Healing Line

Healing Line

The Gift of Healing

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2011

Most of us are aware of Paul’s listing of special gifts of the Holy Spirit needed to build up the complete body of Christ and that one of them is “healing” (I Cor. 12:8–10 and 12:28–30). While we are all encouraged to pray for healing (Luke 11:9–13), it is clear that some Christians are especially gifted and should be recognized in the Christian community as being gifted. Paul also encourages us to pray for those ministry gifts which are all given by the Holy Spirit who “distributes gifts to different people just as he chooses” (I Cor. 12:11).

Now, how can you recognize whether you or someone else has the special gift of “healing” that is meant to work with the other gifts to build up the total church? Scripture doesn’t spell this out but here are some reflections based on 40 years of experience.

The person with the greatest manifestation of this gift knows which sick people to pray for. If there is a particular block to being healed, the person praying may also receive knowledge of the root of the problem. For example, if the person has had an abortion and hasn’t prayed about it, they will probably need to repent and receive forgiveness before healing can take place. The minister of healing may also have this extra gift of “reading your mail” to discern the roots of sickness. (We have people on our staff at CHM who have this gift — this “word of knowledge” gift). It’s not the same as the “gift of healing” but it is connected with healing and is a great help.

We can all expect some healings to take place when we pray, but more than ordinary are healed when the gifted healer prays. The average is higher. I like to compare it to athletes: we can all walk a mile (unless we are disabled), but only some are able to compete successfully in running a 10K (i.e. 6.2 miles) race, and even fewer are called to run in the Olympics.

Among professional athletes two factors go to make for success. First, the average percentage of success is higher. For example, Alberto Pujols, who is perhaps the best baseball hitter in our day gets a hit about one time out of three (a .333 average), as compared to an ordinary hitter who generally hits successfully only one time out of four (a .250 average). Second, there is hitting home runs, which is more difficult. This compares to the ministry of healing more difficult diseases — such as cancer.

It is also evident that some ailments are commonly healed. For example, with some, I am surprised if the person is not healed when we pray. But other healings are more difficult: example, soldiers coming back from Afghanistan who are paraplegic or quadriplegic; do you know of any who have been healed? If they are, it is certainly not common. Anatole France, the famous French writer was asked what he thought about the healings at the famous healing shrine of Lourdes and he commented, “I see discarded crutches, but where are the wooden legs?”

In this case the person with a gift of healing is needed because of the degree of difficulty. For example, the healing of cancer seems to be more difficult than the healing of a sprained wrist. For some reason most books written about healing prayer rarely deal with this.

Christians often quote Paul’s “All things are possible” (Phil 4:13) but, having quoted Paul, can they follow–up with actually bringing healing to the more difficult cases? When I was a medic in World War II, I worked for a week in a ward where the men were all paraplegic. At that time (1945), I didn’t know about prayer for healing but praying for combat veterans like them would have been an exciting challenge. I often think back on those days and wonder what it would have been like to pray for those men.

It seems to me that healing services have been good experiences and that some of the sick have been healed, but those with more serious illnesses they need powerful individual, one–on–one prayer. To reach these individuals is hard, because at the large healing services there is little time to spend with each person.

Only a percentage of the people we pray for are usually healed. However, this percentage increases when another gift, the “word of knowledge,” goes along with it. The person who has the gift of knowledge is guided by the Holy Spirit to pray for certain individuals but not everyone. God has indicated to the healing minister, “I want you to pray for this particular person.”

At CHM, listening is our first step in praying for healing — listening to the sick person with one ear and trying to hear God, as it were, with the other ear. “Listen, love, and pray.” The danger is to fall into a routine that does not change. It’s so easy to slip into repeating ways of praying that have worked in the past.

I’ve been reading about the life of John Wimber, written by his wife Carol, and she movingly describes how you could actually see John trying to “hear” God.

