More than any other of the major world religions, Christianity has the greatest emphasis upon healing. About one-fourth of the gospel verses deal with Jesus healing someone, explaining healing, going to heal someone or commissioning his disciples to heal the sick.
Time doesn’t allow us to consider the rich history of healing within Christianity. The bird’s eye picture would present the first three centuries as experiencing a flood of healings and miracles that would not be surpassed until the 20th century, when more healings and miracles were experienced than even the first three centuries. For example, there have been many more testimonies of people being miraculously raised from the dead in the last decade of the 20th century and the first 7 years of the 21st century than any other time in the history of the church.
First, let us look briefly to the Apostolic (30A.D. – mid 90’s A.D.) and Anti-Nicene (mid 90’s – 325 A.D.) period of the Church. During this period, which was about 300 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, there were healing of all kinds of illnesses, deliverances and the raising of the dead. Historians have left us this information but it agrees with the Great Commission in Mark 16:18 …they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
During these first approximately 300 years, an army of “nameless and faceless” Christians performed healing and deliverance. They understood the power and authority of his name and commanded healing in his name. Not commanding God, but commanding the illness and the demonic sources behind the illness to leave. As time progressed, healings and other signs, wonders and miracles began to decrease but did not end.
The following statements concerning praying for the sick from the book of Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England was written in the 1500’s, but was still in the Book of Common Prayer through the 1970’s. The quote below is from the English Office of the Visitation of the Sick.
“When any person is sick, notice shall be given to the Minister of the Parish; who coming into the sick person’s house, shall say …Hear us, Almighty and most merciful God and Savior; extend thy accustomed goodness to this thy servant who is grieved with sickness. . .. Sanctify, we beseech thee, this thy fatherly correction to him; that the sense of his weakness may add strength to his faith, and seriousness to his repentance: That, if it shall by thy good pleasure to restore him to his former health, he may lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory: or else, give him grace so to take thy visitation, that, after this painful life is ended, he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. , Dearly beloved, know this, that Almighty God is the Lord of life and death, and of all things to them pertaining, as youth, strength, health, age, weakness and sickness. Wherefore, whatsoever your sickness is, know you certainly that it is god’s visitation. And for what cause so ever this sickness is sent unto you; whether it be to try your patience for the example of others, and that your faith may be found in the day of the Lord laudable, glorious and honorable, to the increase of glory and endless felicity; or else it be sent unto you to correct and amend in you whatsoever doth offend the eyes of your heavenly Father; know you certainly, that if you truly repent you of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, trusting in God’s mercy, for his dear Son Jesus Christ’s sake, and submitting yourself wholly unto his will, it shall turn to your profit, and help you forward in the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life.
Wow! Please don’t let this guy pray for me!
What is hopeful to note is that in the latest version of the Book of Common Prayer, which was introduced in 2000, all this language has been changed. It has been replaced with language of faith in God’s protection, care and healing strength.
Below is an excerpt from the online version, for ministering to the sick:
I lay my hands upon you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ to sustain you with his presence, to drive away all sickness of body and spirit, and to give you that victory of life and peace which will enable you to serve him both now and evermore. Amen.
Wow again! What a change. It took 500 years but they finally got it right. The early Church was on a roll and healing continued for 300 years in an amazing way. Little by little, I believe we were deceived into believing that God quit moving in this way. Although healings and miracles diminished, they did not stop completely. Is God doing something new today? No, I believe He is trying to restore what was lost, not do something new. He has always cared so deeply for us that He wants to bring Healing & Restoration: Spirit, Soul & Body.
The Equipping the Saints or Third Wave Stream
The ministry of John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement (now Association of Vineyard Churches) most powerfully represented this stream which is sometimes also called the Third Wave. Unlike the Pentecostal Healing Evangelist who saw a model of Branham and wanted to be like him, John didn’t like the model of healing he saw. Neither did he have an angel appear to him to commission him. He didn’t fast and pray for an anointing to heal as Oral Roberts had done. Instead, out of his study of the Bible, he felt impressed by the Holy Spirit that the Bible teaches we are to pray for the sick. John had the impression to either begin praying for the sick or “get out.” “Get out, Lord?” “Out of the church, out of ministry, out of the Kingdom.” As a result of this experience he began to invite people to come to the front on Sunday evenings. I believe for seven months he invited the sick to come every Sunday night, and no one had been healed. Still he persisted because he felt the Holy Spirit lead him to do so as a result of his study of the Bible. Then after seven months the dam broke and healing began. John and his spiritual sons would in the next few years spread out around the world with the message that “everybody gets to pray” so, “just do it.” They knew they were to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The emphasis wasn’t upon the constituted gift given to the “Healing Evangelist,” no, the emphasis was upon the situational gifting to minister to the person we meet who has a need. John Wimber modeled less flamboyant ways of ministering because he was not looking for a new “Healing Evangelist who will minister to scores of thousands”. Instead he was looking to release scores of thousands of “Little Ole Me’s” who will take this healing ministry into scores of thousands of communities, work places and homes, believing God can and will use them.
We certainly do not reject the ways God has used men and women in the past or any method He desires to use but we do find hope the He is willing to use us just as we are, born again, Christ filled believers eager to act on His word. We believe like John Wimber that like Jesus instructed, God wants to use you & I to affect the lives of people, wherever we come in contact with them. God wants to use us to meet the needs, wherever they are for His people that He is so in Love with. I understand that after almost 1500 years of unbelief, we are facing an uphill battle to take back ground that we have given over. We have to start somewhere and sometime. How about now!
This is our vision for Joppa House. We will continue to pray for the sick. We are a prayer House, right?
It’s an honor to serve our God in this way. If you are interested in helping us pray for the sick, contact us through this website and we will get you started!
Joppa House of Prayer