Chapter Four – Things That Help and Things That Hinder

Faith

It is beyond question that Faith plays a role in bringing healing to a person, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Jesus is very clear that having faith for healing brought it about for some people.

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matthew 9:18–22, ESV)

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46–52, ESV)

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11–19, ESV)

These are all stories of persons whose own faith contributed to their healing. It is clear that the faith of the afflicted person is an important component for healing. Yet is isn’t necessary. Far too often those who seek healing and fail to receive it wind up going away having been told that their faith wasn’t adequate. “If you’d only had more faith, you’d have been healed.” This is not just biblically unsupportable, but cruel. Don’t do this. There are far more stories of people being healed without any mention of their faith than there are of those whose faith is commended as the reason for their healing.

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. (Matthew 12:22, ESV)

This man could not have had faith is Jesus to heal him. He couldn’t even see Him.

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:1–6a, ESV)

The village took offense at Him. They wrote Him off as the lowly son of the carpenter. And while He did no “great work” there, people were still healed.

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. (Luke 4:40, ESV)

Jesus healed all of them. It does not say that Jesus healed those who had faith. Yes, faith contributes to healing, but we cannot make it a rule or use it as an excuse for our own failure to see healing happen. The truth is that our own faith is more important for healing than that of the person we’re praying for.

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21–28, ESV)

This story of the Canaanite woman and that of the Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) both highlight the truth that the faith of the one doing the praying is more important than that of the girl or the servant. And what do they both believe? That it is not God’s will that either the woman’s daughter or the centurion’s servant should suffer. This unshakable faith enables the woman to persist and the centurion to claim that Jesus need not trouble Himself to visit the servant personally. Yes, they both believe that Jesus can heal the one for whom they make intercession, but what is more important is that they believe that He wants to.

As important as our own faith may be for healing to occur, I will emphasize here that as with the faith of the individual for whom we’re praying, we make a big mistake if we try to make a rule out of it. God is sovereign. He may choose to work through our prayer even on a day when we’re badly shaken and have little to no faith in what we’re doing. Our willingness to show up even when all we can do is “phone it in” and risk failure and ridicule (whether from those around us or the enemy) may be all God wants in that moment to manifest His goodness. As Francis MacNutt (the author of a number of books on healing) has said, “My faith is in God, not in my faith.”

Of course, my main purpose in writing this book is to build up your own faith and to enable you to step out onto the waves. I hope to do that by showing you who you really are, what you’re empowered to do and constantly reminding you of Who it is who stands behind you as you pray. I’ll try to help you feel a bit less lost in this exciting realm of power and praise and even give you some step-by-step guides so that you don’t feel like you got home from Ikea without the instruction book. If you’re anything like me, the first few times you dare to pray for someone you won’t be very impressed with your own faith. But I have faith for you, and so do a lot of other Christians. I want you to have great faith for healing, but I also want you to have courage to risk even when things don’t feel ideal.

Sin

I know that those of us who consider ourselves progressive and inclusive begin to squirm when that three-letter word pops up, but if we’re going to going to take healing seriously, we also need to take the role of sin seriously. I said in chapter two that I believe that death and disease came to be through human sin. (Of course, Paul said it first, in Romans.) But how does that play out in our ministry of healing? Does sin block healing? Sometimes I think it does, but not in the way that you probably think.
Jesus heals too many people without any mention of their sins or forgiveness. It is quite impossible that they had all just stepped out of the Mikveh (the Jewish ritual bath for forgiveness of sin) and stood before Him fully forgiven before He healed them all. So it cannot be that one must be clean of any unforgiven sin in order to be healed. People have made too much of the instance in which Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic before He healed him. (The one whose friends let him down through the roof.) We can’t draw a conclusion from that that healing requires that all sin be forgiven for healing to occur, but some do.

How then does sin get in the way of healing? I believe that the weight of unforgiven sin sometimes causes a person to reject healing. Not consciously of course, but if I’m carrying a weight of guilt because of something I’ve done, or failed to do, I have created an opening through which the enemy can whisper, “You don’t deserve to be healed. You deserve this illness. Nothing will happen,” and I will be more inclined to believe it. When I don’t believe that I deserve to be healed I may well actually cling to my injury or my weakness as a way of punishing myself. So sin in itself is not the root cause of my failure to be healed. Rather, it is the enemy’s manipulation of my guilt that is the reason.

