Prayer that Hurts

Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady writes an online column called Fire In My Bones. He has recently been doing a series on the healing oriented revival in Lakeland Florida. His recent offering is titled Bam! Pow! When Prayer Ministry Gets Violent and offers these three cautions about excesses in charismatic oriented prayer ministry:
  1. The Holy Spirit is gentle. Jesus boldly drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip. But when He prayed for sick people, there is no record of Him head-banging or leg-dropping anyone. He rebuked evil spirits authoritatively, but He never hit, slapped, choked, mounted or kicked a person. He was meek, which means He knew how to control His strength, and He never threw His weight around.

    When He commissioned His followers to heal the sick, Jesus told them to “lay” hands on them (Mark 16:18). Since gentleness is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (along with kindness—see Gal. 5:22-23), any ministry we do should be tempered with mercy and concern.

  2. If we minister in the flesh, we will reap flesh. Several years ago I was standing near the stage in a large meeting when a visiting evangelist said he wanted to pray for all the ministers in the room. Immediately some ushers yanked me up to the platform and the man of God raced over to “pray” for me. Before I knew it, I was assaulted in the name of the Lord.

    Whack! The guy hit me so hard that I fell down and held my face in my hands to hide my grimace. The skin on my neck was stinging. When I finally went back to my seat, a friend ran over to congratulate me, saying, “Wow, I saw you go down under the power!” I had to grit my teeth and ask the Lord to help me forgive the preacher who inflicted pain instead of a holy impartation.

    Why do we think that more bodies on the floor equals “more anointing” —especially when the evangelist shoves people to the ground or slaps them silly? To build a ministry on such foolish theatrics is to trust in the arm of the flesh.

  3. Somebody’s going to get hurt. We reported last week that a Tennessee man sued his charismatic church because its pastoral staff did not provide the proper “catchers” when he fell down during a prayer meeting last year. Matthew Lincoln of Knoxville said he struck the hard floor of the sanctuary with his head and aggravated a disc problem in his back, resulting in the need for surgery.

    I don’t know the specifics of the situation in Knoxville, Tenn., and it may be that this church has done everything possible to provide a caring atmosphere in their meetings. Plus, the man suing the church does not say anyone hit him or knocked him over. But serious accidents are bound to happen if we don’t stress the importance of ministering with gentleness and wisdom.
What do you all think of this kind of stuff? I have been around this kind of "ministry" for 30+ years and am still amazed by what well-meaning folks do in the name of the Lord. I love it when the Holy Spirit moves in miraculous ways.. I am certainly not against Holy Spirit manifestations. Yet I resonate with Grady's concerns.. and about that need for prayer-catchers.. I have always maintained that if the Holy Spirit knocks you down then you certainly don't need someone to catch you.. if He can knock you over then He can catch you.


  1. Hi, Bob.

    Lee Grady's column is my favorite part of Charisma Magazine. I'm 100% in agreement with him on almost any topic.

    I was prayed for once by a man who was trying hard to push me over. I dug in my heels and leaned into him for all I was worth (can we say "stiff-necked"?). I'm what I call an open-minded skeptic, I suppose because I have seen my share of "whipping up emotions" under the guise of Charismatic renewal. I believe that if God wishes to "slay me in the Spirit" it will be just that. He won't need anyone's help to knock me down.

    In fact, that's exactly what happened to me 25 years or so ago. I wasn't up at the altar. I wasn't seeking prayer. I wasn't even feeling a great deal of emotion. The minister was praying as he walked down the center aisle, and as he passed me, I crumpled like a wet noodle. Down for the count and feeling totally drenched in love and surrounded by God's power.

    So like I said. I agree with Grady.


  2. Thanks for the story Robin. You gotta wonder what these prayer ministers are thinking.. it is like they are totally clueless about how the Holy Spirit ministers.

    I love what you said about crumpling like a wet noodle.. that sounds a lot like God to me :)

  3. Bob,
    I personally believe that prayer is so powerful. I believe anything we ask in the will of God will be answered. I believe that prayer is a gateway to God's blessing both physically and spiritually. I think we need to understand that God is not a genie that we can rub and get what we want. There is a huge difference between needs and wants. I have seen so many healed though prayer. I know I had thousands of Christians and churches praying for me to be healed and now I am able to teach and preach two sermons a week. God is so good. We need to understand that we can bolding appraoch the throne of Grace. God has given us a spirit of power not Timidity. I believe we should pray in faith not doubt.

    I remember being in the hospital and a nurses aide laid his hands on me and pryaed. He prayed for healing, for comfort, peace, strength. He praid Psalm 103:1-3. As he prayed a felt a warm supernatural heat comming from his hands and flowing through my body. In a matter of days I had more strength, my trunk was stronger and I sit up.

    Another time I prayed to God. The doctors and financial staff were going to decide when I should leave the hospital. I prayed that God would give me time to get the things I needed for the house and courage before I left. The fiancial resource person came in my room the next day and said, I know you wanted to go home tomorrow but we aren't going to release you until a week. God answered my prayer. We had enough time to get the things I needed and have the courage to face the newness of using a wheelchair at home.

    As a father I have learned that God like a father is going to say no. We need to be okay when God says no. We need to understand that all things work together for good for those who have been called according to his purpose.

  4. Thank you Kinney for that beautiful testimony of God's power.. I love your attitude and that you have a heart that sees God working when others refuse to see.

    So many times we want our prayers to be answered on our own terms.. I love it that you are open to healing even when it does not include everything that you want.

  5. Bob, I haven't witnessed much of the charismatic practices talked about here as a Christian, but I remember going to a charismatic church with my grandmother, as a young child.

    Watching elderly women, such as my grandmother and aunt be "slain in the spirit" was some of the most terrifying experiences I remember - and I experienced a lot of terrifying things as a kid. Helping kids understand what is happening is important, too.


  6. You learn something new everyday. I had never heard of prayer catchers before! For me, the best prayer experiences, where I have felt the presence of God, have been while praying with a dying friend, and while alone in my own room spread out on the floor and crying out to God. He didn't knock me over, but He was there. I don't think God needs all the loud stuff, Psalm 116:1-2, we pray and He bends down to listen.

  7. "To build a ministry on such foolish theatrics is to trust in the arm of the flesh."

    What is it's spiritual value?

  8. I personally don't believe in neither God nor any kind of holy spirit. I don't mock people who do, but I just am not the kinda person who can accept things without clear facts. Gimme ya opinion on my blog about it if you like!

  9. Just visiting from A Former leader's blog and this perfectly jives with my experiences, the Holy Spirit is indeed gentle and I have always felt God restraining me from going forward in those situations when people ended up getting "slain in the spirit."

    I mean, when every single person who goes up gets slain -- doesn't that just seem too formulaic? God rarely works the exact same thing in different people.

    I dunno, it has never happened to me and I've been in the midst of it happening to different people and I would pray, "Abba, I only receive whatever YOU have for me." And I feel the spirit strong on me, but always retain my firm footing. I dunno. It's just wierd.

    But then, I am quite the rebel ;)


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