Healing Line

Healing Line

A Question for You

by Francis MacNutt
Fall 2001

Years of praying for healing has taught us so much, and our experience has taught us many things we never learned from books. For example, most of you know about "soaking prayer," the amount of time that is usually needed to bring healing to the sick. Experience, taught us about soaking prayer, and now most healing ministers accept that particular teaching, since it agrees both with Scripture and experience. What was once new has become old.

Now, here are two new insights for you to consider as a possibility — let us know what you think.

1. Getting someone else to pray for you is more effective than praying for yourself.

There are several reasons for this: one is that when we are sick, the pain is often so great that it is hard to raise our spirits and our thoughts out of our own distress. When we are sick, it is hard to be positive, to believe that the pain might instantly be lifted — or ever be lifted. We desire more faith than that, but sickness and negative feelings tend to occupy the center of our attention, in spite of ourselves. The friend who prays for and with us can usually, more easily, hear the Lord's guidance and be positive about healing than we can.

Then, too, as you know, with the laying on of hands, we often feel the surge of God's power as it moves from one person to the other.
In Scripture, we also see the example of Jesus — and also the 12 (Matthew 10) and the 72 (Luke 10) — who didn't just preach to the sick encouraging them to pray for themselves, but who spent hours laying their hands on the sick and praying for them. Wouldn't it have been so much easier if they had just taught hundreds at a time, showing them how to pray for themselves. Jesus really does seem to be more present when at least two or three are gathered to pray.

2. Getting somebody outside your family to pray for you is sometimes more effective than praying within your family.

Now, we are enthusiastically in favor of praying in the family, and I even wrote a book The Prayer that Heals to show how it can be done! Furthermore, we know of many wonderful healings that have taken place when families pray.

But there do seem to be times when God leads us to ask for outside help. In our own family, the clearest sign of this came when our daughter, Rachel, was healed of severe asthma 12 years ago. Judith and I had been praying for Rachel for seven years with no sign of progress, when two friends (Emmy Cerveny and Pat Novak) prayed for her one night. Rachel was instantly healed, and it has lasted.

Why should this be? What sense does it make (aside from humbling us)?

There are several good reasons. One reason, that we have known for a long time is that certain people are specially gifted in some areas of healing — like
medical specialists, and we need to turn to them when we are faced with a particularly difficult prayer need. I think we all realize that.

But I think there is another, more hidden reason. It becomes evident, when I consider that my own family has been gifted by God with a healing ministry: for instance, we have prayed for many outside our home who had asthma and they were healed. And we have prayed within the family for ailments that ordinarily get healed when we pray for others — yet they were not healed. How do we explain this, other than chalking it up to mystery? On the other hand, one major miracle (the healing of cancer) happened when I prayed for Judith, but it occurred before we married; in fact, when I hardly knew her.

The reason is, I believe, that God wants to move us out of our isolation, not just as individuals, but even as families, and wants us to depend upon the wider human community. Our society is so isolated, so independent, that He wants us to recognize how dependent we should be upon our friends, upon our church and upon other Christians. It's the same point that Paul is making in I Corinthians 12 when he says that the Spirit distributes different gifts to different members of the community so that we have to turn outside ourselves to others: the eye can no longer say to the foot, "I don't need you."

Since God wants to heal our relationships, our churches, our cities, he is kicking us out of the nest, as it were — motivating us to reach out to others, not only to help them, but to be helped by others outside our group, to receive the healing we need.

It's God stating emphatically, "No man is an island."

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Fall 2001 Issue