Healing Line

Healing Line

A Healing Place

by Francis and Judith MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2011

If you have prayed for the sick you have probably been around when the power of healing has been so powerful that it was almost palpable. It does seem to be especially strong at certain times and in certain places. People struggle to put it into words, but they often say something like, “I felt a heavy anointing at the meeting tonight.”

More healing seems to take place when there is this “anointing.” Another word commonly used these days is “impartation” and people travel many miles to pray for an impartation. Sometimes there seems to be an extraordinary degree of anointing which brings with it a greater power to heal that seems to come directly from God.

new center drawingEven before Jesus was born the Israelites experienced this spiritual ‘density’: “Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God1.” The Hebrew word for God’s glory (kabod) has a primary meaning of ‘weight’, and so one of its effects is that people fall down under its “weight.” Those Hebrew priests were so weighed down that they had a hard time walking around to perform their duties.

This special presence of God’s glory seems to be connected with certain prayerful people. We remember that when the Apostles walked by, their very shadow was enough to heal people (Acts 5:15). At other times this anointing was transferred by touch so that items of clothing touched by the Apostles healed people. “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, who were cured and evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:11–12 NIV).

A more recent example occurred around the year 1840, when a remarkable Lutheran pastor, Johan Christophe Blumhardt engaged in a powerful spiritual battle to free a woman from demonic possession; afterwards the entire village of Möttlingen (in what is now Germany) seemed to be filled with an amazing spiritual power, so that visitors who simply walked down the street were struck by a deep spirit of repentance which led them to repent and change their lives. Sometimes the sick were healed when they were near Blumhardt. In his humility, Blumhardt did not pray for anyone to be healed, nor did he preach about praying for the sick. Nevertheless healing would just spontaneously happen when people visited this little German village (population 550). Although Blumhardt didn’t advertise the healings, the reputation of the village as a haven for the sick gradually became known by word of mouth, so that people would come from miles around and many were healed, both spiritually and physically. Blumhardt never preached about healing, nor did he pray for the sick, but he became so famous that his Lutheran superiors warned him to stop it (as if he could) and sent an official emissary to tell him that healing was solely the function of physicians — not of religion — and that he should stay out of it.2

Even though Blumhardt, in obedience, did not preach about healing, pastors from all around the Black Forest area came to visit Blumhardt’s little town, and some, just by coming, were spontaneously healed.

Certainly, the ordinary way for people to be converted is through hearing and reading the gospel, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if the sheer presence of God became so weighty that people would be overwhelmed just by God’s love and power? The very atmosphere itself would be so filled with the Shekinah glory of God that, without human effort, conversion would take place.

Which brings us to the point: how can we prepare our own cities or churches to be places that are anointed by God as special places where divine healing just happens? The first obvious condition is, of course, that it be a place where deep prayer goes on, and where Christians who believe in healing pray for the sick and oppressed.

I think as we become more prayerful, God’s special presence will become more tangible, and the sick and oppressed will be healed and liberated just by coming to a healing place such as Christian Healing Ministries. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Just by doing what we should be doing anyway, becoming more like Jesus, suffering people will be consoled and healed.

Out of God’s love and mercy He has called Christian Healing Ministries to build such a place. A healing place, where you, your family, and your future generations will come to be in His presence and receive healing.

Please pray for us as we continue to work toward this vision God has given us. We also ask you to pray how God would use you in helping us with this extraordinary work.

1 2 Chronicles 5:13–14
2 An excellent biography about Blumhardt is The Awakening by Friedrich Zuendel, Plough Publishing, 2000.

Francis and Judith Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM.
Judith MacNutt is author, teacher, conference speaker and co–founder of CHM.
Mar/Apr 2011

Excorism: A Critique

by Francis MacNutt
Mar/Apr 2011

The fascination with exorcism is being revived with the recent release of the movie, The Rite. The movie centers on exorcism and stars Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays an unsettling role as a possessed priest. As you know, over the past several decades many movies have been made about demons and exorcism, the most notable being The Exorcist, which was based on a true story and released in 1973.

Of course, such movies always emphasize the sensational, frightening aspects of exorcism. But as a result of these movies, CHM has been contacted over the years by various news media for our comments on exorcism.

This may surprise you, but our response is that we are glad that the topic of exorcism is attracting attention! When exorcism is talked about, it naturally leads to a discussion of whether evil spirits actually exist, which then begs the question, “If evil spirits really do exist, then how do we deal with them?”

