Healing Line

Healing Line

An AARP Survey on Healing Prayer

summarized by Francis MacNutt
May/Jun 2009

One of the signs of a growing mainstream belief in miracles is a survey sponsored by the American Association of Retired People which appeared in AARP, “the world’s largest circulation magazine.” The authors begin by mentioning that Thomas Jefferson did not believe in Christian healing or anything “supernatural” at all; he had snipped out all these references from his cut–and–paste Bible. He rewrote the New Testament and titled it “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” (No miracles, just teaching.)

Today there is still an intellectual struggle between agnostics like Jefferson and those Christians who believe in miracles defined as “an incredible event that cannot be scientifically explained.” In the survey the AARP asked 1300 people, 45 and over, what they thought. The results were amazing as they found out that 80% said they believe in miracles; 41% said they happen every day, and 37% said they have actually witnessed one.*

Of these respondents, 84% say that God is their cause, and about three quarters further identify Jesus and the Holy Spirit as causes. Angels (47%) and saints (32%) are also given a role in these miracles. The Judeo–Christian concept of a personal God reaching out “overwhelmingly dominates the American spiritual landscape.” Virtually absent is the Hindu belief in a universal energy that blesses people.

Since we are looking forward to building a healing center, one of the findings that is specially encouraging to us is that 38% said that they would travel to a healing site like Lourdes, in France, and 6% have actually made such a trip to Europe. There are very few places in the U.S. where people can go to receive healing prayer, and they are not well–known. In the words of the movie, Field of Dreams, we think that if we “build it, they will come”!

Surprisingly, 71% with a college or post–graduate degree believe in miracles. Moreover, the more money you make, the less likely you are to believe: 78% of those making $75,000 or more believe, while 86% of those making $25,000 or less believe. Both these percentages are much larger than I would expect!

Women seem to be especially spiritually gifted, and 85% of them believe in miracles, compared with only 73% of men.

Not all the miracles described in AARP are physical healings, but some are surprising answers to other dramatic crises in life with no human way out — such as being in debt and then having the money show up in the exact amount in apparently impossible ways (this has happened to us several times). In spite of the somewhat loose usage of the word “miracle,” this article is an inspiring testimony to the belief that many Americans still have in the active compassion of God.

We agree totally with one commentator (Father Jonathan Morris) who writes that “when people say, ‘This is a miracle’, they’re not saying ‘God broke the laws of nature to give me this blessing;’ … they’re saying, ‘God cares about me so much that he allowed this to happen!’”

*All of this article is based on pp. 50ff. in the Jan.–Feb., 2009, issue of AARP.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May/Jun 2009 Issue