Healing Ministry part 2

The Christian healing ministry is complex and churches can shy away from overtly offering it  because of these complexities, fearing to do more harm than good. This document hopes address some of the issues that surround the ministry and so lead to a clearer  understanding and greater confidence in the Christian Healing ministry.

Practical questions of how to pray with an individual who is seeking healing are also tackled as well as theological questions about the healing ministry. 

Understanding well

  •  the Christian Healing ministry is…

Jesus Christ meeting a person at their place of need bringing freedom. How freedom comes and when freedom comes is not for us to promise. We can promise that when we pray for a person healing God will touch their life, for when we pray we bring that person into the presence of God.

Jesus healed, he commanded the 12 disciples to heal (Matt.10.1 Mark 3.15)

He widened the ministry to the 72 (Luke 10.19). After his death and resurrection, he widened the command to all. Matt.28.20 John 14.12. Healings occur in the early life of the church (Acts 3.7 et al) and the epistles (James 5.16, 1 Corinthians 12.9)

The Healing ministry continued through the history of the church with varying levels of intensity and different expressions care– not least the promotion of hospitals and health care for the poor and sick otherwise abandoned by society. In more recent times in the UK the Charismatic church has been prominent in overtly offering prayer for healing. Whilst the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have developed a sacramental model for healing, centred around the Eucharist. Sadly there have been mistakes and abuses of the work and individuals and communities have been scarred by over enthusiastic claims or expectations of the Christian healing ministry.

We believe God heals today. We believe God commands his church to pray that individuals, communities and nations would experience his healing.

Christian healing is not faith healing – which relies on the extent of an individual’s faith to be healed, although faith in God’s will to heal is important.

It is not Spiritual healing – which relies on spiritual forces to bring a healing.

Christian healing is broader and deeper than a simple cure of a condition, although this may form a part of our praying.

We understand that Christian healing is set in the context of a fallen, broken world which often frustrates and delays the healing work of Jesus and accentuates suffering and decay.

 

 

  • Why there can be an all-powerful God of Love and a world that suffers.

We believe that there was a beginning and in that beginning there was God - and God is love.

We believe God created all things, and that includes you & me; and the creation was very good.

Humans were created in the image of God, but not with the fullness of God.

The divine intention was that life in mortal bodies was to be a process of growth and development, a character forming, walking before God in full cooperation with his will. 

Then, full of years, there was to be a passing (a translation) moving fully into the presence of God with a new physical form.

God’s desire will always be for humans to know his “Shalom”- wholeness of character, strength of body, serenity of being, harmony in living, and absence of disease.

God in love freely chose to create humans in his image, with freedom to choose to love or not to love. Authentic choices means real choices which can be wrong choices; wrong choices can lead to accidents that can lead to suffering and the frustration of God’s loving purposes.

Prompted by a destructive evil, humanity began to drift away from the presence and purpose of God through the choices they made. The goodness of creation was marred & humans were skewed in their development and desires as the currents of human rebellion carried them further from God’s preserving goodness.

Health began to break down decay and disease impaired life, the peaceable passing became the hideous experience of death; the created destroyed; it was no longer good.

 

  • What the God of love did to reverse the suffering

God does not change, he still desires humanity to know the blessing of his shalom; he still seeks to work cooperatively with people.

In history God gathered a people who would return to live in accordance with his purposes. Freeing them he gave them a good pattern of life to follow. 

Obedience to this pattern led to an experience of his shalom, disobedience resulted in disease and death. Sadly these people repeatedly strayed from his will.

Yet from this people came the anointed one, the God man Jesus, who would overthrow the destructive power at work in creation.

Signs of the impending reversal of darkness came in Jesus’ time on earth when diseases were healed, demons were cast out and good news of another, better way of living, was proclaimed.

The reversal of darkness was achieved through the atoning work of the cross

On the cross Jesus defeated the elemental forces and the power of Sin & Death. This victory through his death was affirmed in his bodily resurrection and ascension which signalled the dawning of a new age of the Spirit outpoured.

Healing is made possible through the appropriation of Christ’s victory; as we cooperate with God’s purposes & do not hinder the Holy Spirit in his work we allow grace to flow bringing healing.


  • How we can participate in Jesus’ ministry of healing

Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever and healing was central to his ministry. Together with preaching and teaching, healing was a sign that God’s kingdom was breaking into the world as broken lives received healing and transformation.

