Prayer Day 42

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Oh dear Lord,

Thank you for answering prayer.

Thank you for visions that bring comfort; for healings that relieve pain; and for your presence that instills peace in our lives.

Grow my faith.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, shape me in the image of your son.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 42

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Prayer Day 40

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father.

You clothe the birds that neither spin or reap (Matt 6:26).

You send the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust without discrimination (Matt 5:45).

You make the day and the night to bless us with activities and with sleep (Gen 1:5).

We cast our obsessions and addictions at your feet.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our relationships and soften our hearts that we might grow more like you with each passing day.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 40

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

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Prayer Day 16

Available on Amazon.com

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

God of all wonders.

We praise you for creating and redeeming us.

Help us to grieve our sin, to trust in your goodness, and to rely on your promises.

Heal our brokenness; grant us faith; restore us as children of God.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us spiritual gifts for ministry and a willingness to use them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Day 16

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

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MacNutt Prays for Healing

MacNutt_review_20200515Francis MacNutt.  2009.  Healing (Orig Pub 1974).  Notre Dame:  Ave Maria Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Chess. On the chessboard of life, what piece are you; what piece is Christ Jesus?

If you are Christian, our creator God is the crafter of the chess pieces; not one of them.  Still, when we pray, God is often assigned the role of a pawn in our lives.

For example, I have a neighbor who thinks of prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts that bounce off the ceiling.  In a world where people talk about prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts, what is authentic Christian prayer?

Francis MacNutt, in his book—Healing, observes that:  most traditional [Christians] have little difficulty in believing in divine healing.  What was difficult to believe that healing could be an ordinary, common activity of Christian life (10).  Citing Matthew 10: 7-8 [1] and a talk by Alfred Price in 1960, MacNutt observes:  if the church still claimed Christ’s commission to preach, what happened to the second commission to heal and cast out demons? (9)  In his own experience with healing prayer, about half of those he prayed for with physical ailments experienced healing or substantial improvements and three-quarters of those prayed for with emotional or spiritual problems experienced healing (11).

What is your experience with healing prayer?

Francis MacNutt is a Dominican priest, a leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and founder of Christian Healing Ministries[2].  He studied at Harvard University and Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and holds a doctor of philosophy degree in theology [3].  His book divides into four parts which are preceded by a preface and followed by appendices and an epilogue.  The four parts are entitled:

  1. The Healing Ministry—Its underlying Meaning and Importance;
  2. Faith, Hope, and Charity as They Touch Upon the Healing Ministry;
  3. The Four Basic Kinds of Healing and How to Pray for Each; and
  4. Special Considerations.

Although I often skip appendices and epilogues in my own reading, here it would be a mistake.

The epilogue includes the fascinating testimony of a Lakota (Sioux) Indian who attended a healing service in South Dakota and experienced miraculous healing of a mouth full of cavities (264-266).  As I read this story on a Saturday, I was experiencing an extreme toothache (I had trouble eating because of the pain); needed medication just to finish the reading; and I had already made a dentist appointment for Monday morning.  However, the story induced me to pray to God about my tooth—something that I had never done before.  Before Monday morning the pain was gone and my dentist found no evidence of an infection.  Meanwhile, the arthritis in my right foot that normally bothered me was mysteriously absent.

In talking about healing ministry, MacNutt cites 5 basic arguments why prayer cannot lead to healing:

  1. We want nothing to do with faith healing—faith healers are religious quacks (32-33).
  2. My sickness is a cross sent from God—as if God wanted you to suffer (33-34).
  3. It takes a saint to work a miracle and I am no saint—asking for healing is a sign of excessive pride (34-35).
  4. We do not need signs and wonders anymore; we have faith—the apostolic era is over (35).
  5. Miracles do not take place; they only represent a primitive way of expressing reality—a pre-scientific explanation (36).

MacNutt’s review of these arguments against the possibility of healing is helpful in establishing a balanced conversation—especially if you have witnessed the healing power of prayer first hand.

Prayer for healing needs to be specific in MacNutt’s experience.  As such, he list 4 types of healing needs (130), including prayer for:

  1. Repentance of sin (spiritual healing).
  2. Emotional (or relational) healing.
  3. Physical healing. And
  4. Deliverance (healing from spiritual oppression).

