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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Healing Workshop at Grace Fellowship - a Pentecostal Church

Grace Fellowship of North Augusta, SC



Carolyn and I were recently invited by pastor Phillip Hamilton, of Grace Fellowship Church in North Augusta, to come and give the healing workshop, “Every Believer a healing Evangelist” at his church. Pastor Phillip is a graduate from Rhema, (Kenneth Hagin’s seminary) and he defines his theology as both Pentecostal and of the Word-Faith persuasion. (Hey, no snickering out there! He has a balanced and biblical view of the operations of both faith and prosperity.)
Carolyn and myself with Pastor Phillip.


Pastor Phillip invited us because at his church, like most Pentecostal/charismatic churches, healing prayer and the laying on of hands for healing are principally done by the pastor or designated intercessors. This is not necessarily a bad tradition, as these people generally have training in healing and deliverance, and also are more likely to incorporate the gifts of the Spirit, such as “words of wisdom,” or discernment of spirits” into their prayers.
This is good, but not complete. It is clear from Paul’s description of a Spirit-gifted congregation (1 Cor. 12 – 14), and even earlier, from the ministry of Jesus (Luke 10), that every Believer should have a part of the healing ministry of laying on of hands and casting out demons - and even raising the dead to boot!  (Matt. 10:8).

The problem of not carrying out this command stems from various factors such as human shyness, and the reluctance about a “mere” layperson doing ministry. Further,  growing churches have new converts who simply have never heard of, or considered that they could have a serious healing ministry. In North America and Europe there is also the lingering legacy of “cessationism” that wormed its way into the heart of Protestantism. That is, the quasi-heresy that the gifts of the Spirit, including healing and deliverance, ceased with the death of the Apostles.
Note the tragic resurgence of this quasi-heresy with the John MacArthur brouhaha of the “Strange Fire” conference – and book with similar title. (No, I will NOT give a link to that awful book.  Go buy it used if you must, from “abebooks.com” so that he does not get another penny for his destructive book.) The very excellent web journal Pneuma Review has a series of reviews, including mine, on Strange Fire that can be accessed HERE.)

We came to Grace Fellowship on a beautiful Saturday in April on the same weekend the Augusta National golf tournament was held.  (Tiger Woods was not playing, so I had no need to go and give him some pointers on improving his game.) The Workshop was scheduled from 9:00 to 12:00 noon, but did not finish the last prayers until past 1:30. When the Holy Spirit moves it is hard to get the people to go home!

I began the workshop by talking about the four ways of healing prayer.

  • Healing by the Believer’s authority – via command healing
  • Healing by the “energies of God”  - by the laying on of hands
  • Healing via sacramental means – by anointing oil, Holy Communion, etc.
  • Healing thru faith – as in “Go, your faith has healed you.”
I explained that healing via faith is something that is a gift of God, and may be nurtured via repeated experiences in successful prayers, but is not taught easily. Sacramental healing is, similarly, mostly demonstrated. 

The workshop began by explaining the Believer’s authority to heal the sick, especially as manifested in command healing. There are no prayers of petition in the New Testament for healing. The only model is command healing, as in Acts 3:6: “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
The church half knows this already, no exorcism or deliverance tradition in Christendom ever encouraged a prayer such as:  “Please Father, in Jesus’ name, make this demon go.” Rather, it has been rightly understood that demons must be commanded away, as in: “Evil spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus, out!”
Sadly it is only in recent decades that the command mode over illness has been recognized as normative and effective for the present day Christian. This was recovered and broadcast by the books and ministry of a Pentecostal couple Charles and Francis Hunter. Their main book on command healing, How to Heal the Sick, is a classic on this and can be purchased HERE. My earlier blog posting on the revolutionary contributions that the Hunters made to the Christian healing ministry can be accessed HERE.

In our workshop the first exercise is to practice command healing. This is strange to many Christians who use petition prayers for everything. The participants were divided into groups of three or four, and practiced command healing over real aliments present, or by proxy for some loved one not present.

The next segment of the workshop demonstrated and practiced the laying on of hands with specific attention to the techniques of arm lengthening, and leg lengthening developed by the Hunters. This is a form of “divine chiropractic” which is very effective in healing back pain and disorders such as pinched nerves, herniated disks, etc. It is also effective in bringing the energies of God into the diseased inner parts of the body.
Carolyn coaching on the proper way of command healing  for disks and vertebra in the upper back.
I stressed that this method is particularly effective for evangelization. as for instance, in healing the back pain of the office cynic and atheist. He/she will be surprised and astonished that, by the name of Jesus, that herniated disk is healed!

Workshop participant doing a leg lengthening.


A father laying hands on his son, and commanding the healing of a heart condition.


In the course of the healing demonstrations and practices several persons in the audience experienced major healings. Here is Mark Pascarella testifying to the healing of his shoulder (rotator disk) problem which did not permit him to hold his arm up more than a few seconds.



The workshop continued with a discussion of exorcism/deliverance ministry and comments on inner healing. I urged Pastor Phillip and congregation to carry the healing ministry boldly to the marketplace and workplace, and consider doing a “prayer station” at some public event, like a county fair or crafts show. A prayer station is an evangelical device where a spot is set up with a sigh “Prayer Station” and the passing public is invited for healing prayer, or other forms of prayer. See a full discussion of this ministry HERE.
Pastor Phillip gave me the privilege of preaching the Sunday service, which became a healing service also, with major healings as the participants of the workshop tried out their new skills. All in all it was a terrific weekend. The hospitality offered by Rena Ellis, below was also terrific. Her home is most wonderfully decorated.



