The past two Sundays, we attended Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury, MN (outside of St. Paul, where we have been staying the past couple weeks). Since we've been looking into gifts of the Spirit and other things that are broadly accepted in the Pentecostal denomination, we thought we'd try out a Pentecostal church while we were away from home. I must say that I had a very positive experience there both times that we attended, and I am glad that we went out on a limb to attend.
On the first Sunday, I was struck by the heart-felt worship emanating from the congregation. The style was free and spontaneous (which they managed to do using sound tracks, amazingly!), and the people freely raised their hands in praise to the LORD God. I was already in a somewhat emotional state before we came, but this pushed me over the edge. I was truly worshiping God with all my heart, and tears came down my face as we sang songs of praise. It was the first time in a long time that I felt truly compelled to lift my hands in worship to the Almighty.
After the singing, a missionary to India came to the stage to share about his ministry and the work that God was doing in India. He gave stories of miraculous healings, of witches being released from the grip of Satan, and of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the new believers there. He recounted one story of a man who spoke two Hebrew words over and over as he came out of the water after being baptized into Christ, and the man didn't know Hebrew! The stories the missionary told seemed so natural, and yet they seemed so different than what I had been experiencing most days of my life. My husband and I had already been conditioning ourselves toward this new paradigm of expecting to see God's power demonstrated on the earth, so this was one more testimony that chipped away from our skepticism.
Josh and I noticed, ironically, that there were several people with injuries or in wheel chairs at the church. Josh prayed for a few of them, including a lady with a sprained wrist. We didn't see any immediate, miraculous healings, but we thought that this would be the perfect environment to try the idea out.
The next Sunday, we attended the same church again. This Sunday, after the time of singing, there was a time for the congregation to share praise reports and prayer requests. I presented the request for healing and wisdom with respect to Josh's dad. Soon after that, a lady stood up to share a praise that a young couple attended the church last week (and that they were here again today), and that the young man prayed for her wrist. I thought she was going to say something spectacular, like that it was completely healed by the time she got home, but that was the extent of the request. I thought that was interesting.
During the pastor's sermon, he mentioned a friend (sister-in-law?) of his that got a terminal disease after she gave her life to Christ. The disease hardens the skin and connective tissue throughout the body, from the outside in, so that whatever area of the body is affected becomes as hard and functionless as stone. I kept it in my heart that I would pray for that lady after the church service was over.
There was an alter call at the end of the service, and about half or better of the congregation made their way to the front. Josh and I didn't go at first, but we went up after the pastor instructed everyone to find someone nearby and pray with them. We made our way to the lady, but she was blocked in by bodies until after the service ended. I caught her attention and asked if I could pray for her. She said yes, and the lady standing by her asked if she could join in. We all laid our hands and started praying for the diseased woman. At first I was thrown off because I forgot that the Pentecostals usually pray all at once, and the lady next to me started praying at the same time that I started praying. Once I got past my distraction, though, I thought that we had a very powerful prayer session. At once point, the lady by me started praying in tongues. I had never heard someone speak in tongues in person before, and I thought it was pretty cool. Nevertheless, after all our powerful prayers, we saw no immediate results. This was only within the first handful of healing prayers that I had prayed in this manner, but I still hoped for the best. As Pastor Curry would say, though, you may need to pray for 20 people or so before you start seeing significant results. Anyway, I'm still expecting to see healing in this woman, whether it be instantaneous or not.