Healing Line

Healing Line

To Live or Die?

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2004

Dear Friends,

When my parents were in their 70's, they said that the strangest thing was happening: their long–time friends were dropping like trees toppling in a forest. Then, a short time later (30 years ago), I was with them both when they died, six months apart. As you can imagine, it was a painful time, made so much easier by good friends' presence.

Another painful time arrived this past month, when at least eight friends we know all came down with life–threatening sickness — cancer, stroke and the extreme effects of aging. Again, those in the healing ministry are faced with the everlasting question: Do we always pray against death? Jesus healed Lazarus, but at some point, he died. Was it the next year, or was it 40 years later? We simply don't know. But we do know that eventually everyone dies — some, sooner; some, like St. John the Evangelist, many years later.

Over and over, this month, we have been faced with the question, "How best do we pray for someone who is elderly and very sick?"

Here are a few suggestions since, some day, we all must face this question.

The first thing to pray about is, "Is now the time for my loved one to go on and be with the Lord?" Based on what you seem to get in prayer, you either pray for healing or else for a happy death.

If you don't get a clear answer — and often, if you are close to a person, your heart inclines you to want the person to live, and then your affection may distort your judgment about whether or not you should pray. If you aren't sure whether or not to pray for healing, I pass on to you a suggestion from a nurse, who always prays that Jesus will pour his life into the sick person — and then allow Jesus to decide whether his life moves in the direction of healing — or towards preparing the sick person spiritually to enter the presence of God at death. Even when you believe that now is the time to die, you can pray for a lucid mind, against any harmful side effects of medications, and you can pray, too, against extreme pain. Above all, pray that they will experience the companionship of Jesus in their suffering.

Also, as we mentioned in a recent newsletter, praying in tongues is a great help here. You can just lay your hands on the sick person (when feasible) and turn your prayer over to the Holy Spirit who can decide with God's wisdom the direction your prayer will take.

And now, to cap it all off, we would like to share an immediate testimony concerning this painful human dilemma. It concerns Judith's dad, Joe Sewell, who just achieved his 89th birthday. He has been in failing health for several years and is suffering many effects of aging, including being mostly confined to his chair, and finding it hard to communicate because of deafness. A short time ago, he was sent by ambulance to ER to deal with an acute urinary tract infection. In the little hospital in Judith's hometown of Jackson, Kentucky, they treated him for three days with various medications. By the time we got to the hospital (August 8) he was drifting in and out of hallucinations.

The hospital transferred him to a nursing home and the ER physician told Judith that her dad would never recover enough to go home to his wife in their trailer home.

Judith and I did everything we have just suggested, mainly praying in tongues. Two days ago we left her dad, who was now out of it, heavily sedated after two totally sleepless days and nights. Happily, just before we left the nursing home, Joe opened his eyes and recognized us, called us by name, and told us he loved us. He had the most beatific look on his face, the most loving gaze Judith had ever seen. Then we left for the Lexington, KY airport.

Our thought was, if that's the last time we see him, we have a beautiful memory to remember him by. (The physician had said he would never leave the nursing home.)

Then last night, after returning home, we were trying to relax in a restaurant when Judith's cell phone rang. It was Judith's brother, J.C. Judith dissolved in tears when J.C. told her that her dad was suddenly lucid and talking. He was eating and had even sent J.C. out to get a candy bar. In fact, he was feeding himself, which hadn't happened for a long time. Judith was in tears.

As we have always said, healing is a mystery. And we don't need to know all the answers.

But God is good! So good!

Francis and Judith
with Rachel and David

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