Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Back was Healed by a Prayer of Faith!

Several months ago (maybe even as long as a year ago), Josh and I were watching an episode of Sid Roth's show "It's Supernatural." I can't remember who was being interviewed, but the interviewee gave a healing prayer at the end of the interview. In the prayer, he said "Someone's back is being healed right now in Jesus' name." There had been lots of people (including Sid Roth himself) who had prayed something similar in past interviews, but this time I felt like he was really speaking to me. So, I prayed to God, "God, if this prayer could be for me, I would let you heal my back."

My back had been in a state of chronic pain. I always had knots in my back (so much so that my husband said my back felt "grainy"). Plus, one side of my back was significantly weaker than the other. In fact, the muscles were so imbalanced that on one side of my spine they were thick and strong (probably to make up for the other side), and on the other they seemed almost non-existent. There was a thumb-width's gap where a muscle should have been on one side of my spine. I had the suspicion that I had a slight case of scoliosis, since it runs in my family and a doctor pointed it out as a possibility once during a routine physical.

So, I expectantly hoped for my back to be instantaneously healed. I didn't notice anything right away, and not even by the next day. But within a week, my back was completely different than it had been for the past 3 years (probably more)! My husband noticed the difference as well, saying, "I don't know what happened, but you have a completely different back."

Praise the Lord that after so many months, my back is still in great condition as a result of this prayer. The Lord is good and faithful, and he has many benefits. It is the duty of those who know this to spread those benefits to others. Let me be faithful and obedient to the Father's will! May Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, Father! Amen!

Why Do Faith Healers Die?

Perhaps we can reply with the question, "Why shouldn't faith healers die?" Maybe just as God doesn't rid His followers of their fleshly nature while on Earth, He doesn't rid us of the natural cycle of life and death either. Just as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3, there is "a season for every activity under heaven" (verse 1, NIV). He goes on to say in the next verse that there is a time to be born and a time to die. So, maybe the Earthly order of things is such that we have to deal with our fleshly nature as well as the natural cycles of life and death while we reside here, even if Jesus conquered sin, sickness, and death.

I came across a series of interviews with Christian pastor and writer John MacArthur where the question of "Is healing in the atonement" was brought up. MacArthur replies by saying, "That’s obviously not true because all those people who believe that die." He later admits (in one of the interviews on healing) that if faith healing weren't a sham (which he asserts that it is), he'd like to be healed! Perhaps there's still hope for you, brother. Perhaps there's still hope.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Unexpected Ripple Effect

After I heard that the woman with cancer that we had been praying for had to go into surgery, and that even more, the doctors removed the entire thyroid because it was cancerous, I was devastated. I cried out to God asking Him why she wasn't healed, as I thought He had a great opportunity to reveal His power and compassion not only to His children, but also to the doctors. In my frustration, I started to sulk. Later that day, my husband asked if I would pray for his neck, since he had pulled a muscle. I prayed for it, but nothing happened. I was discouraged. Nevertheless, I prayed again. This time, I adjusted my heart so that I was focusing on Josh's neck instead of my own defeatist attitude. Josh wiggled his head around to see if there was any difference, and he said that it felt a little better. A few minutes later, we went into the other room and Josh sat down on the couch. When he sat down, he noticed the pain in his neck and said, "I'm sorry, sweetheart, but your prayer didn't work." Almost immediately, though, he remembered that his neck had felt better just a few minutes before. He used his situation to encourage me about the prayers for the woman with cancer. "Perhaps the cancer was actually defeated, and either the doctors just detected the remains of the cancer... or it came back after we stopped praying."

I had spent pretty much the whole day either seeking God for answers or sulking in discouragement, and in so doing I neglected to pray for my friend with a hurt back. I told him I would pray for it to be healed, and I had done so in spurts faithfully since the previous Tuesday (about a week before). Well, surprisingly, I received an IM from him today saying that his back started hurting really bad yesterday, and he didn't know why. I said that it may have been because I stopped praying for him because I was mad and discouraged and that I would pray for him right then. That was at about 4:30PM. At about 5PM, he IMed me again (after having been away from the computer) saying, "Whoa... that's nutty. My back started feeling better about a half and hour ago."