The good news is that some churches are becoming more aware of the need to know more about exorcism and deliverance from evil spirits. They are beginning to return to the traditional belief that evil spirits truly exist. For example, in the Catholic Church the pope has asked that every bishop appoint an official exorcist in his diocese. Nevertheless, sadly, a large number of theologians regard the belief in evil spirits as a throwback to what they consider to be untenable superstition.

On the other hand, discussion about exorcism, with the emphasis merely on the term exorcism, presents a major problem. It greatly narrows and limits the discussion in ways that are not helpful. Furthermore, as a frame of reference, the topic of exorcism is far too limiting:

It concentrates on “possession” — which everyone agrees is a rare condition.

  1. It emphasizes the narrow understanding that only priests can free people possessed by the demonic.
  2. The exorcist’s prayer can be thought of as limited to the formal rite contained in the official Sacramentary.
  3. To get a bishop’s permission to perform an exorcism, you may have to prove that the victim is actually possessed by evil spirits.

What we have seen in real life, however, is that total possession by evil spirits is very rare. In our 40 years in ministry, we have found that many people who come to us are very much troubled by evil spirits. They are by no means fully possessed by the spirits, but they are tormented and still need to be freed and delivered. The New Testament phrase most often used for someone in this state is that the person “has a demon.” We estimate that when we pray for inner healing, about one out of every three people “has a demon.” Unfortunately, in common language we don’t really have a term for this state, which is much less severe than possession. (One term we might use is infestation.) We have found that even though the condition of possession is rare, finding a person who is infested by evil spirits is not rare. It is common! They are suffering and being influenced by the spirits that are operating within them, but they have not been taken over or dominated by those spirits. In these cases, the evil spirits do not merely dwell outside those individuals, restricting their freedom. Somehow, the spirits live within them.

So the first mistake is to make the judgment that, because possession is rare, we don’t face a commonplace need to free people from the power of the demonic. Most people who are infested are basically free. Yet, to some extent they are either limited in their freedom or tormented in some way. When we ask Christians who attend our meetings, “How many of you are bothered at night by what you think are demonic attacks?” the number of hands that go up is surprisingly high!

A simple prayer for deliverance needs to be taught to ordinary laypeople to protect themselves and their families. Of course, there is a real value in bishops appointing wise and experienced priests to deal with the more severe cases of demonic possession. But we regularly encounter ordinary cases of infestation that prayer group leaders themselves can handle. Whenever we hold a healing service, we usually find a certain number of people who need prayer for deliverance as well as prayer for healing. Occasionally, during this ordinary kind of deliverance, there may be some disturbance and noise from the person receiving prayer. But usually, when the prayer ministers have been properly trained, deliverance prayer can be carried out with a minimum of drama. There is need for caution, of course, but not fear — provided we go about the deliverance ministry with wisdom. This means that we should

  1. pray prayers of protection from any possible harm, and
  2. work in teams with prayer ministers who are loving, discerning and wise.

But what prayers do we use? Of course, prayers for deliverance can be taken from official prayer books — these prayers are built on the experience and wisdom of many past generations and can be very effective. Nevertheless, we see wonderful results when we form our own prayers according to the special circumstances of the person receiving prayer. For example, each spirit has a name, and it makes it easier, but not absolutely necessary, if we can address the spirit by name and explicitly command it to leave. Furthermore, if the person is the victim of a curse, we need to pray to break the curse and declare it null and void. Being limited to a printed prayer may restrict us from being specific in our prayers. It is more work, of course, to fashion our own prayers, but in the long run it saves time, because prayers that are specific for each person and situation are the most effective.

In The Rite, the book written by Matt Baglio, upon which the recently released movie is based, there is mention of some exorcisms that have gone on for years. From our own experience we know it is true that some cases of deliverance can continue on for some time. But something is wrong when the process seems to be endless, with the victim getting a little better each time — but never becoming totally free. Some essential ingredient is missing. We know from experience that in even one prayer session we can pray for at least one spirit to leave, with an added prayer ordering it not to return.

In most cases if you have a two–hour deliverance session, that should be sufficient to set the person totally free. Spirits usually come in clusters or groups. You won’t find one without the other, so to speak. The prayer minister should be trained in how to cast out the spirits, and just as important, in trying to discover the person’s weakness that allowed these evil spirits to enter in the first place. Prayer for deliverance can help remove blocks so that the person can continue to grow spiritually. Deliverance is not a negative experience, although it may not be pleasant. Along with the freedom it brings, deliverance is an experience that causes the person not only to become more aware of the demonic realm, but to discover his or her areas of spiritual weakness.

