Book Summary: The Healing Light by Agnes Sanford

The Healing Light by Agnes Sanford

Barbara and I chose to re-read this classic book on healing. I read it over 40 years ago and thought it a bit strange. But when I heard that my mentor Dallas Willard had very high respect for her and in his last days, kept this book and the Bible at his bedside table, I knew it was time to revisit.  I still think she has some odd ideas – but I haven’t been involved in praying for people like she had so I wanted to give her a second chance.

Her terminology often raises red flags but I think that her power to be an instrument of  healing in so many peoples lives stems from a Christ-centered life. Would that we all could pray and see as many people healed as she has. I would encourage you to read it with an open mind and glean what value you can from the book.


The book opens with an introduction that I quote extensively:

The scientific attitude is the attitude of perfect open-mindedness,” writes Agnes Sanford. “It consists in an unshakable faith in the laws of nature combined with perfect humility toward those laws and a patient determination to learn them at all cost. Through this humility scientists have learned how to conform to the laws of nature and by so doing have achieved results. Through the same meekness those who seek God can produce results by learning to conform to His laws of faith and love.

“The first step in seeking to produce results by any power is to contact that power…

“The second step is to turn it on…

“The third step is to believe that this power is coming into use and to accept it by faith. No matter how much we ask for something it becomes ours only as we accept it and give thanks for it.”

Glenn Clark, who wrote the introduction, says that there is something besides following these steps and that is “a climate of faith.” He goes on to say that the book isn’t just about healing. It is a guide to redemptive, creative living. (NOTE: Glenn was the founder of Camp Farthest Out – A Global Outreach of Creative Christian Living). We have taught extensively to our prayer teams about creating a climate of faith when praying for others.

Chapter I God Works Through Us

Agnes starts with an analogy about healing prayer. If you have an electric iron,Iron it does no good to speak to the iron and say “Iron this shirt.”. You first have to plug it in. She says that it is the same as connecting to the healing power of God. We cannot just speak to an illness and see it change. We need to speak to it out of our connection with God. This is reminiscent of Luke’s (the physician) words when he makes the enigmatic statements: “And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.” (Luke 5:17) and “all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19). Why these statements? Isn’t the power of the Lord with Jesus to heal at all times? Yes, because He was connected to the source. And is this power to heal something that flows like electricity? Luke seems to think so. So, even though her terms are a bit strange there is some Scriptural basis for this terminology. Her central point in these opening chapters is that this healing power is none other than God Himself.[1]

Later in this first chapter she talks about how joy “is the heavenly ‘OK’ on the inner life of power.” In other words, when we experience joy in trial, it is God’s wink to us that all is well. You cannot fake it. In her example of the healing of her baby, it was the joy of the minister who prayed that turned on the light for her.  The baby was healed because:

The life of God flowed through him [ the minister ], and could therefore be turned on by him for the healing of a child. He knew it, and therefore had the courage to speak with authority.

We have often taught others about the prayer of command. She taught me something I missed all these years. Amen – meaning “so be it” is a prayer of command. When we say amen, we are saying a prayer of command.

Going back to her electricity example, she says that for electricity to work it’s magic in a house the house needs to be prepared for it. So with us, for the power of God to work through us, we need to be prepared for it.

The Kingdom of God is within you,” said Jesus. And it is the Indwelling Light, the secret Place of the Consciousness of the Most High that is the Kingdom of Heaven in its present manifestation on the earth.  … Learning to live in the Kingdom of Heaven is learning to turn on the light of God within.

Few of us in the north would ask God to produce a full-blown rose out of doors in January. Yet He can do this very thing, if we adapt our greenhouses to His laws of heat and light, so as to provide the necessities of the rose.  And he can produce a full-blown answer to prayer if we adapt our earthly tabernacles to His laws of love and faith so as to provide the necessities of answered prayer.

I am not so sure about this next statement (the first of many!):

Some day we will understand the scientific principles that underlie the miracle working powers of God, and we will accept His intervention as simply and naturally as we do the radio.

This implies that the miracles are based on scientific principles not yet discovered. I could say that: “Some day we will understand God’s laws [the deep magic using Lewis’ terminology] that underlie the miracle working powers of God…” The next statement shows that this is what she meant.

