I have never witnessed a verified physical healing. Never spoken to anyone who had experienced one themselves, following prayer.
And I have never experienced an instantaneous physical or emotional healing as someone prayed for me.
However, I have never yet NOT been at least partially healed of anything I have gone up front to be prayed for.
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Bill Johnson spoke at New Wine 2008 about the miraculous physical healings he’d witness and “performed.” And so, though I had at that point been blessed with good physical health–no chronic illness, hospitalizations, surgeries, broken bones, and normal cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar etc.–I joined the throngs, for perfect physical health is rare, and if there was power going forth, well, I wanted to be part of it.
I went forward for a bothersome niggle—itchy ears with fluid drainage, which were irritating and occasionally got painfully infected, so much so that I couldn’t go to parties or sleep well. And a sweet Californian lovingly placed her hands on my ears and prayed. And I thought I would surely be healed—but, alas, I was not.
Three years later though, on reading Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, then online, I read that itchy ears, with fluid drainage are a symptom of food toxicity—and can be eliminated by eliminating sugar and white flour. I did. And after 12 years of irritation, pain, doctor visits, meds for ear aches—bingo, healed. (Though it flares up with sugar and wheat, alas).
An answer to my prayer?
Yes, I do believe so.
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Unconsciously numbing myself, I worked obsessively at a family business which wasn’t captivating (though it enabled my husband to retire from being a Maths Professor, and run our home two years later).
Anyone who has been depressed will recognise the vicious circle, which makes me tearful to even think of it. The horror, the horror. My house became cluttered and messy, and I didn’t have the energy to get it together. I wasn’t exercising, and was comfort eating—quick and easy—and rapidly gained weight.
My memoir proposal had been turned down by an agent in 2006, and I got bogged down in revisions, and had lost deep soul-confidence that the book I was writing would be published. I had lost faith, hope and love!
I was suppressing my writing and creativity which were so much a part of me that they were me. Each thing says one thing and the same, what I do is me, for that I came, as Gerard Manley Hopkins put it.
Hello, Prozac my old friend.
I believe in anti-depressants as a step-stool to get out of vicious circles and deep pits. And equally importantly, I believe we should seek cognitive help and continue seeking till we have found adequate help, spiritual help if that is sufficient, and psychotherapy if it isn’t. I have used both professional and non-professional help, spiritual counselling, friendships and psychotherapy, and benefitted from both, equally.
Anyway, the same sweet Californian told me that she had been depressed, and then was healed, like that–she snapped her fingers– and prayed I too would be healed like that–snap.
Well, how would I know that I was healed, except by going off my anti-depressants? Which I knew one is never supposed to do, cold turkey, but which I did. My brain and emotions now limped like a snail in fog. I was dead inside, dead to all but making money, which I mechanically made, made, made.
The church, which had been so toxic and poisonous for me, had a speaker on depression at a women’s breakfast. Who is depressed? she asked, and scores of hands flew up, some among them the women who had been the nastiest to me. (Wounded people wound—and so, we MUST find help for our woundedness.) I went up for prayer, told the story of going off meds and deeper creative and emotional sadness. Yeah, that whole period was my “great sadness” in the evocative phrase from “The Shack.” Talked to her, decided to go back to Prozac.
Eventually, my self-confidence returned. I became over-confident, confrontational, out-spoken, a bit aggressive, perhaps. But I am nice and sweet, really! I realized that the depression had lifted, and I was now on serotonin overload. And I wanted a few friends left at the end! I tapered off completely–for good I hope. Farewell, Prozac my old friend. Farewell, depression.
That prayer at New Wine was answered—a year later.
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(Which brings me to perhaps the only instantaneous healing I’ve received, though I didn’t realize it at the time. The day I began blogging, April 11th, 2010, I went forward for prayer for adrenal fatigue and exhaustion at a healing service at that charismatic church and the rector laid his hands on my head, and prayed for a revelation of divine love, and I felt something go through my brain, electricity, honey, and I was healed from the adrenal fatigue which had plagued me for years, and could write for hours, longer than ever, ever before. This happy state of affairs has continued. Without that, I might not have been able to muster the considerable and consistent energy it takes to blog successfully.)
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Two more stories. I had a really painful shoulder last autumn, and asked for healing at a Revival Alliance Conference. A group gathered around me, English, as well as West Indian Brits, who sung over me in the most beautiful melodic tones that reduced me to tears, and then asked with absolute faith, “It’s better, isn’t it?”
I assented. Who would have had the heart not to?
But it wasn’t.
I resumed yoga. Yoga increases mobility a micro-millimetre or so each consistent session.
And that shoulder pain? All gone!
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Last story. Until last year, like a child, I had resorted to chocolate, cookies, crisps, or take-away when a family member stressed me, or my writing didn’t go well, or I was bored or sad or stressed-out or happy or wanted to celebrate. It had become the way I dealt with emotion. And, of course, I steadily gained weight
I went up to request healing in the emotionally charged atmosphere of the Cwmbran Revival. And I heard Jesus say, “Honey, you are in charge of what you put into your mouth. Honey, don’t. Honey, rise, take up your pallet and walk.”
The healing continues. Wounds are healed when exposed to the air and light. So it is with emotional stuff. Name it, analyse it. Sit with the pain, don’t numb it. That’s how healing comes.
Have I been totally healed since that day?
But I am certainly on the journey, breaking the bad habit of emotional eating through many means of grace: prayer, reading, talking to friends and a spiritual director, and strategy.
When I want to eat something sweet or salty but am not physically hungry, I put my timer on for an increasing amount of time, before I do. Generally, the urge passes.
I interrogate my heart, “Oh silly heart, why do you want chocolate? To raise your blood sugar and get your heart beating faster? Will a walk do it? Will prayer for the comfort of the Holy Spirit do it?” That works sometimes.
And sometimes, I have chocolate!
* * *
If anyone is in Christ, she is a new creation. But when Roy and I recommitted our lives to Christ, in our twenties, we struggled with our weaknesses and unhelpful habits, as we still do—(but less so, and many, many have been overcome). However, the new life was within us, growing, growing, stronger and stronger, colonising us, possessing us, gradually changing us.
And that is the way healing works sometimes. God is good and he answers prayer—gradually, sometimes. I have been healed of four of the things I went up in the eager throngs to request prayer for. The last, emotional and comfort eating, I am in the process of being healed of.
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About five months ago, I had surgery for colon cancer, which was perhaps my only instantaneous healing. My physical strength was diminishing day by day, and, more scarily, my concentration, my emotional strength, my sleep, everything. And then I had surgery, and my strength has been steadily increasing over the last five months, as measured by the distance and speed of my walks.
But one day, when I am hundred perhaps, I may request healing for a dodgy heart, and Jesus may smile and say, “No, child. Not this time. It’s time!”
And while I sleep, my heart too shall sleep—forever.
And then, as now, He will be what He has been all my life, the times I have perceived it, and the times I have not—good.
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Have you experienced physical or mental healing following prayer? Tell me your story!