An essential part of our spiritual growth is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome evil and command the spirits to leave us alone. The help of the Holy Spirit is very real, and the closer we draw to Jesus, the more the evil spirits’ hold on our lives will be weakened — and finally broken.

We rejoice that Christians are being made more aware of the presence of evil spirits. But with that awareness arises the need to learn practical ways of becoming free from the influence and bondage of evil spirits. The spiritual battle is very real!

The greatest need we see is in training priests, ministers, counselors and prayer ministers who have the gift of discernment, and can perceive whether evil spirits are really present. Some indications of the presence of evil spirits — such as, when the person hears voices — are ambiguous. These voices can be due to purely psychological factors or they can be caused by evil spirits, or possibly both. The gift of discernment helps prayer ministers know whether there is a real need to pray for deliverance, or simply whether counseling and inner healing prayer is sufficient.

Our experienced leaders — our priests, ministers, and laypeople — need to know what to do, and how to do it, when they are faced with suffering people who need deliverance from demonic infestation. I truly believe that ordained priests and ministers have a charism that makes it easier for them to cast out evil spirits. But I also believe that laypeople have the spiritual authority that comes with baptism to pray for deliverance.

To sum it all up, the renewed attention to exorcism in movies like The Rite is welcome. But we should be concerned by the tendency to sensationalize exorcism and to narrow it all down to

  1. the belief that only totally possessed people need this ministry;
  2. only ordained priests can help those affected;
  3. the only effective prayers are those taken from the formal Rite of Exorcism.

Nevertheless, even in the midst of all the sensationalism and fascination with exorcism, it will be a real blessing if people come away with the realization that

  1. there really are such things as evil spirits, and that
  2. God will empower us in prayer to free people from the malevolent influence of evil spirits.

May we all be made more discerning and empowered through the Holy Spirit!

My book, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, and Joy Lamb’s, The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, provide practical help for the necessary ministry of deliverance.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Mar/Apr 2011

Anger: Friend and Foe

by Linda Strickland
Mar/Apr 2011

Once while I was flying to a conference, I witnessed an outburst of anger that I have never forgotten. I was flying an airline that does not reserve seats, so it is always a “first come, first serve” situation. I boarded the plane and was seated across the aisle from a young mother and her baby. Everyone was quietly choosing their seats when suddenly; a shrill voice pierced the air. The voice belonged to a small woman who was yelling at the young mother across from me, “You’re in my seat!” she screamed.

Even after the young woman explained her plight of needing to sit beside her husband and other child, the woman continued her tirade. Eventually, the angry woman gave into the pressure she felt from the other passengers, including me, and she finally sat in the window seat, growling and seething for the entire trip.

Her explosive tantrum was over a seat on an airplane, but it was evident that the anger behind it came from a much deeper place. When we don’t deal with anger, it builds up and crowds us on the inside; causing us to overreact when something hooks into the unfinished anger we carry within us. Watching this poor soul, who was obviously miserable, I found myself wondering about her life, and what had happened to her to create such rage.

Thomas Aquinas once said that anger is meant to be our servant, not our master. However, all it takes is witnessing this sort of outburst, or listening to the evening news, to realize that the world we live in today is more violent, selfish and angry than ever.

People seem to have more difficulty with the emotion of anger than with any of the other emotions. Anger is probably the most misunderstood emotion and can certainly be the most damaging — to oneself and to others.

Problems with anger can often, but not always, be traced back to childhood, when parents may naturally try to control their child’s anger or even suppress it. Some parents punish their children for being angry, when what children really need is to be taught how to deal with their emotions. However, if the parents are not able to process their own anger in healthy ways, the tactics they employ will only inflict emotional damage on their children. Being chastised and forced to suppress emotion can cause a child to feel guilty and ashamed for even having experienced the emotion — as if it were sinful. The emotion is not eliminated but goes underground where it continues to grow and does untold damage. The deeper message the child gets from the parents who do not allow healthy expression of anger is, “I’m not acceptable.” Thus, the true self recedes and the false self develops out of the child’s need to be accepted.

