It's Stranger Than I Thought

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2004

Now that I have almost finished writing my new book on the mystery of why healing prayer died out over the centu­ries, I find it is an even stranger near-death mystery than I thought when I first began to write (Chosen Books will publish it in about a year). Here are the basic facts, and see if they don't shake you up a bit.

First of all, it is clear that Jesus (whose name Jeshua means "God heals" or "God saves") considered that his major mission, in addition to teaching, was to heal and cast out evil spirits. This is how he spent his time, and he had a passion to do it, risking his life to heal on the Sabbath.

And he passed his healing power on to the Twelve (Matthew 10 and Luke 9), and then to the 72 (Luke 10). Still later, at Pentecost, he passed his ministry on to the entire church, 3000 on that day alone, when the fire came down upon their heads. The entire book of Acts shows that the early church did the very same things that Jesus did. Peter, representing the Hebrew community, healed the sick and even raised a woman from the dead, while Paul, standing for the Gentile Christians, also healed and raised the dead.

And then, and this many people do not know, the early Christians for the first 300 years continued doing what the book of Acts describes. In fact, the main method of evangelizing was not preaching to huge crowds ( after all, they were hiding out from the Roman authorities), but was by healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. 1 It took 300 years, mostly one-on-one ministry, until Rome was gradually converted. (The Emperor Constantine was converted in 312.)

Now, the Church emerges triumphant, but, incredibly, the very means that made Christianity successful started to disappear! There were two primary elements compris­ing Christianity:

1. The power of the Spirit is the force that makes us into a "new creation" and it underlies healing and deliverance from evil spirits. This comes to us in the "baptism in the Spirit—the main promise of the prophet John the Baptist. Jesus"is the one who is going to baptize you in the Holy Spirit"—this is John's main prophecy and is found in all four gospels.

2. The charisms of the Spirit that Paul said are necessary to build up the Church (1 Corinthians 12), and these include healing and the power to work miracles.

For those first 300 years, the Christians expected that when adults were baptized, they might emerge from the water praying in tongues or see a vision or prophesy. For the early Christians, baptism in the Spirit and water baptism were seen as the same event. Then, in the fourth century, these expectations started to disappear. The first Christians had prayed to receive the charisms mentioned by Paul. Then it changed. Instead of Paul's nine charisms, the official prayers turned back the clock hundreds of years before Jesus' time and started praying for the seven gifts listed by Isaiah (11 :2), which are not ministry gifts but are for personal holiness (such as "wisdom"). Gradually, the expectation that a real Pentecost experience would result when converts were baptized died out.

As far as healing was concerned, expectations quickly died out there, too, when the Spirit was quenched. Occa­sionally and rarely (by the fifth century), it was expected that healing might take place. But Christians no longer learned to pray for healing. Instead, the sick were encour­aged to visit shrines and there pray for the intercession of the saints, especially Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Then the sacrament of heal­ing, which originally included physical, bodily healing, be­came a sacrament to prepare for a happy death (Extreme Unction, which translates as "the Last Anointing"). Not that preparation for death is not im­portant, but praying for physi­cal life was turned on its head ,and we ended up preparing for death. You couldn't even receive the anointing of the sick unless you were sick enough to be in danger of death. Again, this was a change that took several hun­dred years (A.D. 1200).

And then, surprisingly, the Protestant reformers who look to the Bible for authority took healing prayer one step further on its way to death when the great reformer John Calvin claimed that supernatural healing ceased with the death of the last apostle ("Cessationism") and that Catholics making pilgrimages to healing shrines was vile "papist superstition" and should be abolished. So much for the Bible, which says that these signs shall follow those who believe-and among the signs are that "they will lay hands on the sick who will recover" (Mark 16: 18). So even that was taken away. Most Baptists today, who believe so strongly in Scripture, do not have a faith in healing prayer because they are the spiritual heirs of Calvin.

But at least Calvin believed in the reality of the New Testament miracles. Another 300 years after Calvin, Rudolph Bultmann said that even the New Testament healings and deliverances did not really happen. They were merely stories made up to illustrate a spiritual point ("demythologizing").

And so healing prayer-Jesus' main activity upon this earth, so much his passion that he risked death to heal on the Sabbath-almost disappeared from the Christian world. So much so that when I ask people in any mainline church whether they can remember their parents ever praying for them when they were sick as children, only two percent can remember their fathers praying, and only about fifteen percent can remember their mothers praying for them to get better when they were sick.

Truly, we have been robbed of our inheritance.

And these are not minor elements in the Christian message. Giving us the baptism in the Spirit is the main reason Jesus came to live among us, according to the great prophet, John the Baptist, who we all believe was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. The Church was not born until Pentecost!

And healing and freeing us from evil were the early church's main ministries (along with preaching that the Kingdom of God was at hand).