This is one of the reasons that we as healers must discern “what the Father is doing” in a person before we pray. We try to do this in the initial assessment (more on that in chapter five) but in my experience we often miss the role of unforgiven sin. A lot of people who pray for healing more than I do have told me that when they prayed for such and such a person and saw no healing, only after initial disappointment did they discern the unforgiven sin that was in the way and were empowered to declare forgiveness as a prelude to healing.

In a strange and wonderful way, God actually seems to use the illness or injury for which we’re praying to create an opportunity for the person before us to hear the message of forgiveness! The enemy seems to work against its own purposes without realizing it. The torment the enemy creates draws the one in need of forgiveness to our attention, or brings them to our doorstep, where they will receive forgiveness as well as healing!

But sin isn’t only an impediment for the one who needs the healing. It is also a problem for the one doing the praying, and it works in much the same way. When we carry a weight of guilt from sin that we haven’t brought to the Cross it doesn’t automatically invalidate our prayer, but it does create another opening through which the enemy may whisper, “You know what you’ve done! You’ve disqualified yourself! You can’t pray with any expectation that you’ll see results!” Carrying around that kind of guilt will cause you to pray with no sense of authority, or it may cause you to choose not to pray at all, hearing the accusation “Hypocrite!” echoing in your mind.

First, this is no excuse not to pray. You may be feeling miserable, but it doesn’t depend on your faith, it depends on God, whose will is always good. Even if your faith is absent, anyone present who has faith in that prayer the size of a mustard seed has enough for it to be effective. Second, though, is that you and I know our forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus. When we hear those whispers, it is really only an invitation to lay hold of that forgiveness for ourselves and to carry on.
This is where I’d like to talk a little bit about the importance of taking sin seriously for the prayer minister.

There is a real risk that when we see people healed we will begin to get too full of ourselves. It has led any number of people who were especially gifted to go off the rails because they forgot Paul’s admonition to “be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.” (Philippians 2:3) Keeping our own sins before us is the best thing the enemy can do to prevent us from getting “too big for our britches.” When we hear accusations from the enemy, Jesus enjoins us to “agree quickly with your accuser.” That phrase, elsewhere translated as “come to terms with your accuser quickly” reads, in its most literal form, “Make friends with your accuser quickly.” Yes, make friends with your accuser because the enemy here has done you a great favor. You are reminded that you are only able to share in the Lord’s work this way because of God’s mercy, and you fall back on that in humility and grace and you cast every crown that others may give you at the foot of the Throne. Hallelujah!

None of us is without sin. We may walk for a spell unaware of the ways we continue to miss the glory for which we were intended, but we all miss even so. This sin is not an impediment, but a welcome and constant reminder that it is only through the mercy of God that we are empowered to do what we do. In a way then, it is less a hindrance than a help. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should continue to sin, to that Paul said, “Heaven forbid!” (Romans 6:3). We pursue sanctification as long as we live, but the grace that we receive through Jesus transforms the sin that remains into a means for God’s continued work in us instead of being the reason for separation the enemy would like it to be.

Testimony

Under “Things That Help,” testimony could probably have its own chapter. Not that it’s more important than any other factor, but I do think it’s least understood, especially among progressive Christians, so it needs more explaining. Testimony doesn’t just function in one way, either. There are two that I can think of. The first would be that it gives glory to Jesus. When we give testimony to healings that we have either seen or experienced ourselves, we always say that this was done in His Name. This serves healing’s purpose of evangelism. Healing is always about the demonstration of the statement, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you,” or “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Healing demonstrates God’s good will for Creation and in particular for the one standing before us needing prayer. It reveals the Kingdom that Jesus came to inaugurate and releases that Kingdom’s power into the world, “…the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephesians 1:19-20a) That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is “toward” us and is gifted to us to help us manifest its presence to others.

Healing that isn’t accompanied by testimony doesn’t just rob Jesus of the glory that is His due, but it robs those who don’t hear it of the opportunity to experience the presence of the Kingdom. In the Bible, “Word” creates. Our words concerning what we have experienced in God don’t just convey information, they release Kingdom, they create new space in which the Kingdom of God has sovereignty, and they place others within its healing reach.

