Spiritual Healing is a Thing

5 October 2018

I grew up in a church where “spiritual healing,” to the extent that it was discussed at all, was understood to be talking about healing the rift between us and God in a conversion-at-a-revival-meeting kind of way. (For those of you who know the theological language, that meant spiritual healing = justification by faith, and that was all there was to it.) I vividly remember the day I realized there was more to it than that. I was in a course on healing prayer, and our teacher pointed out that Jesus Himself said that He came to heal the brokenhearted. And then one of the facilitators began to tell story after story of spiritual healings she had seen–her own, and others’.

I left class that day deeply discouraged. Does that surprise you?

I had already learned the hard way, at the age of 16, that knowing things wasn’t enough–I actually had to forgive the people I had grudges against. Hard as it had been, I had done that (until I reached the point where I was totally unable, and then God worked a miracle–but that’s a story for another time.)

I had been taught (not explicitly, but by implication) that once I had given forgiveness, I would grow automatically through mastering the doctrine–the religious ideology of our tradition. I had given myself to that task, and I had been successful. I was a fair-haired son of our tradition, a rising young theologian.

But forgiveness is not healing, and studying is not healing. Forgiveness lays the necessary groundwork for healing. Studying can bolster your faith that God can heal. But laying the groundwork and believing that it’s possible is not all there is to it. The initial act, the sin against me, was like getting a splinter shoved into my skin. Holding a grudge was like letting it stay there and fester. Forgiveness was like pulling the splinter out and cleaning out the pus. But that does not magically close the wound — there’s still the actual healing to be done. It’s not automatic, or at least, it wasn’t for me.

I hadn’t healed. I was still carrying significant wounds, and suddenly I knew it. As far as I could tell, I still had a long, long road ahead of me. I hated it. I wanted so bad to just be done, and I wasn’t. I wanted to leave that healing prayer class, and never come back. I wanted to pretend I didn’t know.

But I stayed, and I asked God to work. He did. The road was not easy, but neither was it as long and grueling as I’d feared, because God is gracious. When we are injured, He gives back to us. But that’s a tale for another time.


Review: Healing Prayer Training

28 April 2013

A while back God began leading me to lean more heavily into the supernatural. As Christians, of course we believe in the supernatural in the sense that it’s in our doctrinal statements, but from day to day we often expect nothing supernatural to actually happen.

God was gentle with me and brought me along a little at a time. There was a whole journey preceding this that developed my prayer life from my biggest spiritual weakness into an area of strength (about which more at another time). Then God began to show me that when I come into His presence in prayer, I don’t do all the talking — He speaks to me, too, if only I’m willing to listen. (And to others. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing a number of people to hearing God — about which more later.)

About the same time, I was re-examining the Scriptures on prayer and found that God was directing me to pray for miraculous intervention in other ways that went well beyond simply hearing God (about which, once again, more later). Last spring, I took time off work to go to a conference that was addressing some of these issues, and then ended up not having the money to afford the actual conference. Talk about frustrating.

Then, this fall, I came across a flyer. The Anglican Healing Mission was holding a series of classes on healing prayer. I’d never heard of the Anglican Healing Mission, but it was $40 for four Saturdays worth of training, and the course came highly recommended. So I scraped together $40 and went.

That, Gentle Reader, was a life-altering decision.

The material was from Francis and Judith MacNutt of Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville, Florida, and over the course of the last several months I have taken their Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 classes. Each level involves about 13 hours of instruction, and the way the Anglican Healing Mission does it, each level is spread over two months (we met the second and third Saturday of the month from 10 to 3). Have a look at their website to see all the topics covered.

In exchange for enough money to cover materials and a few Saturdays a month, I got to hang with people who have a great deal of experience in healing ministry, and let me tell you, it was absolutely worth it. The MacNutts bring decades of experience in healing ministry, and their teaching involves a great deal of wisdom and common sense. I can’t tell you how many times I heard them say that there’s no formula, that it’s not magic, that this ministry is about what God wants to do, and nothing more or less than that.

On any given Saturday, we would gather, hear three or four lectures from the MacNutts, supplemented by our facilitators from the Anglican Healing Mission, and then the real work would begin. After the lectures came the practicum, in which we would apply what we were learning — right there, right then.

Now, I can just hear the growling from my former tribe members. The way it usually goes is something like this: “Well of course I believe that God still heals miraculously today — He’s God, He can do anything He wants. But I don’t believe He does it on demand.”

Me neither, guys, and you know what? In twelve full Saturdays of classes and practicums, I never heard anybody demand a healing, nor did I hear anybody advocate demanding a healing. I saw lots of prayer for healing, though, and I did see some people healed. The most visible thing I saw was a guy who came into the building with a bad limp walk back out with his knee injury completely gone. That was pretty cool — and the guy with the limp was as surprised as anybody — but that was far from the most spectacular healing I saw.

The most spectacular healing I saw was within me. Time would fail to tell you all that happened, and some of it is too personal to share anyhow, but let me put it this way: Jesus said He came to heal the brokenhearted, and He said that He is with us always. I knew these two facts long before I began training in healing prayer, but I had very little experience of them in my life. In the last nine months, I have repeatedly experienced Jesus’ presence and closeness with me in a way that is unprecedented in my life. He has, in encounter after encounter, been present for healing of many hurts that I thought would never really be healed. I have seen curses broken, my own idolatrous vows renounced, besetting sins driven away miraculously, and much more. I knew God would do anything to get us into heaven, but I never really believed that He’d do whatever it took to make me whole here and now. The God I grew up with would use me up without a second thought, and make good on it somehow by showing me the grand plan in eternity. There’s an element of truth in that. There is. But there’s a lot more to God than that, and eternal life begins here and now. In the past nine months I have experienced that as never before, largely through the ministry of the Anglican Healing Mission.