During graduate school, we attended the Vineyard in Anaheim, California where John Wimber was the pastor. Like David, Gideon, or Mary Magdalene, he was an unlikely leader.
No one would’ve thought he’d be great for God. He grew up in rural Missouri in the 1930s and 40’s in a poor family that cursed and fought and drank too much. Some people thought of him as a hillbilly. But he was gifted musically and rose to prominence as a saxophone player in the hit rock band, The Righteous Brothers.
Then Wimber came to Christ and gave up his music career to be a pastor. He discovered the Holy Spirit’s power to heal which became the theme of his ministry. He became the founder of Vineyard churches around the world and taught healing prayer workshops at Fuller Theological Seminary in the 1980s.
Wimber was careful never to take responsibility or credit when healing happened. “It is all God,” he insisted, “Our part is to pray, to ask, and it is his responsibility to heal or not.” (John Wimber: The Way it Was, pp 135-136)
In all of life, we’re wise to learn to “abandon outcomes to God,” as Dallas Willard taught me (Bill) in my years of being mentored by him. “Do your best,” he liked to say, “but don’t trust your best. Instead, trust God.”
That’s discipleship to Jesus; we’re learning to bring our whole life, including healing prayer, under the sovereign and sweet leadership of the Lord in God’s kingdom (Matthew 4:17).
Living this way frees us to be bold in asking God for healing!
We pray for sick people to be healed because it’s the compassionate, Christly thing to do. We want to bless people. We don’t worry about whether healing is the outcome — it’s God’s job to heal or not. When we focus on ministering the loving presence of Christ to people, without carrying responsibility for the results, then our prayer ministry will be joyous and fruitful, even when healing has not yet occurred.
Love is the most powerful force in all of God’s creation. The Bible teaches that love binds everything together (Colossians 3:14), covers sins (1 Peter 4:8), is never-failing and ever-enduring (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love is the greatest thing we can possess and the most precious of God’s gifts (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is on love that our Master and Healer hung the whole law (Matthew 22:40) and for love that he hung on the cross (Romans 5:8, John 3:16).
In the Beloved Disciple’s first letter, the writer takes it a step further stating that God is love (1 John 4:7). All true love has its root in God and love is God’s driving force in all things. Further reading of John’s letter shows that God desires this to be our motive in all things as well (1 John 4:7-9). Paul further affirms the importance of love when he wrote the famous love chapter (1 Corinthians 13).
Paul’s point extends to healing as well. If I pray for the healing of many, and if I see the lame walk, the blind see, and the sick made well, yet do not have love, what good would it truly be?
Healing ministry without love is not healing.
Love is the seed from which we want all our actions to sprout; it’s how we join Christ in his ministry and how we are united to God for eternity. Love is healing.
This blog is an excerpt from Bill & Kristi’s new book Healing Prayer: For Emotional & Physical Wholeness.
Listen to SoulTalk Healing Prayer: The Courage to Pray for Healing
Bill and Kristi talk about their new book, Healing Prayer: For Emotional & Physical Wholeness. They discuss the hesitancies and fears we can have going into praying for healing and how God can work through our faith.