By popular request (most recently my good friend, Aaron Prill), I’ve decided to put forth my top five healing prayer books. Before jumping into my list, a couple prefatory remarks. First, these are books that I find most biblical/theologically accurate, most practically helpful, and historically relevant. That being said, as with all recommendations, I’m sure there are areas I would differ or nuance. Second, I want to place emphasis that the Spirit gives “gifts of healings” (χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων, both plural forms in 1 Cor. 12:9) not “faith healers.” Third, these “gifts of healings” are still given to the Church. With that, here are my top five:
(1) Power Healing, by John Wimber and Kevin Springer. This is a classic. The authors do an excellent job of laying out the biblical texts that demonstrate the nature of healing as well as the methods. Additionally, the biblical-theological framework that demonstrates God’s works of healings flow out of his compassionate and merciful character are worth their weight in gold. What’s most well known of this book is Wimber’s “Integrated Model of Healing,” also known as the “5 Step Prayer Model.” This is, in my opinion, the most practical way to get normal people to pray for people to experience God’s healing power.
There are many other areas to appreciate in Power Healing. I love that Wimber moves readers away from the unfortunate idea that “faith healers” exist, the idea that only certain people function in a way that brings physical, mental, or emotional healing to people (a sure step toward manipulation and power/authority problems). I love that Wimber’s five step prayer model is easy to teach and replicate in order to empower people to “do the stuff.” And lastly, I love that Wimber ties his understanding of the charismata to God’s mission – making disciples. Gifts of healings are not something for the church to keep to itself but should spill over into the world around us. Yes, yes, and yes! This is a must have. Plus, look at that cover design. It’s classic.
(2) Doing Healing, by Alexander Venter. Venter’s work is, in many ways, a continuation and contemporary version of Power Healing. It’s much more theologically robust as well as full of relevant ideas for practitioners. Venter spent time studying, training, and working under Wimber and it’s obvious that he not only learned well, he has clarified and provided further insights that will help followers of Jesus in their kingdom work.
I personally find his section on demonization particularly helpful in that he does a good job of laying out the reality of the demonic realm, a healthy understanding of how Christians can be “demonized” (but not “possessed”), and practical steps toward casting demons out. Oh, by the way, demons exist and there can be a connection between the demonic and sickness. Thankfully, Venter also explains why the suggestion that sickness is only a product of sin or lack of faith is biblically and theologically ungrounded. Since that assumption is popular amongst certain folks in the charismatic movement, his clarity on the matter is quite important! If you don’t own this, you should! The cover isn’t as vintage ’80’s, but it’s a great book!
(3) Healing & Christianity, by Morton Kelsey. I don’t mean to be so patronizing, but it’s hard to imagine that hardline Cessationists still make suggestions that the charismata are not found throughout church history. Just the other day I was listening to a podcast wherein the speaker stated that healing, tongues, and prophecy did not exist in the Church from approximately 100AD until the early 1900’s. *sigh* I wanted to reach through my iPhone and pinch his cheeks. Listen, anyone who has studied church history knows well that, at minimum, there are “claims” of all of these spiritual gifts throughout history. Sure, you can say that the hundreds of stories are all fake, but you can’t say that the gifts didn’t exist. Kelsey’s Healing & Christianity provides a really good survey of church history in addition to it’s emphasis on how healing and Christianity have historically been intertwined.
Kelsey is, to be honest, at times a bit outside of the theological views I personally hold, but I have found reading him to be helpful in that he is challenging, innovative, ecumenical, and insightful. Furthermore, he blends a really interesting integration on psychology and spirituality and how those are related to healing.
(4) Healing Ministry, by Jack Moraine. I actually just spent a week with Jack at the Vineyard Missional Leaders Meeting. Well, I didn’t really spend it with him but he was there… and we shook hands (I should have gotten photo evidence, right?). Anyway, Jack’s book is excellent. Were I to give a person in the Vineyard church I serve one book, it’d be this one. It’s a very easy book to read with excellent content. In fact, the church planting and leadership training residency that I’m a part of leading uses it as our text book on the subject.
One of the challenges when approaching the subject of healing is how people deal with the kingdom of God as well as the atonement. Jack’s chapter on that subject is superior. Seriously, I love how he clearly articulates that choosing between whether to emphasis the kingdom or the cross is a false choice and how the “already and not yet” nature of the kingdom matter. Jack writes:
“The choice between whether healing ministry is in the kingdom or in the atonement is ultimately a false one. It is in both. But it is in both precisely because of the relationship between the atonement and the kingdom… We must remember that, just as there is an “already and not yet” dimension to the kingdom of God, there is both a present and future dimension to experiencing all that has been provided for us through Christ’s death on the cross.” (pp.73-74)
Get Jack’s book. You won’t be sorry.
(5) Healing Today, by Mark Stibbe and Marc A. Dupont. Healing Today is a great book from outside the Vineyard, yet still heavily influenced by Wimber’s earlier work. This is, to be honest, one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. It pushes the envelop and does a good job of nuancing the five step healing model advocated by Wimber and the Vineyard movement. Some of the topics that are addressed that may not seem related to healing, yet are, include perseverance, keeping our healing, and creating a healing community (worth the book’s purchase in and of itself).
Another aspect of Healing Today that I appreciate is that it does not simply pay lip service to God’s sovereignty; rather, it acknowledges it and provides a fair amount of theological reflection along with pastoral insights into an important aspect of healing ministry.
So there you have it… my top five books on healing. I’m pretty sure I would probably change the order of these books, depending on the day or the reader’s needs, so don’t make too much of the order. But if you are interested in “gifts of healings,” might I suggest you click those links and pick up copies today?
- What books (in addition to the Bible, silly!) have shaped your understanding of healing?
- Why do you think it matters to distinguish “gifts of healings” from “gift of healing”?
- What are the main problems with the concept of a “faith healer”?
- What stories of healing have you experienced or seen?