Posted - 22 Jan 2006 : 21:40:29
| Healing: Wayman Mitchell - Chapter 6
The Art of Healing
The usual definition of homiletics is, 'The art and science of preaching.' This definition informs us that not only are there mechanics but an art involved in successfully delivering a sermon. Likewise, ministry to the sick involves mechanics or technique, and an art. Dr. Paul Brand, medical missionary to India for over a third of his eighty-plus years, tells how in his early medical training a wise old doctor taught him to look at his patient's face when he was poking, pinching and prodding their body during an examination. "Watching their face will tell you a lot more than just listening to what they say" was the wise doctor's advice. This is the art of ministering to the sick. John G. Lake agrees - there is an art in ministering to the sick. "I tell people that there is not only a grace of healing but an ART of healing," says Lake, "But if you are going to discuss it from the side of art, then the individual who understands how to open his nature to God, so as to let that lifestream pass through from himself to others, is practicing the art of healing." Phillips Brooks great discourse on preaching contains a similar insight.
Preaching is the communication of truth by man to men. It has two essential elements, truth and personality. Neither can it spare and still be preaching … distinctly and deliberately Jesus chose this method of extending knowledge of himself ... [Preparation for the ministry] cannot be the mere training to certain tricks. It cannot be even the furnishing with abundant knowledge. It must be nothing less than the kneading and tempering of a man's whole nature … (The Joy of Preaching, Kregel, 1989, p. 25-28).
Successful ministry in healing treats disease as a spiritual personality. People must also be understood in terms of personality. You must treat people as individuals and be sensitive to them. As Dr. Brand discovered, their facial expressions and body movements will tell you a great deal. Sometimes more than what they say. Asking the right questions is a grace and an art. With practice you become more effective. It is difficult, for instance, to get people to confess that they are full of hate. Most often they will tell you, without batting an eye, they really don't hate anyone. They've already forgiven that person or it really hasn't been a hurt. This reluctance to acknowledge spiritual issues is especially strong when the person that has hurt them, a parent or spouse, is nearby (Standing next to them perhaps or sitting in the congregation). If, however, the question is put to them differently (for example, "Who would come to your mind if I asked who really hurt you?") they will often readily respond. They are then well on their way to deliverance and healing. Sometimes the specifics are not necessary, but at other times it may be necessary to pursue things in more detail.
I received a lengthy letter from a woman who had come for healing in one of our crusades and had, what was without question, a major confrontation in her life. Her healing was not the result of simply prancing into a crusade sick and prancing out healed. Healing does not happen because we have a slick program or flawless doctrine. It happens because people put their trust in Jesus. They believe, "as the Scripture says." Mona's letter was enlightening. In it we can see the dramatic spiritual struggle that was hidden even from those who knew her well.
Mona had been in one of our churches for about two years. Although she was 'living for God,' it was a struggle and she had never really experienced a genuine joy of salvation. "I felt as if I didn't deserve his [Jesus'] gift," she wrote. She had talked with her pastor and been led in a prayer forgiving her stepfather who had molested her. This had helped but she was still struggling. One day she was terribly injured in a freak accident. She had stopped her car and put it in 'park' while she got out to open a gate before driving into her driveway. Her daughter somehow slipped out of her car seat and managed to get the car into drive. The car pushed Mona through the gate and pinned her against the wall of her house. She suffered serious and painful injuries. The pain refused to go away even after she was able to resume her life. Finally the pain became so acute it put her back in the hospital. Her doctor scheduled her for surgery but just as she was being prepped, her temperature shot up to 105. The surgery was canceled. For ten days she remained hospitalized, hooked up to an IV, and receiving morphine for the pain. No one could figure out what happened. Her spleen and liver were enlarged and the pain was severe. She finally checked herself out of the hospital unhealed She went home. The next morning she awoke with a sense of urgency about going to church for prayer. There she learned of a healing crusade. The fever left as suddenly as it came and her doctor scheduled her for surgery - The day of the crusade. She postponed it and came to the crusade.
Mona came forward that night for healing from back pain. I led her in a prayer but when I asked her to repeat, "Jesus, deliver me from these tormenting spirits," she fought this off and left. Her parents convinced her to return. That's when I said to her, "Dear, you've had an abortion, haven't you?" Mona wrote, "That hurt me more than you know." We prayed again. According to her letter, my last words to Mona were, "all this infirmity in your body is with you for giving [up] your [child] for that abortion." She left the crusade "in a hurry." Mona explained that to her the abortion had been buried. Not buried in Jesus, but within herself. Now, however, it was exposed. That abortion was causing her the greatest grief and pain. It was afflicting her with torment, guilt and shame. She could not gain any self-esteem or believe for the real benefits of salvation. Particularly healing.
