I’m a Workplace Chaplain by profession. Like an ol’ Methodist Circuit Rider Preacher, I range all over the Great State of Texas for a company with ten facilities and over 500 employees. I have put nearly 20,000 miles my brand new car in six months. I thank God that I’m able to serve in this way; it was not that long ago that such a job would have been impossible for me.
At age 28, I was diagnosed with an incurable, hereditary spinal disease called ankylosingspondilitis (A.S.). Say that three times fast! I learned that my great grandfather had to quit working in his 40s because of arthritis in his back. Perhaps he had A.S. and they hadn’t assigned to it a fancy name yet. All I know is that my kindly Jewish doctor warned me that it was incurable and he assured me that, by the time I turned 50, I would probably not be able to walk because A.S. has the tendency to turn one’s spine into a bamboo pole.
Thanks, Doc…now, how much do I owe you?
From that point on, my back would “lock up” on me as well as my hips with excruciating pain moving from hip to hip and up and down my back. In time, I wound up walking with a cane and, eventually, had to quit my job. I “slept” sitting up. I referred to my own bed as The Chamber of Horrors. I felt as though I hadn’t slept for years. I couldn’t carry a laundry basket or bend over to load my dishes. I gained 40 pounds by sitting around doing nothing but trying to get comfortable and was not enjoying life all that much.
Somewhere along the line, I became a believer that Jesus still heals the sick. I began requesting prayer, asking to be anointed with oil. I recall a minister having an altar call for healing and I desperately asked if HE would mind coming down to where I was sitting. When I was up all night, I would begin praying for other Christians and situations around the world. I felt directly responsible when the Berlin wall came down, something I’d been praying for fervently. Fortunately, I had this new, growing online ministry to keep me focused on OTHERS rather than always on my own pitiful situation.
I took meds for pain. Lots of ’em, like the woman with the issue of blood who spent all her living on physicians, and could not be healed by anyone (Luke 7:6-8). I claimed verses on healing and how God gives sweet sleep to those He loves. I did warfare all the time and prayed for others who were sick and saw THEM get healed. Sure, I had moments of deep despair. I almost filled out the papers for Medicaid twice and looked into nursing home care.
The healing was gradual over a 3-year period as little by little, about 6 years ago, I caught myself bending and moving in ways I’d forgotten that I could. These days, I keep my cane as though it were a crutch left at the healing waters of Lourdes, a silent testimony to what God had brought me through.
Last Summer, while sheetrocking my ceiling, I sprained my back. When I told my Christian chiropractor about the A.S. diagnosis, he was amazed because, he told me, I had a “textbook spine” with no sign of any disease at all. Well, I’m 47 now and strong as an ox. I carry things I probably shouldn’t, swing hammers, dig post holes and load and unload trucks as my wife and I have physically done home repairs, remodeling and landscaping on three houses in nearly as many years.
So, take that, devil!
EXPERIENCES WITH HEALING
In Mark 16:19, Jesus declared, “In my name…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
In Matthew 10:1 we read,” And Jesus summoned to Him His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to cure all kinds of disease and all kinds of weakness and infirmity.”
Luke 4:18-19, Jesus reminds us of what was prophesied in isaiah 61:1,2 when He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Let me get this straight…the Spirit of the Lord is upon HIM – the SAME Spirit that now dwells within us (Rom 8:11). Therefore, since Jesus was anointed to do all those things, so must we be, yes? I’ve seen far too many miracles to believe, as is the manner of some, that all miracles ceased with the passing of the last apostle. As I made the drive home from Paris, Texas yesterday – a round trip that’s nearly as far as a drive to El Paso – I began to recall all the miracles I’d seen and been a part of over the years. Here’s a partial list:
A 10-year old granddaughter of a coworker whose hips were not in their sockets. We prayed the night before surgery. The doctor was amazed the next day when he X-rayed her as the hips were suddenly in their sockets.
A 7-year old boy from my church was healed of leukemia.
An 86-year old Baptist preacher attended our House Church asking for prayer and was healed of liver cancer.
Breast lumps have been healed with some regularity.
A single woman I know rolled her small car, crushing the roof down to the back of the seats. Her kids in the back were fine. Her back was broken. She returned to her job as a hard working landscaper. God provided her with an outpouring of finances from the community, a house and a car as well.
My own son’s hands and feet were covered with warts as a child. As a new Christian, I prayed and anointed him with oil. All warts disappeared within 2 weeks.
After God gave me an incredible vision, I ran to tell a Christian neighbor. She dropped the apple she was eating in amazement and exclaimed, “God told me to let you pray for me” that morning as she prayed. I did and her neck, broken as a young girl, was healed. She quit smoking, too.
A toddler was diagnosed with leukemia in Michigan. Our Texas House Church group laid hands on a pink blanket and mailed it to her. She was cured. Acts 19 all over again!
