Broadening the Spectrum of Deliverance Ministry for Healing

by Francis MacNutt
Nov/Dec 2005

Today’s news (September 29) brings us word that the brilliant psychiatrist author, Dr. M. Scott Peck, has died at the age of 69 of pancreatic and liver duct cancer.  Dr. Peck was an extraordinarily influential author.  His book, The Road Less Traveled [1978], sold more than six million copies and set a longevity record for a paperback — more than ten years on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Those of us in the healing ministry owe Dr. Peck a great debt of gratitude because of his book, People of the Lie [1983].  In this work he courageously championed the idea (radical at the time) that Satan truly exists and can directly infest some individuals as well as entire groups, such as in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.  At a time when belief in a real, personal devil was not very respectable in intellectual or psychological circles, Scott Peck’s People of the Lie gave a measure of respectability to the idea of casting out evil spirits.  When most seminaries and professional counselors did not deal with the issue at all, he took part in two actual exorcisms conducted by Catholic priests.  We are very grateful to Dr. Peck for helping to open up the entire issue to rational discussion.

In his very last book, Glimpses of the Devil, Dr. Peck returned to the same topic of exorcism as if he wanted to make sure this contribution to the field of psychiatry would not be lost.  In fact, two months ago I was on the phone with ‘Scotty’ (who was at his home in Connecticut), and we talked about the possibility of setting up a national discussion about exorcism on the internet.

Having said how indebted we are to Scott Peck, I would like to add that his mentor in exorcism was Malachi Martin. Martin’s book, Hostage to the Devil1, was a bestseller which also was influential in opening up the subject of exorcism to the general public but which, in my opinion, perpetuated several mistaken teachings. Some such teachings are still current.

The first is that only priests truly are called to cast out evil spirits. The ancient tradition of the Church, however, is that any Christian can do this (see Chapter 9 in my book, Deliverance from Evil Spirits). Historically, what happened was that because of abuses and the need for great wisdom in this ministry, the bishops eventually regulated exorcism to such an extent that only a few priests were granted permission to perform exorcisms. Today, however, it would make sense to reconsider this issue and open the possibility of giving permission to qualified Christian psychiatrists and counselors to conduct exorcisms.

Secondly, Martin perpetuated the popular belief that what we are dealing with is possession, which is very rare and, as described in his book, very dramatic. We have found, to the contrary, that ‘infestation’ and oppression are common and need to be dealt with on an everyday basis, especially by priests and ministers who should have been taught in the seminary how to do this type of healing.

Thirdly, Martin assumed, as indicated by the very title of his book Hostage to the Devil (in which the hostage is the priest who dares to perform an exorcism) that the priest who takes on an exorcism is going to get “chewed up” both physically and spiritually. This was reinforced by the fearsome movie The Exorcist, in which two priests died. As a result, any normal person is going to be frightened off from getting involved in an exorcism — that is, if he even believes in it.

Lastly, he assumes that the only way to perform an exorcism is by following the prayers in the official Ritual of Exorcism. These prayers are certainly powerful, but we have found that a large degree of freedom and spontaneity is necessary in making up prayers of deliverance suited to a particular person and the specific demons that are affecting him.

These limitations, in my estimation, greatly cut down on the mainline churches’ ministry to people who need deliverance. For example, when there are countless numbers of people sitting in church on Sunday morning who desperately need help in order to be freed of demonic influences2, the clergy still think in terms of possession and only a rare need for exorcism. On the other hand, non-denominational exorcists who widely cast out evil spirits sometimes have no knowledge of inner healing, neither do they value the knowledge of psychological illnesses. Often, they have no pastoral oversight or mentoring to enable them to minister wisely. At times they can really harm people. For example, survivors of satanic ritual abuse often give evidence of having multiple personalities. An exorcist without any background understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) may try to cast out these personalities as if they were all evil spirits and, thereby, inflict great harm on the very person he is trying to help.

In short, the exorcism ministry, like the healing ministry, is basically simple in its essence when we realize that Jesus shares with us his ministry of casting out evil spirits; but if we oversimplify it and are unwilling to learn in those areas that are complex, we can destroy what was meant for blessing.

Since Malachi Martin’s understandings still have influence in some circles, I would like to make clear the changes that I think need to take place:

All Christians, especially leaders, should be taught about the existence of evil spirits and the common ways they influence many good people.

Exorcism is not to be feared if we know what we are doing and how to protect ourselves spiritually.

Qualified lay people, under some kind of oversight, should be encouraged to deal with deliverance.

One last word of appreciation for Scott Peck! At a time when people in the healing professions generally were skeptical about the reality of personal evil spirits, he was not afraid to write what he believed. He was a pioneer who helped open the entire field of counseling and psychology to the possibility of exorcism.

1 (New York: Reader’s Digest Press, 1976)
2 Two excellent books from a Catholic perspective have been written by the official exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, in which he repeats this belief that mainly we are dealing with possession and that only a priest can ordinarily do it. One of Fr. Amorth’s books is An Exorcist Tells His Story (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999).

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Nov/Dec 2005 Issue

Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

Compiled by Anne Early
Nov/Dec 2005

From Three-Day Intensive Prayer Ministry (August 2005)

•    “I’ve experienced ‘spiritual heart surgery’ – lots of healing of memories, but mainly a new life.”

