Many people are skeptical of the notion that God continues to heal people. Frustrated by a lack of results in spite of faithful prayer, some have concluded that God is either unable or unwilling to heal those who call upon him – yet God still heals!
With passion and sensitivity, God Still Heals opens the Scriptures to provide common-sense answers to the most frequently asked questions about healing.
This book is your invitation to pray for, expect, and experience the gift of divine healing. Understandably, many people are skeptical of the notion that God continues to miraculously heal people in our day. Frustrated by a lack of result in spite of faithful prayer, many have concluded that God is either unable or unwilling to heal those who call upon him. It is true that many aspects of divine healing remain a mystery, and for reasons we may never comprehend, some people are not made well.
Yet God still heals.
We have seen evidence of his healing power around us, and we have experienced that healing ourselves. We are aware that many who will read this book have suffered with illness and pain for many years. Having experienced significant illness ourselves, we have great sympathy for those who are suffering. It is our desire that the words of this book may bring encouragement—never condemnation—to those who suffer. The purpose of this book is simply to call the church to pray expectantly for healing so that the sick shall be made well. To all, we humbly extend an invitation to seek God’s healing power.
We believe strongly in the power of prayer. There is no more effective means of praying that to pray the words of Scripture. The Appendix of this book contains a number of Scripture-based prayers. Use these prayers as a guide as you begin to pray Scripture. In time you may begin to compose your own Scripture prayers, or simply use the Scripture text as your prayer book.
Each of the chapters in this book begins with a story. All of the stories are fictionalized, although some of them are based on life experiences. Two of the stories involve us personally, and those are noted in the text. In all other cases, the people and events are fictitious.
Over the years a number of people have influenced my thinking on the subject of divine healing. First among them is John Wimber.
In early 1983 my friend John Patredis handed me a copy of Christian Life magazine with an unusual cover article titled simply “MC510.” That symbol was the course designation for a class at Fuller Theological Seminary called “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth.” The course was largely taught by John Wimber under the supervision of Dr. C. Peter Wagner.
The cover story told of Wimber, a Southern California pastor, who taught about healing and praying for the sick in, of all things, a seminary class. Over the years, I had heard many people say that they had been healed with no evidence to support the claim. I had also seen television preachers claim that people were healed without any substantive proof. Although I was open to the concept of healing as a truly biblical notion, I did not have enough understanding to actually engage in praying for the sick. I had longed to see God’s healing power released in our day as it had been in the past. That is exactly what was described in the article “MC510.” According to this report, people were actually being healed, complete with medical confirmation.
Hungry to experience God’s presence and power, I decided to travel from Dallas–Ft. Worth, where I was living at the time, to Anaheim, California, to attend a one-week version of the class. That would be the beginning of a significant change in my life. I became, as I call it, “Wimber-ized.”
Over two decades have passed since then. The passage of time has allowed my thinking to season, and that is a great advantage. A disadvantage, however, is that over the years important notes and tapes of John Wimber’s teaching have been lost or misplaced. As a result, I am unable to appropriately document a number of ideas that I am sure originated with Wimber. It is now difficult for me to tell where the teacher (John Wimber) leaves off and the student (Jim Garlow) begins. He shaped my understanding of divine healing, and I regret that I cannot precisely identify his original ideas.
For that reason, I have dedicated this book to John Wimber. His thoughts were so stamped on my mind that they are, in more ways than I may be aware, found on the following pages. If any of the teachings in this book sound like something John Wimber might have said, that could be because he did. Without his influence on my life, this book would never have come into being. Much of my understanding of healing came from this great man of God. I gratefully acknowledge John Wimber’s influence on my life, and I humbly dedicate this book to him.
Although I wrote most of this book, my co-author, wife, confidant, and ministry colleague, Carol Garlow, knows more about healing than I ever will. Whereas I have healing “fruit” from my brief prayers for people at the weekend services at Skyline Wesleyan Church, Carol prays for the sick for hours at a time in powerful weekly healing services. Her primary contributions to this book are the chapter on the relationship between worship and healing, and the Scripture-based prayers comprised in the appendix. I have learned much from her insistence on praying the Word, and I have learned much more from her steadfast, unwavering confidence in God.
The intercessors on Carol’s team are exceptionally gifted, insightful, and persistent prayer warriors. Their quiet and unsung faithfulness has blessed many on Wednesday nights at the healing class, on weekends in the healing tent, and in other times and places that we may never know about. Their past willingness to make “healing house calls” on a consistent basis and to comprise the spiritual care network of a local hospital makes them unique.
