Healing Line

Healing Line

Praying for Your Dreams

by Francis MacNutt
May/Jun 2011

Many years ago I was deeply impressed by something I heard Father Dennis Bennett say. Father Bennett was famous for being the first pastor from a mainline church to be baptized in the Spirit in 1959. What struck me was that before his experience of the Baptism in the Spirit his dreams had a strong sexual content; but afterwards God cleaned up his dreams so that he had no more problems in that area. This change is truly amazing, because normally we do not have much control over the content in our dream life.

Was this change just a special grace given to Father Bennett or can we pray to receive it ourselves? I believe that we can pray for God’s help if dreams cause us difficulty. Not only can sexual dreams cause problems but even more, fear (nightmares) can invade dreams and rob people of much needed rest.

Praying for Protection

A question to ask is, do your dreams give you problems? If so, the old, traditional idea of praying before we sleep, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” is a great idea. We can pray for protection. Judith and I pray every morning and then just before we go to sleep. We ask God to send his angels to guard and protect our family from Satan and any of his spirits.

Praying for Cleansing

We also ask Jesus to cleanse us from anything harmful or evil that we might have picked up in the course of our daily work. For this cleansing purpose pray a prayer of command “If we have picked up anything harmful or evil in today’s work we command that the spirit or its effects depart and go to Jesus Christ for him to dispose of as he wills.”

We are very much like doctors who scrub up before they work with a patient and then, when they are through, they wash up again. Just being in the presence of spiritual sickness we can be affected, especially after praying for a person who has gone through a deliverance. Afterwards, we pray with our team for cleansing. This need not be a fearsome, emotional prayer. Instead, it is very much like taking out the garbage — you have to do it every so often. It is a very ordinary and necessary activity which we pray for daily.

Some people are harassed by evil spirits at night and they can pray for protection. An example prayer can be “If there are any evil spirits trying to disturb my sleep, I command those spirits to depart and go to Jesus Christ for him to dispose of as he wills. Jesus, send your angels, especially our guardian angels, to watch over us as we rest.”

Praying for Wisdom and Guidance

As you may know, some people receive guidance and prophecy in their dreams. If you are one of them, pray with gratitude for receiving that gift and also pray that the Spirit keep the guidance true.

The main point is to ask God to protect our nights. We ask him to protect us from anything that might harm us, whether physically or spiritually. Beyond protecting us from evil, we pray that our nights may be filled with God’s goodness, power and love.

“Lord, give my body rest and restoration, give my mind light and guidance and give my spirit encouragement. I thank you for every blessing I have received today and I forgive anyone who has hurt me. Where there is hatred let me sow your love. Fill our lives with your life, and especially with your love. If we dream, fill our dreams with your love. Give us deep sleep and let us wake up in the morning refreshed.” I do not know if this circumstance is unusual, but I personally do not have any powerful emotional dreams even though these types of dreams can be very helpful.

In short, what we do is turn our nights over to God’s wisdom and direction, and the commonly known prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep…” is a wonderful way to invite God into our nights.

“In peace I lie down and at once fall asleep for it is you and none other, Yahweh, who make me rest secure.” (Psalm 4:8)

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May/Jun 2011

Good Grief

by Linda Strickland
May/Jun 2011

While I was recently preparing a teaching on Understanding the Grieving Process for our School of Healing Prayer® Level III, I was struck with how much personal loss my own family has endured over the past year. The most significant of these losses was the death of my beloved brother Michael.

On June 26th, 2010, while I was at a conference in Vermont, the Lord took my precious brother Michael to heaven. He lived for two years beyond the doctors’ original expectations, but to be completely honest, that extra time did not comfort me on the day he died. Over the final two years of his life, pancreatic cancer ravaged Michael’s formerly physically fit body to the point where he did not even look like my handsome brother anymore. I rarely say that I hate anything, but I hate cancer!

This loss, along with several others, has had me in a state of perpetual grief for a year. In addition to three deaths in my family (all from cancer) we have sustained the loss of health, loss of employment, loss of income and loss of dreams. When grief piles on top of grief, proper and healthy processing can be challenging!

When life is going well, laughing together as a family comes easily. Crying together, on the other hand, can be just as important, especially in times of sadness and grief. I am fortunate that my family has been “grieving well.” We have been expressing our feelings and holding nothing back, sometimes through laughter, but most of the time through tears.

I am also fortunate to have many wonderful friends that walk beside me in good times and in bad. For many people, though, their friends seem to desert them when they are struggling, especially during times of grief. I think the reason is a result of people not knowing what to do or say.