“God started speaking to John so clearly about what he wanted to do in the meetings that it became distracting for him and he would lose his train of thought. He soldiered on anyway in his effort to give a good sermon, but most times God won the battle and John would just stop and say that God wanted to do something. You’ve probably seen him do it yourself, stop right in the middle of his lecture, turn his head to the side a little as if listening to an off–stage coach. He would remove his glasses, take a deep breath and apologize for talking so much when the Lord wanted to minister to someone.”1

This picture of John with his head tilted to listen is an image that really strikes me. I want to hang on to it as a kind of lifetime stance I would like to hold as an ideal in our ministry — a real belief that God may “speak” and change our planned direction at any time.

This is our ideal at CHM. I hope we live up to it!

1John Wimber, the Way it Was by Carol Wimber. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1998, p. 136

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2011

Glorify His Name

by Jeff Sampson
Jan/Feb 2011

Editor’s Note: Jeff Sampson is someone many of you know from his being a member of our staff and working to register those who attend our conferences. Right now Jeff is struggling courageously with a recurrence of cancer which has metastasized. For a second time, he is undergoing chemo.

And he covets your prayers.

I sit here 3.5 weeks after undergoing emergency abdominal surgery, knowing that I am only able to survive and sit here because we have an awesome God.

Working at CHM and watching God work, I have come to learn and accept that God is in control. When we let Him be in control, the journey may not be the one you would ask for, or expect, but we can look back and recognize His love, His touch, and His creativity.

I will now try to convey to you what I have gone through during the past month.

Over the weekend at the beginning of August 2010, I realized that my digestive system was blocked and my appetite was diminishing. On Monday I tried a recommended medication — nothing happened. On Tuesday my wife and I went to the doctor and they said to try another medication — nothing happened. On Wednesday my wife and I went to the doctor and they sent us to the ER. I already knew that we would end up in the ER that day, so I was dressed for it and only carried my ID. When the X–ray tech was looking at the film of my abdomen, the ER doctor happened to walk by and saw the X–ray. I understand the conversation was short — something like — “He is blocked, get him a room!” So began my three week stay in the hospital.

Three years ago, the surgeon who operated on my colon cancer was Dr. B. I already knew that he would be involved in my current treatment. So when the ER doctor came by to let me know what was going on, I mentioned Dr. B to her. She said she would check and see if he was around. If you have ever been in a hospital, you know that time is something that can escape you, but within an hour Dr. B was standing at the foot of my bed in the ER. When I saw his face, the peace of the Lord swept through my whole being! God was in control and His servants' hands were now in charge. I get tears every time I think of that moment. I know that God walked into that room with Dr. B.

Thursday, my wife and I waited all day for the GI doctor to figure out what the next step was to be. Late in the afternoon Dr. D did come in and she scheduled me for first thing Friday for a flexible sigmoidoscopy to see what was going on.

Friday morning they took me down to the OR for the procedure, at which time I laid on the table about an hour waiting for Dr. D to show up. When she got there, she apologized that she had gotten tied up in the ER. So there was an hour that I lay there frustrated — or was it just God’s timing? At this point, I am no longer conscious and have pieced the following together from conversations with Dr. B, Dr. D, and my wife.

During the exam, Dr. D found that the original resection of my colon from three years ago had constricted, so there was no longer a usable passage way. She used a balloon to open the passageway a couple of millimeters. After conferring with a colleague on what to do next, she attempted to suck out some of what had built up in the colon. Shortly after she started, the anesthesiologist raised the red flag! Something had happened and my blood pressure shot UP. Dr. D immediately stopped what she was doing. A quick X–ray showed I had air in my abdomen — my colon had ruptured and come to find out, no place close to where Dr. D was working. The call immediately went out for Dr. B (who was just finishing up another surgery). In less than an hour I was in a different OR. For the next two hours, DR. B cleaned me out and repaired as much as he could at that time. When I talked to him later, he told me that when he cut me open, I was a cesspool! He spent a lot of time mopping out my insides and flushing me as clean as possible. What he discovered was that cancer had returned to the outside of my colon and various other places in my abdomen. Because of the extensiveness of the cancer he could not treat it surgically. He put me back together as best he could with an ileostomy bag. He told me that ”no colonoscopy would have seen the cancer!!!” I now have more doctors' appointments and decisions to make about what course of action to take.

