How To Operate In Healing
In the summer of 2013, I traveled to South America and had the privilege of ministering in several churches. One of the congregations that I ministered in had been in the midst of an explosive revival over previous years. In fact, you could sense the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit as soon as you entered the building.
However, as the service concluded that evening, I noticed that they didn't pray for the sick.
I asked the pastor about it.
He said, “Oh, we have had some incredible moves of healing. In fact, we have had several services where the anointing for healing was so strong that everybody in the building got healed without anyone praying for them. As soon as the people encountered the Lord’s magnificent presence, disease fell off the body. We’re not doing much praying for the sick right now because we’re waiting for that to happen again.”
There’s no doubt that this church had experienced the “healing anointing” on a greater level than most congregations around the world. However, because of this, they were reluctant to pursue “lesser” expressions of breakthrough.
For them, it was going to come through an overwhelming unction, or not at all. They were contending for this grand sense of glory, and anything that fell below that wasn’t worth it.
A lot of Pentecostal and Charismatic congregations have a similar outlook. Since they’re focused on unction and anointing, they’re hesitant to pray for healing until things reach a certain level of fervor. I once heard a pastor say, “Keep the music cranking until we feel something coming down on us.”
The problem with this conventional approach is that it can be limiting. With such constrained methodologies and practices, is it any wonder that we aren’t seeing more breakthroughs taking place?
Gifts Of Healings
Are there only a couple of ways to minister healing? Does it only come through petitionary prayer or scriptural confession? What about anointed handkerchiefs or laying on hands? The obvious answer to this question is that God is open to moving in a myriad of ways.
The Apostle Paul writes, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit…gifts of healings” (1 Corinthians 12:7-8a, 9b).
The literal Greek rendering of this Corinthian passage assures us that there are multiple “gifts” (plural) of “healings” (plural). We can only begin to imagine all of the different manifestations and expressions of healing that are possible. Some are obvious, and others are outside the norm. Healing can be a diverse reality.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I think there is anything wrong with the “healing anointing.” This is obviously a biblical modality. Consider the following passage from the Gospels:
“One day as He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for Him to heal the sick” (Luke 5:17).
This passage confirms that there are times when healing is more readily available through a special manifestaion of the presence of the Lord. Sometimes God heals sovereignly–but other times He does not. I think many recognize the intensity when the anointing is present. Yet, people need to be healed outside of these occasions.
I believe that God has positioned us to move in a number of different ways. Most approaches are not as dynamic as the “healing anointing,” but they should be accepted as reasonable means of breakthrough.
In the following, I’m going to discuss approaches to healing that deserve further consideration. My original list had around fifty different methodologies, but I carved it down to a manageable twelve. I further classified these twelve strategies into three:
- Healing Through Words.
- Healing Through Actions.
- Healing Through Outworkings Of Power.
Let's take some time to consider some of the “gifts of healings.”
1. Healing Through Words
Healing can take place through empowered proclamations and declarations. Our words can become weapons that break off the forces of darkness and enable people to be made whole.
Healing Through Declaration And Decrees
We make healing complicated and confusing. It doesn’t have to be. Sometimes breakthrough can be ignited through an authoritative decree. A Christian declares it to be so, and then it is done! Consider the following scriptural examples:
“Jesus said. ‘Be healed!’ And instantly the leprosy disappeared” (Matthew 8:3). "Be opened" (Mark 7:34). “See again” (Luke 18:42).
Healing Through Prayers of Command
When people pray for the sick, they often pray long prayers of petition and persuasion. Turning to God, they beg and plead with Him to act on their behalf. It is interesting to compare the way we pray with the way they approached healing in the Bible. Instead of finding lengthy prayers of petition, you will instead find short commanding prayers, directing the force of their decree toward the affliction rather than God. Consider the following:
"Be quiet! . . . Come out of him!" (Mark 1:25). “Little girl, I say to you ‘Arise’” (Mark 5:41). “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6).
Healing Through Declarations Of Blessing
This approach is similar to the idea of making a decree, but healing can be released just by declaring a blessing over a sick person. For example, you might bless a hurt leg or speak a blessing over a diseased body. Speaking a blessing can release strength and enablement. Solomon reminds us that:
“The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).
Healing Through Declarations Of Thanksgiving
Having a heart of gratefulness and thanksgiving can actually release healing in your life. The more that one displays thankfulness toward God, the more they will encounter. In the Bible, a real sense of wellness and wholeness came to the leper who was willing to thank Jesus.
"As Jesus was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!' When he saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well'" (Luke 17:12-19).
I have witnessed people healed 20% not focus on the 80% that remained. They thank God for what He did and not complain about what was left. Many of these people ultimately experienced more breakthrough.
Healing Through Declarations Of Testimony
Healings can also take place when we begin to share the stories of advancement. When people hear about what God has done, they are hopeful that He will do it again. Testimonies of past healings unlock the door to new healings.
Consider this passage from the Psalms: "I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders" (Psalm 78:2b-4).
One time I ministered to a man who had one leg three inches shorter than the other. After he was healed, I recounted what transpired, and others had similar experiences. In sharing this story, hundreds have experienced a similar breakthrough. Testimonies release more healing.
