommy's, two friends came who are experts in nutrition, and we went through a "cleansing" fast, because some of our 'sludge' is caused by bad eating habits, which leads to plaque build-up.

-Francis MacNutt

P.S. If you would like to know more about the nutritional approach, I encourage you to order one of Dr. Loraine Day's videos, such as, "You Can't Improve on God." To order call 1-800-574-2437.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2002 Issue

The Physician's View

by Dr. Grant Mullen
Sep/Oct 2002

Part 5 of a Series on Emotional Disorders

Depression in the Church

I have often been asked if depression was more or less common in Christians than in the general public. This is a very hard question to answer and to my knowledge there is no research available on this issue. I have however observed some trends in our churches.

It seems to me, though this is merely from personal observation, that there is a higher percentage of depressed people in evangelical churches than in the general population. This is not because Christianity makes you depressed. I think the explanation is that evangelical churches deliberately attract "seekers." Seekers are those who sense that there is something missing in their lives and they are seeking answers to their emptiness. This is the population who are most receptive to the gospel of hope that Christian churches provide. Our churches then fill with seekers who are searching for or who have found Christ. Depressed people are the most persistent seekers in the population. They know something is wrong but they are not sure what it is or where to look for a solution. It is easy to see how our churches could quickly fill with depressed seekers.

The most serious issue that church leaders must grapple with is, what happens to a depressed seeker after salvation? If the depression remains untreated or unhealed, as we will see later, the chemical imbalance will be a severe handicap to a maturing faith. It will be very hard to pray, worship or socialize while depressed. If a new believer with depression is not helped specifically with their depression, it is very likely that they will become discouraged in their walk with God and then give up and return to their previous life-style. The attrition rate for new converts suffering with depression is alarmingly high.

It seems to me that if churches would realize this, they could become rescue centers for both the soul and the emotions. If new believers suffering with depression could be directed into a treatment program using the information in these articles, far more of them would recover and discover an exciting walk with God. I have seen many find salvation through "12 step programs" where a person's emotional and spiritual needs have been dealt with in a supportive group environment. The effectiveness of Christian evangelism would be greatly increased if we took the message of spiritual and emotional hope to those who need it most.

Next issue we will examine "What is depression?"

Dr. Grant Mullen is a mental health physician in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Why do I feel so down when my faith should lift me up? Sep/Oct 2002 Issue

Where Prayer Is The Currency Of Choice

by Dale S. Recinella
Sep/Oct 2002

Union Correctional Institution is like a miniature city-except it's a prison. There are almost 1,000 prisoners who are allowed to walk around and work during the day. They are called general population and are able to come to the chapel for prayer ministry and worship services. The rest are in solitary confinement. That includes over 330 on death row, another 400 or so in disciplinary solitary, and about a hundred in psychiatric solitary. Then there are the men housed in the prison medical hospital. Every malady one finds in an out- side hospital is presented inside, too. Not infrequently, men die here. This prison is growing. Another thousand solitary cells are under construction.

I am the Catholic lay chaplain. My job is to make the rounds, cell to cell, offering prayer, fellowship and emotional support to each man. A very few want none of it. Most hunger for all they can get. It takes about four weeks to make the circuit here and at Florida State Prison next door. That hulking monolith houses over 1, 100 men in long-term solitary confinement. It's also the home of the death house, the execution chamber in the basement of Q-Wing. The upper floors of Q-Wing contain Florida's most severe disciplinary cells: maximum sensory deprivation, cells built within cells.

These two prisons are my primary work. It's hot-no air-conditioning except for the few cells in psychiatric solitary. When the heat and humidity gets unbearable, as it usually does from the beginning of July until the end of August, an entire wing will reverberate with the cries and the pounding of men being driven virtually to the edge of insanity by the incessant and unrelieved heat.

The staff who must also function in this environment need spiritual support as well. I'm there for them, too.

There are also the families that come to visit. I' ll step out of my car in the parking lot only to see a woman my mother's age bent over her trunk lid, shaking with gut wrenching sobs. She has just finished a non'-contact visit on death row with her husband, or her son or her grandson. She is facing a lonely 5 or 10 or 20- hour drive home.

Then there are the executions. The week of daily visits called deathwatch. The final five hours at cell front. My wife is with the family of the condemned while I am with him as he is killed. Then the post-execution time with his family until they leave for home.

And, most difficult of all, the time spent with the loved ones of the murder victim. A living room, a dining room, even a home patio can all become a place of solitary confinement for the loved ones who will spend the rest of their days listening for that cherished voice that they will never hear again-not in this world.

A currency is a standard that reduces everything to a common denominator. What could possibly be a point of connectedness among all these tears? There is only one currency, only one legal tender that can bridge these oceans of suffering and sorrow. It is the currency of prayer. Nothing else can purchase anything of value to minister to the depth of these needs.

Such are the prayers that fill the little book God Is With You: Prayers For Men In Prison ( ordering information on page 15). This well-written, quick read brings together the people, the Scriptures and the prayers that spin the web of connectedness among all those touched by the modem penal system. Those who are involved will be nourished. Those who aren't will learn in a simple and gentle manner about a reality that is beyond their reckoning.