Jesus shared this ministry with his disciples, sending them out ‘to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal’ (Luke 9.2).

What Jesus began he commissioned his inspired church to continue in word and deed. Part of that work is to offer Christian healing. Our praying, listening, speaking with those who are “dis-eased” stems from this commission. 

As we pray, we find that some are restored to wholeness, others come to terms with loss, others find meaning in suffering.

The journey towards wholeness often takes time and requires persistent trusting faith. Stages of prayer along the way to wholeness can include confession, forgiveness and reconciliation with past hurts, the cutting of generational curses and a reorientation of attitudes to life. These are combined with healthy lifestyles; good patterns of work, rest, play & worship.

Life is messy and recognising that the mess that forms people’s lives, like an overgrown garden, requires time and attention to remove weeds, deal with pests and cultivate fruitful growth.

The journey towards wholeness needs us to both have a clear hope for how the tangled garden may one day appear once the work is done and an honest assessment, not judgement, of how things are at the present.

Questioning well

Genesis 3 records that God’s first dealing with fallen, shame-filled humanity came in the form of a question not a rebuke – ‘Where are you, have you eaten?’ Questions when honestly faced and answered lead to the heart of the problem ‘I was afraid, I was naked and I hid myself.’ Fear and shame are powerful forces at work cutting people off from the healing presence of God (a fact the devil knew in his probing questions in the same chapter).

Intelligent prayer requires that we sensitively ask what it is that the person seeking healing actually wants; a good place to start with prayer is to ask ‘what do you want the Lord to do for you today?’ Turning the reply into a prayer to God naturally follows.

Prayer to receive insight into a persons need & wisdom to know how to listen well are vital to ensure we get our questioning right.

Questions we can ask ourselves include:- “Is their loss in their life?/Is there hurt in their life?/are there issues surrounding emotional hurts/ is there forgiveness” (do they speak of “Never forgiving”) are they cut off form things (withdrawn form family/friends/church) or are they bound to things/habits that they can’t let go off (vices that grip tightly). What was the relationship with their parents like – did/do they have their father’s approval & acceptance, their mother’s love? Was there pain in the womb? Has there been involvement with the occult? Are they eating, sleeping, exercising? What is there emotional state, their deepest fear, frustrated hope. Emotions are neutral and should be named, not judged or feared; it is what we do with them that can cause much damage. So, for example, we seek to de-couple anger from destructiveness. 

Questions can give us insight into a person and can prayerfully be brought to Jesus.

Praying well

We do not begin our prayer with the disease or condition that is presented to us, rather our prayer is focused on God our heavenly Father. We come to him in the name of Jesus and ask that he meet with the one who suffers through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

As we prepare to pray it would be helpful to ask - What do I believe God wants to do in this situation (Jesus said I can only do what I see my Father doing John 14.12)

And it would be helpful to keep in mind - God is at work through me to you (Galatians 2.20)

If possible, we stand to pray. We pray with our eyes open to watch for any reaction within the one being prayed for. They may begin to sway or tremble or smile as prayer is offered. A particular phrase in a prayer may resonate deeply and obviously – we watch for these things. 

Another initial step is to lift off the shock and trauma a person experiences when first confronted with an illness, accident or breakdown. “Father we lift off the shock and trauma brought upon our friend in the authority of the name of Jesus. May your peace come”. If this isn’t done then the fear of an unknown future will bind. Lifting off the shock and trauma allows the healing power to flow.

When praying like this it is helpful to name unspoken fears, for example – that the diagnosis of a cancer means death, how will I/others cope (Cancer is a word not a sentence is a helpful comment). We replace anxiety with the presence of Jesus, who will sustain.

How we phrase our conversation is very important, we ensure the dignity of the one seeking prayer by asking permission to pray – “I think it would be good for you to give this over to Jesus – are you OK with that…do you mind of I pray for that now?”

In prayer we seek to bring people into an awareness/acceptance of the mystery of God’s grace.

Our times of prayer may include the laying on of hands and/or the anointing of oil, both signs of God’s presence and our compassion.

During the time of prayer we can ask the person prayed for what (if anything) they are experiencing – an image, warmth, peace etc. and we can thank God that his healing mercies are evident in this way as an encouragement to faith.

We pray that the Spirit of the living God might enter you, body, mind and spirit and heal you of all that harms you.

Some respond to an encounter with God’s healing presence immediately others find a gradual change comes over them. On occasions there are tears of relief or sorrow or a warming sensation is experienced. Often it is good just to be deeply heard.