2. Healing Through Action
Most understand that healing takes place through prayer and words of declaration, but few consider that it can also take place through responses. Sometimes people are healed through physical displays. In the following, we are going to explore some of this.
Healing Through Laying On Of Hands
Throughout the Bible, the "laying on of hands" became a mechanism for the release of supernatural power and gifting. Rehearsing a short list of important doctrinal truths, the writer of Hebrews recounted the following:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands…” (Hebrews 6:1-2a).
It is interesting that the writer of Hebrews considered the "laying on of hands" so central that he included it along with other “elementary” teachings such as faith and repentance. Most would not place this practice in the same category as these doctrines. They see it as optional, but that's not how the early believers understood it.
This method became a primary way that Jesus and the disciples operated in healing:
"The people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one; he healed them" (Luke 4:40b).
“Whoever believes…will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well" (Mark 16:16a, 18).
Laying on of hands is one of the most common ways that Jesus operated in healing. We need to give it more consideration as we seek to bring a breakthrough to others.
Healing Through Touch
Similar to the laying on of hands, touch can be a mechanism for healing. A person can be cured by merely grabbing hold of something. This doesn’t always sit well with people, but God can even use objects as agencies of power. We see this some times in the Bible:
"Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, 'If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.' Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, 'Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.'" (Matthew 9:20-22).
"When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed" (Matthew 14:35-36).
My wife and I were unable to have children after we first got married. With a severe case of endometriosis, the doctors said we would never have a child. My wife got desperate during a revival meeting. She pressed in and grabbed the pant leg of one of the men in the church. That physical action became a means of breakthrough. That night my daughter was conceived.
Healing Through Response
Sometimes people can be healed as they actively respond and do something. I’ve seen people healed as they get up or start to move a limb previously in pain. What you do during the impending time of breakthrough can make a real difference. Consider the following story in the Bible.
“Paul looked directly at him [the crippled man], saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that, the man jumped up and began to walk” (Acts 14:9b-10a).
At Paul’s decree, a crippled man actively responded. In the response he encountered healing.
Healing Through Laughter
This approach is a little more unusual, but healing can also be released by laughing at and mocking the disease. You can stand there with a diseased person and laugh at the sickness’ great pretension and arrogance. Tell it doesn’t have the right to dictate everything going on in this person’s life. Be filled with the joy of the Lord and laugh at the garbage that is trying to smother life. Consider the following passage:
"For the Kingdom of God is…living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
I have seen dozens of people healed when I laughed at their disease. Obviously I make it clear that I am not laughing at them or making light of their situation. I invite them to mock this disease and ridicule its arrogance and pride. A lot of times they start laughing also. This is usually the first time they have laughed since being diagnosed.
3. Healing Through An Outworking Of Power
We’ve talked about healing taking place through words and actions, yet it also takes place through the outworkings of power. Sometimes what we need is the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to break things open. Healing can be an incredible expression of God’s supernatural power.
Healing Through Prophecy and Words of Knowledge
Healings can also be orchestrated through various prophetic expressions. God brings a revelation, and through this awareness, breakthrough is released. People can sometimes be remedied through prophetic insight and action.
The Apostle Paul emphasizes “words of wisdom” and “words of knowledge” in the following passage:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware….But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:1, 7-8).
These God-inspired insights can bring things to light and enable the release of healing.
In my own life, healing initiated this way is highly successful. Whenever God reveals what He wants to do to me, I see nearly a 100% success rate in healing (when people approach me, it is 40%, and when I initiate on my own, it is 15%).
Healing Through The Workings or “Energy” Of God
This approach will seem a little strange to some, but the Apostle Paul often speaks of God’s “energy.” The actual Greek word he uses is “energia” or “energeo,” a term that is usually conservatively translated as “workings.” It is speaking of supernatural strength and might. When we lay hands on the sick, we should expect a release of the Lord’s energy. Consider the following Pauline passages:
"There are different kinds of working [energizing], but the same God works all of them in all men" (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
"That power is like the working [energizing] of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead…" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Sometimes these “workings” begin to impact the biology and cellular structure. People may feel heat or tingling as God starts to affect the tissue and components of the body.
Healing Through Exorcism
Healing also takes place through spiritual warfare and the expulsion of spiritual forces. A number of times in the Bible we see that sickness is rooted in demonic systems and influence. We see a reference in the Gospels to a “Spirit of affliction” that was crippling a woman’s body and keeping her from functioning normally.
“A woman was there who had a spirit of affliction eighteen years, and she was bent over, and she had not been able to be straightened at all.” (Luke 13:11 Aramaic Bible in Plain English).
In my own experience, I have found that some sicknesses are rooted in something other than biology. I would guess that at least a third of the people I pray for are experiencing “spiritual affliction.” I know people don’t like to hear this, but this is my experience.
The Apostle Paul told us that there are gifts of healings; a number of outworkings and operations. This brief teaching by no means covers a majority of the different biblical strategies. A dozen more could have easily been discussed. Hopefully, I included your favorite approach, but if not, maybe I will examine it some other time.
I want to encourage you to continue to broaden your understanding of healing and be receptive to the different ways that God touches people. When open to more, you will undoubtedly see more. Healing should not be limited to the ways that we have already experienced it.