In 2000, shortly before a massive prayer gathering for young people in our nation's capital called The Call DC, I went to Philadelphia to speak at a meeting organized by Jack and Jane Hanley. The Hanleys are members of Harvest International Ministries (an apostolic network of pastors and people in ministry and an extension of my ministry).
The emphasis in the meeting was on healing. One of the women in attendance that night was Sharon Trainor, a new believer who was accompanied by her unbelieving husband, John.
Doctors had diagnosed Sharon with an incurable problem called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS). For more than eight years she had suffered excruciating pain in her feet. Two surgeries to cut the nerves to her feet in an effort to eliminate the pain did not work; neither did the steroids or painkillers.
Her pain was so great that even a bedsheet touching her feet caused overwhelming pain. Sharon spent most of her days in a wheelchair but occasionally could walk with a walker or with the assistance of another person.
She and John had come to the service because they were desperate for her to be healed. They believed it was worth giving God a shot at reversing a condition that had stumped even the best medical professionals.
At the meeting, I gave the invitation for people to give their hearts and lives to Jesus. Sharon renewed her commitment to the Lord, and John said yes right along with her. I followed the altar call with a prayer for people to be healed.
Some people were healed, but Sharon wasn't. I announced that I would stick around after the meeting and personally pray for those who hadn't received a manifestation of God's touch.
Many people lined up for prayer. When I came to John and Sharon, I didn't have time to ask them about her condition, but it was obvious that something was wrong with her feet--she was wearing oversized, pink terrycloth bedroom slippers.
As I glanced down at the slippers, the authority of God came over me. I broke every generational curse and commanded the evil spirits to leave her. As soon as I took authority, both John and Sharon fell backward. Sharon had had her eyes closed, so she asked her husband if I had pushed her down.
John told her that I hadn't touched either of them. It took only one more moment for Sharon to realize that her feet were no longer hurting. After so many years of agony, suddenly there was no more pain. It was gone!
That night as John and Sharon drove away from the church, they didn't say one word to each other, afraid the healing would disappear. When they got home, Sharon immediately went to bed and fell asleep.
The next morning, she was certain her whole experience had been a dream--but she didn't feel any pain. So she tested her feet. Getting out of bed, she placed them on the floor--still no pain! That is when she knew she had been healed.
Sharon started to dance and run through the house. She tracked down Jack's telephone number and told him the story. By this time I was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but Jack told me what had happened, and we all rejoiced at this miraculous healing.
A Change in Plan
Originally, God never intended for His people to need divine healing. He never set out to mend wounded hearts because He never wanted them broken. He never aimed to miraculously reverse cancer because malignant tumors were not part of His original plan.
God's aspirations for Adam and Eve did not call for healing--because His plan did not include sickness. There was no need for aspirin, flu shots or HMOs in the Garden of Eden. That all changed with the fall.
When Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and ate the fruit that God had commanded them not to eat, sin entered the world. With sin came separation from God and His perfect plan. All physical maladies, including the ultimate--bodily death--came about only after this door to sin swung open.
Now all of God's creation, including our human bodies, is affected by sin. We are naturally prone to disease, destruction and all kinds of hurt and pain.
Thankfully, God made provision for our healing through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross, who paid the price for the sins of all mankind, took back the authority the devil had gained through Adam and Eve's transgression (see Col. 2:14-15; Matt. 28:18-20) and placed His followers in a position of authority with Him (see Eph. 2:6).
The authority Jesus gave us empowers us to expand His kingdom by healing the sick and casting out demons (see Matt. 10:1, 16:18-19; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 9:1-2, 10:18-19). Unfortunately, the church doesn't always exercise this authority. I believe there are five reasons believers don't walk in the power and authority they have in Christ.
1. Sin. When we habitually sin, we come under Satan's authority, and he has legal rights over us until we repent. That is why Jesus said, "'The ruler of this world is coming, and has nothing on Me'" (John 14:30, NKJV). Jesus was without sin, so the devil could not get a foothold in His life.