I am not glad to have to do it, but I do think that I should deal with a couple of possible objections to this function of testimony, that of giving glory to God and Jesus. I can hear in the back of my head, someone reading this and thinking, “Yes, but what of all those times that Jesus healed someone and then told them not to tell anyone about what had happened?” We certainly have enough examples of this, enough that William Wrede wrote a book more than a hundred years ago entitled “The Messianic Secret.” It does seem that in some circumstances it was Jesus’ intent to limit the number of people who heard about His healings. To this I would simply answer, “What Jesus did during His lifetime was concerned with the timely working out of His ministry and has very little to do with you or me.” Will there be times in which the Spirit moves us to remain silent about miracles? Perhaps, but I think they’ll be rare. God desires to bring every person within the reach of God’s saving embrace, and testimony is an important component of that.

The other objection is one that I’ll deal with in greater detail later in the book. That would be the question, “But won’t telling about the healing of some make others who aren’t healed feel even worse?” The short answer to that is, “Possibly.” But I believe that a careful shepherding of this ministry can and will eliminate that risk. As I said, though, I’ll get to that in the chapter, “What do we do with failure.”

The second way that testimony operates in healing ministry is that it builds faith. The Gospels are full of stories of those for whom the testimony of others played a hand in their own healing. Think of the woman who’d had a flow of blood for twelve years. She comes to Jesus believing that she need only touch the hem of His garment in order to be healed. How in the world could she have come to believe that if she had not heard it first from others?

Or blind Bartimaeus, begging by the side of the road as Jesus passes. He begins shouting after Him, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” He becomes so obnoxious that others actually try to silence him. But he keeps on calling after Jesus until He takes notice. When he is called forward Jesus asks what he’d like Him to do for him. The mercy that Bartimaeus requests? Not money, not protection, healing of his sight. His faith for that request came from somewhere. He must have overheard others talking about Jesus, perhaps even those who were in the crowd walking with Him were speaking to one another about what they’d witnessed. However he heard it, though, Bartimaeus had faith that he could have this same healing. He could never have had it had he not heard it from someone.

There are a couple of stories from my own experience that come to mind as illustrations.
When I was in the school for healing and prophecy at Global Awakening, part of what they had us do was practical experience. We were placed in certain settings and told to go find someone to pray for. This helped us get over the jitters about doing ministry in the marketplace like Jesus did it. One day they took us all to Baltimore and set us in pairs on different blocks in the inner city. My partner Taylor and I were given one block to cover. On this block there was a methadone clinic and a large liquor store, just to give you a sense of the place.

There was a bench on the sidewalk outside the liquor store and on it sat a man with his arm in a sling. Taylor and I thought he might be a possible candidate for healing prayer, so we approached him. I guess it was my turn to speak first, so I got down on one knee and explained that we didn’t believe that God wanted this fellow to live with whatever was ailing his arm, and asked if we might pray for him. It turned out he’d had a stroke several years before and lost the use of his arm. He was very willing to receive prayer.

Before praying I thought to ask him to squeeze my hand with his stroke-afflicted hand so that we could later test to see if the prayer had done anything. He did, his hand barely moved. So Taylor and I prayed. I did the vocal part and held his arm, Taylor had his hand on my shoulder. Afterward we asked him if he’d felt anything. He hadn’t, but I asked him to squeeze my hand again and while it was still weak, he really gripped my hand. I was excited and so was Taylor.

I told the man the story of the blind man that Jesus prayed for twice and asked if we might do the same, see if we got more results the second time. The man agreed and we prayed. After the second time he gripped my hand firmly. Now, this was a big man, so I said, “You know, this is amazing what God’s already done, but I bet before the stroke this hand was a lot stronger. One more time?” Grinning, he agreed and we prayed. After that one he fairly crushed my hand with his grip.

We spent some time with this fellow telling him about Jesus’ love for him and how it was this love that had really healed him, not us, and we went on our way, really excited. Taylor told me as we walked that while I prayed he had actually watched the muscles in the man’s arm grow, and that I should pray especially for people with strokes and brain maladies. I have ever since.

