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Healing Line

Healing Line

Why Was Healing Delayed Seven Years?

by Francis MacNutt
May 1994

When can we pray for healing with the assurance that it will happen? Only when the Holy Spirit guides us with the blessed assurance.

This happened to our family just one year ago. Our daughter, Rachel was then 11 and had been suffering from asthma for seven long years. Every night as we put her to bed, we would pray for her healing. Others were praying, too. But still we saw no change. Then a friend received guidance that Rachel would be healed if she prayed for her In a certain way. She asked for our permission, which we readily granted.

Later, she and another dear friend prayed for Rachel in the back of the hall during one of our conferences, while Judith and I prayed for the crowd down front. Toward the end of the session, Rachel came down to us and we prayed for her, too. She was healed that night and has had no asthma attacks since. Now she can run a mile! Why was she healed that night and not the others?

Jesus' temptation in the desert gives us a good clue. Remember how Satan took Jesus to the highest point of the temple and urged Jesus to throw himself down; he even quoted the promise of Scripture that the angels would protect him and bear him up in their hands lest he dash his foot against a stone (Lk. 4: 9–11 ).

Satan was claiming that God would back up his promises in Scripture and that they would apply to anyone, especially the Messiah, if he would simply claim them. But Jesus, as we know, refused to claim that promise. Even for Jesus, discernment (the guidance of the Holy Spirit) was needed in order to decide whether or not that promise was meant for that particular moment.

A literal translation of Luke 4: 1–2 reads, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit ... was being Jed by the Spirit In the wilderness for forty days as he was being tempted by the devil. " Luke lets us know that the Spirit was continually guiding Jesus in all his responses to the devil while he was being tempted.

Simllarly, when Paul encourages us to put on the whole armor of God, the climax is, "Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Eph. 6: 17b). The Word of God (which includes the Scriptures) is the weapon, but it must be wielded by the Spirit1.

When we pray for healing without relying on the guidance of the Spirit as to when and how to pray, we can easily end up in a deadly legalism, which will! put us into bondage. A church historian once told me that after every great Pentecostal revival, the next stage was usually legalism.

I argued with him, because the Spirit brings freedom and I could not believe the next development was the bondage of legalism. But experience in healing ministry has led me to see that he had a valid point.

As human beings, we desire easy and definite answers, which is claiming promises based on this or that Scripture, rather than depending on the steady guidance of the Spirit on when and how we should pray.

Kathryn Kuhlmann used to say she was going to ask Jesus, when she died, why some atheists who came to her meetings were healed while Christians with absolute faith were not — or at least not that particular night.

Why was Rachel healed on that night after waiting seven long years? Why couldn't she be healed before? 1 don't know. But God does, and thanks be to Him, Rachel was healed!

1Many of these insights are found in the excellent commentary. Reading Luke, by Charles Talbert (Crossroad, NY; 1992) pp. 44–46.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May 1994 Issue