Health is one of the predominant concerns of contemporary man and societies. It is so central a concern that individuals and governments every year set aside sizeable outlays of their budgets to guarantee health and wholeness. The details of how this is worked out vary from state to state, country to country. While capitalist countries set aside a substantial amount to preserve health and prolong life, through health insurance schemes; societies with socialist inclinations provide an inclusive medical care from birth to death.
Healing is a commonplace word belonging as it does to the medical region of human existence. By analogy it has gained currency in handling what has come to be called the “night-side” of human existence. It is an adjective from the verb “to heal” meaning “to cure a disease or disorder”; “to restore to soundness”, to make whole again and healthy”.’ It is that process by which what is wounded or sick becomes whole and healthy. This involves the elimination of the factors that cause disease or infirmity. Healing therefore has meaning in direct relationship to a negative situation of a specific hurt. Hence we cannot refer to a teenager who is growing in height and size nor to a growth in spiritual life as healing. Healing is something distinct from growth or a qualitative improvement2. According to Marris Maddock, quoting Michael Wilson’s reflection on the idea of “healing”, it is: a satisfactory response to a crisis, made by a group of people, both individual or corporatIOn.
Satisfactory response meaning her restoration to purposeful living in society.
Etymologically, it is derived from an Anglo-Saxon root which connotes the idea of being “hale”, of possessing soundness or wholeness”. Its Hebrew equivalent is (rapa) meaning “to make whole” (Job. 5:18), “to cure” (Jer. 6:14). Other Old Testament words are gaha: “to remove” (Hos. 5: 13), haya “to be whole” (Josh. 5:8), and the Greek rendition is (therapeuo). In secular Greek “therapeuo” means serve, to be serviceable, thereby having the same meaning as diakonia. This service (rapeuo) which has in view something good and the advancement of the subject is applicable to the service rendered by doctors and so service rapeuo acquires the sense of “to care for the sick”, “to treat medically”, “to cure”.
Greek-speaking Judaism gives evidence to this same use of rapeuo. In the Septuagint (LXX) it means equally “to serve” (cf. Provo 19:6, Is. 54: 17 etc.) But over and above all these conceptual ramifications, it is also used in the sense of “to heal” (cf. Tob. 2:10; 12:3; Wis. 16:12 etc.).
In the New Testament rapeuo is never used in the secular sense of “to serve” and only once in the religious sense of cultic worship. (Acts 17:25). In the New Testament it is often used in the sense of “to heal” and always in such a way that the reference is not to medical treatment, which might fail, but to real healing.4 Among the full powers of the Messiah is His power to heal the sick (Lk. 7 :21 f). In reply to the two disciples sent by John to ask if he was the one to come, he said: go back and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life …
Christ is therefore the healer par excellence. He healed all who came to him and he was so engrossed in the healing of his people that his solicitude for them caused him to undermine the Jewish Sabbath rule which brought him into collision with the Pharisees.
Healing comes within the purvIew of miracles. By a miracle is meant: a direct intervention of the supernatural in a natural process, so that the change of the affected process can no longer be explained in a purely natural wa/
It involves a change, which cannot be explained through the ordinary operations of nature. It is against or outside the laws of nature. Some healings can be miracles, but not all miracles are healings. Many healings can hardly be called miracles, because they are completely understandable. There are, however, healings that take place so quickly and in ways that so completely transcend our knowledge of the laws of nature that any honest person or medical practitioner would call them miracles, or, if he or she deems that word unethical, might call it “Spontaneous”.
Bon classifies miracles into three categories:
I) Miracula supra natu-ram;
2) Miracula eonta natu-ram;
As an example of the first class, Bon, posits the revival of a dead person; as an example of the second class, the saving of the Youths from the fiery furnace; for the third class, the sudden healing of a wound with an instantaneous formation of a new tissue. Characteristic of the last type of miracle is lack of the natural course of time and of other physical conditions for a cure.
In summary, our usage of the term “healing” within the context of this book is specifically in reference to a miraculous healing or cure which is miracles in the sense of miracula supra naturam and miracula practer naturam. This healing is called SPIRITUAL HEALING and it is a healing that can be effected through the power of God working through his ministers and lay members of Christ’s faithful, through the power of prayer and the use of sacraments and sacramentals.