There are several other reasons why people have problems with anger. Cultural influence is a primary source. For example, the deep human need to belong may cause someone to join a violent organization, where anger is the driving force, just to feel accepted by others. People who experience emotional wounding or severe trauma, especially as children, are apt to get stuck emotionally and be unable to grow beyond the pain if they are not helped. The emotions get buried alive at the point of trauma and continue to lead a very active life inside us (One of the leading causes of depression is repressed anger). Some emotional disorders may be due to a chemical imbalance and should be treated by a professional. Then, there is always the additional possibility of a demonic component — spirits of anger — that can attach itself to a wound or sin.

Very few of us (including Christians) are taught positive ways to process anger. So it is easy to see why, by the time a person reaches adulthood, some serious or destructive patterns of behavior may have developed.

Anger has a very pure purpose: to correct an injustice. Jesus expressed great anger in situations where there was injustice — especially injustice towards the poor, dispossessed, and people on the margins of life. Anger also serves us in instances where we need to defend ourselves or others. Anger generates an energy that motivates and empowers us. Though anger is part of the human condition, violent anger is escalating out of control worldwide, among many different cultures. What is the deep root that is shared throughout the world that has created this level of anger?

Of course, to discover the answer, we have to go back in the Scriptures to the Fall, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden and separated from God. Because of disobedience, not only did sin, sickness and disease come into the world, but it caused our emotions and our minds to become out of balance. The first mention of anger in Scripture is in Genesis 4:5 (“… Cain was very angry …”). Then the Lord tried to reach out to Cain and asked him, “Why are you angry?” God gave Cain a clear warning to do what was right, because “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Cain did not heed God’s warning. Something in his heart and attitude — in his interior self — was not right. We know that Cain’s anger eventually led him to murder his own brother.

When we live out of harmony with God, when we are in disobedience, when we listen to the evil one, we fall subject to the brokenness that is within us. Anger does its basic destructive work in our interior. If it is not dealt with in a timely manner, but is allowed to build up, it comes out in unhealthy ways and can damage other people.

Ephesians 4:26–27 gives clear guidelines about anger: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Here we can see that God gives us permission to not only feel the emotion of anger but also to express it — and yet not in any way that causes us to commit sin. Harboring anger creates resentment (which literally means “to experience something again”). This unfinished anger is what damages and destroys and develops into sin. The Lord gives us a time frame (before the “sun goes down”) to keep things current within the present day. Many times, we cause unintentional wounding, but when anger moves into punishment and causes intentional pain, it crosses the line into sin and even the demonic. Unresolved and undiffused anger opens the door to evildoing.

In prayer ministry, the prayer recipient must be able to own his/her anger, to accept it, and take responsibility for it. The recipient also needs to realize how important it is to exert control over the anger and to make an action plan: what should I do about this so that I do not just stew in my anger? An action plan involves coming to a resolution about the anger and almost always involves forgiveness prayers, and possibly inner healing prayer. Many times, underneath the anger lies a deep pain from a wounded memory that needs healing.

It’s important to note that a person with excessive anger or rage needs professional help. Prayer ministry is not meant to replace medical treatment. However, with written permission from the client, many therapists welcome prayer ministry alongside the therapy, because professional counselors realize that rage is also a spiritual as well as an emotional problem.

Our emotions are what make us human, but as long as we are entrapped by buried or excessive unhealthy emotions, we will never be free to experience true joy.

God is always reaching out through his Spirit to offer us new life. Only when we bring our anger to the foot of the cross can the healing process truly begin.

(Taken in part from the teaching: Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, School of Healing Prayer®, Level III)

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

The Last One to Ask

by Cari Taylor
Mar/Apr 2011

This is my dilemma. I am a writer who can’t write. Stories gushed out of me when I was a child. My dad wrote them down for me before I could even form words on a page. It was my favorite thing to do. Then something went horribly wrong and, even though an intense desire to write remained, for me the process became formidable and cruel. This is what I know.

What I don’t know is how. What happened in the meantime to break my heart? As a volunteer prayer minister at CHM, I realized this is a huge area of my life that needs inner healing, yet I would be the last one to ask for prayer for myself. So, I pleaded with God on my own behalf, over and over again. “What’s wrong with me, God? Why can’t I do this?” I have a writer’s office. It’s full of writery things. I lack nothing that would keep me from the task except for one thing. I’d rather be doing anything else! Sometimes when I try to write, I get physically sick. Often times I get really sleepy. When something interrupts my most ardent attempts, I cry “Sabotage!” though secretly I’m relieved to have a bonafide excuse not to write. I console myself with quotes by famous authors, like German novelist, Thomas Mann who wrote, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” “See!” I tell myself. “It’s not just me”.