Wow. I must say that my friend's report was both encouraging and convicting at the same time. Encouraging because it let me see that my prayers actually can have a noticeable effect. Convicting because my sulking yesterday probably caused my friend to suffer needless back pain. This experience helped me to learn that I need to remain faithful in my obedience to God even when I'm struggling, for my disobedience could have unexpected ripple effects. I want to see the ripple effects of faithful obedience instead!

What to Do in Apparent Defeat

We found out that the woman with thyroid cancer that we had been praying for went into surgery as scheduled on Wednesday and that, indeed, the growth was (still) cancerous. The report so far is that the surgery went well and that she's recovering fine. That said, however, I must say that I was very disheartened at the news that there was no noticeable effect from our prayers.

I, in fact, got so discouraged that I got teary-eyed as I pleaded with God for understanding as to why the woman wasn't healed before her scheduled surgery, as we had commanded. Josh and I independently felt that the LORD had given us words of knowledge that the cancer had been defeated. (Josh saw a black clump in the middle of a beam of light that disappeared, and I had the image of the walls of Jericho falling at the voices of the Israelites.) It seemed that our prayers were powerful and effective, and the woman mentioned that she felt a pressure in the cancerous area. I must admit, however, that after our prayer session, I pretty much stopped praying, except for a minute or two briefly the morning before the surgery. I haven't had any clear revelations as to why our prayers didn't "work," but I have collected some thoughts and observations that I aim to make changes upon in my future prayers.

First, I am pretty sure that I asserted something that I shouldn't have. I said something like, "Lord, as we think about C_____ between now and Wednesday, let us say a prayer against enemy forces that wish to do her harm." By saying this, I think I unintentionally shifted the burden of healing from Jesus (who already accomplished it) to us. I essentially made a promise that all of us there would say a prayer commanding evil spirits to go in Jesus' name whenever we thought of the woman with cancer. If the enemy were in earshot, he would easily have a legal loophole to get out of obeying the commands we were giving in the prayers. If one of us didn't do what I said we would do, he wouldn't have to obey. So, I learned a lesson about spiritual warfare: don't give yourself hoops to jump through because you'll probably trip up, and if you do, the enemy will have a loophole by which to bypass the authority of Christ.

Second, I said something like, "Father, if we've done something wrong, let us know what it is so that we can fix it." This is definitely an unwise thing to say during a time of spiritual warfare. Our weapon is the Sword of Truth, so if we are obviously wavering in what we believe to be true (or in whether or not we are correctly living out the truth), then we have revealed that our Sword is weak--and all this in the presence of the enemy! I had been asking God the question above during my own time of seeking Him, which is why it came out during the time of prayer later. But that is no excuse. Another lesson I learned about spiritual warfare is this: Stand by what you've said and done during spiritual warfare, and if you are uncertain about something, don't reveal your cards--ask God about it later in private!

The last thing that I started realizing after talking with my husband is that perhaps I gave up fighting too soon. With every other case in which I've prayed for a fellow believer (or for myself), the healing has been a process. Two steps forward, one step back. Given that I stopped fighting for the woman once our prayer session was over, there was probably plenty of time for the cancer to regain strength. Given that I became disheartened once I found out the woman went into surgery, the enemy probably wiped his brow in relief because he knew I would stop fighting if I thought I had lost the battle. If I am going to fight a spiritual battle, I must realize that the fight is not over until the enemy is completely destroyed. If the tide of battle turns in our favor, that does not mean we can sit back and relax. We should fight all the harder. The last lesson I learned about spiritual warfare is that we need to fight hard until we see the results of our prayer come to pass in our presence. If the healing doesn't come within the first hour, pray for two. If it doesn't come in the first two hours, pray for six. Sometimes it isn't practical to lay hands on someone for six hours straight, but that doesn't mean that the battle has to end. The battle needs to continue until the desired outcome is achieved so that the enemy does not regain his ground. This is the most significant lesson that I have learned from this experience, and I will not make the same mistake again.

