Healing Line

Healing Line

"Always Pray... Never Give Up"

by Francis MacNutt
May 1989

Fifteen years ago, when I directed a house of prayer in St. Louis, a young couple brought their ten–year–old daughter for prayer. She suffered from lung cancer, and her doctors held no hope for her cure. She was pale and weak, and had no appetite. That afternoon, our team at Merton House spent about an hour praying for her. Afterward, she felt much stronger. Her appetite returned and she really wanted to eat for the first time in weeks. This seemed like a wonderful sign that Jesus had healed her, so we went out to a restaurant to celebrate. A short time later, the parents took their daughter in f or a medical evaluation, including chest x–ray, which showed that her lungs were clear!

It seemed like a miracle had taken place, and soon the family was testifying to church and other groups about the healing of their daughter — fully attested by medical records.

I didn't hear from the family for a longtime, until one day when they phoned me. The daughter had cancer again. It was not in the same place, but there was a massive tumor in her stomach. When the parents brought the girl in for prayer, she was so weak that they had to support her under each arm. They had delayed bringing her because they believed that they should continue claiming that she had been healed. Bringing her for more prayer meant, to them, that they lacked faith. We prayed for a long time that afternoon. We prayed with her again a few days later. Then word came that the girl had died. All of us felt shaken.

What had gone wrong? I know that all people who believe in God's healing power go through experiences like this. What do we make of them? First, I think the girl was truly healed of the cancer. The evidence shows that the cancer never returned to its original site in the lungs. Second, there seem to be two possibilities for what failed. We may have stopped praying too soon, and the cancer cells remaining in her body started to grow again. (See the last issue for the article on Soaking Prayer.) Or, there may have been underlying spiritual or emotional roots to the cancer that we had not brought to Jesus for healing. While Jesus healed the cancer, the unhealed weakness may have left the girl open to a renewed attack from cancer.

In either case, we had stopped ministering to the girl too soon. This taught me that we should keep praying until we are sure that the cancer and its root cause are gone.

A Second Experience

A short time afterward, David and Barbara Schmidt brought their three–year–old daughter, Roell, to us for prayer. Roell had been diagnosed with cancer in her adrenal and surrounding lymph glands — stage III neuroblastoma — which was inoperable. For someone of Roell's age, the cancer was 95% fatal.

After radiation treatments, 24 months of chemotherapy were planned, with only a 50/50 chance of even prolonging Roell's life. The Schmidts immediately sought prayer from everyone they knew, and brought Roell to Merton House for about half an hour of prayer every week. Roell was so young that we would give her a cookie to keep her quiet, and then put our hands on the right side where the tumor was located. "Right away," David Schmidt later recalled, "the experience seemed to uplift us. The quality of the prayer was so intense and so deep."

A month later, Roell came out of her bedroom and said, "'Mommy, God said "You're going to get well."' The Schmidts hardly dared to believe it, but the experience did give them some comfort in the difficult days ahead. Roell lost most of her hair and her appetite. She became feverish and caught several viral infections. Yet the Schmid ts continued praying each week with their church prayer group, with our Merton House group, and in all kinds of other settings.

The team at the hospital decided to perform surgery to assess the effects of treatment. Some nine months after we began prayer, the surgeon removed the calcified tumor, one–third of the adrenal gland, and four lymph glands. Three days later, the pathology reports showed NO cancer cells in the tumor, or in the lymph glands. Further, they found a number of healthy, growing nerve cells in the area. While therapy may have halted the cancer, the medical team could claim no credit for the healthy nerve tissue! Such a change in a patient of Roell's age was so uncommon as to be remarkable.

Roell' sf at her commented, "'There is no doubt that prayer has brought this about. But neither am I ready to say that the chemotherapy was unnecessary." Roell' s Mother reflected, "'The quality of prayer at Merton House buoyed us from week to week. Without it, our family would never have survived. This is not a minor victory, since cancer has a malevolent effect on the parents."


After our earlier experience of the recurrence of cancer in the other girl, we had learned our lesson. This time we continued to pray every week with Roell a preventative prayer medicine. Now, some fourteen years later, Roell is not only alive, but thriving as she gets ready for college!

Through these experiences, we learned to keep after diseases like cancer until we are sure they are gone. Now we know the truth of Jesus' lesson to the disciples to always pray and never give up! (Luke 18:1–8)

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May 1989 Issue