Healing Line

Healing Line

Praying to Heal Cancer

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2002

As we all know, cancer is one of our deadliest diseases, and if you have prayed for cancer patients, you have discovered that it is also one of our most difficult and mysterious ailments to pray for.

At times, we have seen amazing results when we have prayed and occasionally we have actually seen tumors shrink before our very eyes. But we also need to be honest and say that it doesn't always go that well.

At other times, the cancer remains but, nevertheless, the pain diminishes or disappears. Sometimes with prayer the harmful side effects of the chemo or radiation treatment are reduced or even eliminated: the patient's appetite remains normal, the hair does not fall out, and his/her strength and vigor remains.

Still another wonderful effect of prayer: a person who is given three months to live, lives on another two years beyond what the doctors predicted.

Most wonderful of all: at the moment of death, the patient is in great peace; some seem to experience a vision of angels, or better yet, of Jesus.

And so, even when there isn't a total physical healing, a notable partial healing takes place. It is no small thing if the pain goes away, while the patient remains at peace.

From what we have learned about cancer, there are several things I would like to share.

1. Inner healing

Apparently, all of us have cancer cells in our body but usually our immune systems deal with them, especially when we are younger. But, if we suffer a severe loss or emotional trauma, the immune system can become depressed and our bodies fail to contain or destroy the unhealthy cells. For instance, some studies indicate that the most dangerous period comes for a married man if his wife dies before he does: his desire to live is weakened by his mourning and loneliness. His body picks up on this sadness and stops fighting against the force of diseases, such as cancer.

The practical application of this is simply: if you are praying to heal cancer, you may suspect that an inner healing — a healing of the memories — may also be very helpful. It will take time from the moment the emotional blow first strikes until the cancer grows large enough for us to notice it, perhaps a year. So if you are praying to heal cancer, check and see if the patient suffered an emotional trauma about a year before the onset of the cancer. Was a wife deserted by her husband — or vice versa? Did a beloved family member die — such as a child, a mother or a father?

Praying to heal the pain of that loss or rejection may be crucial to the physical healing of the cancer.

2. Soaking prayer

Everything we have learned about spending time in prayer specially pertains to praying for cancer. Occasionally, someone is healed immediately (as was Judith, my wife, 1979), but ordinarily the healing takes time — what we call "soaking prayer." As I see it, soaking prayer applied to cancer is like God's radiation treatment; the longer our hands are held near the cancer site, the more the cancer cells wither away, while God strengthens the healthy cells and the immune system to fight back. (Occasionally, too, there is a "spirit of infirmity" or of "cancer" that needs to be confronted and cast out.) Praying for cancer can be a long–time process. Just as we do not expect a cancer patient to be cured by one chemo treatment, neither do we ordinarily expect that one single, brief prayer will be sufficient. Usually, when we have seen cancer healed through prayer, the patient's family and church have really persevered in continuous prayer.

(The wonderful thing about prayer is that it has no harmful side effects, as do continued chemo and radiation treatments.)

3. When cancer seems to return

I don't like to talk about people "losing" their healing, as if the sick person is to blame. I have known one person, at least, who seemed to be dramatically and instantly healed of stomach cancer. And then, a year later, the cancer returned — this time in the lungs.

I think the best way to explain the mysterious relapse is that almost all the cancer cells were eradicated. But a few unhealthy cells were left, taking a year for them to multiply. What was missing was follow–up prayer. We rejoiced in her total healing but it wasn't as total as we thought. And so we neglected to keep on praying as a precaution; in those days it almost seemed that we were lacking in faith if we prayed again, after her apparently miraculous healing. But just as in the natural order, we return to the physician for a check–up after an operation, we likewise need to be spiritually prudent and continue to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."

4. How to Pray

The way to pray for cancer ordinarily has two elements in it. One is the prayer part where we ask God to heal the cancer or we command the cancer cells to stop multiplying. This takes just a short time.

