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Healing Line

Healing Line

Does it Make Any Difference Who Prays for You?

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 1992

I know that, at some time or other, you must have heard someone announce at a healing service that you should march up in a healing line as if going to the Lord — and not pay much attention to the human being standing there, waiting to pray for you.

In fact, such an announcement has been a blessing to me, when there are a thousand people out there waiting for an individual laying–on–of–hands and the pastor takes the microphone to announce: "It is the Lord who heals — not the speakers — so just line up in front of any of our twenty healing teams, standing up front here. It doesn't make any difference where you go."

Humanly speaking I welcome his announcement, because then there will be others to share the ministry.

And the first part of his statement is certainly true: it is Jesus who heals — not us.

And yet the next part simply isn't true: it does make a difference whom we approach for healing prayer. Scripture, as well as experience, bears this out. In that famous passage in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit, he is clearly dividing all the gifts up, stating that some Christians have one gift and some another. Although we are touched by one and the same Spirit, we and our gifts are different. The Spirit of the Lord is the one who heals, but we are not used by the Spirit in the same way nor to the same degree.

All this should make it clear that, even though we desire the prayers of every Christian when we are sick, we especially covet the prayers of those whom Jesus uses in a special ministry of healing. That's just common sense. Yet, somehow in relation to healing (and only to healing) do Christians seem to make a special exception and erase the human instrumentality by saying, "It doesn't make any difference; just walk up to any team, as to the Lord alone."

Strangely enough, healing is the only spiritual gift where we do this; we are inconsistent. For example, the first of those gifts listed by Paul is "inspired preaching" (the "word of wisdom" in some translations) and the next is "inspired teaching" (the "word of knowledge"). And yet I have never heard anyone suggest that we can pick any person out of the bleachers during a crusade, put him up on the platform in place of Billy Graham — and that it won't make any difference.

Inspired preaching is meant to be God's own word for today, coming through the preacher's words. We all realize, however, that since God's word is filtered through our humanity, it is also partly diluted by our inability to hear God fully, by our lack of spiritual vision, blurred by any prejudices we may have, and further weakened by any coldness or lack of love in our hearts. Still, what we aim for in our preaching is total fidelity to God's word insofar as we are able to understand and speak God's word. Furthermore, we all know, that it is ridiculous to expect that each and every member of a congregation should be able to get up and preach with power and effectiveness.

It should be equally clear that the Holy Spirit gifts some Christians with more of a healing ministry than others — and that admission doesn't take away from God's glory any more than admitting that some pastors give more powerful sermons than do others. Not only that, but Paul talks about gifts of healing in the plural, (1 Cor. 12:9) and our experience confirms that, even in the area of healing, there are a variety of gifts: some people seem specially gifted in praying for certain ailments. I learned about this from my elders in the healing ministry who were honest enough to share with me their apparent failures: I was amazed to find one friend who claimed almost 100% success praying for homosexuals, but had few results in praying for cancer and arthritis (where I have personally seen many sufferers healed).

And just now, this week, I read a remarkable confirmation of how particular gifts of healing are given to some individuals and groups: the new English magazine Healing and Wholeness contains an article describing the healing of Jennifer Larcombe of encephalitis, followed by four testimonies of other sufferers also healed of the same disease. This magazine also tells us about Mayday Ministries (in Hampshire, England) where several of these healings took place. Jenny Elliott, the secretary of this unusual ministry, adds: "To date we have ministered to at least 12 people who have been totally healed from this illness and have resumed their normal lives. It appears to be a special ministry which the Lord has given us, for which we praise him and give him all the glory."

This matter–of–fact statement reflects a healthy attitude: we must learn to recognize and acknowledge whatever gift Jesus has given us (and then balance that out by admitting the areas of ministry where we may be lacking). Then, we give God the glory for whatever may happen when we pray.

So, I am still glad when a, pastor tells us not to play favorites but to choose whatever line is the shortest. The pastor's heart is clearly in the right place: he wants the glory to go to God. And I also suspect that several of the teams (who may be relatively unknown) may have a greater healing ministry that any of the better known speakers.

But still, I understand when I see that the speakers' lines are longer than anyone else's.

Yet, if I had encephalitis I would seek out some group like Mayday Ministries ( or its equivalent, for any other ailment).

It's not paying undue respect to persons. It's simply following good scriptural advice.

Love,
Francis & Judith
Rachel & David


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 1992 Issue