Francis MacNutt Dale S. Recinella, formerly a lawyer specializing in domestic and international project finance, works two days per week on staff at CHM handling our strategic planning and special projects. Sep/Oct 2002 Issue

Praise Reports

Sep/Oct 2002

On April 1 1th, 2002

At the 2:00-4:00 pm Gathering Healing Prayer

On October 9, 1993 I was struck with a work injury that was very painful in my legs and back. I could hardly move the pain was so bad. It was not until December of 1995 that I was finally diagnosed. It was confirmed that I had R.S.D. (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). I had seen doctors from all over the place, even at the best hospitals we have in America.

I haven't been able to work since the early months of 1994. The months I did work right after the injury, I was only allowed to work 3-4 hours a day 4 days a week. In 1 999/2000 I tried to work as a secretary and could not even last more than 3 months at 4 hours or so a day.

I was getting so that my pain and headaches were so bad that my doctor said it was time to see about the morphine pump, again. (Back in '95 I was told that I would die on the table if they put the pump in.) That was enough to scare me. Not knowing what to do my Mom spoke to the ladies at St. Marks Episcopal prayer group and they told Mom about the Christian Healing Ministries and Francis. I called and made an appointment and was getting very excited as I was learning more about healing through studying the Bible. My Mom went through the Bible and typed up all the healing passages that she could find. Then we read them together and discussed them. That really helped me with my knowledge and knowing there really is healing.

It came the week to leave and Mom (who is my driver and caretaker) got sick with allergies. She was feeling much better two days later and so we headed for Jacksonville with one day to travel. Two l1ours into the trip we stopped for lunch and I was trying to ignore my headache. That didn't work, as soon as lunch came I said to Mom, "Get me to a doctor fast." The restaurant sent us to a clinic in this small town and unfortunately they did not stock the type of shot that I needed. Off to the hospital. Hours went by and no medicine had helped relieve the pain. The doctor wanted to admit me so we explained where we were going. He gave me another shot to knock me out and this one worked for a little while. He said to us, "May the Angels go with you." Hours later another Emergency Room. So far we had traveled only to the East side of Orlando, FL from Marco Island (100 miles over from Miami on the west side). Neither medication nor an IV had stopped the pain in my head. I had indents from our l1ands as we gripped and clamped my head trying to stop the pain. Finally, at 3 AM, I was discharged from the hospital and are off to find a hotel, still in pain that was unreal. The pain was so bad I felt like I was going to pass out. We finally found a hotel-praise the Lord!

Mom got us to bed and at 9:30 she woke up. In calling the front desk she found out that we still had 4 hours to go. Mom said it was my choice whether we kept going or turn around and go home. I told her to hire an airplane. I was still in bad pain and could not move my head or my eyes. It felt like if I moved I was going to explode. She calmly got me in the car and she drove on. I was in my nightie still. It was more important to get to Francis than worry about what I was wearing! So nightie, sunglasses, blanket, pillows and all-off we went. I had my eyes closed most of the way. With 40 minutes to spare Mom pulled into the Christian Healing Ministries' parking area. It was raining pretty hard so when it let up she got me into the meeting room. I could barely make it with her help. I went right up to the first row and sat. Still not able to move my head or eyes without excruciating pain. Not knowing what to expect-I was first. Francis, Mom and the Fallins prayed for me. I was told I was shaking. All I remember was feeling very light headed-felt like I was swaying from side to side. My knees just gave away and down I went. Not knowing what was happening I got up faster than most. My Mom looked at me. I had NO PAIN. Praise the Lord. Mom started crying for joy. She said my face was so peaceful looking. Everyone in the room broke out in clapping praise. we then went in a smaller side room for individual private soaking prayer with a delightful couple, Joanne and Tom. They asked me after the got me all cozy on the couch, how I was feeling. The ONLY pain I had was a very tiny like mosquito sting on the left side of my head by my eye. That went away also. Later, I realized we had not eaten in days, we missed s meals! I had an appetite, thank you Lord. Holiday Inn Express had a lovely restaurant, Mom was really hungry. Thank You Mom for all that you did. She is a great lady and loves our Lord very much.

Glory be to our Father in heaven. This is the most awesome experience in my life. What a miracle. I have been so blessed to receive this healing and so fast.

Today is April 22, 2002 and I have only had to have one shot since my healing. I believe I felt pain and panicked. That will teach me Who's in charge! Leave your worries to Jesus. He will take them, I know first hand.

A man in the room, waiting his turn to be prayed for, told me he cried like a baby when I was being healed-he most definitely felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room with us all. God works in a beautiful way. Listen to him. He has a reason. Trust him and your life will go much smoother. You need to listen to him.

In 1994, when I was first injured, Jesus came to me at church on a Sunday morning and told me he would take care of me. I cried uncontrollably and my Mom wondered if I was ok. After church, I told her what had happened to me. As time went on I got so involved with pain that it consumed me and I had forgotten all about that message. However, God does things on his time schedule not ours.

Through my disability, I came to know Jesus and am very grateful for that. I also got to become very close to Mom. I was not the nicest teenager and really gave her the worst time out of 6 children.

Thank You Lord for my life. I look forward to knowing how you will use me in the days to come.

Sharon in Florida

P.S. I finished writing this on May 1, 2002 and still no shots and no headaches!

I also have no withdrawal from the medications.

NOTE: When his schedule permits, Francis tries to be available once a month to pray for people at Christian Healing Ministries.

Sep/Oct 2002 Issue