Having recently been through this process myself, I now have a greater sensitivity to people who are in the midst of grief. As a matter of fact, I think we could all do a better job of supporting those around us who are grieving. A good place to start is to gain a better understanding of grief.

Grief is defined as a normal and natural response to loss. It is an enduring state of sorrow and other kindred emotions that immerse one for a period of time. It is further defined as a conflicting mass of human emotion following a loss or major change. In other words, grief is a temporary and emotionally fueled process.

Through the process of grief, allowing people to feel their pain and not disown it is very important. When grief is repressed people will often say that they feel crazy, and that they cannot figure out what is wrong with them. They are in a state of confusion, and will sometimes experience unexplained physical maladies.

For example, when interviewing a person who has suffered a major loss, they will often say, one day I feel sad, one day I feel angry, one day I am even happy. Then all the pain comes back again. Their emotions are all over the place.

Studies show that it takes three to five years to process the grief of a major loss, but sadly we usually only allow people three to five weeks before we then expect them to move on with life and “return to normal.”

As Americans, we particularly tend to avoid death issues. Culturally, we do not like to talk about dying, long term sickness, pain or death. Some of us will even avoid people who have lost someone. It makes us uncomfortable to be around someone who is grieving. But when we lose a loved one, we need the comfort of people.

The definition of comfort is to give strength and to give hope. One of the best ways to comfort someone is to validate their feelings. When emotions are erratic, people often think they are abnormal. To have someone tell you that what you are feeling is natural and normal can be a relief!

In addition to the death of a loved one, other major losses can affect us as well, such as the loss of income and employment. The inability to financially provide for one’s family can be a crushing blow! Besides the lost finances can also be the loss of identity connected to a job or position. Following the loss of a job, I have seen people weep more over the fact that they have lost their identity and purpose than the income.

Lately I have heard again and again during ministry time about the pain of letting go of dreams and expectations. As we have traveled and prayed for people, one of the most surprising things I have had whispered in my ear over and over has been “I am so lonely.” For many people, the life they are living is not the one they thought they would have, and they are extremely disappointed and lonely. People often do not recognize the loss of dreams and expectations as a valid loss and therefore they seldom allow themselves to go through the grieving process.

There are of course many more grief issues than the ones I have mentioned, but ultimately, all losses need to be grieved. Problems arise when the grieving process is cut short or bypassed. We can become “stuck” in our grief, unable to move forward. I have prayed with people who were suffering without an understanding as to the cause. After briefly discussing their lives, I often find that they had a loss that they buried. Once the loss was identified and they were able to process and grieve it, the malady went away. It is not unusual to see healing, both inner and physical, after a grief issue is properly processed.

Many of us try to get through loss and grief “by faith” or on our own, and we are not willing to seek outside help from professionals or friends. I like to encourage people that grief is natural, and a God–given blessing, and we need each other to work through it.

I have a Christian friend who experienced the loss of her health. There were days when she felt helpless, as though the wind had been knocked out of her. On those days she would call her friends and humbly ask them to “remind her of what she knew.” As a great woman of faith she knew that God loved her and had her in His arms. She knew that things would eventually get better. She knew all of that, but on bad days that fact was easy to forget, and she needed loving friends to remind her “what she knew.”

Losing my brother was one of the hardest things I have ever been through, and in addition to the loss, my heart was broken that I had not been with him in his final hours. The week after Michael died, though, I had a dream where I saw him in heaven. Michael was a phenomenal athlete, and one of the things he truly loved when he was younger was water skiing. I had, in fact, learned to ski by standing in front of him with his arms around me and my feet on his skis. He taught a lot of people that way. In my dream Michael was slalom skiing on a lake, having the time of his life, crossing back and forth and spraying water everywhere. He was healthy, happy, and laughing while yelling at the top of his lungs, “Woohoo!!” The vision was so real I could actually see droplets of water on his smiling face. It was such a wonderful dream that I woke up laughing!

The Holy Spirit can be so creative in the way that He comforts us, because for me, that glimpse into heaven was exactly what I needed. Although death had taken my brother, God had taken him away from death!

Losses are inevitable and are a natural part of life, but so is God’s love for us. As Jesus was leaving this world He said, “I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and He will remain with you forever.” (John 14:16)

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

When Healing Doesn't Happen

by Derrick Steele
May/Jun 2011

Mike Evans, founder of Wholeness Ministries, loves to tell a story about when he was first being mentored and “fathered” in the healing ministry many years ago by CHM founder Francis MacNutt. The two men were sitting down to a meal during the break at one of Francis’ healing conferences. Mike, still young in the ministry, was hanging on Francis’ words, eager to glean every last drop of the older man’s prodigious wealth of wisdom.