"At the emergency room she was embarrassed because nothing was wrong … free of pain, but full of doubts…"
The next day Mona was rushed to the hospital. On the way to the hospital she was gripped with fear, fear her liver was again enlarged. She was crying. Then, she wrote, "plain as day" she heard those last words I had spoken to her, and she began to pray. By the time they reached the hospital, Mona was healed. At the emergency room she was embarrassed because nothing was wrong with her; she was totally free of pain, but full of doubts. She went home. She mustered the courage to go to the revival which followed the crusade at her church. She asked her pastor about what had happened and he told her that if she was without pain she should simply "accept it." She had been in pain, it seemed, forever. Now in the service she sat without pain. She could not get it off her mind. She twisted and squirmed in the chair trying to see if there was any pain. There was none. She went to the altar and asked God in prayer to give her a sign that Jesus had really healed her. As she prayed, the pastor, moving among those in the altar came to her. He laid his hands on her and began to pray. Suddenly she felt a "rush of love and peace like she'd never felt [before]." A few moments later, as they were standing and worshipping God, the evangelist touched her forehead and she fell backwards. This would not have been my normal style. But I wasn't there. The evangelist touched her and she fell. She fell on her back - on the place crushed in the accident.
As she lay there, Mona thought, "I can't get up without pain." But she felt Jesus speak to her, "You wanted proof your back was healed. Get up." She wrote me that she wrestled with this in her mind while she lay there on the floor. Finally she said to herself, "I'm just gonna get up … no pain never felt this good in my life." So she stood up. As she did the evangelist said to her, "Sister, you've been delivered." Mona replied, "I know."
Mona's letter reveals how the devil was able to exploit conditions and circumstances and circumstances based on past sin in her life. It illustrates the value of crusade ministry, follow-up revivals, team ministry, the word of knowledge, pastors, and evangelists. It specifically illustrates how wonderful healing can be in a person'' salvation. It illustrates that it is always the will of God to heal, even as God is working with complex issues. Knowing the changes how one preaches and prays for the sick and helps achieve a greater degree of success. It is an art gained through experience and more than a couple of failures. People are very reluctant to let things long buried within themselves be dug up so they can be buried with Christ.
Crusades, Revivals And Church Services
In ministering to the sick, whether in crusades or church services, I prefer to deal first with conditions or diseases which I feel confident God will heal and be demonstrable to those watching. This is important to building faith in those waiting to be healed and those watching but reluctant to come forward. Personally, I prefer to start ministering to people with deaf ears (one, not both), injuries (sports, automobile and industrial), cancers (accompanied by pain), women with growths in their breast and those with lingering pain from previous broken bones, injury, accident or surgery. I've also has astonishing results dealing with people whose nerves have been damaged causing a loss of feeling or mobility. These are almost always healed instantly, in a demonstrable way, in new converts and visitors. So I also prefer to start with visitors or new converts. Too often those long schooled in the traditional religion of suffering are filled with unbelief or religious and emotional baggage that hinders a quick healing. I try to avoid dealing with deaf-mutes immediately because of the difficulties in controlling them and in demonstrating their healing. The sensations are too radically new and sometimes frightening to them, making their reactions difficult to predict. Much time and effort must be spent giving directions so their healing can be demonstrated. Likewise, I rarely deal with stroke victims because I have seen little success in these as yet. Cerebral palsy and blindness are best left to later parts of the healing service when faith has been stirred to a greater degree in those watching.
In a healing service of any kind you are interested in faith. Not just yours. The faith of those sick and those watching is important. It is an important factor that you maintain their interest in healing ministry. God is interested in demonstrating his power but Jesus did not do many miracles in the presence of great unbelief. He was not stymied but did find their faith a factor and rebuked them for not having it. You cannot lose the crowd or leave it behind and be effective in healing. This means that you cannot get bogged down dealing with psychos, neurotic women and egomaniacs who simply love being in the spotlight. If you choose the wrong people to start with, you risk being distracted or sidetracked and the interest of those watching will shift to the latest ballgame or juicy rumor. If you spend a long time dealing with one person who mocks or who is not healed after you've made a big issue of them, you will dampen the faith of those awaiting prayer, those watching, and it may just about devastate your own faith.
A church service is different than a crusade not only because of the venue and crowd but in the dynamics for visitors and church members. Mass crusades depend on large numbers in a suitable venue where there is room but not great numbers of unoccupied seats. Rallies and revivals depend more on individual prayer and so you must be selective in who you pray for first. Often people visiting your church service or revival are reluctant to come for healing in a public way. This reluctance can sometimes be overcome by praying for some of your church members who have asked for prayer (they often will prior to a service). When praying for these, remember you are looking for instant and demonstrable healing to encourage others, especially visitors. It is important to have an immediate healing. So choose who to pray for first. You know these church people. Don't pray first for one who has never felt better any other time you prayed for them. They probably don't like you anyway! Pray for the one you feel will be healed. Then, when they are, encourage your visitors to come.
When people are not immediately healed, I will often pray for them again and usually a third time if necessary, especially if I have seen similar cases healed successfully. Rarely will I pray more than three times. If I'm not successful after the third time I ask them to stand aside and watch, particularly if they have felt something happen. This three things for them. First, it is not viewed by them as a failure. Secondly, as they watch, their faith can build as others are healed. They may also, as I minister, gain insight to their conditions that help them to healing. Third, there may be other workers who will act on their faith. If you get a demonic manifestation in praying for people whether in a crusade or a church service, you can treat it as a deliverance. Generally, however, you will not want any long or protracted exorcisms in a public arena. People are too uncomfortable with these. Deal with later if it needs some attention and counseling.