Healing is a generic term. It’s meaning is not limited to restoration of health. Individuals need healing; broken relationships need healing. We can equally talk about the healing of a broken society and the healing of a world tormented by institutional injustice and the threat of war. While I know and enjoin all to work for healing on all levels and by all possible means: personal, social, political, economic, and by prayer, within this book, healing refer to miraculous healing.
There are four different kinds of basic healing differentiated by the kinds of sickness that afflict us and the basic causes of those sicknesses. Unless we know these differences, we will not be able to help most people. In fact, we may harm them by insisting on one particular diagnosis and one particular method of prayer when a different diagnosis and a different type of treatment and prayer are needed. Someone, for instance, who has had experience only with deliverance and exorcism – who has no knowledge or experience of the value of psychological healing (healing of the memories) – can do untold damage by insisting on casting out devils when the suffering person has only a psychological problem. Some psychological problems seem to be caused by demonic infestation, but most problems in my experience can be explained by the natural causality of past hurts and rejections in a person’s life. Still other psychological problems are caused by such purely physical causes as chemical and enzyme imbalances in the bloodstream (e.g., postpartum depression). The cure here would be through medical treatment or prayer for physical healing, not deliverance and exorcism.
So anyone who hopes to pray for the sick should realize that there are three basic areas of our humanity that can go wrong, resulting in three kinds of sickness, each requiring a different kind of prayer:
1) Sickness of our spirit, caused by our own personal sin.
2) Emotional sickness (e.g., anxiety) caused by the emotional hurts of our past.
3) Physical sickness in our bodies, caused by disease or accidents.
In addition, any of the above – sin, emotional problems, or physical sickness – can be caused by demonic oppression, a different cause that requires a different prayer approach, namely, prayer for exorcism.
Consequently, there are at least four basic prayer methods we must understand in order to exercise a complete healing ministry:
1) Prayer for repentance (for personal sin),
2) Prayer for inner healing (for emotional problems,
3) Prayer for physical healing (for physical sickness),
4) Prayer for deliverance (exorcism) (for demonic oppression).
There are equally cases when all these four forms of prayer might be needed for a single case. For example, an elderly woman may ask for prayer to be cured of arthritis (physical healing); during a counseling session with her, one will probably discover that she had been badly hurt by her father when she was young (inner healing), and that she has never ever forgiven him; (forgiveness is necessary) and that in the search for a solution out of her problem she may have been introduced into certain occultic practices that has led to demonic possession (therefore deliverance may also be needed). Therefore there are four basic types of healing.
2) TYPES OF HEALING
This form of healing uses the techniques of contemporary science to remove or repair a diseased part of the human body through medical processes such as surgery, X-ray, and through radiation and drugs. Essentially, medical healing consists in methods of promoting the recuperative power of the body itself.
There are some Christians who set up an artificial opposition between prayer and medicine – as if God’s way of healing is through prayer, while the medical profession is a secular means of healing, somehow unworthy of Christians who have real faith. Consequently, they encourage people to pray and not to see their doctor. But God works through the doctor to heal as well as through prayer for healing – the doctor, the counselor, and the nurse are all ministers of healing. All these different professions, with their different competencies, go to make up God’s healing team. Any time we disparage any person who helps bring about the healing of the whole person we are destroying the kind of cooperative healing ministry that the Christian community might have and are setting up false divisions between divine and human healing methods.
Let us equally not loose sight of the fact that -our century has seen the growth of an essentially new interest in psychological healing, arising out of the relatively new professions of the psychiatrist and the psychologist. According to Morton Kelsey:
These men have found that it is quite possible to heal a patient’s neurosis by doing nothing other than talking with him. Not only is the mind of a patient affected by such psychic causation, but his physical condition often changes as well. Sometimes it has been discovered, a whole host of physiological problems, of hysterical or other origin, will disappear as a man’s emotional integration improves.
From the book, The Healing Ministry, by Fr. Pius Kii
To be contd