In the Mark 9 passage Jesus heals a demonized boy, after first expressing irritation at the disciples’ being unable to cast out the spirit, because of their unbelief..
Who cannot identify with this prayer? Aren’t we all a mix of faith and doubt? We might believe strongly when we are in church, but in daily life live with nary a thought of God. Even though the disciples were with Jesus, and had seen Him do many miracles, their faith was too weak to cast out the demon, one so strong “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9: 22-29).
Now I have participated in an attempted deliverance, but I can surely relate to this father’s situation—I believe, but please help me with my unbelief, help me to pray! I don’t, and I do believe in miracles. “I don’t”, in the sense that in ordinary life, I don’t “see” or hear of miracles of healing, unless you include some non-traditional “medicines” which seem to have a supernatural healing effect.
But I also do believe in miracles: I’ve witnessed a few, myself. Like back in 1967. I was with an elderly Pentecostal man, who had a mother in an Idaho hospital whose intestines were totally blocked. The next day he learned that they were completely freed up—at 9 p.m., the exact time that we prayed for her the night before, down in California.
I’ve also heard of countless healing miracles, like a former pastor who’d been healed of cancer, and a woman who told me she was healed of cancer at a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting 15 years before. I personally witnessed such a healing at one of her rallies: a doctor was carried on stage on a stretcher, but after prayer (though most of her healings occurred out in the auditorium, right where the sick were) he got up and danced about the platform. In Africa and other parts of the world, there have even been many reports of people being raised from the dead!
Now there are TV “evangelists” who really are charlatans getting filthy rich, with multi-million dollar jet planes and homes, etc., claiming to heal the sick, but who are really sucking poor gullible Christians of their hard-earned cash, people who should be, well, a little agnostic.
On the other hand, research among American doctors reveals that 55% of them have witnessed such unusual healings—not medical—that they can only call them “a mystery,” even “supernatural.” A new book on miracles by Lee Stroble tells the story of a young woman who was struck down, by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) that was so bad she was blind, her feet were bent sideways and her legs curled up under her, she could not breathe on her own, and was in Hospice, where she was expected to die. But instead, over 500 people prayed for her, and sent her cards, and she experienced a powerful presence in her room, which restored her sight and healed her completely of all her other symptoms. That was over 30 years ago. I saw a picture of her now, the wife of a pastor, looking to be in perfect health. (Stroble claims that most healing miracles occur where the Church is advancing in new territories.)
But I must say that while I’ve prayed for many people for healing, it seems like the only prayers which really work are what I’ve called—in this column—“inner healing”, the healing of traumatic memories just by inviting Jesus to come into them and do whatever He wants, followed by the person expressing forgiveness to the guilty party.
My situation for several months now can be expressed in the following poem, which I’m submitting in hopes that it might encourage someone else who’s struggling with a disease which stubbornly hangs on. As you read it, pray with me the lines of the hymn, Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.1 But please keep praying!
AT 811/2 – A Psalm for Myrna (Sison-Kuiper, my wife)
I grow old. . ., I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled..—T. S. Eliot2
This is the tired time: The lung disease has hung on for too long,
an albatross nearly lunging me into the depth of darkness.
I fight self-pity and try not to be sad, and try to do what you say—
WALK YOUR FAITH, and so I try to pray, and turn on gladness,
and remember that “whatever is not of faith is sin”, is wrong.
But I hurt, have constant fatigue, and can barely function.
I know what I need is what the preachers call the unction
of the Holy Spirit, and my strong Lord’s healing—today!
But sad to say, it does not arrive; that Bird3 will not fly my way.
Oh, yes, I get a little done, at least my column, and write
a few thoughts down, and walk a little. But all’s not well, not right,
with my body or my soul. Seems as if phlegm comes out but sin
stays in, in spite of all the alternative meds I do imbibe,
along with that tattered Script of old, and feeble prayers,
and feeble smiles to others all around me. My soul is as thin
as my body, and I copy down like an ancient scribe
some old memories, dreams and my old self-dares
for Becoming. Nothing seems to work. And yet I hope:
I have new meds now, which soon may work.
And the duty to “watch and pray” I shall not shirk.
But most of all I think of you, my smiling, dearest dove,
coming through the door at end of day, radiant with love;
And peace comes, reassurance I’m not on a downward slope.
1. From “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.”
2. From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
3*The Holy Spirit is likened to a dove in Scripture.
P. S. Have you been healed, or have you witnessed a bona-fide healing? If so, I’d love to hear from you at FB Pete Kuiper, of email@example.com.