Monday, April 25, 2011

Book: "The Practice of Christian Healing" (Roy Lawrence)

TITLE: The Practice of Christian Healing - a guide for beginners
AUTHOR: Roy Lawrence
PUBLISHER: IVP Press, 1996, (117 pages)

This book is an attempt to re-awaken the practice of healing in the Church. The author is has spent many years in the ministry of healing, and is able to share testimonies and healing examples from a Christian perspective. The key message in this book is: The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ must contain both 'preaching' and 'healing.' Otherwise, if the church only practice preaching without healing, healing without preaching, it is 'only a half commission' that is 'lopsided and incomplete.' (11)

For Lawrence, Christian Healing is defined as: "the difference made by Jesus when he meets us at our point of need." (12)

It is also "the difference that Jesus Christ makes in body, mind, spirit, and lifestyle for those who take him seriously." (20)

Here are some of my notes followed by my comments.

A) The Five Tests of Christian Healing (12)

  1. It must be true to the Scriptures taken as a whole
  2. It must be true to all that we know of Jesus;
  3. It must be true to reason - because God gave us minds and presumably means us to use them;
  4. It must be true to experience, and this must include personal experience, the experience of history and the traditional experience of the church;
  5. It must be true to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in us.
B)  Christian Healing is NOT:
  • magic or occultic flirtation;
  • confined only to individuals in the church with 'special gifts'
  • confined only to those who are considered 'super-saints'
  • another of those 'alternative medicine' or therapy
  • to be confused with faith healing, in the sense that if one believes 'enough' one can gets healed
  • an alternative to the gospel. Christian Healing IS the gospel
  • meant to replace medical treatment;
  • confined only to the physical realm. It includes the mind, the heart, the emotions, the spiritual as well as the body.
  • 'channeling' in the sense of a magical power flowing through the healer. Instead, true channeling is in service to God, and to people and is not manipulative, nor self-seeking. 
C) How the Church and Medicine Can Co-Operate

  1. The Church can 'offer the gift of time' in a world where doctors are constantly in a rush;
  2. The Church can offer practical caring and concern for the sick;
  3. The Church can offer holistic healing, while doctors tend to focus on the medical/physiological aspect.
D) Practical Tips
  • Laying Hands with Prayer to heal hurting people;
  • Anointing Oil to commision, to honor, to express joy, to show unity
  • Ministry of Prayer and Deliverance from the flesh, from devilish forces, from deception
  • Healing power of worship through proclamation of the Word of God; through laying of hands by the community; through time of devotional prayer.
  • listening and counseling to heal and to listen to unspoken needs 
  • Through 'Bible praying' where a passage is read and meditated upon to let God speak.
  • Through forgiveness
  • Through freedom in giving;
  • Through fellowship and service
  • Through the sharing in suffering.
E) What If Healing Fails or Does not Work?

  • Reject simplistic answers like failure is a lack of faith;
  • Reject the failure as a form of 'punishment for sin' ; (put it this way, we are all sinners in the first place).
  • Acknowledge that God is free to heal as well as not to heal at that particular time
  • Acknowledge that God's healing is always in God's time and in God's way
  • Acknowledge that in some cases, the world's imperfection impedes healing
  • Recognize that there is a final healing, a healing for eternity.
F) Book Pastor Comments

I admit that faith healing has been given a bad name by certain TV evangelists, and globe-tottering healers whose hands seem to have a 'magic touch.'  Healing is very much a part of the gospel. Lawrence has given a semblance of credibility to Christian healing that depends on God alone (in contrast to faith healing which depends on self or the faith-healer skills). Thus I approach this book with an initial sense of caution. After reading the book, I am pleased. This book has firm biblical grounding, coupled with lots of advice for spiritual practices like prayer, worship, Bible reading, and basic spiritual disciplines. The way the whole book is written stems from a conviction that it is God's prerogative to heal, and God's alone to decide when and how healing is to take shape.

Personally, I enjoy the part about prayer where Lawrence introduces 2 prayer methods. The first method is basically leading the person to pray as follows: "How do you pray when . . . . "

  • you feel ashamed or guilty?
  • you feel angry, depressed, hurt?
  • you feel busy and stressed?
  • you feel anxious or fearful?
The second method combines visual and reception of the environment. Called "Breath of Mountain Air" method, Lawrence urges us to select a hill or a mountain we know, to go back to that mountain and remember the events of Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:6-9. As one pictures the scene, one should not hurry, as 'hurry' warns Teresa of Avila, 'is the death of prayer.' In this mood, one learns the kingship of Christ, the commissioning of Jesus, experiencing God's omnipresence, and enthronement of God's kingdom.

Great book to buy, to share, or to keep as a reference book.


1 comment:

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