That isn’t the end of that story, though. This experience gave me greater faith for one that happened only months later in my congregation. One Saturday I received a call from one of my parishioners. One of my altar guild members had been taken to the ER with a mild stroke. She’d lost the use of her hand, discovering it when she couldn’t write anything in the altar guild log book. She would try and the hand would just flop over to its back like a fish.

I hurried to the ER with considerable faith that she would write her name before I left. My previous experience filled me with determination. When I arrived, they hadn’t yet treated her. (Why, when strokes are so time sensitive, I’ll never know.) But I got to her cubicle shortly after she did and told her my story about the man in Baltimore and what Taylor had told me and asked if I might pray for her. She agreed and we prayed. I had a pen, but there was nothing to write on so we could check to see if there were results. I ran around and finally found one of those tiny boxes of tissues they have so she could try to write on the bottom. After the first try her hand just flopped over, so I asked to try again. Still no improvement.

It took more than three attempts, but my own testimony gave us both faith to keep at it. After several tries she held the pen, placed it on the back of the tissue box, and wrote her name. I’m pretty sure we were both in tears. It was the power of testimony that facilitated that healing.

My determination to pray for people with brain injuries of one sort or another also led me pray for a surgeon in my congregation who had Parkinson’s. He had obviously lost his ability to practice, and I hoped that it might be restored to him. In addition to my own experience, I knew a testimony of Randy Clark’s in which he’d prayed for a woman with Parkinson’s and seen her completely healed. She went from being unable to walk without assistance to walking alone to the conference’s piano and playing for the first time in years. I knew my parishioner could be healed too.

He was a faithful member, there on almost every Sunday, and a man of considerable faith. We prayed together after church every single time I saw him in church with no visible improvement. This went on for years. It required a lot to come to each new session of prayer with the real expectation that this would be the day that we saw his Parkinson’s resolve when it did not, week after week after week.
Then the time came that I retired and prepared to move home to North Carolina. On my last Sunday with my folks I prayed for him again. I was in tears and I told him how sorry I was that we hadn’t seen him healed. He took me kindly by the shoulders and looked into my eyes. “But Father Krantz,” he said, “haven’t you realized that over the last ten years my Parkinson’s hasn’t advanced at all?” I hadn’t. He embraced me and thanked me for continuing to pray for him all that time.

I don’t know why he wasn’t healed, and it still breaks my heart, but I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t had my own and Randy’s testimony to encourage me, I wouldn’t have persisted the way I did.
Sometimes testimony seems to work on its own. Randy Clark once had a man at one of his healing missions come up to give testimony. The man had come with low expectations, but having heard someone else testify to their healing of the same malady that afflicted him, chose to believe it for himself. (He was suffering with “long covid.”) He never went to have anyone pray for him, he just believed. Then he tested what he believed and found that the symptoms that he’d suffered with for months and months were completely gone. As I said in the paragraphs above, testimony releases Kingdom power, creates Kingdom space in which God’s healing can more easily operate. It certainly did in this case.
For this reason, if I have someone before me requesting prayer for something I’ve seen healed, either through my prayer or something I’ve witnessed personally, I usually recount those past experiences before praying. I want this person to know that God has done this before, right in front of me, and that we can rightly expect to see the same happen again.

As I think I showed above, testimony doesn’t just work in the one for whom we’re praying, but also in the one doing the praying. In the section above on faith I acknowledged that faith plays a major role in healing (while also insisting that it wasn’t a requirement). Paul says of faith that it “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Once again, we are confronted with the power of word(s) to create, in this case, faith. Of course, not everyone who hears will believe, but when we’re dealing with people seeking/needing healing, they are far more open to the testimony’s ability to build faith in them.

So, retelling those stories doesn’t just work in the heart of the person I’m speaking to. It works in my heart too. I don’t always come to the act of praying for someone with my greatest faith, my greatest expectation that we’ll see miraculous results. Hearing someone else’s testimony helps there, but so does remembering my own. So even though I may remember it, I also recount it. Saying it out loud somehow makes it more real, grants those words greater power to stir me to greater faith while I pray.
Before I leave the topic of Testimony (which is probably too long already) I would like to point out that we in liturgical churches rely on its power routinely. Standing at the altar, the minister of the sacrament recalls Jesus’ instruction to “Do this in remembrance of me,” as we consecrate the bread and the wine. This “remembrance” has a fancy liturgical name, “anamnesis.” It means “call again to mind.” It means much, much more than simply “remember.” Anamnesis calls a past event to mind in a way that makes it completely present in the moment. We become those seated at table with Jesus.