Milk vs. Meat

Paul tells the church at Corinth that they were not yet ready for solid food, for they were still mere infants in Christ who needed milk. It is interesting to me to see what it is that Paul calls spiritual milk. In Hebrews, Paul lets us know that spiritual milk consists in "the elementary truths of God's Word" (Hebrews 5:12). So what are the elementary truths of God's word? We see them spelled out later in the epistle to the Hebrews:
"Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so." (Hebrews 6:1-3, NIV)
So according to Paul, it is a given that Christians should know (or be taught) that they are to lay hands on the sick. Wow--Is anyone else surprised? I don't think I've ever been taught to lay hands on a sick person before, except in recent months after I embarked on my pursuit of spiritual gifts and all. And yet, this is milk. This is for infants in Christ. Look at everything else Paul addresses in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and you may be surprised what else counts as milk.

So if teachings about basic theology and commands of Jesus count as milk, what counts as meat?

Jesus himself lets us know what spiritual meat is. At the time, his disciples did not understand Jesus' use of words, and they thought that he was referring to physical meat that he had eaten. Here is what Jesus said to them:
"My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 4:34, KJV)
Huh. I always thought that in order to mature spiritually, I needed to understand the "meat of Scripture." On the contrary, knowing what God has said in His Word is only milk. If I want to be more like Jesus--and if I want to come into spiritual maturity--I need to do the Father's work. What is the Father's work? Well, since we know Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing, we can follow His example. Jesus went about healing the sick, casting out demons, and proclaiming the kingdom of God. (Read Luke 4:16-20 if you want to see how Jesus summarized His duty on Earth.) If we want to grow up, we need to start acting like Jesus.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Healing Service and Words of Prophecy

On Saturday, July 17, 2010, I attended a healing service put on by Rev. Curry Blake from John G. Lake Ministries. It was a great opportunity to see first-hand whether the teachings Josh and I had been listening to from Pastor Curry would really yield results. Well, there was one reported instantaneous healing of scoliosis (that Josh and I had no way to evaluate) after Pastor Curry prayed for a group of people afflicted with the condition. After Curry spoke, he invited all who had completed his Divine Healing Technician Training to come forward to administer healing to those in the audience. Josh and I went forward, of course. Curry instructed us to go out an find someone to pray for who had their hand raised in the audience. I went to a lady seated in the second row who was energetically waving her hand. I asked her what she needed healing for. She said that she had suffered neck pain for about 18 years after a couple car accidents spaced 6 months apart. She also mentioned some hormonal imbalance issues and a slow metabolism. So, I prayed for her, thanking God for His attributes and marvelous works. I then commanded the pain to go in Jesus' name. I continued to pray for an extended period of time.

While I prayed, the lady stopped me occasionally to tell me what she was experiencing. One time she told me that she had a euphoric feeling of joy and peace, and that she was literally in heaven with angels around her. Another time she said that the felt electricity flowing through her left leg, and that it was soothing, not painful. The last remark I remember her making is that she heard and felt a cracking sensation in the back of her head. She asked us (Josh had joined me at that point) if we heard it, but we hadn't. She said that the feeling was similar to feelings in her neck she would get when the chiropractor would work with her, but she had never felt it so high up in her head before. At one point, she broke out in a case of the giggles.

All this time, I hadn't been feeling anything out of the ordinary. I just continued praying as my heart led me. I didn't feel like I had received any words of knowledge or special revelation of how to pray or a prophecy that she would be healed. I just continued praying until it came to a natural end.

After the prayer, the lady thanked me for taking so much time to minister to her. She told me that she was in full time ministry as part of a team of prophets. I had never met a prophet before, so I thought that was interesting. Then she started praying for me. She started out by thanking God for me and my willingness to pray for her. After that, she started prophesying over me--and that, my friends, deserves a new paragraph.

