Note: In addition to our experiences, much of what is found here is drawn from the book Healing by Francis McNutt and from Let Jesus Heal Your Hidden Wounds by Brad Long and Cindy Strickland.
The Bible invites us to practice healing. And “What God does for you He delights to do through you.” If God has healed you, he wants to heal others through you.
Jesus healed and sent others to heal.
- Jesus sent the 12 and the 72 to proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick (Luke 9 and 10)
- In I Corinthians 12:9 Healing is listed among the Spiritual gifts (as are many of the other gifts are needed for healing prayer – faith, discernment, wisdom, knowledge, etc.)
- James 5:14-16 says, “If anyone is sick, he should call the elders, anoint with oil, confess your sins to each other, and pray.”
Healing is meant to be a standard, common practice in the church. When we avoid practicing healing, we are avoiding much of what we were sent to do.
What is healing? Much could be written here, but we connect it with our understanding of shalom. Shalom is much more than the absence of conflict. It is about things being right. When we experience shalom, we are in a right relationship with God, others, and ourself. Moreover, things are right in the physical realm, too. We are strong and able to work, eat, think, and enjoy life in creation. Healing is about restoring shalom. It is called for when we are injured in our bodies, emotions, relationships, and spirits.
But healing raises questions related to responsibility:
Who is responsible for bringing about healing? Simple: Jesus. When we feel responsible for someone’s healing, we might be reluctant to engage in healing practices. But we are not responsible for successfully healing a person. That responsibility belongs to Jesus. We have no excuse for not doing our part.
What are the responsibilities of the person seeking healing? It varies and depends a great deal on their condition. Jesus healed people on the basis of their own faith, on the basis of others’ faith, and sometimes just because he had compassion. If a person is able, it is natural to invite them to participate in the healing—say where it hurts, how it happened, and to let us know how they are feeling and what they are sensing.
What are the responsibilities of those who are ministering? We are to love our neighbor, to learn to cooperate with the Spirit, and to ask Jesus to heal. So healing ministry is about following Jesus’ lead and does not involve putting pressure on another person.
There are several types or areas of healing
Spiritual healing – Forgiveness of sin Mark 2:1-10 shows Spiritual healing before physical
Emotional healing – Healing of the emotions John 4, “The Woman at the Well”, is a great example.
Physical healing – Lots of examples: Mark 1:29-33, Acts 3:1-8, Acts 14:8-10
Deliverance – Casting out demons: Luke 8:26-49, Luke 9:37-42, Acts 16:16-18
Of course, our spirits, emotions, relationships and bodies are interrelated. And we interact with an invisible spiritual realm. It should not be surprising then, that a physical infirmity may have an emotional source, or that a physical ailment led someone into sinful behaviors, or that demonic activity took advantage of weaknesses brought on by any of the other three.
There are other types of healing: for example, societal healing, generational healing, relational healing, etc. But for our purposes, we’ll focus on the needs of an individual to receive healing. So in our work at LoveFirst Coast, we focus on spiritual and emotional healing (types 1 and 2) while making room for physical healing and deliverance (types 3 and 4) and working for the broader forms of healing.
Listen, Love, and Pray. Steps Toward Healing
These are the “steps” we take.
1) Listen. Listen to the person. Ask open ended questions and learn what they need. “What’s going on?” “Where do you think that came from?” “What would you like us to do?” “Would you like to tells us…” Often, listening brings healing. So few people are really listened to—and they bottle up pain and stress. Speaking and being heard allows them to release what they have been carrying.
2) Love. Love them. This usually means giving them your full attention and taking initiation to serve them, care for them, make them feel safe and comfortable. We do not want to presume, or assume, or be rude in any way. Love builds up another person. When we love someone else, we keep our attention on them.
3) Pray. We pray for God to act, for the Spirit to move, and for Jesus to come in and heal. We pray with our eyes open and our hearts open to God.
The stairs shape helps us remember this pattern. We descend into prayer. There are three steps down toward the position of service and humility. We need to humble ourselves to truly listen to another person. Christian Healing Ministry (Francis and Juith McNutt) teach that perhaps 70% of healing takes place when we intentionally, graciously listen to another person. Few people are truly listened to in our culture and to be able to express oneself in a loving, supportive enviroment makes a big difference.
The second humbling step is to love them. We are careful with what they say. We are respectful in how we ask questions. We offer explanation and ask permission before we touch, lay on hands, or anoint with oil. We serve them, make them comfortable, offer to meet needs if we can. We are to be gentle with the person.
Finally, we pray. We take them before God, before Christ the Great Physician, and ask the Spirit to move in us and through us to bring healing. In prayer, we humble ourselves before God.
Spiritual wounds and afflictions can come from numerous sources – loss, grief, prolonged suffering, abuse, bad theology, etc. The need for spiritual healing often includes a need to acknowledge and confess sin for their own part of the situation. Needless to say confidentiality is essential here but our pattern is familiar:
1) Listen to their confession of sin.
2) Love them by 1) identifying with them as a sinner and 2) assuring them that Jesus does forgive and will forgive them.
3) Pray with them as they confess their sin to God and offer an assurance of forgiveness.
After prayer, ask them if there is anything they need to do in response. They may need to take some steps to make it right, to make acknowledgement and restoration, or to be silent and just move on. Listen to their response. Love them by offering encouragement. Pray with them again if it seems right, for example if they are going to try to do something that requires courage.
Also, there may be a need for the person to forgive those who sinned against them. Harboring unforgiveness also makes us sick. If so, here’s the pattern. Listen to their story of what happened. Love them through it. Ask what they think they need to do (forgiveness often takes steps, and you may only be able to help them move a little way toward forgiveness.) Pray for them to find strength to move toward forgiveness. (By the way, this is a step toward relational healing.)
After praying and hearing, you may need to repeat the process several times. Be patient. Ask how they are feeling. Ask if anything is helping or hindering them from receiving healing. Repeat the pattern of Listen– Love—Pray as often as it seems necessary.
Questions for Reflection:
- Have you ever experienced healing or relief simply by being listened to? What is it about being listened to that heals?
- Have you ever seen others suddenly, miraculously healed? What happened?
- Have you ever been skeptical of healing ministry? Why? How can those problems be avoided as we obey Christ and engage in healing ministry?
- We believe healing prayer and the practice of medicine go together. How do you see it? Why is this significant?
- How could it be harmful if we allow people to think that healing is dependent on their faith? What (or rather who) is healing dependent on? (By the way, the answer is Jesus.) Why is this important?
- Who’s faith is built up when we see God heal?
- Is God saying anything? What will you do about it?