Healing Line

Healing Line

Research Study Echoes the Power of Jesus

by Francis MacNutt
Summer 1998

Last year, CHM was privileged to take part in a pioneering research study on the effects of Christian prayer on healing the sick. We praise God for the opportunity to participate, knowing he used us in some small way to help the world know the full power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since I became involved in seeing Jesus heal people more than 30 years ago, I've had a deep desire to share this knowledge with the medical and scientific communities in terms they might understand and accept. But in order for this to happen, critical, thorough, real scientific studies must be performed, rather than relying solely on individual stories of healing that physicians chalk up as "spontaneous remission."

So three years ago I was delighted to meet Dr. Dale Matthews, a research physician who shared the same vision. We chose rheumatoid arthritis as the field of study, since this type of arthritis is a disease that is medically incurable. Over one million people in our country are afflicted with this debilitating disease, and the main treatment is the administration of pain–killers, most of which have harmful side effects. When it becomes really severe, the joints are replaced.

The study was graciously funded by the Sir John Templeton Foundation. Sally Marlowe, director of the Arthritis Pain Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida, was chosen to select volunteer patients and then study the effects of prayer on them, both immediate and long–term. In order to qualify for the study, each patient had to have pain and measurable swelling in the joints.

A year ago, we at CHM finished our part of the study, after traveling twice to Clearwater with teams from CHM who prayed for 43 patients (in two separate groups) for three days at a time. From our point of view, an extraordinary amount of verifiable healing took place.

The patients have all been evaluated, and the results of the study have now been by Sally Marlowe and her team. Dr. Matthews is in the process of submitting the study to professional medical journals. He cannot publish the results until they are accepted by one or more of these prestigious journals. Therefore, we can only speak very generally and from our limited viewpoint about the results.

Dr. Matthews has just published a book which persuasively presents the case for Christian healing prayer. Called The Faith Factor (Viking Press), the books main purpose is to demonstrate to physicians the value of prayer. Dr. Matthews plans to later release a book on the arthritis study itself. In The Faith Factor, however, he does include several pages on the remarkable healings in the study.

"Mike, a 65–year–old man was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when he was in his twenties. In the intervening decades, he had been through a great deal of pain, suffering and medical treatment. Like many rheumatoid arthritis patients, Mike can describe a history of medical treatment with strong medications, from prednisone to Cytoxan to methotrexate; repeated surgeries and courses of physical therapy; and periods of remission, then relapse.

“Mike walked stiffly with a cane at the beginning of the (study). He had severe pain in his hands, which had been operated on a number of times. After receiving many hours of prayer and laying on of hands for healing, Mike reported dramatic results.

“’Look, no cane today!’ he said. ‘I couldn’t have walked without it yesterday or the day before.'

“…Like many patients in the study, Mike also noticed improved flexibility and reduced pain in his hands: ‘I was preoccupied with the pain in my hands. Lynn [a member of the healing prayer team] prayed with me and held my hands, and I had a warming sensation, almost like energy vibrating down my hands, and my hands don’t hurt nearly so bad. I ate dinner today and I was able to handle a cup and a glass. Usually,…I spill them immediately.’

“Though Mike describes himself as a spiritual person and frequent churchgoer, he had come to the study not knowing what to expect. Grinning, he said, 'There is something weird going on here, and I love it!'

Relieved of the pain and disability his rheumatoid arthritis has caused, Mike is now living a full and active life ... Ten months after the first healing–prayer session, Mike continues to report remarkable improvement. He is, in fact, pain–free and able to go without medication of any kind for his arthritis .... He says he feels better today than ever before in his life."

Most medical researchers, of course, are skeptical about anything more than human factors being involved in prayer, so the study is controversial. Nonetheless, Dr. Matthews believes the study will have an extraordinary impact in the medical community once it is published.

To us, of course, the study is not controversial at all. It is just ordinary Christian life as we see it everyday at CHM!

"We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the Eternal Life that was with the Father and was revealed to us — we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (I John 1: 1–3).

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Summer 1998 Issue