If one thinks of a miracle not as the breaking of God’s laws but as His own using of His laws, then the world is full of miracles.

The difficulty I have then is whether we will know on this earth these laws.

God does nothing except by law. But He has provided enough power within His laws to do anything that is in accordance with His will. His will includes unlimited miracles. It is for us to learn His will, and to seek the simplicity and the beauty of the laws that set free His power.

There is a lot to unpack in this – but suffice it to say that we are to always be praying in accordance with the will of God which will be in keeping with His laws.

Chapter II – The Scientific Attitude: Choosing A Healing Prayer Objective

I have often embarked on prayer projects. I have never heard anyone else describe them as such. Agnes invites us into such prayer projects:

One decides upon a definite subject for prayer, prays about it and then decides whether or not the prayer-project succeeds. If it does not succeed, one seeks a better adjustment with God and tries again.

I have used this approach for years and have learned so much about God and prayer for which I am eternally grateful. Little did I know that I probably learned it from Agnes years before. She attempts to describe the scientific method and then applies it to prayer. She believes (and don’t we wish that all scientists applied this) that humility in the face of the data is essential for the success of the scientist. They must go where those “stubborn facts” and data point independent of preconceived ideas. And she then turns it to us:

Through the same meekness those who seek God can produce results by learning to conform to His laws of faith and love.

The first step in seeking to produce results by any power is to contact that power. The first step then in seeking help from God is to contact God. …So the first step is to relax and to remind ourselves that there is a source of life outside of ourselves.

The second step is to turn it on, by some such prayer as this “Heavenly Father, please increase in me at this time Your life-giving power.”

The third step is to believe that this power is coming into use and to accept it by faith. No matter how much we ask for something it becomes ours only as we accept it and give thanks for it.

And the fourth step is to observe the operations of that light and life. In order to do so, we must decide on some tangible thing that we wish accomplished by that power, so that we can know without questions whether our experiment succeeded or failed.

Let us understand then that if our experiment fails it is not due to a lack in God, but to a natural and understandable lack in ourselves.

We need to be careful with this last statement. We may think as a result of this, that healing thus depends on us getting the right approach and the right words and action. Sometimes Agnes comes across that way. Later, you will hear another reason that healings do not happen and having the wrong process is not one of them. That is why I don’t think that is what Agnes is saying. My approach has been at this stage in the project to ask God what went wrong – recognizing that my approach may be wrong or it may not be God’s time to heal yet. This is the first hint at where Agnes and I differ. She believed (I think) that all will be healed if but we can get “it” right. More on this later in the book

One way the experiment can fail is that: “We might be mistaken concerning our need of these things” that we are asking for. Again, my approach is then to bring the very prayer itself before the Father and see if this is really something that needs to happen.

I love her next suggestion in our project: Start simple.

Let us choose one of the very simplest of prayer-experiments, remembering always that it must be tangible; that is, it must be something that we can put the finger on and say either “This has been done.” Or “This hasn’t been done.” … Let us not be afraid, then, to choose for our first prayer-experiment an objective that is simple and personal.

This objective must of course be in accordance with God’s will, for it is as difficult to make God’s power operate contrary to His will. …a wise seeker after God had better study the laws of God and adapt his prayers to those laws.

Agnes then surprises us with her suggestion for a simple prayer project. For me, it would be something like: “Safe travel to the store.” Simple. Measurable. But for her:

The simplest and most direct of all prayer-projects is the healing of the body.

In tracing her reasons for this, she sheds some more light on her understanding of God’s will in the matter of healing. She believed that because the Father delights in giving us good gifts and therefore since the gift of health is good, the Father always delights in granting healing. She goes on:

But those parents and teachers who dimmed the shining of His eternal Glory in our infant minds taught us that God often willed us to suffer. “Well, God’s will be done,” they sighed, when prayer for health brought no relief from pain.

It is a giant leap of logic to say that because we are not healed and therefore suffer, that God wills us to suffer. It is far more complex than that – but again – hold on. More later.

We see that the lack of success in healing is not due to God’s will for us but to our failure to live near enough to God so that He can accomplish His will in us.

