Editor's note:

Power Healing by John Wimber and Kevin Springer, first published in 1987, continues to provide valuable insight for Christians into the Why, What, and How of seeking healing from God. Richard Foster penned this intro which even without reading the book offers a helpful view of John Wimber’s ministry and healing gifts.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Power Healing

I thank God for [the book] Power Healing. I do not say this because I believe divine healing is the most important issue in Christian life and experience. I don’t. Nor do I say this because it answers all the knotty problems that surround the issue of healing. It doesn’t. 

No, I thank God for Power Healing because it reminds us that at the heart of God is the desire to give and to forgive. It encourages us to believe that God is good and that he longs to pour out his goodness into our hearts and lives. It warns us against locking God into a safe, distant past. It urges us to invite the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow freely—saving and healing, loving and forgiving.

Miracles and healings of all kinds and classes are simply part of what it means to live in the kingdom of God. They should be received gladly as one vital aspect of the normal Christian life. While these endowments are wonderful beyond the telling, nothing special needs to be made of them since simple goodness and daily obedience are far more central to our life with God. Understanding these matters is of supreme importance, for one of the greatest hindrances today to the free exercise of the ministry of divine healing is the tendency to view it as some sort of “big deal.” Frankly, the religion of the “big deal” stands in opposition to the way of Christ. It is this spirit that can lead to the cruelest of excesses. But when we see divine healing as simply part of the normal life of the people of God, we are freed from elevating one ministry above another. Seen in this light, healing prayer is merely a way of showing love to people in need. Healing—physical and otherwise—is the natural outflow of compassion, God’s and our’s.

Power Healing exemplifies this spirit of compassion. Rather than exploiting the human lust for sensationalism it is a sane and thoughtful discussion of the place of divine healing in the contemporary Church. Its pages abound with examples of God’s living power and love dwelling in the midst of his people. Reflecting on the content of Power Healing, several words immediately come to my mind.

The first is boldness. John Wimber always spoke with the confidence of one living out of the divine Center. Because of this he was able to face matters of intense controversy boldly, firmly, confidently. Prayer for the chronically ill, resurrections from the dead, the work of inner healing, and much more are all topics of frank discussion. The questions of demons and the “demonization” of individuals are faced with such candor that many people will have to gulp hard just to read about them.

The second word that comes to mind is honesty. John Wimber discusses with frankness the fact that some of those prayed for are not healed. He speaks candidly of his own illness. (And the conclusion of that moving, inspiring, and sad personal story is now a matter of public record.) In sharing some of the background of the Vineyard movement Wimber allows us to see the very human stumblings and fumblings that we all know so much about. He refuses to hide the warts, and for this we can be grateful.

A third way to characterize this book is with the word biblical. In saying this I am not suggesting that John Wimber was a biblicist who would scour the Bible for verses to proof-text every jot and tittle of life. No, he rather sought to allow a biblical world-view to inform all experience and teaching. All of life is scrutinized in the light of biblical revelation. Further, Power Healing is intently biblical in that it follows the scriptural path wherever it leads. John Wimber took divine healing seriously because the Bible takes it seriously. He took deliverance seriously because the Bible takes it seriously.

The fourth word is teachable. I find this aspect of the book particularly appealing. James reminds us that one of the marks of the wisdom from above is that it is “open to reason” (James 3:17). The moment we stop being teachable is the moment we become spiritually dangerous. In contrast, John Wimber’s entire life stands as an icon of teachability, a continual openness to learn from others. The endnotes for Power Healing are a gold mine in this respect. The inclusion of a study on the signs and wonders manifestations by a social anthropologist from Oxford is further evidence of this spirit.The wholesome humility here is genuinely refreshing.

The fifth thing that strikes me about this book is the emphasis upon team effort. The ministry of John Wimber was never a one- man show! I have discovered that the most effective prayer ministries—that is, those with lasting beneficial results—are those that are nurtured by a loving community and which emphasize teams of pray-ers. John Wimber and the varied ministries that grew up under his leadership have developed this concept extensively by carefully training prayer teams to minister to a needy world. In this book Wimber rightly stresses that the gifts of the Holy Spirit “are not primarily given to the individual but to the whole body and for the building up of the whole body.” This healthy emphasis safeguards against any one person dominating a situation. It places the focus upon God who does the healing, rather than upon those who do the praying. This is a welcome emphasis for one clear sign that any movement is of God is that no single human being can (or should) control it.

Finally, allow me to share a personal note. In May of 1978 I was walking alone along a beautiful stretch of coastline in the Pacific Northwest, USA, when I had an unusual experience of the presence of God—an experience that lasted for perhaps an hour and a half. I was never the same again. One of the several instructions from that encounter was to pray for the rising up of new prophetic leaders who could gather the people of God into fresh, bold expressions of faithfulness and obedience. Since that day I (no doubt along with multiplied others) have been seeking God to raise up an incendiary company of Spirit-led, Spirit-ordained, Spirit- trained leaders … leaders who are,

Lone like the Tishbite, like the Baptist, bold;
Cast in a rare and apostolic mold.

I believe John Wimber to be one of that company.

Introduction by Richard J. Foster taken from Power Healing by John Wimber and Kevin Springer. HarperOne 1987.

Originally published October 1987.