Friday, January 22, 2016

On teeth and miraculous fillings

First, prayers please.

Need a miracle! I mean really, like an “ol ’timie,” tent-revival, Pentecostal miracle. Carolyn and I both have serious dental problems. We have not been able to afford a dentist for years. In recent months two of my teeth have disintegrated and I suppose need to be pulled out. No money for that. (God does not charge a fee, only wants prayer and faith.)

Old time Pentecostal evangelists used to go round and lay hands on folks, and behold… new gold fillings. Dr. Francis MacNutt, in his book Healing, cited miraculous teeth fillings in the draft of his book.[1]  The editor thought this was too radical for the charismatic audience of the 1970s who were barely accepting the idea of healing prayer, and suggested it be cut. MacNutt insisted, and the section was placed in the back of the book, allowing the reader some time to get used to the idea that serious miracles do happen.[2]

Teeth fillings still happen today in some prayer meetings and revivals in this country, and a lot more often in Latin America and Africa. I believe the disparity has something to do with the nature of “desperate faith” – if you are a poor person in Honduras or Angola you do not have the option of going to a dentist.

In any case, now Carolyn and I both need God’s power and hand on our teeth. We could go to the dentist, but at the cost of serious credit card debt. Miraculous gold fillings would be better. Some reports have it that sometimes miraculous rubies are implanted – that would be nice too. If you have tooth filling as a special ministry gift, come visit us in Canton, Georgia. We have a guest room. If not, pray for our miracle.

Some ask, why in these cases does not God restore and re-enamel the teeth? Sometimes that happens, but very rarely. But I believe there is a reason why more often miraculous fillings occur. It is that our tooth decay is the product of an improper and intemperate diet (i.e. lots of sugar). For instance, the skeletons of many ancient peoples, like the ancient Romans, have practically perfect teeth – refined sugar had not been invented.  Re-enameling a tooth may be God saying, “It’s OK the way you ate.”  But a gold filling God says, “In my mercy, I will do for you what a good dentists would do,” and not affirm our eating dysfunctions. (This is not a direct quote from God, I have not had a specific revelation on this, nor can I quote the Bible on this, since I find no reference to tooth decay in the Bible –  no sugar in Bible times.) This is my sense on the spiritual dynamics of this issue – if you have a better take on this please add a comment.

Now, many of you who follow my blog postings will wonder why, if Carolyn and I have an effective healing ministry (which we do by the grace of God) why we don’t we just lay hands on our jaws and voila! gold fillings. In my previous blog posting I described how Carolyn and I have prayed effectively for each other for various ailments and conditions. I avoided a knee replacement surgery that my orthopedist assured was necessary, and my knee is now better than it was 20 years ago . (On this, see my former posting, “Aging Gracefully with the Graces of Healing Prayer, HERE.) To announce the latest, Carolyn’s dangerously thin optic nerve has been healed and is now normal.

So why am I bothering my brothers and sisters on our teeth?  It brings to the fore a larger issue. Christians in the healing ministry often need the prayers and help (and medical attention) of others. The gift of healing, like that of the other gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy, is for others.  Thus normally, a prophet prophesies for others, not himself. Now praying healing prayer for oneself is more normal, and I am sure many readers of this posting have done that many times. But it is often necessary to have others pray for the situation. For instance, I generally don’t post a Facebook prayer request if I catch a cold – Carolyn and I pray through those ourselves. But if we were diagnosed with cancer I would ask (and pester) all my Christian friends to continuously pray for us. I am reminded of the Bakkers, the great healing evangelists of Mozambique, who had a period of serious illness that needed both the prayers of other Christians and medical attention.  Similarly, Agnes Sanford, the great healing apostle of the 20th Century had two bouts with Cancer which were healed by the prayers of others and medical procedures.

Lastly let me say that the ministry of teeth healing is perhaps more in the nature of the gift of miracles than the gift of healing, though both intersect with a “fuzzy” boundary. For instance, healing has normally to do with a grace acceleration of the body’s God given ability to resist disease and heal itself. Healing has a natural dimension to it, as even the meanest atheist often recover from serious disease by getting rest and medical attention.

But if a person lost an arm or a leg, there is no natural bodily process to restore that limb. If it was restored in prayer, it would not, properly speaking, be a healing, but a miraculous event.  I am reminded of one of the great  miracles in Agnes Sanford’s life. She was serving as a Red Cross volunteer in an Army hospital in WWII when she encountered an infantry officer who had his stomach blown out. He was slowly dying of starvation. She laid hands on him and got her telephone network of prayers groups to pray for him. He was miraculously given a new stomach and walked out of the hospital as a born-again Believer. This incident is recorded in her autobiography Sealed Orders, which may be purchased HERE

Teeth restoration and fillings seem to me to be more in the order of the gift of miracles than the gift of healing proper. Teeth do not have the natural ability to mend themselves. That is my opinion, and I would love to hear other voices and opinions in the comment section of this blog.

The story of Carolyn's and my healing adventures is told in her book, Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles, which can be ordered HERE.

 My new book on Agnes Sanford was graciously reviewed by the Pentecostal scholar Jon Ruthven and his review can be accessed HERE

One can order the book from Amazon as a kindle for $10,  or at a discount directly form the publisher HERE

[1] Francis MacNutt, Healing,  Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 1974.
[2] Conversation with Francic MacNutt circa 2006.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Encountering and reversing a heart attack with prayer:

In this posting I wish to give the reader guidelines on how to pray for a person experiencing a heart attack. This is a common occurrence and more than likely will happen in the presence of most persons in the course of their lifetime, or may happen to themselves.