James 5:16 declares, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." This verse points out that authority is given to the righteous. Carlos Annacondia, an Argentine evangelist, once told me that he believes God gave him more authority when he became ruthless about his sin and the sin in his family's life.
Along the same line, we have to be under authority before we can exercise authority. If we are rebellious toward our parents or the authority of our church, we won't have much authority over the evil one.
2. Ignorance. In Hosea 4:6, God declares, "'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.'" The Lord showed me that His people are being destroyed by the ignorance of their authority in Christ. Yet the Bible makes it clear that we are not powerless against the enemy.
Second Corinthians 10:3-5 states, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."
Many believers tend to see the cosmic struggle through the lens of the Asian philosophy of yin and yang, which contends that good and evil forces are opposite each other but equal in power and authority. In reality, Satan is a loser. He is a created being, one of God's fallen angels.
God, on the other hand, is the uncreated Creator who always has been and always will be--He is self-existent. To a believer who is walking in God's authority, Satan is like a toothless lion. It is not that Satan doesn't have some real power--he does. But when we compare his power with God's--there is no comparison.
When David confronted Goliath, Goliath compared his physical prowess with David's. Goliath was insulted that the Israelites would send a mere shepherd boy against him.
However, David didn't compare himself with Goliath; he compared Goliath with God. God was so much greater than Goliath that the match was over before it had a chance to begin (see 1 Sam. 17:41-50).
In observing God's people, I have noticed that way too many of us tend to be ignorant about the source of evil. Satan, not God, is the cause of all the evil in the world. When we have a warped perspective of the sovereignty of God, we become passive in fighting sickness and evil.
After the historic 9/11 tragedy, I was amazed to discover how many people attributed the terrorist attacks to God's judgment. The Bible tells us that Satan--not God--is the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy (see John 10:10) and that we are to put on the full armor of God and stand firm against the evil one (see Eph. 6:10-18).
3. Unbelief. Unbelief is a serious sin. Romans 14:23 reads, "But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." The book of Hebrews also calls unbelief sinful: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" (3:12). Unbelief is so serious that Jesus could not do many miracles because of the people's lack of faith (see Matt. 13:58).
We can measure the level of our belief or unbelief by asking ourselves, Do we really believe that Jesus defeated the enemy? If we don't, we are unlikely to see the results we desire when we lay hands on the sick.
4. Fear. Second Timothy 1:7-8 declares, "God has not given us a spirit of fear." Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from wielding the authority we have in Christ to bring healing to others.
First John 5:18 teaches us that "the wicked one does not touch [whoever is born of God]" (see also Luke 10:19). But some people have suffered backlash from the enemy when they engaged in spiritual warfare and are now afraid.
There are many reasons for backlash. Here are some ways to guard against it: Be led by the Spirit; make sure that Satan has no legal right to attack; and obtain prayer covering.
After taking these steps, we can confront the darkness because we have the authority to do so. We need not be afraid of obeying God's directives even if it requires engaging in strategic warfare.
Luke 12:32 gives us wise counsel: "'Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.'"
5. Prayerlessness. Luke 18:1 establishes the importance of prayer: "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (NIV).
Ephesians 6:18 elaborates on this point: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Evangelist Winkie Pratney once told a story about a pastor's wife who was jogging one day when she saw a man dressed in white standing in a cornfield. The pastor's wife had been going through a difficult trial, and when she saw this man, whom she recognized as Jesus, He said to her: "Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who you are? When you know this, it is not really as hard as you think."
There is a lesson here for all of us. When we know who God is and the authority He has, and when we know who we are in Christ, having faith is not that difficult. And when we have faith, we will begin to release the spiritual authority necessary to perform signs, wonders and miracles.
Ché Ahn is senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, and founder and president of Harvest International Ministries, a worldwide network of approximately 1,000 churches and ministries. He also organized The Call, a series of national prayer gatherings for American youth.
Adapted from How to Pray for Healing by Ché Ahn, copyright 2004. Published by Regal Books. Used by permission.
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