Carolyn and I will be happy to come to your church and, as John Wimber would say, demonstrate how to "do the stuff" of the Kingdom. Contact us at billdeart@mindspring.com. I will be happy to email you a brochure of my workshop and teaching topics.


Addendum: Just recently a pastor friend asked me to give him further details on this workshop. I developed this memo which may be helpful in further explaining the workshop.

Memo: “Every Believer a Healing Evangelist”
Objectives:
This workshop aims at motivating and equipping every born-again Believer to appropriate his/her authority in Christ as a healing and evangelical agent for the Kingdom of God. The key scripture is Luke 10:8-9 where it is clear that healing is a doorway to proclaiming the Gospel.
The sad situation is that most churches, including Pentecostal and charismatic congregations, limit the healing ministry to trained intercessors. This is somewhat effective, but it also obscures the authority and healing ability of many lay persons. This workshop aims as demonstrating that every Believer in Jesus Christ has a measure of healing power, and some even extraordinary anointing in this ministry. It is a supplement, not a replacement to trained intercessors who may have advanced training in inner healing and deliverance ministries.
The course is based on the pioneer work of Charles and Francis Hunter, a Pentecostal couple who in the 1980s made popular the biblical fact that in the New Testament there are no petition prayers for healing. All healing prayer is done in the command mode.
Sequence of teachings and exercises:
The first segment:  We go over the biblical basis for command healing and also discusses the “energies of God” for healing that are transmitted via the laying on of hands. The participants ae divided into prayer groups of three or four for the workshop exercises.
Exercise # 1: 
The prayer groups practice and experience the distinction of praying in petition for healing and then praying in command by each one praying for a sickness or medical condition of the others in the group, or a proxy person.
The second segment:  This teaches about the energies of God as transmitted via the believer’s hands, and modeled on Luke 5:12-14, where touch and command are employed at the same time. This section shows that healing prayer must often be repeated as in Mark 8: 23-25.  Also 1 Cor 12: 9 defines the gifts (plural) of healing and different persons have different anointing for various illness or situations. Thus repeated prayers over one person expose that person to various levels of anointing and persevering prayer which is the key to battling serious disease.
Exercise #2:
Prayer group practices laying on of hands while saying words of command for healing. Repeating prayers and laying on of hands is encouraged. This accustoms the participant to the idea of repeatedly praying for a medical situation until it is much improved or completely healed.
The third segment:  This teaches the Hunter method as applied to adjusting the backbone. This is really chiropractic theory in a Christian setting, and using the energies of God via the laying on of hands. It is not specifically biblical (you don’t see Jesus extending legs and arms for healing in the NT, but it has been used in Pentecostal healers since the 1920s).  This mode of healing prayer falls under the rubric of “Testing all things,” 1 Thess 5:21. It not only works quickly and effectively for all sort of back problems, but for imparting the energies of God into diseased organs.
Exercise # 3
            This is a series of exercises in which the prayer groups practice and prays using the arm extension, leg extensions, etc. that make up the Hunter method.  This takes an hour or so. Incorporated into this segment is information on using the various extensions for specific diseases other than back healing.
The fourth segment: This deals with the relationship of the gifts of the Spirit and healing prayer. Although healing and deliverance are pre-{Pentecostal gifts, they are enhanced by the gifts of the Spirit.
Exercise # 4:
This exercise is modeled after the experience the Mrs. Agnes Sanford had in receiving the gifts of the Spirit. She and two companions were exhausted, and asked for the “holy Ghost’ to strengthen them. Wow! They unexpectedly received the gifts of the Spirit.  In this exercise each prayer group prays two on one, two on one, two on one, for the reception, renewal and strengthening of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their ministry to others.
The fifth segment:  This deals with praying for a person long-distance. I discuss the Pharisaic attack by Dave Hunt (Seduction of Christianly) and others who claimed that use of the imagination in prayer was purely occultist and New Age. I cite the masterful article Alexander, Brooks, “Mind Power and the Mind’s Eye.” (SCP Journal 9/3 (1999) 8–20) to show that God does not create an organ or facility that can only be used in evil and witchcraft. Exactly to the contrary, a facility, such as imagination (or the sex organ) is created for a godly intention, but is often demonized and used wrongly. The wrong use does not negate its proper use.
Praying with the imagination helps the person while praying in the command mode not to be “double minded.” That is the supplicant is seen in the mind’s eye as well while we speak words of authority for healing.
Exercise # 5 The groups pray for someone “in accord” who is not present.
Exercise # 6 The groups contact someone via smart phone who is ill, and pray for that person with all they have learned thus far. (They learn that this can be done in every home group and Bible study group they are in).
The sixth segment: This discusses taking healing prayer to the marketplace. I explain the “prayer station,” and its variants in evangelistic use.
Exercise  #7  The last exercise is the most fun: It is called “loosing shyness.” We ask for a person in each group who has never prayed for a stranger to be the “shyee” and the other member role play someone in Walmart struggling in obvious pain or discomfort. The shyee must ask the person “Can I pray for you?” and then do so. I encourage drama and over-acting. It is great fun!