Healing Line

Healing Line

Piercing the Glass Ceiling

by Francis MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2003

As Charles Dickens said in a Tale ofTwo Cities: "These are the best of times, these are the worst of times."

In relation to Christian healing these are the best of times when we consider how far we have come in the last hundred years in recovering the lost ministry of praying for healing. One hundred years ago, healing prayer was almost unheard of in most Christian churches. At first it was the Pentecostals who rediscovered it. Then it was famous 'faith healers' like Oral Roberts and Kathryn Kuhlman. And then through the efforts of individuals such as Agnes Sanford and Tommy Tyson, together with mainline groups such as the Order of St. Luke, healing prayer came to be accepted.

And yet, as recently as 1970 I was kindly asked to resign my position as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Homiletic Society because of my growing notoriety as a priest praying for the sick. This was seen as compromising the middle–of–the–road solidity of that organization. (Don't look it up because, soon after, it ceased existence.) Even now when I ask Christian groups how many can remember their fathers ever praying with them when they were sick as little children, only about two percent raise their hands. And when you ask the same question about their mothers, the number, at best, only goes up to ten percent.

But now, praying for the sick has become almost normal, and many churches feature several couples standing at the side to pray for the sick after Communion.

Now, that is a remarkable change. Truly these are the best of times.

But look at it in another way and you will see that there is a ceiling, a lid on healing prayer. For the most part, praying for healing is a small, inconsequential, individual ministry in the lives of most churches. Even taking into consideration the large TV healing ministries of such evangelists as Benny Hinn, they don't affect the basic work of the mainline churches. And they don't, for the most part, get at the deepest needs of the people who come to church on Sunday ( or who don't come to church on Sunday). By and large, the leaders of the established churches don't recognize how badly their churches need healing prayer to survive the next few decades and not wither up (as has the church in Europe1).

I want to give you just one notable example of the difference it would make if the mainline churches would rediscover the depths and wonders of the healing ministry that Jesus has entrusted to us. This great human need has been dramatized in the current revelations about sexual abuse. The pedophilia crisis has gotten the most publicity, but it represents only a small percentage of the large numbers of our people who have experienced sexual abuse. For example, it is generally accepted that, at a minimum, one out of four adult women in the U.S. have experienced sexual abuse growing up. This means that approximately 25 million women in our country have experienced sexual abuse.

The common professional estimation of the situation is that the baneful results of such abuse will last a lifetime. For those who can afford counseling, their situation may become somewhat better, but they still will suffer.

As one victim writes, answering the question, "Why not forget and move on?":

"If you are a victim you cannot leave it in the past. Once you have been molested as a child, everything in your life changes. Every relationship with adults is changed by this experience. Every physical touch you receive for the rest of your life can be colored by this experience...

The impact of abuse on sexual intimacy is painfully evident on those days when I feel I cannot breathe if my husband is in bed with me, or when I cannot bear to have him touch me. So, I repeat, victims are unable to forget because the impact of childhood abuse is lifelong and pervasive."2

Admittedly every person responds differently, but we are speaking about millions of women ( and men, too) who are permanently impaired, and the· current wisdom is that, beyond a certain point, they are wounded for life.

That is, without prayer for healing.

What we have found is that there is hope. These victims can be helped through prayer for inner healing. This prayer usually takes time — not just a quick laying on of hands. The ministry time may take one session a week for six months, but it does happen.

To take just one example, we received a letter, giving the three steps of her treatment.

  1. Counseling, paid for by the Archdiocese for two and a half years. Along with medication, counseling helped bring me out of clinical depression.
  2. Spiritual direction helped me go to God, question God, get angry with God. fall in love with God all over again...
  3. You and your prayer ministers prayed with me at a Day of Healing Prayer. I had many physical ailments. including a completely paralyzed digestive system and an inability to raise my arms past my shoulders. My left arm was completely frozen to my waist. I also suffered from overwhelming fatigue and had difficulty staying out of bed for more than two hours a day. I was healed during that one day of prayer!

After taking more than 12 pills a day for two years, l no longer take any medication except vitamins."