Deciding once for all, then, that God is a loving Father who delights to give good gifts to His children, let us learn how to accept those gifts. Let us choose as a prayer-objective the healing of the body, because it is the most simple and the most obvious prayer-objectives.

Here she plays some of her cards on the table. We don’t succeed in prayer because of “our failure to live near enough to God. I am not convinced that anyone is always close enough to God to accomplish the healing of everyone we pray for.” This is an easy out when someone isn’t healed. “At this time in my life, I am just not close enough to God for them to be healed.”

One of the questions I am often asked about prayer for healing is whether or not we need to pray multiple times for healing. Healing from a cold according Agnes, may only take a few minutes. But:

If we have sought Him for the rebuilding of bones or nerves or sinuses, the complete healing may take time and patience. In which case, while we seek daily to reconnect our spirit with the Spirit of God in prayer, we need not repeat any request for healing that we have said. … That does not mean that we should pray only once for the matter. Most of us need every day to enter into God’s presence and focus our attention first upon Him and then upon the area that needs healing, so that God may have every opportunity of continuing his creative work in us.  But after the first time, we may say, “Thank You,” instead of, “Please.” “Thank You that Your Life is entering into me rebuilding everything toward health.” We may then use our creative imaginations and make a picture in our minds of that perfection which we hope will be ours. And finally we may look steadily at that picture until it is accomplished. Thus by harnessing the imagination and training the will, we can arouse and build our faith.

Agnes tells of a little boy with a leaky heart. She has him imagine himself as a football player running down the field with a healthy heart each night. A month later his heart was perfect. Thus he had wrestled with God as his partner against the powers of destruction and had prevailed. The will of God for him was not a leaky heart, but health.

I am not going to question if the boy was really healed. I believe her. I am just not convinced that it was the power of the game he played each night.

Chapter III Turning on the Light of God’s Creative Energy

I always cringe when a preacher starts getting into physics. And I cringe a bit when Agnes does it. She states that we are made of energy. But we are made of both matter and energy and one can be converted into the other. So it is a true statement but only tells part of the story. But when she then makes a theological application:

when we establish a closer connection with God in prayer, we should receive more abundant life—an increased flow of energy.

Here is where we take what she learned and readjust it consistent with what know of God and of His universe. I don’t know what to call it (she calls it energy), but we definitely receive more from God as we get closer to Him in prayer (e.g. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”). I just don’t want to call it energy which has a clear material definition in physics.

The vibration of God’s light is so very real that even a child can feel it, and it was my experiments with children that showed me the action of an invisible but powerful light-vibration shining from the Father of Lights.

I too, along with those that we have prayed for, have experienced heat when God’s healing power is in action. I often use it as an indication that God is at work healing. And it is very physical and can be measured with physical instruments. I am just not ready to call it “the vibration of God’s light.” I see it more as the Spirit of God moving upon the body and setting in motion the body’s natural healing mechanism. Have you ever felt the heat around a wound or a sprain. This is the healing action of our body.  So, let’s just allow Agnes the right to call it electricity or God’s vibrating light. No problem. Let’s keep learning from her, because as Dallas Willard told a skeptical Richard Foster, “When Agnes prays, things happen.” Here how she describes how to initiate this healing power of the Spirit:

I just forget everything else and think about God and believe that He can do it. And He turns it [the electricity] on, and when He is through with it, He turns it off.”

She gets a “scientific” explanation from a scientist that confirms her understanding and terminology. But again, let’s keep drawing upon what is real and factual in what she is saying. She notes that children perceive the heat more often than adults. This is not my experience, but she has prayed with more children than me – so let’s go with it. She explains that this is because our hearts have become dull to God’s truth as adults. And that may very well be. She later makes another deduction that this manifestation of heat is literally God himself.