A Catholic grandmother requested prayer at a Bible Study. Her grandson was in emergency and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong. We prayed and he was healed. The grandmother not only testified about God’s healing power but she bought a Bible and joined the Bible Study.
As I prayed before a Bible study, I felt led to lay hands on a man whose father had cancer and was in the hospital. The outlook was grim. A week later, the doctor could find no sign of cancer and the man testified that his father was mowing the lawn and raking leaves again.
I was driving home when a man called me to request prayer. He had heard that I believed in the laying on of hands. He emphasized that he was a member of the Church of Christ, a group that doesn’t usually lean in the direction of divine healing. He shared how his mother was dying in her hospital bed when her doctor informed the family that she wouldn’t make it through the night. Two women came along asking if they could anoint her with oil. The family agreed out of desperation. In the morning, the man was walking toward his mother’s room when the doctor exited with tears in his eyes. As he recognized the woman’s son approaching, a smile came to his face and he hugged the man like a long lost brother. “She’s alive!” he exclaimed. That was ten years ago, he told me, and she’s doing fine.
Robert Fitts told of a woman whose grandmother needed prayer. He prayed over a scarf and the woman took it. A year later, he returned to that same place and was told that the grandmother was healed when the scarf was applied.
I could go on and on. Just last night, a landscaper that my wife and I had prayed for because of back pain (a back which was once broken), testified that there was no more pain, no more pain killers, and that the doctor OK’d her return to work. Diseases healed, legs lengthened, reconstructive miracles, gold fillings in my own daughter-in-law’s teeth, exorcisms that always result in healing…I’ve had acid blow into my eyes and rusty nails sink into my feet as well as a bad knee that would click so loudly when I played football in high school that a coach told me he could hear it on the sideline when I ran past. Not one of these has had a long-lasting effect.
But I still need glasses to see more than ten feet away. I’m trusting God to heal my eyes, too! Why shouldn’t I?
Why wouldn’t He?
Not all miracles happen in an instant as you may have noticed. When we read how Jesus healed the Blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26), many wonder what exactly was going on there. The verses describe the following occurrence: “…some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” [Apparently, he hadn’t ALWAYS been blind.]
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly…”
Was Jesus demonstrating to us all that some healing is not instantaneous but requires patience?
Why wasn’t the blind man healed right away?
According to Scripture, healing is always contingent on the faith of the recipient (Mark 5:28-30; Mark 5:33-35; Luke 13:13-15, etc.) – UNLESS the recipient is dead, unconscious, or unable to understand (a child, demon possessed). Apparently – and God only knows why – some healings happen right on the spot while others take hours, days, weeks, months or even years to manifest. It seems that the Lord will at times, require a cleansing of our soul first; such as for unforgiveness or hatred. Jesus lamented that the people needed to see signs and wonders before they would ever believe. Why? Because He wished they had more faith? He seemed to get so excited and always made mention of those who exhibited great faith. In Matthew 9;29, He said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.”
This blind man’s healing was progressive, not unlike our own faith and our own sanctification process. When we read about His healing of the ten lepers, Scripture says “they were healed AS THEY WENT” (Luke 17:11).
THIRD WORLD MIRACLES
It was when I would read Voice of the Martyrs Magazine or watch the 700 Club that I was the most impressed by the total faith of poor, ignorant people who were miraculously healed. Why not us, Lord?
It’s crystal clear to me these days. We who claim to be Kids of the Kingdom are much too affluent to see the REAL need for a King. We westerners can’t seem to relate to a King or a kingdom. Good Kings take care of their subjects, especially those that are relatives. Such is the case with King Jesus. I have asked people what they had the faith to believe for – a divine miracle or a successful surgery and, in most cases, they want prayer for their doctor’s skilled hand. That’s Ok. God can heal through medicine or saliva. He knows what we need. In developing nations, however, where medical care is poor at best – if it exists at all – THAT is where we are most likely to see divine healing miracles. A quick read of Megashift by Jim Rutz reveals story after story of incredible healings and even resurrections, each supported by contact names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. Marvelous acts are taking place all over the world by people who don’t know any better than to trust in Jesus.
THE MIRACLES THAT WEREN’T
There are no Biblical accounts of Jesus or His disciples ever asking God to heal an afflicted person. Jesus never said, “Pray for the sick.” His directive was, basically, “You GO, you PREACH, you DISCIPLE, you HEAL the sick.” To me that means that we should minister healing until the healing manifests itself.
I have ministered to many people who have received healing. In some cases, the manifestation came quickly, like a woman I laid hands upon last summer. She had a disease that kept her from eating anything that included wheat in its ingredients. As I ministered, she jolted. I didn’t pray that God would heal her; I spoke to the infirmity in His authority and under His anointing, she believed and she was healed. Seven months later, she tells me she is STILL healed.