Then comes the laying on of hands, which is like God's own radiation treatment. This part can take plenty of time. The longer the cancer is held in God's force–field, the more healing takes place. Sick cells die, while healthy cells take on added life. If you pray in tongues, this would be a good time to do it. The laying–on of hands can take anywhere from a minute to an hour or more. It can be repeated every day (in a family especially, where husbands and wives pray together) or every week or so, if they visit a prayer minister. In churches or prayer groups, it is usually not feasible to spend a lot of time praying for one individual, so this is one reason we at CHM stress that every church and prayer group needs a small, dedicated group of prayer ministers who can spend time in praying with the sick.

Above all, as Jesus encourages us, "Pray continually and never lose heart!" (Luke 18: 1).

Francis and Judith,
Rachel and David

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

A Wake-Up Call

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2002

Hilaire Belloc, a famous British Catholic writer of the last century, confidently asserted, "Europe is the Faith." No more.

Most Christians in Europe and North America probably don't realize it, but non–white Christians will soon be the overwhelming Christian majority in our world. Scholars who study population growth assert that by the year 2050, four out of every five Christians will no longer live in Europe or North America. This will be a revolutionary change, "one of the most transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide."1

Ironically, at the very moment when Christians in Europe and the United States comment on how the number of Christians attending church services in Europe and England is dwindling, and then predict that Christianity may be a dying religion, the Third World — Asia, Africa and Latin America — is seeing an explosive growth of Christianity. The largest church in the world is in Seoul, Korea — a Pentecostal church with over 500,000 members — and the healing evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, recently gave a healing service for 1.6 million people in Lagos, Nigeria. To say that a shrinking remnant of the world believes in Christianity is an "outrageous"2 assertion, according to a fascinating book I have just been reading — which I would encourage you to read if you are interested in the global aspects of Christianity.3

The facts are extraordinary. Did you know that the Anglicans in Africa outnumber by far the Anglicans in England and, probably, by 2050, only a tiny minority will be white Europeans; even today there are 20 million Anglicans in Nigeria. In Uganda there are 7000 flourishing Anglican parishes and their condition is far healthier than are most parishes in the originating country of England. Roman Catholics in Africa, as late as 1955, numbered only 16 million, but today they total 120 million!

In a few years the world's Christian population centers will no longer be Rome, Geneva and Paris, but Kinshasa, Buenos Aires and Manila. Today the largest block of Christians are still in Europe but in a short 20 years, Europe will probably fall to third place behind Africa and Latin America. We can see the era of western Christianity passing away in our own lifetime.

The sad thing is that, generally, speaking, Western church readers are unaware of what's happening. The church in Europe may be in its dying days, but this dwindling strength, is countered by the explosive growth of Christianity in the poorer Third World countries.

The cynical view of some analysts in regard to Christian foreign missions is that they were foisted on overseas nations by the Western colonial powers as a cultural backup for their political aggression and greed. They hold, for example, that the Catholic missions in Latin America were forced on the Indians by the greedy, violent conquistadors and, therefore, their religion only goes skin deep. One African statement goes like this, "When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened our eyes again, we had the Bible and they had the land." This cynical point of view (which is largely true) predicted that when the colonial powers pulled out — such as England, Spain, Portugal, (and the U.S., too, in the Philippines) — these nations would quickly drop the imported Christian religion. The liberal point of view within some Christian denominations has even become hostile to mission work: "All religious traditions have roughly the same value, so why force our culture on them?"

Actually, the reverse happened: when the colonial powers pulled out, Christianity exploded numerically in almost every country that had been dominated politically by Europe (e.g. Nigeria gained independence only in 1960).

Again, sadly, the very Christian leaders who express theological disbelief in the miraculous — who doubt the reality of supernatural healing and the existence of evil spirits as described in Scripture — devalue what is happening in Third World Christianity, calling it a form of primitive superstitious religion which is closer to paganism than to true Christianity.