This brief synopsis of this tragic loss is why I had to write the book I am working on now. Perhaps we are liv­ing out Paul's prophecy: "They will keep up the outward appearance of religion, but will have rejected the inner power of it" (2 Timothy 3:5).

1 Ramsey MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire: A.D. 100-400 (New Haven, University ofYale Pres, 1984).

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug 2004 Issue

Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

by Joy Lamb
Jul/Aug 2004

A Prayer for Anyone Interested in Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for your great gift of salvation! Lord Jesus, you promised us another gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit. So I ask you, Lord Jesus, to baptize me in and with the Holy Spirit, just as you baptized your disciples on the day of Pentecost.

I want to be a disciple of yours, Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit just as your disciples were. I will try to do what you tell me to do. I forgive all those who have ever caused me pain, harm, rejection, or shame, and I ask you to forgive them. I also ask that you forgive me for holding any judgments against them. Breathe on me your Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer. I will lift up my hands unto the Lord worshiping you and praising you with all my heart in the Spirit giving thanks, praise and glory to you forever. In the name of Jesus Christ.

(Taken from The Sword of the Spirit-the Word of God by Joy Lamb. Ordering information on page 13.)

Jul/Aug 2004 Issue

Hope, Faith and Healing

by Joann Titcomb - School of Healing Prayer® Graduate
Jul/Aug 2004

This is a story of hope, faith, and thanksgiving. On Sat­urday morning, May 15th, Bill woke with a stiffness in his neck and shoulders, as if he had slept in a draft all night. He shrugged it off, but noticed when he brushed his teeth that they were aching. He got a call to go to our church to help with something before breakfast. When he returned, as soon as he walked in the door he asked me to lay hands on his shoulders and pray for the release of the pain. He then explained that the pain had increased and he felt it going down both of his arms while he was driving home.

When he mentioned his arms, I knew this must have something to do with his heart. At this point, he had not told me about his teeth aching. As I was praying for him, he went pale and clammy. He sat down and I took his pulse. It was only 40. I told him I had to get him to the hospital right away. As I drove, I held Bill's hand and prayed out loud for him and asked that God would have everyone and everything in position for Bill when we got there.

There was only one person ahead of us in the emer­gency room. The triage nurse said he thought it was probably just a pulled muscle because of the type of work Bill does. Both Bill and I knew it wasn't. They asked me to come back and sit with Bill. I prayed for a right diagnosis. Another nurse came in and said she was going to take an EKG just to be on the safe side. But since Bill had no history of heart problems it was probably just a pulled muscle. Again, I prayed. As soon as the nurse started the EKG, she opened the door and yelled for a doctor. Immediately, three more nurses and a doctor came in. They put an I. V. in Bill and then gave him nitroglycerin. He bottomed out with a pulse of 30 and BP of 30/20. I kept praying. They said they needed a cardiologist right away. Thank you, God, one was in the next room. He came right in and looked at Bill and his EKG. He took me out of the room and said this was the worst EKG he had ever seen. Every area of Bill's heart had severe damage. He kept shaking his head. He asked me to sign papers for a heart catheterization and for open heart surgery. He said he was calling a heart surgeon to be with him for the catheterization. He also said Bill probably would not survive the emergency room, but if he did his chances of surviving the catheterization were slim. If he survived, then he would need open heart sur­gery immediately. Then the doctor left.

I was numb and crying. I went into the room with Bill and pulled a stool up next to the gurney. I placed my hand on his heart, closed my eyes and tried to focus on Jesus. This was so difficult. So much was trying to fly through my mind. So I started to pray in the Spirit. As I prayed in the Spirit, an image of Jesus' hand hold­ing Bill's heart came into my mind. As I continued to focus on Jesus' hand, I felt he was renewing and restoring Bill's heart. I sat like that for about 20 minutes, until the emergency catheterization team came in. They took Bill for the procedure, which was to take about 45 minutes. They asked me to kiss him and hug him before they rolled him in.

As I waited for the procedure to be over, I called my son and two friends who are on our prayer team. They came right over and prayed with me during the procedure.

After 2 hours, the doctor came out. He said this was the worst catheterization he had ever done. All arteries were 100% blocked. Then for no reason, because they had not given him medicine or anything, all his arteries suddenly opened and they only found one small area of blockage into which they put a stent. The doctor kept shaking his head and saying he did not understand any­thing that happened that morning. Then he said, "I know I told you he had tremendous damage in every part of his heart in the emergency room-I can't understand it but there is no damage anywhere now. Your husband is fine and does not need surgery."

I kept saying, "Thank you, God! Thank you, doctor. Thank you, God!"

As my friends left, they were riding down the eleva­tor with the doctor. One thanked him for helping Bill, and said she was so scared. The doctor put his head down and said he was scared too. He said the heart surgeon was with him through it all because he felt Bill would need surgery immediately. My friends said they were praying.