A person deeply listened too will often lead us to places where prayer can be offered.

Prayer needs to acknowledge the person has made themselves vulnerable, frightened and we need to lift up the fear they have. The person may be so closely bound to their illness it defines them and the unspoken fear of “if I give this up who then am I? needs also to be named and handed over to the Lord.

We pray that people will find strength to live with their illness.

We pray that those who suffer may overcome the fear of death in knowing that it is a defeated but real power. 

We pray that those who suffer may have opened to them the hope of resurrection life and so cast their anxieties on the Lord.

We pray that those in the medical profession may make wise, timely and compassionate interventions to aid patient care.

We pray that people will be open to cooperate fully the purposes of God which means the full reconciliation and restoration of relationship amongst people and their creator.

Listening well

As we listen we are seeking to hear the foundational lie that operates at the deep levels of the subconscious mind.

We do so by listening at different levels:

  1. What they say
  2. What you discern
  3. What they have learnt, or the lie by which they live

 

These are often generalised statements – “all men are beasts”/I’m hopeless/I’m not loveable they may also be the perceived wisdom of a community, the workless are wasters/elderly have no value .

When the foundational lie is exposed we try to enable the person to hear the Father speak truth. 

1 Sam. 1.1-17

Prayer for pain of childlessness

Healing from harsh words

Jealousy bitterness

Closed womb (sin)

Misunderstood overlooked

Depressed/downhearted

Bitterness of soul

A helpful question to ask would be “Can you let go/give up on the focus of your desire – stop investing your future happiness in obtaining this thing (in Hanna’s case – “Will you put childlessness into your heavenly Father’s hand?”)

“Can you give this to the Lord?”

The underlying lie – your only value is to produce children.

As we listen at deeper levels we find in cases of depression that anger is being depressed (held down) we can ask “What are you holding down?”

Often when it is anger that is being held down – underneath anger there is deep pain. It is often too hard to live with deep pain so we turn it into anger which is easier to live with. If the person is able to acknowledge the pain – not fix it – but release it (beating up trees/shouting…) get to the source of anger, to the pain, and ask Jesus to heal it, for Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted.

In all these ways and others it is God who meets with those who seek him for healing and God who works to bring liberation.

Suffering well

God is not immune from suffering nor disinterested in those who pass through times of suffering. Jesus experienced the depth of suffering in his life and especially on the cross. The resurrected Jesus bore the scars of his suffering, scars are healed wounds, the marks of suffering matter. Jesus strengthens and prays for us as we pass through times of suffering and trial. There will come a day when all sorrow and suffering will end when God himself will come and wipe every tear from our eyes. Until that day we are asked to know we are not alone in our suffering.

‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46 (Shorthand – trust me I’ve got this)

Dying well

We are healed into dying bodies and must prepare people who face the immanence of this reality.

Ask the Lord “is this sickness unto death?”

Ask the person “Do you sense the Lord calling you home?”

We don’t want to pull people back into infirmity if the Lord is calling them to infinity.

If the days ordained for the person are reaching completion it is then our prayer is that the Spirit of death would not be present bringing fear, but a peaceful parting can occur.

Drawing on the well

Understand It is God who heals not me – if someone is healed he gets the glory, if they don’t I don’t get the blame.

Understand we are working to God’s timetable not our own; we pray for someone and nothing happens…that we can see…right away.

God’s work may take years and may reach completion at/after death

Understand that we wont necessarily see instant/miraculous healing

God doesn’t always heal instantly – the example of the traffic jam

Understand we have limited knowledge we can be praying for the wrong thing/faulty diagnosis/incomplete diagnosis

Understand there are barriers to healing such as sin (lifestyle/attitude/actions) a lack of forgiveness and a lack of faith

Understand the role of suffering, which may be permitted by God but not sent/inflicted by him, can lead to a deepening of faith and adjustment of lifestyle and present an opportunity to witness to faith and trust in the goodness of God.

We are called to have faith in a great God, not great faith in God. We believe God wants to heal and does heal because he is a God of faithful compassionate love. We believe this because that’s who Jesus showed God to be through his teaching and his actions. And we bring people into the presence of God who heals as we pray for them trusting he will meet with them and in so doing bring about some transformation to their life.

If you or a loved one would like to receive prayer for Christian healing or attend a service please contact Revd Nick Harris 07972770361 or click here to email.