The power to heal

Sometimes a book draws you and you don’t know why, until you read it. This book is one of those for me. The Power to Heal, by Francis MacNutt, o.p. has re-ignited my interest in healing prayer and was written in 1975 from his own experience of more than 10 years in healing ministry through the Catholic charismatic renewal.

p. 32- 33: …’I have found that my ability to help the sick has greatly increased by recognizing that –
1) There is a time element in most healing. Even in healings that seems instant there is at least a period of minutes in which the change takes place.
2) There is also an element of more or less power, more or less authority in me, since I am not God, but only share in his life, so that the effect of my prayer on the sickness may not completely dispel the sickness and bring in the wholeness of life. (I am a “wounded healer.”)
3) In consequence, many of the people I pray with are not completely healed but are improved.
These understandings result in the following changes in my ministry of healing:
1) I must get out of the habit of thinking of all people in categorical terms as healed by prayer or not healed by prayer. I should rejoice if many – or even some – of the people I pray for experience some of God’s healing power and are improved in health.
2) I want to grow closer in union with Jesus Christ, so that more of his life, his wisdom, his authority and his healing power will work through me to heal others. But this, too, is a process and takes time. While not being complacent, I shall be patient, knowing that growth is an organic process.
3) I will learn to be patient with myself and with the sick, knowing that more time is often what we need to complete the healing.

I have also been encouraged by his insights into different degrees and levels of healing, from natural forces for healing released in prayer (e.g. the power of suggestion, the healing in human touch); through spiritual and emotional healing which can then impact on physical healing; through the natural recuperative forces of the body, sped up by prayer, sometimes to an obviously supernatural level (e.g. watching a tumour disappear); to a creative act of God, a miracle in the truest sense of the word (e.g. creation of a new limb where one was missing).

The whole book has been thought-provoking and inspirational – one I am sure I will keep returning to over time.