•    “I have been able to just be me today.  God has given me back my voice.  Thank you, Jesus.”

•    “To think, I almost did not come!  I was very despondent – felt like I was dying inside.  The first day I saw the generations being healed, and a huge burden lifted off me.  Never have I felt so loved as during the next two days.  I was able to face the fact that I had to forgive my dad, who had died before giving or receiving forgiveness.  I’ve often wondered if there were a place, other than the Lord, where I could go and feel safe.  This is the place.”

•    “The Lord has taught me how to be a daughter to my mother instead of being her mother.  This is so freeing.”

•    From a prayer minister who has served at CHM for several years:  “This is the most spirit-filled three days I have experienced in all my years.”

From a student at School of Healing Prayer (SHP) Level III (September 2005):  

•    “My testimony is with regard to what happened to me when attending SHP II (June 2005).  I had suffered from severe back pain for a very long time, with no medical relief.  My back was hurting very badly during the school, and on the last day a CHM prayer minister who saw that I was in pain stopped to pray over me.  When she laid her hands on me and prayed, the pain left me. I have been free of back pain ever since that day.”

From our mail and email:

•    From Linda:  "After receiving four days of prayer ministry this past June – Day of Healing Prayer and three days of Intensive Prayer Ministry – we returned home to a new life in our walk with the Lord and each other.  I now have a much deeper understanding and sensitivity to the attacks of the enemy and, unlike in the past, am waging spiritual warfare daily.  More importantly, my Lord is my constant companion, as before, but now I recognize His Love and Grace for me.  My way of seeing the world has been transformed."

•    From Donna:  "Thank you for all your healing prayers.  They truly have made a difference in my life.  What a special, powerful place is CHM."

•    "You prayed for Irma and she was healed.  Now she can walk.  God also healed her heart, so that she is able to receive love.  Thank you for your prayers."

•    “Your newsletter builds up my faith!”

•    “After listening to the tape series on “Healing the Generations,” I prayed with my husband about my family issues related to my Irish roots and over eating. I no longer have the irrational fear that I will run out of food or, if I go somewhere unfamiliar, that I will not be able to find food.  I am eating more normally now and losing excess weight.  Before this time, when I would diet and lose weight, I would become very panicked as I became thinner.  Now I am looking forward to becoming healthier. Thank you for offering Godly wisdom to the Body of Christ, even to those who live far away from you.”

•    “Your new book is wonderful!”

•    “I got your book a few days ago and already feel a tremendous amount of peace!”

•    “My husband and I attended the August Day of Healing Prayer, following which, after two very rocky days of anguish, my husband admitted to being an alcoholic and wanting to get better.  That was a major milestone for him.  We both appreciate the prayers on Monday that led to this revelation.”    

•    “During the last generational healing session I received prayer about my daughter’s alienation from the family.  A miracle happened.  The very next evening she called me and we had a long, pleasant talk. . . . Plans are being made for family visits.  I am praising the Lord for the healing that is taking place.  I also am grateful to you for your help in showing me how to pray.”

•    “Since returning from CHM I am a changed man, experiencing peace I haven’t known for a long time (ever?)”

From a victim of satanic ritual abuse who attended the Emerging Leaders in Healing Conference in April 2005:  

•    “During Judith’s talk on forgiveness, the meaning of a dream from two months earlier was revealed to me:  I was told who had done the ‘programming’ of my mind.  I realized I was not being healed in that area because I had not forgiven him.  I never had thought it was necessary to forgive him.  In my dream he had given me the tools to destroy others – and that’s what this guy did in the satanic realm.  I was excited because, as Judith had said, ‘God doesn’t reveal something unless He intends to heal it.’  After the inner healing/forgiveness teaching, I asked for prayer.  The prayer minister broke the satanic seal that had been placed on me when I was inducted into a coven of witches, which probably happened at birth or at a very young age. The Lord gave me the name of the hypnotist who had done the programming, and I forgave him.  

“I saw myself in that memory, but this time Jesus was with me.  ‘They’ used to hook us up to electronic wires; but when the guy left (as I remembered), Jesus took the wires off my head and put His hand across my forehead.  I could feel the warmth of his hand going through into my mind, massaging it, soothing it.  Judith talked about pathways in our minds and how, when there are addictions or ‘programming’, there are actual pathways being cut into our minds.  While seeing Jesus’ hand on my forehead,  I felt and ‘saw’ all the pathways fill in with something like liquid gold.  Jesus began to carve a new pathway straight from my mind to his Spirit.  One by one, He showed me things from my past – familiar spirits that I had kept letting back in just because of my familiarity with them and the ‘comfort,’ no matter how false, I had felt from them.  He showed me addictions and other things I had used to comfort myself.  One by one I turned away from them and went down that pathway in my mind that Jesus had just carved – as though I was turning away from my ways of the past for coping and turning to Jesus.  In the end, the pathway of my mind had been carved deeply toward Jesus.  I never have to run to anything else again when afraid or angry; I need only to run to Jesus – and He will hide me.

“I realize that what happened during the week of this conference is a process.  Jesus really is a gentle Healer, and He is my strength.”


I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name . . . .
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
(John 16:23(b),  24(b))

(The Praise Reports have been edited for readability.)

Nov/Dec 2005 Issue