First, let me begin by recounting an incident that happened about 30 years ago. It occurred shortly after Carolyn and I had completed a course on the Hunter’s method of command prayer. This Pentecostal couple had discovered that in the New Testament there is no such thing as a petition prayer for healing, it is all done as a command with the disciples’ authority and in the name of Jesus, Not only the Apostles did this, but the layman Ananias from Damascus who healed Paul’s blindness.  (Command prayer is bibically correct. See my earlier blog posting on this HERE)

Carolyn and I were at her son’s wedding in Baltimore. He had invited his favorite professor from his college days to attend. When the elderly gentlemen got near the church he began having chest pains and he sat down at a brick ledge just to the side of the church. As Carolyn and I approached someone had called 911 and a policeman was already there. The policeman was in communication with the ambulance on his radio. As he monitored the professors vital signs he said to the ambulance medic, “Hurry up, he needs help right now.”

Carolyn and I immediately started to pray for the gentleman. Carolyn prayed in tongues, and I paced back and forth, a few feet from the scene, praying aloud, but not shouting, “I rebuke the spirit of death from this place. I speak to the heart, and command you to be well, repaired and restored in Jesus’ name.” Carolyn varied between tongues and command prayer. We continued in that vein for several minutes.

The policeman again said on the radio in an irritated voice, “If you guys don’t get here in a few minutes, he’s gone.” (The dialogue is approximate, this happened 30 years ago,  but not exaggerated in any way.)

Carolyn and I continued praying and commanding healing in Jesus’ name. It did not occur to me to ask the policeman for permission to lay hands on the person for prayer. He knew we were praying, and seemed to appreciate the fact. When the ambulance finally showed up, it had been delayed by a traffic accident along the route, we prayed for wisdom for the medics and the doctors at the hospital.

Then we went in to the service which proceeded with just a brief delay. Most of the participants did not know about the drama that had just occurred at the side of the church. Several hours later at the reception Michael got word from his professor that he was doing well. The blood work showed he had a major heart attack, but his heart was beating strong and normally, as if he had not had one.  PTL! (This account is found in Carolyn’s non-fiction book, Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles (Bridge, 2012) which may be purchased HERE. If there are slight variations in the vocabulary and description, well, it is just like the synoptic Gospels!)[1]

Last year, as I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, Agnes Sanford and her Companions, I reread Mrs. Sanford’s classic, The Healing Light (1947). There she described the healing of a person dying from a heart attack. It gives a wonderful account of Mrs. Sanford’s “combined” healing technique of gentle command healing, graced visualization, mental prayer, and the laying on of hands.

The incident occurred about 1945. Mr. Williams, her next door neighbor, was a cessationist and did not believe in healing prayer. He suffered from rheumatic fever and had a damaged and weak heart. One night he returned from work at the work point of death, and his children rushed over and begged Agnes to come and pray. She found Mr. Williams slumped on a chair in living room, his heart beating furiously and erratically. She went over:
As soon as my hands were firmly on his heart, I felt quiet, serene, in control. Forgetting the heart, I fixed my mind on the presence of Our Lord and invited Him to enter and use me. Then, Mr. Williams being quite unconscious, I talked informally to his heart, assuring it quietly that the power of God was at this moment re-creating it and it need labor no longer. Finally, I pictured the heart perfect, blessings it continuously in the name of the Lord and giving thanks that it was being recreated in perfection. Soon I could feel the hearts beats becoming more quiet and regular. I could even feel that strange inner shifting that reports the rebuilding of flesh and tissue.”[2]

When the doctors next examined him they were astounded that it had gone from grossly swollen to normal size and rhythm.

Now of course my actions and Mrs. Sanford’s were not identical, but let me offer some guidelines:

1     Take authority over “spirit of death” and banish it from the immediate presence.
2.      Begin praying by speaking to (commanding) the heart to be healed and recreated to its normal design (I use the words, “To the pattern of Jesus Christ.”)
3.      If the person is conscious, ask permission to lay hands, preferably close to the heart, and pray that energies of God (light of God) pass through you and completely heal and repair the heart. This may be done as a visualization as you continue to command the heart to respond to the healing grace/energies from the Lord.
4.      As you pray, give thanks to God that the healing is being accomplished.
5.      Pray for wisdom and effectiveness in the arriving emergency responders and medical attendants.

Lastly, I have taken the Red Cross First Aid course, which included actions taken for a heart attack victim. These include chest compressions and infused breathing which most person are now familiar with. How would this be combined with healing/command prayer, especially if there is only you and the heart attack victim in the room? Of course calling 911 is the first step. But prayer is the concurrent or second step.  I would do the prayers as I was doing the chest compressions, “One, two, three, “heart be healed in Jesus’ name”… six, seven eight, “spirit of death be gone”… The key element is to do all that is medically possible while concurrently inserting prayer.


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

[1] I thought of re-reading Carolyn’s account to make sure we were perfectly coordinated, but I decided not to. Let it be like the Gospel accounts which were not written immediately after the events and human memory blurred some of the details. You cessaionists skeptics can then say, “This miracle did not really happen because the policeman said something slightly different, etc.” This is just what liberal theologians say about the Gospel miracles. You may have all the unbelief you want.
[2] Agnes Sanford. The Healing Light (St. Paul: MacAlaster Park, 1947) 96.