“Do you want to know the craziest thing about this whole healing ministry?” Francis asked with a gleam in his eye, pausing a little to heighten Mike’s anticipation. Mike whipped out his notebook and waited for the pearls of wisdom to drop. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating the story just a bit…)

Francis leaned closer and said in his own peculiar mix of humor and humility, “We really have no idea what we’re doing!”

Invariably in my travels with Wholeness Ministries, Mike will repeat this incident in response to someone’s question concerning why sometimes healing happens and why sometimes it does not. In general, this is a refreshing posture of humility that is so necessary if the healing ministry is to regain a respectable reputation within the Church as a whole. After all, what are you going to do with an absolutely–sure–of–himself–beyond–a–shadow–of–a–doubt minister of healing prayer who promises you that God is going to heal you…and then you don’t get healed?

On the contrary, almost everywhere we go we find that people are quick to share their appreciation for an approach to the healing ministry — like that which Mike learned from Francis — an approach that leaved a wide latitude for mystery.

Unfortunately, none of us are very good with mystery. We were, as a species, created with an almost insatiable need for things to make sense. Coping with the fact that some things are just beyond our human capability to comprehend is never easy for such curious beings as ourselves. Even then, we long to be comforted by the knowledge that things which cannot make sense to us still make sense to God.

That is why it is so important in the healing ministry that we draw a clear distinction between not having the answer as to why someone is not healed when they come for prayer, and there not being an answer. Too often we are, in honest humility, simply making a statement regarding our own finite nature, our own ignorance, and our own dependence on God as the One who has the power to heal — but find that people have heard instead that God’s choice to heal or not to heal is purely arbitrary, unsearchable, and beyond discussion. We prayed — God didn’t show up. Well, God does as He chooses, and that ought to be the end of the argument.

But that is not what we in the healing ministry believe at all. We believe that God’s heart, as seen in the perfect incarnation of His Son, is always for healing and restoration. God loves us, always. He is neither moody nor capricious. What an awful picture to hold of your Heavenly Father, that He reclines on His throne lethargically playing rock–paper–scissors to decide which prayers He is going to answer and which prayers He is not. How could we trust the heart of such a God as that?

Mike often tells another story about watching John Wimber, founder of the worldwide Vineyard Fellowship of churches, minister at a healing conference in the 1980s. John had just prayed for someone who did not receive instant healing, and someone from the crowd raised their hand to ask why. Unfazed, John shrugged and replied simply, “I haven’t got a clue.”

“I haven’t got a clue…but God does!” How important it is that this is the message we portray to a world that for the most part already blames God for far too much of the sickness and disease that they have experienced. No, we don’t have all the answers. But there are answers. Even if they are answers we will never uncover this side of Heaven’s gates, the answers are there. And they would make sense if we knew them. How often has a word of knowledge or a gift of discerning spirits led us to pray for someone in a totally different direction than we ever would have thought to pray on our own? How often has that insight proved the missing puzzle piece in bringing about healing?

We cannot forget that every act of healing involves plundering the unseen spiritual kingdom of darkness, and there is so much in that realm that we haven’t even begun to understand. The spiritual realm works by laws, by rules; there is justice and propriety in the way things operate there. But no man really understands most of those rules. In order for someone to receive healing there might need to be twenty doors in the spiritual realm unlocked all at the same time. Taking the step of courage, compassion, and obedience to choose to use your authority in Christ to pray for healing for someone may only get you past the first door. Sometimes I suppose you will find that the other doors are open as well. But other times there are still 19 more to be unlocked. It really is no surprise that we don’t have a clue what we are doing!

We must never give the impression that God is random — that His love means He wants to heal Person A’s cancer, but that for some bizarre reason, this same love doesn’t want to heal Person B’s cancer.

It is only in this belief that God is for your healing that you will be able to find the courage and determination to continue to pursue healing when it doesn’t happen the first time someone prays for you. We see far too many people shrug and walk away from a ‘failed’ prayer experience with an attitude of resignation: “Obviously God didn’t want to heal me.” Sometimes they say it. Sometimes they don’t. But you can always read it in their faces, and it’s pretty obvious: they took a risk, nothing happened…they won’t be coming back.