I will try to remember all the things the lady said throughout the prayer and summarize them here. I'll do my best to quote what she said, but it won't be exact. I'll try not to read into what she said more content than was offered. I will also give my comments and evaluations along the way. Here's the list:
  1. "God says you're just like the Energizer Bunny. You have lots of energy and have a youthful spirit. You're the type of person that, when you're 50, people will think you're 35." -- Anyone who knows me knows that this is true.
  2. "God sees your generosity. I see an image of a plane ticket--that you paid for someone's ticket... and that you're the type of person who would without hesitation say, 'Let me pay for that.' He also says that you're a very compassionate person." -- These things are all true, and in fact, I did buy someone a plane ticket.
  3. "God wants you to know and experience His generosity. You are a generous person, but God wants to be even more generous to you. If you let go... if you give up something in your pursuit for Him, then you give Him the opportunity to give it back to you even better than before." -- Interestingly, this has been my theme for this year. I'm trying to break my bondage to material possessions (mainly, clothes) by intending to part with some of them.
  4. "God has heard your prayers in pursuit of Him. Keep praying. I see this picture of a hot air balloon... God says that if you will keep pursuing Him, He will take you to new heights." -- I hope that this is true, and I believe that I have tasted the start of my new journey. This was very encouraging to me.
  5. "Her bags are packed, Lord. Her bags are packed. I see this image of you with 4 kids. I don't know if this is literal or metaphorical--but I see you in Guatemala or South Africa playing duck-duck-goose with children, and as you touch their heads, the Spirit of God flows from your hands and the children are healed and set free. ... Her spirit is willing, Lord. Finances will not be an issue, in Jesus' name. God is going to bless you beyond what you expect and finances will not be an issue." -- Several interesting points: (i) My bags were literally packed when she prayed this prayer. Josh and I had been traveling for an extended time (living out of our suitcases for about 2 months), and the bags were still (and are still) sitting in our bedroom packed. (ii) Josh and I had it in our minds to have 4 kids... (iii) At points in the past, I have fantasized about going to a different country to minister to the people there somehow, either on short-term missions or otherwise, although I hadn't thought about this in awhile. Since we went to Europe in May 2008, Josh and I both decided that the next time we went overseas we would only go in order to minister to people there. Josh still gets mailings from missions programs informing us of upcoming missions trips, although we haven't seriously considered going while our son is so young. (iv) We hadn't had any income for the past 2 months! Interestingly, though, Josh's new job position (with a higher pay rate) started the Thursday before, and we also received a large check from the workshop Josh attended in June. Could this be the beginning of a financial turn-around? :-) -- Anyway, it will be interesting to see if I end up in Guatemala or South Africa someday.
  6. "God made you beautiful on the outside and on the inside in order to draw people to Himself through you. You have a pure heart." -- I have erred in the past by beating myself up over mistakes I've made in my obedience to God and/or in my relationships with people. It is true that I care very deeply about purity, and not only purity in the body, but purity in my focus, attitudes, intentions, and worship. It almost brought me to tears hearing her speak these words. I cannot be reminded enough that God sees me through the righteousness of Christ and that my sins are completely washed away.
One final note about this prayer is that it is itself an answer to prayer. I had prayed (and daydreamed) that God would basically send someone to prophesy over me. I thought perhaps that it could have been while attending a Pentecostal church (although we attend an Evangelical Free church, we visited a Pentecostal church while in St. Paul, MN), since Pentecostals seem to have prophets in their midst. I also imagined that it could have been at the healing seminar--that someone would point me out from the audience and speak a word of prophecy over me, telling me what unique purpose God had for me. I had forgotten about this prayer by the time we attended the healing seminar in Elgin, IL. (It had been a couple months since I prayed that prayer.) I think it is so cool that God answered my prayer through my own intention to pray healing into someone else! I guess that goes to show that God likes to listen to and bless his children who are acting in obedience. :-)

Prayers of Faith and Words of Knowledge

Today a few of us got together to pray over a young woman with thyroid cancer. I had set up three official prayer meetings for this woman--one for each night before her scheduled surgery. This happened to be the last night, so all day today I prepared my heart for spiritual warfare and sang praises in my heart to the LORD. I had seen and heard so many testimonies of God's miraculous healing power that I was convinced that God could heal the woman of her cancer, and yet, I had prayed for her the two nights previous with no noticeable effects (except a report of a period of numbness in the throat area on the first night). So, I told God that if He wouldn't (or couldn't) heal her instantaneously during our prayer time today, then He needed to let me know why so that I could do something about it. When it came time to pray for the woman, I had my expectations high for what would happen.

