Healing Line

Healing Line

Thoughts From Francis

by Francis MacNutt
February 1993

Dear Friends,

The report has finally come out (apparently after being held up for ages): The Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) has now stated that passive smoking (when someone else smokes and you inhale their effluence) causes cancer. The Agency estimates that 3000 people a year die because of this (others have estimated that 5000 die), and they put passive smoking in the same environmentally dangerous class as asbestos.

This is not just a medical statistic but has Christian moral implications and also relates greatly to healing. Christian–ethics would now have to say that it's wrong — it's a sin — to smoke. It's against the Fifth Commandment "Thou must not kill" — neither yourself nor someone else.

As you probably know experts estimate that you lop seven years off your life if you smoke several packs a day. That's not a small amount!

I can remember back in high school when the only reason you didn't smoke was that it cut down your wind if you were an athlete. In fact, the school allowed a sales rep from Philip Morris to come to school and address our class on the values of his product and hand out a fee pack to each of us.

But now that the evidence is in, why is it that Bishops, District–Superintendents and pastors are not preaching that smoking should stop (without becoming fanatical on the subject)? I'm sure some are, but I haven't personally heard of any statements or sermons issuing from mainline denominations, or preachers, aside from those churches (such as the Baptists — maybe they were right all along) that have traditionally opposed smoking. If the Roman Catholic Church can come out with formal proclamation forbidding artificial birth control, why is it so slow to say something about the morality of smoking, when its moral implications are clearer to most people?

At any rate, now that more and more evidence piles up indicating that smoking is no longer just a medical problem but has clear moral implications, we need to hear (or give) a good sermon on the topic in many churches throughout the land.

The reason we probably don't hear such sermons could be because so many high–ranking church leaders and members still smoke. Many have tried to quit and haven't been able. As Mark Twain once said: "It's easy to quit, I've done it hundreds of times." Truly, smoking is an addiction. Dr. Dean Edell, who has a regular radio and TV talk show, regularly states that we are basically hypocritical: while we wage "a war on drugs" and put cocaine dealers in jail, we have cigarette vending machines standing in our favorite family restaurant, when cigarettes cause many more deaths than cocaine. Why the difference?

That brings us to the healing part. There's no sense in blasting people who smoke and shouting at them if smoking is an addiction. A smoker finds it difficult if not almost impossible to quit. Which is worse, to have a rotten temper when you are off smoking or to smoke a pack and be easier to live with?

What most churches still need to learn is that you can pray for smokers and Jesus will heal them. If we do start to preach that smoking is wrong (Law) we need also to add the grace by offering prayer that asks Jesus to free us from our addiction.

By experience we know this works. Several years ago in England we prayed for a woman who had just lost her heavy–smoking husband to lung cancer. Now her doctor had told her that she, too, had lung cancer, probably through inhaling his smoke. She was furious with her deceased husband and wished he were alive to tell him so. We asked her to try to forgive him and then prayed for her healing. She later wrote an ecstatic letter to tell us that her doctor could no longer detect any lesions in her lungs.

Here at CHM at least three members of our small staff have been freed through healing prayer of a need to smoke. (Not that we don't believe that some people can quit through making a decision or through a non–smoking treatment program.)

Jackie Canepa, our administrator, for instance, had smoked for thirteen years. Then while she was pregnant she got so sick she had to quit but then she went back to it, thinking she could just smoke socially. But then the habit kicked in again. She tried to quit because she started having chest pains and because her children were worried after hearing teaching at school about the dangers of smoking. This time she couldn't quit; she tried all kinds of methods, but none of the advice she received worked. Finally, very discouraged, she prayed alone telling God: "You told me that whatever I would ask in the name of Jesus, I would receive, so now I'm asking you to free me from my need to smoke." Then she went to bed, and when she got up the next morning, she found she didn't need her after–breakfast cigarette. She put the cigarettes in her pocket, taking them to work for later smoking. But never again did she feel the need for another cigarette. She has never even been tempted.

But it's not always that easy. For Judith it took three days. She had a house guest visiting her home in Kentucky from Israel and when she picked him up at the airport in Lexington she asked if he minded her smoking on the two hour drive. He said he did mind which infuriated her. Then he proceeded to lecture her and pray for her during the course of the next three days. He told her to come to him for prayer any time she was tempted to light up. She did this, but, in addition, she could hear him praying loudly at night in the guest room. When she drove him back to the airport three days later she was very glad to see him off. As soon as he was gone and she was back in her car driving home she lit up.

But the cigarette almost made her sick and she had to put it out. Now, that was more than 15 years ago and she hasn't smoked since!

So God helps us in all kinds of ways. We do need the power of Jesus to free and heal us. When will we ever learn?

Francis, Judith,
Rachel & David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. February 1993 Issue