At Wholeness Ministries events people who do not receive immediate healing are always encouraged to keep ‘going after it’ — seeking prayer as often as it takes to find healing. But too often they are confused and disheartened, thinking that if God didn’t heal them tonight, He must not want them healed at all, and what’s the point of banging your head against a brick wall anyway? With all the bad theology and silly notions about God floating about in the world today, can you really blame them? That is why it is so very important that we are careful and deliberate to always present a solid theology of God’s heart for healing, that He is neither cruel nor random, and that just because we don’t have the answers doesn’t mean that the answers aren’t out there somewhere.

Only in doing this — only in telling people that there may be mystery in the universe but not mystery in God’s heart of love for them — can we foster that most precious and rare of human necessities: Hope.

To find out more information about Wholeness Ministries, visit www.wholeness.org.
To find out more about The Warrior's Path, visit www.warriorspathonline.com.

Derrick Steele Derrick Steele is on staff at Wholeness Ministries, and is co–founder of The Warrior's Path. May/Jun 2011

Healing Dreams

by Leslie Royalty
May/Jun 2011

When praying for someone at the close of a prayer session, I often ask the Lord to give them healing dreams. It seems as though sleep is an ideal time for God to heal on a deep, subconscious level. With the mental filters of consciousness turned off and out of the way, our true feelings and beliefs tend to surface more freely. Not only this, but our spirit remains just as active and open to receiving from God. What an ideal opportunity for God to have direct access into our souls! Especially for those who struggle with just receiving from God, sleep can be the perfect training ground!

I also pray regularly for my own dreams, that God would give me revelation. Throughout the past 8 years or so I personally have experienced life–changing healing through God ministering to me in my dreams. In particular, God has used my dreams as the setting to bring deep healing in the area of my own authority over evil. As I’ve shared before, I had struggled with fear for most of my life. This became particularly evident as I moved deeper into the healing ministry and began to encounter more of the reality of evil. I was literally terrified of encountering evil spirits, whether in prayer for someone else or behind my closet door. I had very little if any security in my God–given authority. I knew it in my mind, but when the rubber met the road, I froze inside. This fear was mostly due to trauma in my childhood, which was primarily resolved through receiving inner healing prayer. However, God was simultaneously giving me dreams that helped to release me from fear. It was like He was using my dreams as a dress rehearsal, reinforcing a solid sense of authority growing within me that could then be played out in real life.

Here are some examples. For many years I would frequently have terrifying nightmares that usually placed me in a petrifying situation, making me feel totally helpless and panicked. As I began to learn more about inner healing and experience some myself, I started praying before going to bed that God’s truth and Spirit would rule and reign in my dreams, mostly by preventing nightmares. However, gradually the nightmares began to transform into dreams that actually brought healing. I remember one dream in which I was praying for someone when all of a sudden an evil spirit lashed out at me. The familiar panic came over me and I was terrified. Whereas normally I would wake up in the middle of that fear, the dream continued and all of a sudden an angel appeared in the scene, standing between me and the evil spirit. With the most calm, reassuring smile the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Leslie, they are subject to you.” When I awoke, I was in awe. Theologically I had known that to be true, but now it felt like the truth of that statement went deeper into my soul than it ever had before. I soaked it in for days. That dream was a critical part of a shift that was taking place inside of me.

A good amount of time passed while this gradual transformation continued. I had a couple of dreams in that period, but one in particular stands out. I dreamed that I had been walking in the playground of my elementary school, about to head home, when I noticed a group of tall, dark figures closing in on me. I instinctively sensed danger in the situation and turned to run back to the group inside the playground for safety, but I found myself already surrounded. However, instead of responding with the familiar panic and helplessness, I looked at them directly and said, “Don’t even touch me,” and proceeded to walk right through the middle of the group. One of them reached out a finger to touch me, as if to test me, and I just looked at him straight in the face and said emphatically, “Trust me, you do not want to mess with Jesus.” He instantly drew back his finger as though stunned, I walked right through, and the dream ended. This dream was such a confirmation of the healing that had occurred over time. I loved my response! It revealed a true confidence in Jesus and His authority that had been growing deep within me. I knew that Jesus was my protector and anyone who messed with me would be messing with Him. The familiar fear just wasn’t there anymore. Instead I was walking in a new freedom and security in Jesus. What a gift!

I pray that these examples encourage you to ask the Lord to bring healing dreams both for yourself as well as for others. He is so faithful. Just wait and see what He does!

Leslie Royalty Leslie Royalty is in charge of Prayer Minister Care at CHM. May/Jun 2011