A psychologist in my writer’s group read some passages in my latest manuscript and said, “This is the first book I’ve ever read that has a passage incorporating prayer for inner healing.” There aren’t too many novels that incorporate healing prayer of any kind, at least not that I’ve found. Leif Enger’s “Peace Like a River” is one luminous exception, and years ago I read a novel by Agnes Sanford, a well-known leader of the Anglican charismatic movement in the mid 20th century, but it was a pretty bad fiction (her non-fiction books are wonderful).
So here goes me giving it a shot in “Someone You Can Trust”.
Through prayers, I have seen God straighten out a bent spine, reverse a spina bifida diagnosis, melt away a brain tumor, and salvage someone’s fading sight. I have experienced prayer for mental and emotional issues that substantially reduced my symptoms of depression and anxiety, and gave me courage to realign myself in messed up relationships. I’m convinced that God wants to heal us. Many people assume that illness is caused by God, or that God is indifferent to it. My experiences have turned such theology upside down. That’s why I wrote this book.
I found one – I finally found a scientific charismatic Christian – a bona fide STEM guy who not only believes in Jesus but is convinced He is still working through us to rescue and heal people, and has a systematic way of teaching how to be open to God’s power.
A person with all the healthy skepticism and sharp critical thinking of a PhD in quantum physics, who is also surrendered to God, prays for healing with visible results and has arranged his findings in a clear, practical manual.
This is gold because the two worlds of faith and intellectual credibility are often seen as far apart. In Putty Putman, they live in one person. Putty left a career in physics to teach people how to cooperate with the Spirit of God. This is not a common career path. He now lives with his wife and young children in Urbana Illinois, where he is a pastor at the Vineyard of Central Illinois and runs the School of Kingdom Ministry.
SoKM, as it is fondly called by its students, is the clearest and most practical instruction I have ever found in how to live like Jesus.
I don’t know Putty personally, but I have watched his cheerful face and listened to his lucid teaching and cool stories for over thirty hours – his videos provide most of the content for SoKM, which is happening at churches all over the country. After watching the videos, you practice whatever he taught – how to listen to God, how to pray for someone to be healed physically, how to speak encouraging words you believe may be from God – not your usual Sunday School curriculum.
Putty’s life took a sharp turn when his unsupernatural evangelical faith was challenged by not only witnessing, but being a channel for God’s power on a mission trip to China. He was put on the spot to pray for someone, and saw them healed in spite of the fact that he did not believe anything was going to happen. (Read herefor more detail.)
What is inspiring about Putty is that when he observed realities that debunked his religious position, he had the courage to change his world view.
Then he went on to explore, document and explain the work of the Holy Spirit in a way that makes sense to his generation. He designed an experiential training that grounds people in God’s love and teaches them to live it out in a way that results in physical and emotional healing. He has manualized how to live out the Kingdom of God that Jesus described in the gospels.
I am so grateful to this guy! A few years ago, I prayed that if anyone was intelligently teaching how to move in the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament letters, that I would find them. The very next day, three different people told me about a church in Cincinnati that was offering the School of Kingdom Ministry. My journey following Jesus took a great leap forward.
I was taught that all those stories about healing in the Bible were just for that time, that miracles don’t happen anymore. Then I went to a healing service and witnessed the bent back of someone I knew well, straighten visibly after one prayer. When your beliefs don’t match reality, it’s time to overhaul your theology.
That was years ago. Since then I’ve been part of prayer groups that have witnessed the healing of headaches, backaches, depression, bulging discs, out of control eating, cystic fibrosis, a brain tumor…. lots of healing. I’m confident now that God wants to heal us and often will do it as soon as we ask. There are whole books on why healing doesn’t always happen, and how to pray for healing. In a short blog I can only focus on a first step.
Faith plays a key role. It’s like the current that connects us to God, and through which God’s power flows. Jesus said, “…Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” So we want to train ourselves into faith, just was we’d train for anything else – a marathon, new software. People talk about faith enviously, as if it were something that you just have or don’t have, like long legs. It’s not. You train for it, you exercise it, you fight for it when it’s attacked.
Faith grows when we see God directly answer a prayer, especially when the outcome is hard to explain otherwise. So we should start praying for healing. Why not start with ourselves? Then when we feel better, it will also boost our faith. Double benefit.
Start by praying for something that is simple. Pray for sore throats before you tackle progressed cancer; a habit of worry before schizophrenia. Ask yourself if you believe the problem can be healed.
Ask God for guidance about how to pray for the problem, and pay attention to the thoughts that come. You may be about to pray for a stomach ache, then realize that the stomach ache worsens when you’re around someone who makes you mad. Obviously you need to pray for healing in that relationship, and probably help in forgiving.
Focus on the love and dependability of God. Jesus came to show us that, so a mental picture of Jesus doing one of the things recorded in the gospels, is a good thing to hold in mind. That’s who we’re connecting with – someone who loved us enough to come to us and die for us.
When we’ve centered ourselves on the goodness of God, and asked for guidance, then hold in your imagination what you believe you should be praying for. If your arm is in a cast, imagine the bone fused straight and strong, and you swinging your arm with no pain. Then ask God for it, boldly, hopefully.
Don’t weaken your faith with some “If it be your will…” qualifier. You’ve asked for guidance to pray for the right thing, so just ask.
Don’t be discouraged if nothing happens right away. Keep asking. Persistence is rewarded. (Read the story of the widow in Luke 18.)
Thank God for healing after it happens, and tell people about it. Often experiencing or witnessing healing helps people to draw closer to God, so don’t keep it to yourself.