I have had time to lie around and think of different scenarios about ‘what if,’ and I believe I would be dead instead of being able to tell you how much I believe we have an awesome God. So I continue to praise and thank God for what he can do and how creative He is in doing it.

While I was in the hospital, my wife was talking to a friend of ours who is a wonderful prayer minister. She told my wife that she had been asking God why all this was happening and the only thing she got back was to ‘Glorify His Name.’ Ya know, I can do that! What a unique journey! I do glorify His name and praise Him and thank Him for all that He is doing for me. Have you ever had a rough time and when it was all over you looked back and realized that the only way you got through it was by believing that God was in control? I encourage you to Glorify His Name.

God bless and have a GREAT day!

Jeff Sampson Jeff Sampson is Intercessory Coordinator of CHM. Jan/Feb 2011

The Anatomy of Fear

by Linda Strickland
Jan/Feb 2011

The disciples had every reason to trust Jesus. They had watched Him heal all kinds of sickness, they had even witnessed demons scatter in His presence. Not to mention the personal relationship and friendship they had with Him. They knew Him better than anyone. But out on a boat, when a storm came up and threatened them, they all forgot who was in the boat with them. (Mark 4:35–41)

Have you ever noticed that fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia? It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how faithful He is.

While my husband was in seminary we struggled financially. Before moving we both had good jobs that afforded us a comfortable lifestyle, but all of that changed as our income was dramatically slashed. Although God performed miracle after miracle in providing for us (we called it “loaves and fishes math”), I would still fret and worry each and every time it looked like we were going to be short. To say that I struggled with fear and spiritual amnesia during that time is an understatement!

Fear is a powerful thing! But it’s important to know the difference between God–given natural fear and a spirit of fear.

Natural, primal fear is a healthy function and it serves us well. A good dose of fear can keep a child from running into a busy street or from picking up a poisonous snake. Natural fear sets boundaries for us and can even give us physical strength when needed.

For many of us, though, our fears go well beyond natural fear. In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear.” A spirit of fear can put us in bondage, cripple us and keep us from living a joyful life.

“When fear gets out of control it can be irrational and extreme. Some people will become afraid of everything and suffer from phobias. They are driven by their fears and compulsions. A phobia will cause us to want to escape from the world and avoid life and people.” (From CHM’s School of Healing Prayer III student manual, page 63, The Purpose of Fear).

The danger of living with a spirit of fear is that it can become a stronghold, and, once firmly attached, will shape our life.

In Max Lucado’s book, Fearless, he puts it this way: “When fear shapes our life, safety becomes our God. And when safety becomes our God we worship the risk–free life.” He then goes on to say, “The fear–filled cannot love deeply because love is risky. They cannot give to the poor because benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear–filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear!”

A spirit of fear can have a number of root causes, such as trauma. It can also come to us through our family of origin, where dysfunctional patterns of fear originated in past generations. But most of our fears grow out of experiences in life where we have been hurt. I have a friend who had a terrible marriage in which she was hurt over and over again. She has vowed to never love again. For her, it is no different than touching a hot stove and deciding to never do it again. Unfortunately for her, and many like her, she does not understand that fear is meant to be a guardrail, not a roadblock. Healthy fear keeps us between the ditches, but should not stop us.

After Paul tells us that God did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), he goes on to declare what He has given us: three things that are weapons we can use in our war against fear.

  1. Power “I have given you all the authority over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).
  2. Love — “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
  3. A Sound Mind — “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).

For most of us, each New Year usually brings a certain amount of change and/or transition into our lives. Change can be good as it pushes us to grow and often brings new people and relationships into our lives. However, change can also be uncomfortable and can cause us to feel anxious and fearful. This is the kind of fear that can hold us back.

In my life I have discovered that half of learning is learning what we don’t know and the other half is unlearning what we do know, which is twice as hard. It’s like missing a freeway exit — you have to double back.

We are all born with two fears: the fear of falling and loud noises. That means that all of our other fears are learned, and more importantly it means that they can be unlearned. We can actually unlearn fears that paralyze us and neutralize us. Unlearning can be a lengthy process, but it is well worth the effort.