Later she returned for more prayer: "I did not want anger or bitterness against priests and bishops to take root again. That prayer request was answered and continues to grow — most of all with an overwhelming love that overflows into all areas of my life."3

This is what I mean by a glass ceiling. The churches know the value of psychological counseling and spiritual direction — and these do help — but I do not see or hear of the leaders of the main churches saying, "Come to our ministers and we will pray with you that your broken lives and hearts may be healed." Is healing prayer being taught in our seminaries?

And sexual abuse is only one example. Take addictions of all sorts, for another example. Do most Christian churches believe in healing at this kind of level? And yet addictions affect millions of people in our society. It seems that deep healing has never crossed the radar screens of most Christians that in Jesus Christ we have a remedy.

Our dream is that some day everyone will understand the healing love and power of Jesus.

Francis and Judith
with Rachel and David

1Here I encourage you to read The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins.
2America, September 16, 2002, p. 17.
3From a letter, quoted with permission.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Mar/Apr 2003 Issue

A Doctor's Journey with Prayer

by J. Rutledge Coleman, D. MD
Mar/Apr 2003

As I sit quietly reflecting, on this New Year's Day 2003, I think back on how I began praying not only with my patients but with others as well.

My journey began in February 1986 during a Cursillo weekend, at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church. Over the course of this weekend, I became very aware of the reality of Jesus' love for each of us through a loving community that was following the Lord's commandment to love one another.

Then in the early 90 's, Elizabeth and I began seeking guidance through in–depth prayer at healing conferences where Francis and Judith MacNutt were speaking and ministering. During those years I saw that Jesus truly does heal people physically, emotionally, and delivers them spiritually in a very loving manner.

During that time I also read Francis' book The Prayer That Heals, a small but powerful book that encourages each of us to begin praying for our — spouses, our family and friends. It made me realize that the Lord could use each of us in unique ways, especially in the everyday work place.

So in 1992, I began to pray for my patients during my quiet time with the Lord every morning. During exams or surgery I would lay my hand on the patient's shoulder and say a prayer, asking the Lord to be with us and heal the patient. This prayer, however, was usually prayed very quietly to the Lord.

Many times the patient and the others around me were not aware of what was happening. After a year or so, one of my assistants asked me what was going on, because so many of our patients did very well following surgery. I shared with her that I always prayed for our patients.

Much happened in those early years. Elizabeth and I began praying for people following church services, and again I saw how profoundly the Lord loved the people seeking Him!

I realized that praying with people required me to listen to their story, love them and then leave them in the Lord's hands. The rest was up to Him. As Francis states, how much healing we see is up to the Lord, and it is a mystery about who will be healed.

In October 1995 I attended a weekend gathering of Promise Keepers in Jacksonville, Florida. On the last day of the Promise Keepers weekend, one of the speakers challenged all of the men not to miss what God has in store for each of them personally. I uttered a short prayer, asking the Lord not to let me miss anything He had in· store for me. I heard the Lord say, "Leave everything and follow me."

At first I thought He wanted me to move to Haiti, since I had been going there frequently on ministry trips. However, it was while I was in Haiti during Thanksgiving of 1996 that I heard the Lord say that He was calling me to go to Jacksonville, Florida. I relayed this to my wife several weeks later, and the Lord clearly confirmed what I had heard. He had given her Genesis 12:1 "...Leave your father's house, country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."

We spent the rest of 1996 and most of 1997 in prayer discerning this call. In August 1997 the Lord led us to move to Jacksonville, where we have continued to learn more and more about the healing ministry, which is growing not only throughout America but the entire world.

Since those early years, I have become more confident in praying with patients during exams and prior to procedures. Over and over I see evidence of the Lord's healing presence through the power of prayer. I try to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I begin interviewing the patient at the beginning of treatment. As Tommy Tyson would say, "He would listen to the person with one ear and the Holy Spirit with the other." After reviewing the patient's history, if I feel it is appropriate, I ask, "Would you like for me to pray with you before we begin?" I have only had one person decline prayer after all these years. The usual response is an enthusiastic "yes!" I can honestly say the hardest step for me was just simply asking that question.

Now, after five years of being involved in healing prayer, the biggest healing has been in my own heart; and there is a deep humility that comes from knowing that it is only through the love and grace of Jesus Christ that we can come into His presence and seek His healing power for family, friends and patients.