Bill was able to come home on Tuesday the 18th and is doing fine. We have seen the doctor, and he still shakes his head about it. I told him there was a lot of prayer going on, but he ignored what I said. I thank God

for what he has done. And little does that doctor know how much God used him, to have him in the room next to Bill when Bill needed him. God had everyone and everything in place.

If I had not had the training from CHM, I never would have been able to focus enough to pray, and I never would have thought to hold my hand on Bill's heart. I believe just the touch in prayer is so powerful. We have no idea how God flows through us even in our weakest moments.

Thank you, CHM!! You are bringing the kingdom of God to us. For Bill and myself, the kingdom of God was with us on May 15'11 in that hospital because of your teaching.

May God continue to bless you, Francis and Judith, and further your ministry.

Love, joy, peace and thanksgiving,
Bill and Joann Titcomb

Jul/Aug 2004 Issue

Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

See what He has done ...
May/Jun 2004

• When Baby Isabella was born, her lungs did not make the change necessary for going from the womb to breathing air. She was unable to breathe and swallow simultaneously. The doctors said she could die of starvation if the lungs did not adjust quickly. Eddie, a CHM prayer minister and friend of Isabella's grandfather, called for prayer. Marian Malone, our Intercessor who has birthed thousands of babies, was called immediately and knew exactly what needed to happen. She prayed, and others joined her in prayer within a few days. Isabella was able to nurse in time to be rescued from starvation. Having warned the family that it was "touch and go" and little Isabella "might not make it," the doctors were amazed and thankful. Praise God for another miracle saving one of His newest creations!

• From Virginia: "Elizabeth, in her late 30's, was near death with liver failure and very obese when I gave her name to CHM for intercessory prayer. What happened was so remarkable-a miracle. When I gave her name, she was terribly obese; the doctors had given up on her. She has gone from being extremely obese (100 pounds of fluid having been drawn from her body) to wearing a size 2 or 4. Secondly, she has been given a clean bill of health. She had come so close to death the doc­tors had thought it was the end for her. Now, she is functioning beautifully. Elizabeth is a wonderful violinist and precious in her walk of faith. We're praising God. It's so wonderful, really remarkable, how our Lord has healed her."

• From Sharon: "I want to thank you for all your prayers for my intentions back in November, especially for my friend Mike who had oral cancer. Although he went through quite an ordeal, he presently is cancer free."

• There was much joy in our staff lounge, April l 61h, when Susan (CHM staff member) announced that Windy, her niece, had "come to Jesus." Praise God! Windy was also filled with the Holy Spirit a few days later.

• From Hugh: "You have been praying for me to overcome depression. God has been filling-with himself and his love­ the big hole I had in the middle of me that the doctors called depression and I have learned to recognize as hardness of heart, from which I have repented. Now I am free and happy and full of joy in His presence. Thank you for your prayers and for continuing to pray."

• A woman called from Miami a few weeks ago. She was distressed because her husband was not speaking to her, and for ten years he had not been inside a church. Last week she called again to say: "I'm calling to thank you very much. We had not spoken for about two months, and when we went to do the income tax, the accountant was a Christian. He invited my husband to his church. We went, and my husband was touched by the Lord--<:ried like a baby. I see him in a peace­ful, calm place. I thank your intercessors very much. God bless you."

• From "the little family with the little boy with migraines": "It's finally gone. He [Bennett] woke up this morning, walked in the kitchen and said, 'Mom, the headache's gone'." 9-year-old Bennett had suffered for five months. He was brought to CHM for prayer, and his name was added to your prayer sheets. A happy "postscript" to his healing: The same morn­ing his headache disappeared, Bennett was scheduled to give testimony on a large radio station in the midlands of South Carolina about his experience at Children's Hospital. His mother said he would testify to his healing through prayer.

From Unnamed Individuals by Mail or Email

• "The most amazing thing ... I sent in a prayer request for a young man who has been using drugs, cigarettes and alcohol since he was 9 years old. (He now is 24.) There has been miracle upon miracle. Today he has been free of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes for 10 days. His entire life has changed-sleep habits, trying to eat healthily, and actively seeking holi­ness. His eyes are alive with light, his personality is vibrant, he has a wonderful sense of humor, he communes with God continuously, he calls himself "free".

• "Friends of mine suffered a miscarriage very late in their first pregnancy (January of 2001). Since later that spring, they had been trying to conceive but to no avail. In August of 2003, when I visited CHM, I added their names to the prayer list for conception. This Saturday, April 3, 2004, I'm going to their baby shower. The baby is due in May. Praise God. If you check out the calculations, they conceived within days/weeks of the date their names were added to CHM's prayer list."

• "God has lifted depression from Nancy. Praise God! God is good!"

• "Larry and family moving from a cult farm. Thank you!"

"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him A and he was a Samaritan" (Luke 17: 15)

Jul/Aug 2004 Issue