Distinguishing the different types of healing needs is important because many charismatic writers lump all healing needs into deliverance prayer.

The Apostle Paul writes:  the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26 ESV).  The Holy Spirit is the conduit between us and the Triune God in prayer.  Healing prayer is accordingly the work of the Holy Spirit and an important sign of God’s sovereignty at work in our lives.

One of the signs of God’s answer to healing prayer is that more healing is offered than is asked for—this is God’s abundant grace overflowing into our lives [4].  My healed toothache is not unique.  Although I prayed about tooth pain, I experienced healing both in teeth and feet—a sign of God’s abundant grace.

Reading Francis MacNutt’s Healing helped expand my prayer life. Stepping out to pray for healing fully expecting God to intervene and heal is risky. Healing prayer assumes we truly believe that God exists, cares for us, and is powerful enough to intervene in our lives—things that I and most postmodern Christians struggle with.  MacNutt’s clinical writing style and systemic thinking makes him a credible writer and makes the book helpful in advising people about healing prayer.  I commend the book. I have gifted friends with this book for years.

Footnotes

[1]The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay (Matthew 10:5-8 ESV).

[2](www.christianhealingmin.org)

[3] After leaving the Dominicans, MacNutt received a special dispensation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_MacNutt.

[4] The Apostle John writes of recognizing the risen Christ through the miracles of abundance:  abundant wine (John 2), abundant loaves of bread (John 6), and abundant fish (John 21).

MacNutt Prays for Healin

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Books, Films, and Ministry

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Dive Deep into the Atonement

Atonement_review_20200511

James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy [Editors]. 2006. The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Renewed interest in the atonement of Christ arises today partly because it has become so common to meet “atonement deniers” in the church today. Atonement deniers refuse to talk about sin believing that we are basically good and have no need for Christ’s death on the cross to mitigate that sin. Already in 1937, Richard Niebuhr observed this problem:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.” 

No cross, no resurrection. Jesus cannot have been divine and his claim on our lives is merely nice to know. Christmas morphs from the birth of Christ into winter solstice; Lent morphs from a season of reflection on sin into a season of self-help followed by spring break. So exactly what was the work of Christ if not to die for our sins, as reported throughout the New Testament? (e.g. 1 Cor 15:3) Was the atonement “cosmic child abuse,” as some feminists have alleged? (10)

Introduction

The authors of The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views work to explain the atonement rather than to justify it. The four views are:

Christus Victor view (Gregory A Boyd)

Penal Substitution view (Thomas R. Scheiner)

Healing view (Bruce R. Reichenbach) and

Kaleidoscopic view (Joel B. Green).

Each of the views has its champion who describes the view and rebuts alternative views in the style of statement and response drawn from philosophy. The first three of these views argue that they have priority over the others, while the fourth argues against any such priority (21).

The editors, James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy, teach theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota and write the introduction. They define atonement as a uniquely English theological term meaning: “a reconciled state of ‘at-one-ness’ between parties formerly alienated in some manner.” (9)

Christus Victor View

The Christus Victor view asserts that spiritual warfare is the common thread running through scripture. In Jesus Christ, God broke into history to destroy the power of Satan that has kept us in bondage to sin and restored humanity into their rightful position of guardians of the earth (27-29). In this context, sin is both an individual behavior and a communal problem, which suggests why the power of sin cannot be broken without divine intervention. If evil is embedded in folkways and cultural institutions, then individual choices cannot bring full forgiveness, restauration, and healing.

This view has priority over the others because it ties together all strands of scripture and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. All aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry work together to break the powers of the destructive systems and evil forces of Satan. Once Satan is defeated, the kingdom of God is established once again on earth (39-40). This is why the Christus Victor view has been the dominant view throughout the history of the church (46).

While some ask how a loving God could not just forgive us all. The response is that God could, but Satan, the accuser, would not allow it. This is why Satan must first be overthrown in order for God to allow forgiveness through Jesus Christ (103).