Recently while on my porch having morning devotions and minding my own business, I suddenly saw myself in my mind’s eye, walking down a school corridor at the age of five. At the end of the corridor is the door to my first grade classroom. It is the gates of hell as far as I’m concerned. My heart pounds. Beyond that door lies the malignant domain of the sadistic Miss Silver, my first grade teacher. For a second, my mind flashes back to the bathroom in my house where I just tossed my breakfast. I throw up every day of first grade. I can feel the orange–juice–flavored vomit burning my throat. The thought of getting throw–up on my school clothes horrifies me.

The classroom door opens and I step into the presence of the dread Miss Silver. She is not good with children. Miss Silver gets up close and yells. Her body trembles with rage. She uses every opportunity to embarrass us. Daily Miss Silver scares the pee–pee out of the tiny boy who sits in front of me. All she has to do is call his name and whoops! There it is! The poor little guy sits in a puddle right now. He tries not to cry, but Miss Silver screams, “Shame on you, you BABY! You go to the office!” He cries. We all want to cry. Who will be next?

As I sink into this memory, nausea rises up in present–time me. I begin to gag and choke. As a prayer minister, I know what that means. Something ugly is making its way out of me. I pray, “Jesus, please come!”

And he does. Jesus is right here with me. Miss Silver is there also. She sounds like a scary version of the grown–ups in a Peanuts cartoon. “Waugh! Waugh! Waugh!” Jesus kneels beside my desk. He holds up his hand to Miss Silver in a gesture that means “stop!” But she does not stop. My writing assignment is on the desk in front of me. It is graded “U” for unsatisfactory. On it are my practice words and lots and lots of big red Xs. I cannot hold back the tears. I am five years old. I am new at words. My little letters float above the practice lines. I don’t know why. As hard as I try, I can never make those letters settle down. They are correct and perfectly shaped, but still! There is no pleasing Miss Silver.

Jesus looks at my paper. He is awfully quiet. I can’t look at him. I’m sensing anger. Slowly, he stands up and walks over to Miss Silver. She yells “Waugh! Waugh!” and points to my paper in his hand. Jesus gently takes her by the arm and walks her out of the room. I can hear their voices fading down the corridor into the distance.

The classroom is quiet now. I sit still and all alone in this moment. Jesus comes back in the room. He kneels beside me again. I feel safe that He is with me, but I also keep a close eye on the door. "We don’t want Miss Silver to come back," I tell him. He agrees. Then Jesus spreads my soggy tear–stained, red–marked, floating–word paper back down in front of me.

“Now lets’ see what you’ve done,” he says.

“Please!” I say. “Please, let’s just throw this one away!”

“No,” says Jesus. “Your words are important to me. I would never throw them away!”

Jesus takes his finger and rubs it all over the cruel red marks. They disappear! His finger is just like an eraser! When he finishes, Jesus takes a deep breath and blows the red marks right off the paper.

“There!” he says, looking very pleased. “Your words are treasure to me!”

I feel so relieved! Then all of a sudden and much to my surprise, my five–year–old self gets up from the desk, walks over to the classroom door and locks it! Jesus smiles. She takes her seat and brings out a clean sheet of paper. We are ready to write.

In the following days it has become evident to me that his peace has supplanted my former anxiety. Jesus is in the process of healing all things that are broken inside of me. He showed me exactly where the root of that brokenness was and then I simply invited him into that place. Though my jailer had a human name, she sported many other names as well. Rejection. Fear. Shame. Jesus sent her and everything she stood for “to the office!” I stepped into that healing by sealing Him in and locking them out.

And even though I am the last one to ask for prayer, I am not so different from many others who are in ministry. We could ask for prayer. We should ask for prayer. But we don’t. We don’t wish to impose upon each other’s time or energy because we, of all people, know how much goes into praying for someone else! The good news is that even so . . . Jesus knows our hearts. He is coming to rescue us in those dark places anyway. He uses what we learn in prayer ministry and partners with us to bring about the healing and freedom we seek.

Cari Taylor Cari Taylor is a Prayer Minister at CHM. Mar/Apr 2011