Both Bishop John Spong and the Rev. Arthur Peacocke (Anglican), the winner of the esteemed Templeton Award, call for us to abandon outmoded supernatural doctrines and moral assumptions in order to become relevant to our society by presenting the faith in a more credible manner.4 They discount what Philip Jenkins describes as "the most successful social movement of the past century."5 From this new point of view, the Spong–Peacocke point of view, which these "modernists" believe is on the cutting edge of the future, is already out of date.

A most encouraging realization is to find that what these Third World churches are discovering is exactly what we at CHM have also discovered — and also experience every day.

The key difference between what the majority of mainstream Christian Churches in the West and the exploding churches of the South believe include:

• The supernatural,
• The power of the Holy Spirit,
• God's intervention in the daily lives of believers,
• Healing, and
• Exorcising evil spirits.

Soon the two main centers of Christianity will be Africa and Latin America, and these churches feature enthusiastic, spontaneous worship. They believe not just in social evil, but in supernatural evil, which requires real spiritual warfare. They differ from older denominations in that they believe that "God intervenes directly in everyday life."6

These, of course, are beliefs that you will find in many independent churches ( as well as Pentecostal churches) in the U.S. and Europe, such as the Vineyard, and also among charismatic segments of the more traditional churches. What we are trying to do at CHM, as best we can, is to bring all these groups together, to engage in a struggle against the hidden pride that disdains healing and deliverance as unscientific and the product of primitive religion.

What we believe about the power of the Spirit is, I believe, at the core of traditional Christian belief of all the main denominations, but it has been obscured and sometimes lost. What we at CHM believe and do is relevant to the life of every human being. This relevance is being dramatically demonstrated by what is happening in the young churches in the Third World.

We should be humbled by what is going on in the poor regions of the world, rather than disregarding these new Christians as being superstitious, and barely rising above the laud of witch–doctors and shamans. In 1940 there were only one million Protestants in Latin America, compared to 50 million today — and these Protestants for the most part, do not belong to mainline denominations.7 They are evangelical — Pentecostal. Demographers document an extraordinary increase worldwide at the rate of 19 million new members a year in Pentecostal churches.8 For example, in Rio de Janeiro, in a three–year span in the 1990's, 700 new Pentecostal churches were planted, along with 240 spiritualist temples, but only one new Catholic parish.9 There are twice as many Presbyterians (mainly charismatic) in South Korea as there are in the U.S.10

What is God saying in all this?

I think it's very good news and the churches in the West should take note of what is happening in what used to be mission lands and recognize that perhaps we are now the mission lands. I'm reminded of how the religious leaders responded when Peter healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. Instead of rejoicing at what God was doing, they dismissed Peter and John as "illiterate laymen" (Acts 4: 13). Instead of learning from these uncredentialed disciples, they ordered them to be quiet and stop preaching (Acts 3:1–10; Acts 4:1–22).

At the very least the Western churches should be like the prudent Rabbi Gamaliel, and withhold judgment until they could see what God might be blessing (Acts 5:34–38). "Otherwise you might find yourselves fighting against God" (Acts 5:39).

— Francis MacNutt

P.S. As you can see, this article is, in a sense, a book review of Philip Jenkins' The Next Christendom. Ordering information is on page 3.

1 Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom (New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2002), p. I.
2 Ibid., p. 3.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid., p. 9.
5 Loc. Cit.
6 Ibid., p. 77.
7 Ibid., p. 61.
8 Ibid., p. 65.
9 Ibid., p. 64.
10 Ibid., p. 7.

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

The Physician's View

by Dr. Grant Mullen
Jul/Aug 2002

Part 4 of a Series on Emotional Disorders

Men and Women are Different

Depression is more common in women due to poorly understood genetic factors. It is not because they are the "weaker sex" or because emotional issues are "women's problems." There are some medical conditions that are more common to one sex or the other. Heart disease for example is more common in males for genetic reasons only. It has been estimated that ten to twenty percent of women will at some time in their lives have symptoms of chemical imbalance depression. The condition for the majority of them will usually be mild and remain untreated but that means that there are a very large number of untreated women who are not feeling as well as they could be.