 Penal Substitution View

Penal Substitution view starts with an observation:

 “Our fundamental problem as human beings is not that outside powers victimize us. The root problem is that we ourselves are radically evil and we are wrongly related to God himself.” (68)

This view has priority among evangelicals today because the root cause of the problem is not that Satan has enslaved us, but the we ourselves are flawed—bad seed. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 ESV). This view is accordingly easier for modern people to accept, in part, because they want to be in control, as with original sin. Still, you do not need to believe in God to understand that even Mayberry[1] has a problem.

Healing View

The Healing view begins with the idea that salvation is effectively the healing of the sickness brought about by sin—the wages of sin are death (Rom 6:23). We read:

“Both Isaiah 53 and Romans 8:3 make a symbolic connection of Christ’s atonement with Israel’s national atonement ritual (Lev 16). The sacrifice had two steps. One was the slaughter of animals for the sin offering; the other was the release of the sin-laden goat into the wilderness. The first brings atonement through suffering and death; the blood symbolically purifies the community, consecrating it from its state of uncleanness. The second symbolically bears the sins of the community away from the community.” (136)

Of course, Jesus in his healing ministry often started by telling those being healed that their sins had been forgiven. We read:

 “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise, take up your bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the paralytic—I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark. 2:9-11 ESV)

The priority of healing is hinted at by the etymology of the word, salvation, which in the Greek is associated with medicine (152).

Kaleidoscopic View

The Kaleidoscopic view begins by asking why we assume that Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection should have only a single meaning. If his life touched on many social, political, and religious currents, then the meaning of his death must also have a more nuanced meaning (163). This is perhaps why the confessions of the church do not highlight only one meaning of the atonement.

Assessment

The authors of The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views parse four views of the atonement: the Christus Victor view, the Penal Substitution view, the Healing, and the Kaleidoscopic view. Each view is presented and contrasted with the other views. I learned a great deal from this discussion; perhaps, you will too.

References

Richard Niebuhr. 1937.The Kingdom of God in America. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayberry.

Dive Deep into the Atonement

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Books, Films, and Ministry

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Prayer for Shelter

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

I praise you for your enduring presence and manifest glory all around. Your glory wakes me in the morning; its sustains my days; and it protects me during the night.

Empty me of all despair and bitterness that deflate my life. Help me to confess my weaknesses, my brokenness, and my sin to make room for your glory, your mercy, and your love.

Heal me with your presence when only your presence will do. Bind up my wounds; give me hope; and guide me in your ways that I might see the new day that you have prepared for me.

In the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Shelter

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Coverage and Healing: Monday Monologues, December 9, 2019 (podcast)

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Coverage and Healing.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on the link below:

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Coverage and Healing: Monday Monologues, December 9, 2019 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Thanks_2019

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Monday Monologue, An Audio Commentary, March 26, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I talk about myself and podcasting, pray for healing, and reflect on the question: Why Think About Faith?

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologue, An Audio Commentary, March 26, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Prayer for Healing

Everyday Prayers for Everyday People

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Holy Father, Great Physician, Spirit of Truth,

We praise you, Lord, for you are good

and your mercy extends to us even as we are ungrateful and undeserving.

We confess that your mercy is greater than ours

that we seldom practice forgiveness and are frequently in need of it.

Do not hold our sin against us nor let our iniquity bind us, for Jesus’ sake.

We give thanks for the gifts of family, friends in Christ, and the many blessings in this life.

Break the chains that bind our hearts and minds–

The pain, the curses passed through the generations, and the bad blood that has accumulated in a life of selfishness, envy, greed, and malice.

In our hour of need, may we turn to you, not for our own sake, but for the sake of those around us.

Cleanse our hearts, oh Lord, that our bodies might also be healed.

May the doctors be perplexed in our healing and the nurses shocked by our change of heart.

That your goodness and mercy would be obvious to all that see it.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Healing

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Prayer of Thanks for Restoration

Roses
Photo by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father,

All praise and honor are yours,

for you are a God who saves, who restores the downtrodden, and

who heals the afflicted.

We confess that we are ridden with fear and doubts

on the day of affliction and have trouble seeing a future of heal and vitality.

Yet, thanks to you, even the night passes into day.

the lame walk, and the blind see.

Thanks to you, our fears are vanquished, our doubts allayed, and healing is possible.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith, restore our confidence, be ever-nearer,

that we might always rest only in you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Prayer of Thanks for Restoration

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2BKihbl

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