If you are embarking on a journey this year where you will be required to embrace change and go through a transition that is making you feel fearful, I want to encourage you! This next destination just might be the place you’ve been asking God to take you.

So, what are you willing to give up that is keeping you from your next destination? How about fear?

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9

Happy Fearless New Year!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Jan/Feb 2011

Redemption Comes Full Circle

by Leslie Royalty
Jan/Feb 2011

God has a beautiful way of bringing redemption full circle. He is truly a God of completion. Many of you know from an article I shared earlier this year, about my traumatic experience with eye surgery as an infant. Since then, I have received many years of prayer and have experienced profound inner healing in so many areas. As I expressed in the previous article, I received healing from a major root of fear (and all its aspects) that entered through that surgery as a baby.

What I did not describe was the whole other issue of shame. As I was born with strabismus (misalignment of my eyes), I dealt with some childhood teasing as you can imagine, which I then internalized, unconsciously developing painful insecurities. The Lord finally began to bring these to the surface as I approached college, slowly and gently addressing the deep lies I had come to believe about myself and replacing them with His perfect love. He did this over time and in many different ways. Through ministering to me directly in times alone with Him, through inner healing prayer with others, and through healing peer relationships in which I felt deeply loved and valued, the Lord has gradually peeled back the layers of shame and allowed my true self to be loved.

Of course I have countless times throughout my life also received prayer for physical healing. Although I do believe that there had been some gradual improvement over time, the physical healing was not fully realized. I struggled with this reality on many occasions. Not only is it difficult to work for a healing ministry and not receive healing myself, but it has caused me to wrestle through core questions. With raw honesty I have asked Jesus, “Are you who you say you are? Are you who I say you are?” I have always believed that Jesus healed when He was on this earth and that as Scripture, history, and present experience all demonstrate, He still heals today. But my soul needed to wrestle through these questions and receive more deeply the truth about God’s character and his intense desire and power to heal. Regardless of the outcome in my own life.

I really believe that God could have healed me in an instant. Just one word from Him is all it takes. But in the 25 years that have lapsed between my first surgery and now, I will never fully be able to capture all the internal healing that He has done. What began as a gaping wound in my soul, God has reached in, cleaned out, and turned into an increased capacity for love. He has shown me so many times that my suffering in this area has propelled me to seek Him with greater vulnerability and depth, allowing me to receive his love more than I would have otherwise. It has led me to know that my identity is fully based on His love for me, not on my appearance or other’s approval. I have inwardly experienced his fierce protection and his tender compassion toward me in every situation, every emotion, and every question. He truly is a God who understands. And through this I have personally learned the value of brokenness in our own lives. How our humanity, weakness, and suffering when completely given over to Jesus’ purposes, can be transformed and allow us to minister to others with the compassionate heart of Jesus.

The reason I wanted to share this story is to offer a sort of sequel to the previous article. At CHM we believe God can heal through prayer and He also can heal through medicine; both are gifts from Him, through which I have received great blessing. In his unfailing sense of humor, after 25 years, God recently led me to have eye surgery again. Undoubtedly he could have healed me miraculously, but in His chosen way, He truly brought the healing full circle. In his perfect timing, I had been fully prepared for this second surgery through all these years of inner healing. It was such a redemptive experience, filled with the peace and presence of God both before and during the surgery (I was conscious, only partially anesthetized). As I was lying there, in my mind’s eye I saw Jesus holding me as a baby again in a similar operating room. The room that once represented such a place of fear and darkness now glowed with a warm light. With me tucked close in his arms, Jesus paraded all around the room rejoicing. As I absorbed the scene, I realized he was doing His victory dance.

With wisdom that far exceeds mine, God chose to bring healing to me through surgery. Physical healing, yes, but also a deeper emotional healing, as He allowed me to experience first–hand the fullness of His redemption.

“Oh Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:7

P.S. I just got back from a follow–up appointment with my surgeon and he measured very significant improvement, with likely more to come!

Leslie Royalty Leslie Royalty is in charge of Prayer Minister Care at CHM. Jan/Feb 2011