As someone whose passion is to see people saved and healed, it troubles me that the gift of healing is still so ‘suspect’ and, frankly, ignored, in the vast majority of churches. Even in some churches where it might once have been ‘accepted’, it doesn’t take too many (seeming or apparent) ‘failures’ for it to disappear off of the agenda, and for the people with the faith – I’ll say that, rather than the ‘gift’ – to pray for healing, to be rapidly sidelined. I’ve said so many times in blogs that it’s not possible for God not to answer prayer, and that maybe, just maybe, we’re looking for the wrong thing, or in the wrong place, or for the wrong ‘happening’, and so we dismiss it.
Healings and Miracles are separate gifts in 1 Corinthians 12: the words mean different things, that’s why Paul separated them! ‘Healings’ implies a process – which is what I believe HAS to occur EVERY time someone is prayed for, as it’s not possible for God not to answer prayer….Miracles implies something extraordinary over and above healing, the immediate healing – cancers disappearing, limbs growing, the dead coming back to life (that could HARDLY be classed as a healing, right??! – unless, of course, you don’t believe that the dead can come back to life: if that’s you, I feel sorry for you….because it’s happening in so many places. You might remember me quoting Samuel Lamb, from Guangzhou, China, asking me ‘Do you think God raises the dead here in China because we need more people? (!!!) – he raises the dead because it changes communities’.
Often, and understandably, we WANT the miracle: yet God saw fit to include healings in his list of amazing Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And when you pray, SOMETHING happens because something HAS TO happen because God’s promised to hear our prayer and answer it. Trouble is, we give up so, so quickly, even the next day, when we haven’t been ‘miracled’ – and that giving up invites unbelief back into our minds, spirits, and bodies, and the healing stops….
Another problem is that whilst we seem to have issues with healing, we don’t have the same issues with prophecy: there are a zillion prophets, it seems, 99.9% of whom AREN’T prophets: there are, I believe, very few genuine prophets, in the Biblical understanding of that ministry and function. Prophecy ISN’T ‘My people I love you, you’re mine’…. that’s encouragement. I’ve been involved in a number of situations where ‘prophetic words’ have been spoken over sick and dying people, and ACCEPTED, without 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 being applied to them – the whole issue of CHECKING OUT prophetic words with prophets. Then, the sick person gets worse, or, worse still, dies: it’s then not prophecy that gets pilloried, it’s healing, when the truth is that it was the ‘prophecy’ that was up the shoot….
There are other reasons, too, why healing is so controversial. Let me preface this next bit by saying I’m an avid believer in 1 Chronicles 16:22: ‘”Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” As someone who has been on the receiving end of criticism/anger/rejection/dismissal/condemnation for what SEEM to be ‘failed healings’, I’ve live under the ‘curse’ of others ‘doing harm’ to anointing in other people…. For me, personally, I don’t want ‘fame’ or ‘big platforms’ for the gift that God’s given me: only recently, I’ve had others in ministry say to me ‘Why aren’t you making mega-bucks and getting invitations to big meetings after all you’ve seen God do in the last 30 years?’ Man alive, if THEY are the reasons we move in ministry and gifting, then God, please, get me out! For me, there’s nothing more fulfilling than sitting in a little church, say, in the ‘barrio’ ‘Simon Bolivar’ or ‘Alfonso Aragon’ or Ecatapec in Colombia and Mexico, with a church of 50 people, all of whom are blown away by the fact that a ‘gringo’ has gone to their church, and spent time not only praying for them, but engaging with them, and seeing God DO the miracles, and begin the healings….
AND, almost 35 years ago now, when God made it impossible for me NOT to quit my 9-10 year long career in banking, to move into Christian ministry, the call came with this word from God: ‘Trust me for your home, your security, and your income. You’re never to charge for what I’m calling you to do’. So how can I? I get told by people who tell me that I should charge a ‘fee’ for each meeting, ensure my airfare is covered (and, perhaps now I’m of a certain age!, to make that business class…). I LOVE a church in Simon Bolivar district, Cali: it is such a dangerous barrio, and so poverty stricken: the pastors, Hernan and Aida, are wonderful. I’m blessed if – and if they can – they give me an offering, which has, in the past, been 2,000 pesos – a sacrifice to them, a blessing to me. Converted into £’s, that is 66 pence. Yup, you didn’t mis-read that. Would I not go there because they can’t give me £500 for the meeting, and £3500 for business class airfare? Anyone who wouldn’t go, for 66 pence, is in ministry for the wrong reason. Sure, I need to live, I need to pay fares, I have rent to pay, but…..
The trouble is, there are ”controversial’ people who haven’t really done ‘healing’ and favours. What has motivated this blog is an excellent article in the current ‘Christianity’ magazine (November edition), by the always excellent Justin Brierley, who, I believe, has theological qualifications (which of course I don’t!). I’m not going to mention personally who the article is about, but here IS the article: http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/Browse%20By%20Category/features/My%20night%20with%20Benny%20Hinn.aspx
– I’ve just had a conversation with a lovely friend, who has been a Christian for not-too-long, but has already ‘had enough’ of church thrashing the ‘money’ issue almost non-stop. That person isn’t alone: I meet thousands who have the same problem, and are – like my friend mentioned – no longer going to church, because they don’t have the means to line the pockets of the pastors/ministers/visiting preachers…. ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19). I know that there are occasions where I’ve made an urgent appeal for help – thankfully only once on my account in recent years – more often for people like Ana Beiba, in Cali, about whom I blogged again yesterday.
Please, dear friends and readers, don’t let your response and attitude towards God’s amazing gifts of healings and miracles be coloured by money-machines, or duff prophecies…. that’s my prayer and my hope today!