The lifetime risk for men is a much more difficult statistic to estimate. When I first started treating depression, the lifetime risk for depression in men was four percent. The number has now climbed closer to ten percent in the past fifteen years. I'm not convinced that men are more depressed now than they were when I started practicing. I think the difference has come due to improved detection techniques for the symptoms of depression in men. It is much more difficult to diagnose depression in men and I have a theory as to why that is so.

We know that the difference between the sexes in the incidence of depression is due to genetic factors. The genetic difference between males and females is that males have a Y chromosome that females don't have. After many years of observation of men and through being one myself, I have come to the conclusion that the Y chromosome is likely made of "denial!" It is extremely difficult to get a man to admit he is depressed or to accept treatment.

In my years of practice I have noticed a profound difference in how men and women suffer with depression. When a woman is depressed, she will usually come to my office and complain that there is something wrong with herself, that it is her fault and she wants help to fix the problem. When a man is depressed, if he comes to the office at all, which in itself is rare, he will say that there is something wrong, it's the fault of his wife and would I please fix her.

Instead of admitting to the problem, he will run from it, busy himself, watch TV or abuse alcohol to distract himself from the discomfort. It is very frustrating to try and get men into treatment for depression. It is even more difficult if they are serious Christians since they will always have a spiritual explanation for the problem that excuses them from medical treatment.

At least ten percent (some researchers say twenty percent) of the population will suffer from a mood disorder at some time in their life. Most will not be treated because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis and treatment. Stigma is the single most important obstacle to treatment. Sufferers are afraid to report their symptoms due to the negative consequences which may come in their work, family and church as a result of their diagnosis.

Through these articles, we hope that your understanding will increase and the stigma surrounding depression and other mood disorders will decrease.

Next issue we will discuss depression in the Church.

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? Jul/Aug 2002 Issue

Extraordinary Praise Report

Jul/Aug 2002

Dear Christian Healing Ministries Prayer Team:

I am a professor at a Christian university... I was scheduled to teach Health Psychology this last semester. Part of the reading requirements included Francis' book Healing. The [30] students were also asked to participate in a healing experiment. They were to choose 3 "healing projects:" two people who needed minor healings and one major healing. Throughout the class I taught 4 healing presentations; answering questions, teaching ways to pray, sharing testimonies of healing. After the first presentation, I encountered a lot of resistance, so much.so that I came home and called your prayer team to pray that God would be revealed to my students. (Later I found the resistance ranged from unbelief to being disappointed in praying for healing at other times in life.) Within 2 weeks after my call to your ministry, a student asked if I would pray for her mother. When we met I discovered that she had suffered with bleeding stomach ulcers for 28 years. They had gotten so bad that her doctor ordered a series of tests, scheduled in two days from our meeting. Our time was limited to ten minutes for prayer. Her daughter, another student and I were in the room to pray. A few days later the student reported to the class that her mother had the tests and the [same] doctor stated, "I don't know why I even ordered these tests, you don't have any signs of ulcers or any damage." She continues to have no pain or symptoms since our prayer. This testimony launched the student's faith!

At the end of class I asked each student to report on the results of their prayer projects. I'm enclosing comments from their reports because I feel that your prayers have played a large part in the results we have seen.


I prayed for a friend and her boyfriend who were in a really bad car accident. He had a lot of brain damage and was supposed to go through months of rehab. He was in a coma. But, he woke up and didn't have to have any rehab at all and his speech and motor functioning is fine!

I really had a hard time praying for the people on my list because the last time I prayed/or God to heal someone, the person was not healed and I was devastated and I didn't want to be disappointed again. I just couldn't bring myself to pray for these people. Most importantly, I had not prayed for my mom who has cancer. The day we were to share about our results of prayer, I couldn't stop crying — I felt horrible. Through the rest of the day I kept imagining my hand on my mother's lymph nodes (where the cancer had spread after her thyroid was removed) and destroying the cancer. She was scheduled to go in for tests because past tests had revealed that the chemo was not working. That night we found out that my mom had a scan done and all the cancer was gone! I now have a renewed faith in God.

