Healing Line

Healing Line

The Critical Next Step

by Francis MacNutt
May/Jun 2007

We are among that hopeful group trying to reawaken the once universal belief that Jesus Christ has entrusted to us a share in his supernatural healing power. You should also be aware that for the past 200 years, God has been touching individuals in every one of the major denominations with the same realization that healing prayer is vitally necessary for the full practice of Christianity1. To take just one example, in the Lutheran Church, around the year 1840, God touched a simple, hard–working pastor, Johann Christophe Blumhardt, and led him to rediscover the power to exorcise a suffering member of his church. This happened in a small town in the Black Forest of Germany. Soon his church became a center of pilgrimage, even though he never even gave a sermon extolling healing prayer.

What happened to Blumhardt, and to most of the healing pioneers in the 1800s, was that the mainline churches did not accept their exciting rediscovery, but, instead, sealed off their influence from the rest of the Church as if it were an infection. Blumhardt, for example, was visited by a Lutheran official, accompanied by a physician, who warned him that physical health belonged to the world of medicine, and that Blumhardt should mind his own business and stop praying for the sick. They told him that he should only counsel his people to practice Christian patience when they were sick. The same tragic response — at least I see it as tragic — blocked those other Christian ministers and physicians who rediscovered the reality of healing prayer and tried to bring it back to their churches. They usually met a stone wall, and when they died, their ministries died with them. This happened to Baptists, to Episcopalians, to Presbyterians, and to almost every other denominational leader. It was as if God was calling out to us for years and years, but no one could hear.

Then, it seems that, God grew weary of Christians who would not listen and he began to speak to people who were not ministers within the established churches. During this next stage in our story, God empowered individuals, such as William Seymour at Azusa Street in Los Angeles (1906). At the very beginning of the 20th Century, these lonely individuals were given a dramatic introduction to the power of the Holy Spirit, very much like the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. Their preaching about the kingdom of God was dramatically accompanied by charismatic “signs and wonders,” including miracles of healing. It was as if God got tired of running into the center of the line (in football terms) and decided to do an end run. As has so often happened, the ones whom God chose were financially poor and uneducated, but their influence spread all around the world and new churches rose up among them, such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ.

The third move of the Spirit in renewing the healing ministry has been called the Charismatic Renewal and sprang up in the 1950s and 1960s when priests, ministers, and lay people in the mainline denominations experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and also rediscovered many of the charisms, especially healing the sick. In those years, beginning with the Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett (1939), millions of clergy and laypeople (including us) in the mainline churches not only learned about healing, but experienced it in their own lives. This third stage was another great leap forward and healing associations such as the Order of Saint Luke and the Association of Christian Therapists were formed. That is where we are now. It changed many people and, to some extent, the churches. When I first started praying for the sick, it was still seen as unusual for a Catholic priest to step out and pray publicly for the sick, but it has now become acceptable. In many churches, volunteers are set aside on Sundays to pray for the sick after communion. Some priests celebrate liturgies for healing the sick and hundreds of the faithful attend.

So what more is needed?

Wonderful as those changes may have been, much more is needed, or what has already happened is in danger of fading. Indeed, as I travel in order to speak, I am often saddened to see that Christian ministries and charismatic communities have faded in their significance or split into different groups, or have even disappeared. Thirty years ago, some of them were beacons of hope and even places of pilgrimage. Their names are not so important as is the sad fact that this loss of life seems almost normative.

I believe that something far more needs to happen. There needs to be an explosion of healing life so enormous that it cannot be ignored, so vast that we can no longer overlook God’s desire to heal his people, and so clear that no one can deny — or wish to deny — that normal Christianity means that every ordinary Christian understands that preaching that the kingdom of God is here means that Jesus heals the sick and destroys evil — even now! It will mean that every pastor will know that if someone has cancer, they are expected to pray for healing; if a parishioner is a drug addict, they are happy to pray for freedom; if anyone wants to quit smoking, they can pray for the ability to quit. Every Christian will know that it is normal for us to pray that we come to be transformed into a new, loving creation.
(II Cor. 5).

1 I write about this in my recent book, The Healing Reawakening.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May/Jun 2007 Issue

Blessed Elements

by Francis MacNutt
May/Jun 2007

Because God is invisible and we humans are helped to think about God when we see, touch, or hear (music) something that reminds us of God’s attributes (such as “beauty”), God has been gracious enough to use certain material elements as channels of healing when we use them wisely. In the course of Christian history, we find many of these, but the most important are: oil  — through anointing; water — through sprinkling or drinking; salt — through sprinkling in places or placing on food.

All these are ordinary and inexpensive and, in the human course of events, they somehow signify healing. For example, in Jesus’ day, olive oil was used as a healing agent, such as when the Good Samaritan helped the man beaten by brigands by pouring oil and wine (an antiseptic) on the open wounds.