I highly suggest that those in the medical field who desire to pray with their patients read books such as The Prayer That Heals, The Power to Heal and Healing, written by Francis MacNutt ( ordering information on page 14). These books have been instrumental in helping me to further understand the healing ministry. Much enrichment can be found in the Healing Hands and Shall We Pray videos based on a scientific study of prayer on arthritis (more information available on page 14). Also, CHM offers excellent teaching and training in the ministry of healing through the Schools of Healing Prayer™ Levels I, II, and III (see page 9 for more information).

So as we begin this New Year, I encourage you to get started. You will be blessed.

God Bless and Happy New Year,
Rutledge Coleman

J. Rutledge Coleman, D. MD is the Chairman of the Board at CHM. Mar/Apr 2003 Issue

A Two Front War

by Dale S. Recinella
Mar/Apr 2003

Based on the State's own statistics, at least one out of every nine Florida state prisoners suffers from medically diagnosed severe mental illness. That means about 8,000 severely mentally ill state prisoners in Florida. This problem spans the country.

[According to] the United States Department of Justice...16 percent of all inmates in state and federal jails and prisons have schizophrenia, manic–depressive illness (bipolar disorder), major depression, or another severe mental illness... on any given day, there are roughly 283,000 persons with severe mental illnesses incarcerated in federal and state jails and prisons.

This didn't happen overnight. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, our country was swept by an enlightened view that the mentally ill should be dispatched from mental hospitals and sent home to their communities. There they would be supported by community mental health centers funded by the money saved from downsizing mental hospitals. The easiest part of the plan was completed. The numbers of mental hospital beds were drastically reduced. The mentally ill were dumped back into their home communities. That is about as far as we progressed.

By the time we should have been funding the community mental health centers, the Arab Oil Embargo and its legacy had pushed the prime rate into the stratosphere. The economy was on life support. Iran had seized our embassy. The USSR was invading Afghanistan. And the cold war was cranking incredibly close to becoming hot. Money was tight. The deinstitutionalized mentally ill poured into our city centers, surviving day–to–day on the streets and in the alleys of the most violent neighborhoods in the country. Instead of appropriating more money for community mental health, we let the communities and the mental hospitals fight over an impossibly small pot of available funds. That is still our situation to this day.

Florida State Prison has become a beachhead in Florida's struggle to treat the sickest of our incarcerated mentally ill. Over 1,000 solitary confinement cells there now house people whom probably would have been in mental hospitals thirty years ago. Counseling rooms have been installed in the wings. Psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric techs comb through the halls in street clothes, a shocking invasion of color where just a year ago one saw only a sea of brown uniforms against beige floors and walls.

And yet, as Christians who believe in the healing power of the resurrected Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we know that there is another side to this battlea spiritual side — which must be fought on two fronts.

The first front exists at the door of each cell, the point of entry into the war for God's dominion over each man's heart and mind. Inner healing, healing of memories, generational healing, even deliverance are all prayed at the door. Joy Lamb's book, Sword of the Spirit: Word Of God, is a powerful leave–behind for those special men who choose to join the battle for themselves. Cell after cell, I slide the book through the space under the door and into the eager hand inside.

"Pray those prayers," I speak loudly through the side crack of the door, shouting over the roar of the huge ventilator fans. "Things will change."

We are all integral to this battle. The support of our intercessory prayers without ceasing is pivotal to pushing back the darkness that attempts to devour these men in the isolation and despair of their 9' by 6' world.

The other front in this battle is the door to each of our own hearts. Is it true that God's money is better spent on us than on the care of his children who are sick? Why is there always more money for punishment but so little for treatment? Did not our Lord and Savior say, "What you refused to do for the least of your brothers, you refused to do for Me. Go off to eternal punishment."? Our lack of treatment for the mentally ill reveals the dark depths in our hearts of stone, hearts that have refused surrender to God's dominion. We must pray for ourselves: for conversion, for deeper faith, and for hearts of flesh.

Francis MacNutt Dale S. Recinella is the Director of Special Projects for CHM. Mar/Apr 2003 Issue

Praise Reports

Mar/Apr 2003

Anne writes

" ...I have been feeling the effects of Intercessory Prayer for the R.A. [rheumatoid arthritis]. I want to thank all of you and ask that all keep praying .... You're right! Praising God is so very important.