I have received reports LATER that “something” happened when I spoke to an infirmity, exercising the Authority of the Name of Jesus but it was a while – days, weeks – before the healing manifested itself and the sickness never returned. In my own situation regarding that painful spinal disease, it took several years before I experienced a manifested healing, though I was “healed by His stripes” 2,000 years ago at the cross. Though I love the smell and beauty of roses, when I look back at those days, I can embrace the thorns because they made me a stronger Christian.
On two occasions, I have ministered healing to people who actually died shortly thereafter. While some unbelievers may gloat because my efforts appeared to have failed, all I can say is, “They’re healed now!” It was a revelation to me the day that I realized that EVERY person that Jesus ever healed, died. Even those who were resurrected, died for good, eventually. It’s all to the Glory of God. Keep in mind, Jesus said, “…whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn 11:26) and ” Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My Word he shall never see death.” (Jn 8:51). This life is simply not “IT.”
Jesus Himself couldn’t always hit a home run where healing was concerned. Matthew 13:58 says, “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” This was in Nazareth, His own hometown. The United States often seems to me like Nazareth on steroids. Rare are the occasions when I encounter a Christian who truly believes what Jesus taught and is willing to exercise the Authority they’ve been given to do the things He requires of, and empowered us, to do.
Mark 5:38-41, “Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly…”Why all this commotion…The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out…He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around…” Notice how He spoke to the girl, not to God in Heaven.
Mark 6:5 reads, “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
Our House Church group prayed for a young man who was in a coma after an automobile accident. His non-believing family saw no option but to pull the proverbial plug.
He didn’t die.
We felt led to lay hands upon him, sing over him and anoint him with oil. These days, he’s walking and talking, improving every day. Some day, he will die and stay dead, too, though dying is not a bad thing for the Believer in Jesus. But he’s not dead today. God’s not finished with him.
DON’T TRY TO HEAL ANYBODY!
If I can offer one piece of advice to any Christian who desires to heal others in Jesus’ Name, it would be this: DON’T try to heal anybody.
You see, it’s Jesus who heals the sick THROUGH YOU with His Authority and anointing.
It’s Jesus who casts out demons THROUGH YOU with His Authority and anointing.
It’s Jesus who manifests the spiritual gift needed at that moment THROUGH YOU with His Authority and anointing.
All YOU must be is AVAILABLE and OBEDIENT. The rest is up to Him.
If you’re like me, you have been exposed to many ministers and many healing opportunities, perhaps you have become downright professional in your technique. By doing something repeatedly, one cannot help but develop, after all.
Not long ago, we prayed for an infant who was screaming with pain. While my friends laid hands on her, I found myself praying, “Lord, what should we do?” What I heard in my spirit was that we were to sing to her. I whispered this to a friend who grabbed his guitar and we sang. She got quiet. Though she had been crying like this quite frequently, we were told, so badly that her young mother was hardly sleeping at all, she has been doing great ever since that night when we sang.
I have fond memories of a Baptist preacher who would start off every prayer meeting with, “Lord, show us how to pray…” followed by, sometimes, a few minutes of total silence. Before we knew it, Words of Knowledge, Scripture verses, visions, all kinds of spiritual gifts would spring forth. In every case SOMEBODY got blessed. Usually, everyone in the room.
When the disciples failed their attempt to heal a demonized boy (Mark 9:17-29), they asked, “Why could we not cast it out?”(v. 28). Jesus had just referred to them as part of a “faithless generation” (v. 19). They apparently did not yet believe in the Authority of His Name and that His anointing was with them. We do know that this was not always the case as their minds were renewed to the truths about healing, the Authority of His Name, and the anointing. We read (Luke 10) that His disciples were casting out demons and healing the sick even BEFORE the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost.
Since we, too, are His Disciples, we must learn to decrease so that Jesus can increase. The paradox is this: we must get out of His way so that He is ABLE to use us.
WHAT HINDERS HEALING?
Is God the problem? After all the promises we read in Scripture that have to do with healing His children, shall we blame Him because Aunt Martha is still sick? No, God is not a man that He should lie.
Some folks have not received a revelation on healing. Their religious exposure did not include many teachings on this biblical truth. Many were taught that such things no longer take place. On a scale of ten, their own programming won’t get them past zero. Though they may desire to be healed by God, they simply aren’t capable of getting desperate enough for Him to do so. I often wonder if my own pain FORCED me into a position to start to trust God to actually heal me, moving me from unbelief to complete restoration.
Some cannot receive their healing because the fear of opening old wounds is seemingly too hard for them. When Jesus takes them to Ground Zero, as He did with the Woman at the Well (Jn 4:1-26), the healing begins. It’s there that they can exchange the lie for the truth and begin to heal.
According to Matthew 18:34-35, forgiveness or repentance may be necessary before healing can begin as well.
Sadly, many Christians are running to the altar in search of healing, anxiously anticipating and sincerely believing that, maybe today, they’ll get zapped by God and be healed. Some go so far as to travel around seeking a healing touch from various ministers. I believe there are seven hindrances to healing. If you would like to read more on that subject, send an email and type “HEAL” in your SUBJECT Bar.