I think the thing that I learned is to not underestimate the power that even I can possess through Jesus, and the healings and help that can be provided through my faith when I pray and stay faithful in praying.

I really learned a lot from the book on healing, I now want to be a person of healing prayer: Two of the people I prayed for were completely healed of their minor illnesses.

I came to this class thinking that we would be going over the ways and reasons physical health effects people psychologically, but you took it beyond that. You taught us as a class how to be unified with one another through prayer and how to put healing into action the way Jesus and our Father did and how He wants us to. I began praying for my dad. God revealed to me that he was holding onto bitterness that needed to be released. I prayed for an opportunity to talk with him. God answered that request in an amazing way and I was able to talk with him about what God had told me, asking him to forgive. This healing for my dad opened my spiritual eyes so much. Just like a doctor prepares/or surgery, washing away the germs so he doesn't infect the patient, we need to be cleansed of our sins and doubts before we pray for healing. Then, the doctor begins to take small steps of action to sterilize, then make an incision, operate and seal the wound. Prayer is to be taken in the same type of steps as we work out inner healing, breaking down walls and healing the pain of spiritual scars. Then we seal those prayers with the blood of Christ and protect that newly healed scar from further infection. Thank you for leading us down a new road that many of us have never traveled or understood. You took us by the hand by applying your faith to lead us so we could see the truth of healing prayer.

The thing I learned was that there is a lot more healing happening than I thought, just look at the results in this class!

I prayed for my roommate who had been sick for a long time (colds and infection that wouldn't go away). I prayed and she hasn't been sick since. The most important thing that happened is that I have become more encouraged to pray. Through the encouragement in class and the book, I am also able to encourage others in healing prayer:

I chose to pray for my sister who slipped a disk in her back 9 years ago and has experienced a lot of pain. Since I began praying for her she now has some really good days without pain! I also prayed for a friend who suffers from migraines. She has begun to feel some relief from the pain.

My prayer project had an interesting twist. I prayed for a friend who has been dealing with severe depression, so bad that she had thought of suicide. After praying for her, she decided to try antidepressants and is doing a lot better. However, through that prayer I realized my own depression, so God used my friend to reveal to me that I have not been taking care of my health and that God can work through medicine.

This class and reading the book has definitely been a learning experience. It has made me think a lot about the aspect of having faith in my everyday life. This is really a good thing, because I wasn't living a faith–filled life, and I am now.

The people I have been praying for have some serious illnesses. The book, especially the last two chapters showed me how to pray more effectively. Now I believe that I am better equipped with the knowledge of how to pray ... Although I haven't seen any immediate results, I realize that most need healing in all four areas — so I'm working on that.

When you asked us to join with another person in class as a prayer–partner I had already had all three of the people I was praying for healed. So, I started on a new list. I 'm realizing that with this list, the main prayer I'll be praying is for them to know Christ personally as well as physical recovery.

The first thing I learned, and keep learning, is not to give up. I have come to understand that I should leave the results of prayer to God. All the people I prayed for have gotten better, but I would like to have seen them completely healed, so I keep praying. One person I prayed for was my mom. She has had infected toenails for two years. Nothing the doctors gave her helped, and it was painful. When I began praying, all of the toes cleared of the infection except one large toe and the nail had to be removed. I also prayed for my sister's heartburn which she had everyday. No medication seems to help. Although she still struggles with it, there are now days when she has no problem. I also prayed for a friend with a stomach hernia. The last time we talked he was feeling better and there was no pain.

If God used this class and the book to show me anything, He used it to prove Himself to me.