As we started praying, we gave praise and thanks to God the Father and to Jesus for their love, power, and compassion for us. Then we cast away enemy spirits that were trying to undermine our efforts. Finally, we commanded the cancer to shrivel up and go away by the authority of Jesus. My arms were hot, which is a phenomenon reported by many "faith healers." My husband was the first one that appeared to have a word of knowledge, as he described a mental image he saw of light beginning to beam through the darkness. At first, I was a little bit confused as to why he had gotten such a revelation and I hadn't, given my prayers earlier in the day. But soon afterward, I had the thought that we should pray against the cancer like the Israelites marched around Jericho, and that if we would command the cancer to go in Jesus's name 7 times, it would be defeated. So, we did that, commanding ever more loudly upon each repetition. I then had the thought that I should concentrate on squeezing the abnormal growth with my mind and spirit, so I encouraged everyone there to do the same. After that, I thought that I should ask the woman to put her hand on the place where the lump was on her neck and press on it. During this process, she reported that she had difficulty feeling where the lump was. My husband asked the woman, after all the prayers had been spoken, if she felt any sort of physical manifestation of healing. She reported feeling a pressure in the affected area of her throat near and around the area where I had been placing my fingers while we prayed. All of this to say, I would be surprised if she were not completely cancer-free by tomorrow's scheduled surgery.

After everyone dispersed their own way, I couldn't help but ponder the nature of the prayer session. I was waiting for a sign from God--a word of knowledge--concerning how to defeat the cancer we were battling against. Instead, I just had spontaneous thoughts. Not bright, flashing neon signs with clear instructions... just thoughts that could have been completely my own. So, did God give me words of knowledge to help me facilitate healing? I guess I will find out whether the instructions were God-given based upon the report I hear from the woman tomorrow when she sees the doctors before her surgery. If the experience I had in praying for the woman today was really from God, then I need to develop spiritual discernment so that I can clearly distinguish God's words from my own thoughts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Successive Successful Prayers of Healing

Josh and I attended a seminar on Divine Healing (speaker: Pastor Curry Blake) in Elgin, IL this past Thursday. It was both interesting and inspiring. We had listened to the speaker's teaching online and thought it would be good for us to go see him in person, and I'm glad we did. We couldn't go to the sessions Friday or Saturday, but since we had heard the full teaching already, I thought there was no reason not to try out his principles ASAP. (In fact, we had been trying them out already.)

Thursday evening after the healing seminar, my eyes started itching like crazy. I had developed some allergy-like symptoms a few days before (itchy eyes, stuffy nose, headache), but this was by far the worst it had been. I had to rub my eyes non-stop to get relief, and even then they still itched! It was the perfect opportunity to test out our newly learned techniques. So, I forcefully and boldly commanded the allergies to go in Jesus' name. I commanded the itchiness in my eyes to go away right now in Jesus' name. Amazingly, right as I said those words, I found instant relief! The itchiness in my eyes had diminished to about 5% of what it had been. I prayed against it a few more times, and soon I forgot all about the allergies because the symptoms were completely gone!

The interesting thing, though, is that within a few minutes or hours after the allergies were defeated by prayer, they would gradually start coming back. It reminds me of how your headache will sneak back after the Tylenol you took 4 hours ago wears off. Anyway, every time I felt the allergies returning, I took another dose of spiritual medicine by praying against it. This happened the next couple days, but it seemed as though the allergy attacks started tapering off in frequency and intensity. Each time, they were defeated (either fully or partially) by a single command to go in Jesus' name. I am happy to report that I am symptom-free today. I will continue to battle against any other allergy-like symptoms that pop up in the future so that maybe someday I can say that I have completely defeated allergies in my body through the power and authority of Jesus.