In talking with an injured G.I., Agnes tells him that God can hurry up the natural processes that go on in the body. Here is how she told him to pray:

Come into me now and help nature in my body to mend this bone, and do it quick. Thanks. I believe you’re doing it. Then make a picture in your mind of the leg well. Shut your eyes and see it that way. See the bone all built in and the flesh strong and perfect around it. Then after you see the leg well, give a pep talk to all the healing forces of your body. Say, ‘Look here, I’m boss inside of me and what I say goes. Now get busy and mend that leg.’ And then congratulate them and tell them they’re doing a good job, because they won’t work for you unless you encourage them. And after this, forget them and think of the life outside of you again, and say Thank You, God. I believe it’s going to be O.K.’ ”

Again, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. We are told to believe what we have asked for. So for Agnes, that means to visualize it as well. That has not been part of my healing prayer protocol, but I like it as a tangible way to believe that we have received what we have asked for. I believe that as Jesus spoke to inanimate objects we can speak to our bodies as part of the healing process. So let’s move on.

Here is her summary:

    1. Choose the same time and the same place every day, make yourself comfortable and relax.
    2. Remind yourself of the reality of a life outside yourself.
    3. Ask that life to come in and increase life in your body
    4. Make a picture in your mind of your body well
    5. And give thanks that this is being accomplished

I like this as something simple we can give people and see nothing out of alignment with God’s way of healing.

Another step she adds for the prayer:

In order to receive God’s life in the body, we must first be able to forget the body so that we can quiet the mind and concentrate the spiritual energies on God.

Quieting the mind is not easy she recognizes. Our nerves can become our masters.

We must teach them to be our servants, adjusting themselves to our demands for more or less tension. This can be done by a simple process of re-education.

Nerves are like children. They respond to suggestion better than to command. In fact the subconscious mind that controls the forces of the body has an almost wanton disregard for command. “Relax!” we tell ourselves sternly, and the nerves laugh at us and tighten up more than ever. “Now you’re relaxing,” we congratulate them, and with a pleased smile they relax. So, we speak gently and soothingly to the nerves all the way up the body and in the head.

Let us now open our spirits to receive the more abundant life of God. How easy this becomes when we realize that God is not a far-away sovereign, but is actually the medium in which we live

This last step—the step of giving thanks! God is standing before us with the answer in His hands. But unless we reach out our hands and take it by giving thanks for it, we are not apt to receive it

I am not sure how to respond to this bit about nerves are like children. I have practiced speaking to parts of my body. I am just not sure about some parts responding better to suggestion than to command.

Chapter IV The Re-Birth of Faith: Re-Educating the Sub-Conscious

When we quote scientists as providing foundational evidence for either our theology or our praxis, we need to be careful – or at least footnote it. Agnes starts off this chapter telling us that psychologists tell us that “nine-tenths of our thoughts lie below the level of consciousness.” I don’t know what she is talking about. What are thoughts? And what is consciousness? Without footnotes or even definitions we are left in the dark. And then it gets even more muddled. She mixes the non-conscious mind (which controls our breathing) with the sub-conscious mind – where there are true thoughts. And then says that what controls our breathing is an inner control center that is part of spiritual body that “acts on orders from God Himself.”

I have to stop. Let’s see if we can summarize what she is trying to say independent of her muddled science. She certainly is trying to prove scientifically that if I say: “I am getting a cold” that this sends a conflicting message to our white blood cells who are trying to fight the cold. Without finding out if this is scientifically provable (and it should be measurable), it still doesn’t make sense. Why does telling our immune system that trouble is coming tell it to slack off. Isn’t prevention the best medicine? Advance warning to put the immune system on high alert? Agnes says it says “Slacken off your defense.” Our adrenal system responds to advance warnings of trouble ahead. Why do our white blood cells not follow suit.

She addresses the question about how are we to deal with accusing thoughts. She says that we should not resist them. She uses Jesus’ words out of context and says: “Resist not evil.” But in the Greek, the word is an adjective. So, most translations include the implied “person.” We are not to resist the evil person. “Evil resisted gains strength.” So what does she think James is telling us: “Resist the devil and he will flee” so that he can gain more strength? She gives us two solutions: Turning our back on troubling thoughts and replacing them with a new set of thought patterns.

if we find ourselves thinking, “One of my headaches is coming on,” we correct that thought.

“Whose headaches?” we say. “God’s light shines within me and God doesn’t have headaches!”

Sorry. I just cannot support that approach from Scripture even though she is trying to prove the approach from science.

There is no record in the whole Bible of a holy man who remained an invalid.