I was somewhat "standoffish" in my faith that the same power that Jesus healed with was available to me, just for the asking. The first person I prayed for was my brother who is a junior in high school. He is actively involved in sports and has been continually bothered by tendinitis in his hip. Within a month of praying the pain just seemed to disappear, as if the tendinitis was never there. The second person was my friend who has really bad knees due to sports activities and injuries. The doctors said she couldn't play soccer her senior year because of this. After prayer her knees started to get better. Although surgery wasn't her primary choice, she decided to go ahead with the surgery. The exciting part is that her recovery was amazing! Not only will she be starting to play next season, but she went to a dance (and danced!) 2 weeks out of surgery. The third person I prayed for had chronic pain. Since I've been praying for her she had begun to come to talk to me about the things God has started to stir up in her life that she needs to deal with. She doesn't know I'm praying for her. She has said she doesn't know why these things are suddenly being brought up and why she is telling me. Her healing journey has only begun ... I was so skeptical about healing when we first started talking about it, but I have prayed for my own faith to increase and indeed it has.

I grew up in a very conservative church and came to the healing aspect of this class very skeptical. God has really shown me a new aspect of His love through healing prayer. I prayed for my roommate who had severe pain in her entire back. The first time I prayed with her she felt immediate results, as soon as I asked God to take away the pain. The second person I prayed for was my grandmother who was suffering from a bad case of eczema. She had been in pain with this for a long time. She is in another state, so I couldn't pray with her in person. The day after 1 started praying, Gram woke up feeling much better. It is now completely gone. It still boggles my mind to think that God would take the time to heal not only our bodies, but also our memories — I no longer doubt His willingness or ability to do so.

The main person on my prayer list was my grandma and her recovery from a stroke. She has had miraculous steps in her recovery and is doing so well! (She's gone from being partially paralyzed to almost perfect again, only a little tingling in the fingers of one hand.) An additional benefit for me is that I have been able to have good conversations about healing and prayer with my grandma.

I prayed for [someone] who had the beginning stages of pneumonia. He is completely well. I also prayed for [someone], who has had a lot of aches from a car accident several years ago. He is getting better, although not totally healed, yet.

I grew up in a church with traditional beliefs. I have always believed that God can and does do miracles, but that they are spontaneous. I believed that God only did healing through the apostles in the Bible and would not do it through us today. I now realize more of the power of God within me. I can now believe that Jesus Christ in me has the power to do great things in prayer. I prayed for [a couple] who have had severe colds for a very long time. I also prayed for [ someone] who had fallen from a ladder and broke her finger and tore her live,: All of them are fine now! I added a little 2–year old who has had extreme abdominal pain that the doctors can't explain. All of the medications haven't worked. Since I've been praying her episodes have been less.

I prayed for my dad who has had major back pain, although it isn't totally gone, it isn't so painful.

I began praying for my aunt who had cancer. I wasn't led to pray for her to live, but for the pain she was in. The main thing 1 found myself praying for was that my family would truly see who she was, as a person. She and my grandfather have been the only two in our family who have been models of humility, integrity and peace. 1 felt badly that this godly women would no longer be with us. My family did end up recognizing those things, which brought a lot of issues to the surface that needed to be dealt with. So in the end, I feel God had His way with my aunt.

This class was definitely "God sent!" I do not believe I have grown more spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically in my entire life in one class! I came into this class angry with God and had decided not to believe in Him. Things began to happen with me as 1 began to hear about prayer. I finally began to pray about halfway through class. For a while nothing happened. Then, I asked God to reveal to me what was causing the pain. Once I asked God to do that, wow! One person I was praying for, God showed me that her bones were incredibly weak from some disease she had when she was younger. We were able to talk and pray about that and her pain has decreased incredibly. My father has several things going on. I asked God to reveal the root of his diseases to me. One of the things I saw was abandonment. Since I started praying, God has softened his heart and we had a really good conversation, by phone. Communication in my family is nonexistent, so this in itself, is a miracle!

I came into the class believing in healing prayer, I have just never gotten a chance to learn how it works. The class and especially MacNutt's book really helped with that.

I prayed for a person who had an amazing recovery from knee surgery, actually four months ahead of schedule.


In closing, I want to thank you again for your prayers and support. God must be so pleased! Even those who did not see immediate results from their prayers are encouraged in faith and the power of prayer and feel fully equipped to take on prayer projects. Thanks for your great ministry and your obedience to the call of God in your life to a prayer ministry.

Peggy Robinson

Jul/Aug 2002 Issue