This is the way that the retelling of the Red Sea story functions for our Jewish siblings at the Feast of the Passover. Those seated at the table and hearing the story become a part of the story, not just hearers. The retelling of a story about God’s miraculous work makes that miraculous power present in a way I’ll never understand, but it happens nonetheless. Testimony matters.

Unforgiveness

Having devoted a fair portion to testimony that helps, I will shift gears briefly to another hindrance to healing, unforgiveness. As with any other obstacle it is far from insurmountable, but at times it can be a barrier to healing.

This really harkens back to the way that sin can get in the way. Holding on to unforgiveness means holding on to a belief that there are some sins that are not covered by the blood of Christ. Clinging to our anger can (not must, but can) close our hearts to the power of the Gospel to set things right, to heal our bodies as much as it does our spirits. It is less an opportunity for the enemy’s whispers than it is the result of them, but rather than saying we are too low to deserve healing, we have enclosed ourselves behind a wall of righteous anger, setting ourselves too high.

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” The link between the two is unbreakable. And praying as those who stand in need of forgiveness sets us in the proper stance before God, humble and in constant need of grace. This is the place in which healing seems to operate most effectively.
I will add this. Unforgiveness seems to be a barrier I encounter far more often when praying for people within the church than without. Randy Clark once said in one of our classes that it seems far easier to “get healing” outside the church than inside it. Sometimes I wonder if this is part of the reason. People who haven’t heard much of the Gospel before may be less likely to get tangled up with the question of who is worthy, whether or not they are worthy to receive healing and therefore are more open to it.

Sometimes though, when you pray for someone and nothing is happening, you may receive a word, a sense that they’re holding on to this kind of righteous anger, this unforgiveness. It requires great care to bring it up, lest we blame them for our lack of ability to bring healing (remember that Jesus never had to ask anyone to forgive in order to be healed), but it is sometimes worth asking, “Could there be any old anger that you’re holding on to? Sometimes I find that this complicates things when I pray for people. Is there someone you’re having trouble forgiving?”

I’ll be honest here. I have rarely felt moved to ask anything like that, but when it happens, I do believe that God has brought us together more for the healing of their heart than their disease or injury. The tears that accompany the long-withheld forgiveness are more healing than anything I can do. And the physical healing sometimes follows.

I don’t think that you’ll encounter this block often. Some folks I know who pray for healing seem to me to turn to this too quickly when their prayers don’t yield results. I understand that. We all want to find some reason other than our own lack for our failures. But don’t be one of those who falls back on this too easily.

Worship

I’d like to close this chapter with a mention of one thing that really seems to help, help me at least, and that’s worship. I’ve gone out on the streets and prayed for people cold, and sometimes it bore fruit. But there is something about praying for healing in the context of really powerful worship (or right afterwards) that makes it all flow so much more easily. The faith is right there, the sense of God’s presence is empowering, the courage to risk is easier to come by. I can summon some of all those benefits by just listening to worship music that means a lot to me. That might be something you can adopt, too, whether it’s Gregorian Chant or contemporary worship music.

When that’s not available to you, time in prayer before you begin is still important. Not petition, like, “God, please equip me for what I’m about to do,” but adoration and thanksgiving for what God has already done, what God has already entrusted to your care. Focusing on God’s goodness, God’s good will for you and everyone you’re going to pray for that day is a great way to prepare yourself to be a healer for others.

Go on to Chapter Five – The Five Step Method

Or, go to other chapters:

Introduction
Chapter One – What Happened to Healing
Chapter Two – Why Do We Do Healing?
Chapter Three – Some Introductory Questions
Chapter Four – Things That Help and Things That Hinder
Chapter Five – The Five Step Method
Chapter Six – What Do We Do With Failure?
Chapter Seven – Staying On the Rails.

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