Anna writes

"Over the past 2 months, you have been praying for my inner healing, generational healing, and other areas for me. As a result of your prayers, I have experienced a life–changing release from depression... Thank you so much. I felt the prayers... in my life tangibly. You have a blessed ministry.

A phone message

"You've prayed for Tammy who has 4th stage melanoma. It's really been miraculous. There's still one tiny tumor that's being checked every 3 months. She's able to work and is doing everything. We're thankful and praising God. Thank you very much."

Another phone message

"Thanksgiving for Donna. Surgery was not needed. X–rays indicated the tumor was gone. Thank you very much.

By email from Finland

"I praise God for answered prayers. You prayed for healing for me and my nephew and we have been seeing God's hands in our lives since then. [My nephew's] hearing and speech are improving by the day. As for me, God is giving me wisdom about my health daily. Something surprised me ... Gum surgery had left an ugly gap between my front upper teeth and gum — a hole. The dental surgeon had said there was nothing that could be done about it. I did not even think of praying about such a thing. It's been a couple of years now. Suddenly, since the time I sent in my prayer request about healing, I noticed my gum grew downwards to meet the tooth so that the ugly gap is filled .... I thought it was a swelling or something, but No, it's not a swelling, it's new gum, like a baby's. Can you believe that? I praise God for this miracle, for I have never seen or heard of gum growing in one place. Our God is an awesome God. He cares how I look and I praise him with all of my heart."

By email

"My sister M., narcotics addict, is being baptized this Sunday. also asked for prayer about finances and we were able to get our new room and retile our kitchen. Praise Jesus .... he supplies all our needs and even our wants. My husband is still not a Christian but he will be.

A note

"My daughter and her husband have each decided not to try to change each other and asked the Lord to heal their marriage. Praise God and His mercy, His love, His grace, His power!"

From Sue

"Thank you for prayers re my cancer . . . . I am cancer–free!"

From Mara

"Since last you prayed, the diagnosis has changed from possible uterine cancer to benign growths. . . . Please pray that this will continue to be verified by God's grace! Many thanks to God and to you for your prayers."

From Winona

"My right knee is healed!"

From Beth and Jim

"A few months ago, I submitted a prayer request for the ability to conceive, since we had gone through infertility. Your prayers were answered within two weeks, and I am now 11 weeks pregnant. Thank you so much for your prayers! What a blessing you are!"

"Bobby recovered from severe motorcycle accident. When pneumonia cleared, broken back had been healed. No surgery necessary!"

From excited caller

re prayer request for Denny, who had been given 8 to 9 weeks to live: "Cancer is almost off one lung and coming off the liver. Was on lymph nodes, liver, and lung, and they had just sent him home. I appreciate your prayers!"

Healing Prayer Level III training, October 29 – November 1

A blest time at CHM! The Holy Spirit was evident in many ways, for which we praised God, gave thanks to Him — and thanked our intercessors, in our hearts, for their faithfulness in offering up prayers for this special time.

More Praise!

  • "Thanksgiving for I st anniversary of my daughter's successful brain tumor surgery."
  • "Thank you, Florence is getting better. ... NOIBC is beginning to receive the necessary monies."
  • "I love and accept myself like never before."
  • "My mother received PTL news 1–8–03. one tumor has not grown and the other disappeared."
  • "After almost a year of intense generational prayers, my daughter is healed of manic depression!"
  • "Better back and liver okay after tests. Praise God! Thanks for your prayers!"
  • "Continued healing!"
  • "My mother Anne's biopsy was totally benign. Thank you for praying."
  • "Barbara — miracle healing of back!"
  • "Healing of vision."
  • "Thanks for healing of Ann's cancer!"
  • "Thanksgiving for healing of Baby B. and healing for his family."
  • "Howard quit smoking one day — cold turkey!"
  • "Got a clean bill of health after cancer surgery!"
  • "Betty for whom I asked prayer several months ago is recovering from her auto–immune disease. Praise God!"
  • "Joe is doing much better with his Parkinson's disease."
  • "My nephew had the brain tumor surgery and I thank you for your prayers. He is using his brain functionally tonight. Thank you and praise God for his generous blessing to my nephew Anthony, and thank you for being you."
  • "You prayed for a friend who was healed from abnormal fears."

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
(Psalm 30:8b)

Mar/Apr 2003 Issue