Introductory 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.

Text First Published September 1987

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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