We find remarkable stories in Scripture that present us with examples of the use of human elements as channels for healing. For example, when the Israelites, during their journey through the desert, are bitten by serpents and some die, God comes up with an astonishing solution and orders Moses to:

“Make a fiery serpent and raise it as a standard.  Anyone who is bitten and looks at it will survive.”  Moses then made a serpent out of bronze and raised it as a standard, and anyone who was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived. (Numbers 21:8–9)

This serpent, hanging on a standard, became the symbol of the medical community known as the “caduceus.” When I was a medic in the army, the button with the caduceus on it identified me as a medic.

The problem with all this is that visible channels of God’s love can sometimes become worshipped in themselves and this leads to magic, or even idolatry. We read that several hundred years after Moses, the Israelite king “abolished the high places, broke the pillars, cut down the sacred poles and smashed the bronze serpent which Moses had made; for up to that time the Israelites had offered sacrifices to it” (2 Kings 18:4). What had been life–giving when seen as an instrument of God’s mercy was transformed into evil when regarded as, in itself, the source of healing.

Today we have learned to use three ordinary elements — oil, water and salt — as special channels of God’s healing power. Fortunately, they are so ordinary that it is hard to make them into gods! In order to use the element as a channel of healing, you add a blessing to it, asking God to:  block all harmful side effects and use it for healing or deliverance (in which salt is especially useful).

1. Oil: Oil has long been used as a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and of healing.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward
(1 Samuel 16:13a).

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them
(Mark 6:12–13).

(By the way, in the Catholic tradition, blessed oil can be used by laypeople, as long as it is not given the special blessing for the Sacrament of Anointing.)

2. Water: Blessed water (“Holy Water”) reminds us of the cleansing water of baptism, and it drives away evil spirits. Like blessed oil, it also has healing properties. It can be sprinkled, as well as ingested by drinking.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you (Ezekiel 36:25).

3. Salt: Historically, salt has been used to keep food, such as meat, from decomposing, so it is a symbol of our struggle against evil. Typically, blessed salt is mixed with water (as in baptism) or is sprinkled about. It has a particular power over evil spirits, and it has the advantage (over water and oil) in that it stays for a time before evaporating. We often sprinkle an entire room with salt. (I hope this doesn’t sound irreverent, but we sometimes liken it to “divine roach powder,” which can last for weeks.)

The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”

“Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.

Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken
(2 Kings 2:19–22).

It is fascinating to see that people affected by the demonic respond strongly to blessed water, oil, and salt, but do not respond in any remarkable way to ordinary, unblessed water, oil, and salt.

If you would like more information on these “sacramentals,” you can consult my book Power to Heal,1 which includes the blessing prayers that have traditionally been used by the Church.

1 Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Ind., 1977. Appendix Two.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May/Jun 2007 Issue

The Healed Becomes a Healer

by Anne Early
May/Jun 2007

“I’m healed!” That was the response from Jim Francis a couple of years ago when I asked, “How are you?” Jim was on our campus that day to lend his expertise to some planning that was in the works at CHM. He reminded me that he had received prayer at CHM and was healed of thyroid cancer. I rejoiced with him! Remembering that day and the joy of Christ that shown in Jim’s face, I have asked him to share his testimony which, as you will read, has multiplied since the Lord healed him. Jim’s is a wonderful testimony! The healed becomes a healer — and a great supporter of CHM.

“Hey, Dad, what’s that swelling on your neck?” My son John began my bout with thyroid cancer with that question.
After multiple tests, all surgeons agreed the thyroid should be removed. (I thought, “What else would a surgeon think? If the only tool in your tool box is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”) The surgery was to be simple, the only downside being that I would have to take a small, pill (no side effects) every day for the rest of my life. After surgery, however, the thyroid proved to be malignant, and decisions had to be made with regard to further treatment. I had seen many of my friends suffer through years of cancer therapy only to die from the ill effects of the treatments. Such a prospect was not something for which I was eager to sign up. By then, however, I had learned from reading several publications about thyroid cancer that I really did not want the type I had — Stage IV follicular thyroid cancer with less than 5% five–year survival rate — and I was hoping mine had not metastasized. To my delight, the prescribed treatment would be to take only a small radioactive iodine pill which would get rid of any remaining thyroid cells.

Before receiving the radioactive iodine, my wife brought home a book, Blessing or Curse, You Can Choose, by Derek Prince. She told me Lee Ann Rummell (Chair of CHM’s Board of Directors) had given her the book. When I asked her if she would read it, she said, “No, it looks a little weird.” I decided to read the book based on the thought that when you have cancer, you look anywhere for relief. (I later learned Lee Ann did not know I had cancer, and that she had intended to give the book to someone else. She had given it to my wife only when she learned that the other person already had a copy.)

I began reading the book. As recommended by Dr. Prince, I also prayed at the end of each chapter to be released from curses, two of which I had specifically identified. It was a joyous, cathartic experience which continued as I completed the book and also took the prescribed radioactive iodine pill. I prayed that the radioactive iodine would find every thyroid cell and destroy it. More importantly, I felt secure and at peace in the Lord; regardless of the outcome, I had been released of the burdens revealed in the book. (Everyone else who was waiting for treatment at the clinic looked worried and burdened. I wanted to share with them the joy of the experience, but I had no platform.)