Influencing me greatly in my healing journey are two powerful prayer warriors: Judy Garlow Wade, my sister, and her husband, Keat Wade. They have become prayer leaders across our city, around our state, and across our nation. Judy’s book Take the Name of Jesus With You, is a picture of what it means to contagiously carry Jesus’ power into the most difficult situations. Keat and Judy’s faith in God convicts me; their understanding of Him inspires me.
Along the way, a number of other people have touched my life on this topic.
The late Merlin Budy, an Alva, Oklahoma, wheat farmer, persuaded me to have a greater expectation of the miraculous.
A 1983 talk by Charles Capps, a cotton farmer from England, Arkansas, sent me scurrying to the Scriptures to study faith and healing.
Athree day seminar, In the Word, by the late Milton Green, a carpet cleaner from Cleveland, Tennessee, made me aware of the power of the Word of God.
A book by Don Basham entitled Deliver Us from Evil initially opened my eyes to the issue of deliverance.
A book by Francis McNutt called Healing helped me overcome my fear of praying for the sick.
Evangelist James Robinson’s journey with Jesus spilled over on me and caused me to become more passionate about Christ.
Each of these, along with many others, shaped much of my thinking on healing and my practice of praying for the sick. Be assured that their insights are sprinkled throughout these pages.
As I made my journey into healing, two congregations helped and encouraged me a great deal.
The people of Metroplex Chapel (Church of the Nazarene), a church in the heart of Dallas–Ft. Worth that I had the joy of planting in 1983 and pastoring for thirteen years, were courageous enough to become a “lab” for testing my earliest, somewhat clumsy, attempts at praying for the sick. Thank you, Metroplex Chapel.
Skyline Wesleyan Church, a congregation in the suburbs of San Diego where I have served since 1995, has continued to receive my teaching on healing. One of my greatest joys has been to witness the healings that have come as I have prayed—briefly and simply—over any ill person leaving the weekend services. These times of prayer have been some of my most joyous moments both in expectant faith in God and in the privilege of being a “hands-on” pastor. I pray most expectantly for healing—and see the greatest results—in that rather unspectacular setting, the doorway of the church. I love being with you, Skyline Church family.
From 1983 to 1987, I experienced an explosive “love affair” with Jesus from which I have never recovered. During that time, God did not permit me to read any book from my substantial library. I read only the Bible. Thursday fast days were filled with insights from Scripture that I had never seen before. I learned spiritually at a pace I’d never experienced before—and that has never been matched since. That four year period laid the foundation for my understanding of numerous spiritual topics, including healing. Although I have immensely enjoyed walking with God from the age of nine and continue to be overwhelmingly excited about my personal relationship with Christ, the period from 1983 to 1987 will always remain a “sacred era” in my personal journey. Much of what is found in this book comes from the Holy Spirit’s teaching during those years of learning and growth in my life.
JIM GARLOW – San Diego – June 2005
APPENDIX B BLOCKAGES TO DIVINE HEALING
“If God still heals, then why isn’t everyone healed?” That may be the most commonly asked question about divine healing. Here are eighteen common problems—I call them blockages—that can prevent people from receiving divine healing. Because we live in a fallen world, there are many cases in which we simply do not know why a person is not healed. Therefore, we should be extremely hesitant to identify blockages to healing in the lives of others. Yet understanding and removing blockages can be a key to experiencing divine healing in our own lives.
The chapter or chapters in which each blockage (or the positive factors related to it) is discussed are noted in parentheses.
I have identified eighteen blockages; there may be more. Yet this list is not a formula and should not be used as one. It is a guideline only.
I began this book by stating that I do not fully understand healing. I end with the same humble admission. Yet there are certain things of which I am convinced, a few nonnegotiable imperatives that apply to prayer for healing. First, love people, and never condemn. Second, pray for them. Healing occurs less often when people pray little for healing. Third, do not judge. The list above should never be used for announcing blockages. It is for pondering. Fourth, do not become discouraged when healing doesn’t occur. Someone has said, “Let us not become weary in well doing.” Certainly, that applies to prayer for healing. Fifth, do not allow guilt to come upon you when the healing for which you have prayed does not occur. Finally, do not allow condemnation to come upon you for any failure to pray for others in the past. You have the present. Steward it wisely.
And now may the God who loves you anoint you to lovingly and discerningly pray for the sick. Amen.