Several times, as at Redlands, I have seen significant healings take place off of center stage as pastors and workers helped those not immediately healed. This applies especially if a team is ministering. Largely misunderstood and ridiculed when I first began it, the team ministry has been very valuable. It has helped me gain insight to the dynamics of faith, the issues of disease, and how to deal with different kinds of people. In team ministry there is a pooling of knowledge, spiritual wisdom and experience. Often a word of knowledge will come from one of the team. It is possible for one of the team to continue working with difficult situations or cases where people are not immediately healed - often with spectacular results. I remember two dramatic healings that took place when I was ministering with a 'team.' In Perth I prayed for a polio case. The boy was better, but not healed. Stewart Cameron began to work with him. Stewart got him to throw down a scapular and renounce the curses of idolatry and inherited sickness. Immediately the boy could feel the blood flowing in his legs and began to exercise his crippled legs. In Las Vegas about three years ago a woman seriously ill with cancer came for healing from nearby Boulder City. There was no demonstrable sure or relief and I asked her to stand to one side while I prayed for others. My son was helping me ion that crusade and he began to work with her. Before long, he had her walking in considerable freedom back and forth behind me on the platform. As the whole crowd began to watch, he took her over to the side of the platform and got her to walk, and then run up and down the stairs and wheelchair ramp. As she began to run the audience broke out in wild cheers and applause. All this occurred while I was ministering center stage. I'm not recommending a circus atmosphere with free lance healers scurrying about the platform. Nonetheless, a team approach, with qualified people helping on the platform, is a great asset to ministry. It's good to be surrounded by people of faith.
"In Perth a polio case … Immediately the boy could feel blood flowing in his legs and began to exercise his crippled legs."
Crusades often involve mass prayers and the gathering of testimonies. At other times individuals will be called to the platform for prayer over specific illnesses. In either case it is critical to move large numbers of people quickly to the platform. Other men will help you keep the psychos and ego-freaks off the platform. I want genuine miracles for testimonies and desire to pray for genuinely sick people. I ask people working with me to ask four specific questions before they bring anyone to me for prayer or testimony. First, "what was [is] your problem, sickness or need?" Second, "Have you been to a doctor or are you under a doctors care?" In connection with the second question ask the third, "How long have you been sick [seeing a doctor or had the problem] and what does he say about it?" What's the prognosis?" I am looking for genuine, authenticated miracles. I often ask a husband or wife, parent or friend about a person's healing. Testimonies help secure a person's healing, build faith in all watching, and will help you later in the crusade. You want those healed and those watching to bring visitors to the remaining crusade services.
Other Helpful Material
There are a number of resources available and worth obtaining relevant to healing. T. L. Osborn's "Healing The Sick" has been helpful to many of our pastors, is easy to read and answers most of the common questions related to healing. A recent book is "Healing Evangelism" by Don Dunkerley. Originally schooled in a social Gospel and Presbyterian church, Dunkerley makes some interesting doctrinal twists but is the only person I know who is saying things about healing which I discovered some time ago. The healing ministries of John G. Lake and John Alexander Dowie were extraordinary and are worth reading about. The John G. Lake book, "Dominion over Demons, Disease and Death", and Dowie's, "A Life Story," are excellent and available as Christ for the Nations (Gordon Lindsey's group) publications. Two classics are Price's "The Real Faith" and Bosworth's "Christ The Healer." Bosworth's book was instrumental in leading Glen Cluck into his healing and gift ministry. Many other books and pamphlets are available. Many times in used bookstores in the United States, Canada, and England you can find books by T. L. Osborn or Oral Roberts which contain outstanding material for anyone interested in Holy Spirit ministry including healing. A number of tapes are available through the Prescott Potter's House tape ministry. Sermons I have preached that contain much of the material in this book and additional insight are available. Faith from Romans 10:6-13 (March 1995), Quest for Power from Micah 3:5-8 (September 1995), The Arena for Healing from Exodus 15:22-26 (September 1989), Power of the Blood from Exodus 12:21-28 (August 1994), Idolatry from Exodus 32:1-6 (June 1991) and The Key to a Miracle from Matthew 8:5-13 are all available and will help you understand the dynamics of healing. Three recent sermons, Sickness and Healing from Matthew 9:1-8 (July 1995), Why Sickness from Luke 4:38-41 (July 1995) and Blood Bought Victory from John 5:1-13 (July 1995) are crusade sermons preached in the tent in Prescott. Also available on tape are three Bible Classes I taught called Dungeons and Dragons in which I deal with healing and the occult. There is an abundance of material available to those interested in improving their ministry. In addition there is no substitute for being around the ministry of healing. Making oneself available in crusades and rallies both at home and abroad will greatly enlarge your ministry and confidence. Ultimately all ministry requires the step of faith to enter in and participate in the great things of God. I would encourage all to take that step of faith and truly pray for the sick.