A few days later, I went with a friend to CHM for prayer. I listed two items for prayer: healing for thyroid cancer, and peace and joy for my family. On my side of the cancer there was peace and joy, but I could see the fear in the eyes of my family. I started to put a third request on the list, that God would direct my path (since I had sold my business and was looking for something to do), but decided that two requests were enough. The prayer ministers were wonderful, and after praying for me for 15 minutes they both said, “You have already been healed.” While we celebrated, one of the prayer ministers said, “May I pray for you again? God has put on my heart to pray for something else.” She asked me to take off my shoes and socks. She anointed my feet with oil and, to my amazement, prayed that God would direct my path. They were not at all surprised when I told them that had been my third but unwritten request.

A few weeks later, I learned that the cancer had, in fact, metastasized. There was a large tumor in one of my vertebrae. I had Stage IV thyroid cancer. My doctors told me that follicular thyroid cancer usually spreads quickly to the brain, liver, lungs and bone. The radiologist recommended that they shoot radiation beams into my back to irradiate the tumor. He explained that the beams also would irradiate my liver and other organs surrounding the area, and that the radiation might affect the spinal cord and possibly cause paralysis. Without radiation, the vertebrae could collapse with the growing tumor, which also would cause paralysis and spreading of the cancer. I told him I thought I had been healed — that I wanted to wait a few months, then have another test. As the months passed, I was confident I had been healed. When the test was run, the cancer was gone. For the last two–and–a–half years, tests every six months have proven the same — no cancer.

After the healing I had lunch with Lee Ann, Francis, and Judith, for a celebration of God’s healing work. As Lee Ann was leaving the luncheon, she said to me, “You know, there is no free lunch; you have to become involved in this healing ministry.” God has answered the third prayer request — my path has been directed. [Jim Francis currently serves on the Board of Directors and chairs the Capital Campaign Committee of Christian Healing Ministries, Inc.]

At the close of a very busy day, and much to his surprise, Jim found himself being used by the Holy Spirit for healing when he attended a teaching by Bill Johnson, author of When Heaven Invades Earth and The Super–natural Power of a Transformed Mind. Johnson, of whom Jim speaks in the following testimony, is an outstanding leader in the teaching and practice of being a true disciple of Christ Jesus.

It was one of those excessively busy weekdays. I had moderated a Board of Director’s meeting for a local ministry and, on my way home, stopped by Grace Church of Avondale to hear the last part of Bill Johnson’s teaching on healing. I had heard Bill speak briefly at lunch that day. There was standing room only in the church, so I slipped in and stood by the rear door to listen to what I expected to be the last 30 minutes of his talk.

I was a bit frustrated because I could not hear clearly all that Johnson was saying, but I was impressed by his authenticity. He distinctly was not bringing praise on himself, and his perspective was that everyone can be trained to participate in bringing healing to others. I agreed with this perspective, but I had watched and listened to those who regularly participate in healing prayer and realized there was more to learn. I was there at Grace Church to learn, and learn I did.

As Bill Johnson was ending his last point some hours after I arrived — and some half hour after he had announced that this was his “last point” — I looked at my watch to leave before the many who were attending went forward for prayer. Instead of having people come forward right away, Bill had his discerning prayer team announce the ailments of the people they felt the Lord had laid on their hearts. As they did this, people raised their hands if they had the ailment that was announced. One young man with shin splints raised his hand, was asked to stand, and was healed instantly. He joyfully ran up and down the aisles to experience the absence of pain. With the many hands being raised, my thought was, “These prayer ministers are going to be here for hours more.” My attention was focused on how I could leave quickly to go home before it all started.

When the prayer ministers had finished naming the ailments or afflictions on their lists and members of the congregation had finished acknowledging certain ones named as theirs, Bill Johnson asked everyone who had raised a hand to put it up again. Half of the people raised their hand. He announced that there were too many for the prayer ministers to pray for individually; anyone who didn’t have a hand up was now a prayer minister. To those of us who had not raised a hand, Bill said, “Find someone with a hand up.” To those with hands raised, he said, “When someone finds you, put your hand down.” I found that a woman standing behind me had her hand up because of an irregular heartbeat. While I believed she could be healed, I had no expectation of being equipped to be effective in praying for her and she appeared to have no expectation of being healed.

I prayed briefly, perhaps 15 seconds, after which I asked her if she felt different. She responded that her irregular heartbeat happened infrequently and might have been from caffeine, she really didn’t know. She then said that what she wanted healed, a constant pain in her back since she was a young child, had not been mentioned. She said she had tried everything without any relief and had just lived with the pain. I asked her if I could pray again. This time I actually felt something in my hand that was on her shoulder as I prayed. Again, the prayer was for about 15 seconds. When I finished, her eyes were open wide and she began to leap, bend and twist with joy, saying, “It’s gone, it’s gone!” She told me that was the first relief she had experienced since she was a child, and that the pain was totally gone.

The next day I was speaking with my cardiologist friend and giving him my testimony. He told me that the cause of an irregular heartbeat can be an intense pain in the person’s back.

May/Jun 2007 Issue