That is except:

    • Isaac’s eyes were dim – he couldn’t differentiate between Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27:1)
    • Jacob – who was given a limp by an angel.(Genesis 32:31-32)
    • Mephibosheth – who was lame and remained faithful to David even as he was deceived by his servants. (2 Samuel 19:24-30)
    • Ahijah the prophet – eyes were dim (1 Kings 14:4)
    • Elisha was ill before his death (2 Kings 13:14)
    • Philippians 2:27 reveals that Epaphroditus had been extremely ill, indeed he had nearly died, but the Lord had mercy on him.
    • Timothy – who had frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23)
    • 2 Timothy 4:20 tells us that Paul left Trophimus ill at Miletus

She then says:

we find no instance of an acceptance of illness as the will of God

Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his frequent ailments. Isn’t that accepting illness? Wine wasn’t to heal but rather to dull our sense of pain. I hope you the reader don’t think I am nitpicking. I want to learn as much from her as I can about praying for healing because she had a track record that cannot be denied. One other option is to say her success was a sign meant to deceive. That I don’t accept either. Thank goodness we don’t need perfect theology to heal.

Chapter V The Law of Love

This chapter was confusing to me and did not add anything to my understanding of God’s working in the world. Also, there are a number of statements that seem just flat out wrong. So, my summary may not capture what Agnes was trying to capture. It seems she is saying that there is a current of God’s love that can be blocked by us – by “hatred and fear and misery” as well as anger.  Jesus is the one who has unblocked this flow of love.

She claims that the early followers of Jesus expected Him to come back in their lifetime (which appears to be true) but when He didn’t they became discouraged.

Sadly they postponed their glorious vision of a new heaven and a new earth. Sadly they laid aside their hopes of being “clothed upon with immortality” and accepted death.

I am not sure when she thought “accepted death” happened. Nor do I know exactly what she is saying. Do we never accept death? It seems like Stephen accepted death and he was pretty early on. Paul accepted his approaching death a few decades later.

Towards the end of the chapter, she attempts to instruct us towards a pathway to healing as follows:

And we become perfected in love by trying to do it. The method is so simple that any child can learn it. It is merely to connect in spirit with the love of God, send that love to the other person, and see him re-created in goodness and joy and peace.

It is not exactly clear how she wants us to “send that love” but it appears that we do this by projecting it with our thoughts. She gave another example of a man who stopped a bull from attacking by following her method:

“I am God’s man and you are God’s bull,” he thought in silence. “God made both of us, and in the name of Jesus Christ I say that there is nothing but loving-kindness between us.”

When asked what to do if an armed burglar was in your house:

One would project into the burglar’s mind the love of God, by seeing him as a child of God and asking God to bless him. And if one were strong enough in faith and love, the burglar’s mind would change. He would leave the family unharmed and go away.

There is the clear call to pray in this case but I am not so sure that we are to project God’s love into another’s mind. Of course she covers all situations by saying it all depends on your being strong in faith and love. So, if your family gets killed, you have an excuse – you weren’t strong in faith.  I don’t see this in Jesus’ teaching at all.  Maybe by projecting love she means – love your enemies. But I don’t see Jesus telling us that if we love our enemies, they won’t kill us. Ask Stephen.

Chapter VI Re-Education in Love: Healing Laws Liberated

If we apply her teaching to the question, “How do I love my enemies?” we can follow her train of thought:

He must re-educate his subconsciousness. He must form new thought habits of love and compassion and friendliness and joy, so that his instinctive and natural reaction to every situation, every person and every animal may be one of love.

the real reason why most people do not learn Christian love is quite simply that they do not want to do so.

Let us think of the person whom we have selected for the day’s assignment and hold up this person before the mind, surrounding him with the light of God’s love. Some of us see in our minds the picture of Jesus Christ and then see the other person, placing the picture of the one we would forgive upon the picture of Christ. Having done this, we say to the one whom we would learn to like, “I forgive you in the name of Jesus Christ, and I give thanks to God because you are now forgiven. Amen.”

We then proceed to the second step of forgiveness, which is to say, “I bless so-and-so in the name of the Lord,” and to look with expectancy for the changes that the Lord’s blessing will accomplish in her.

We learn to give forth love in learning to forgive our enemies. Then we learn to give a forgiving and healing love to all who cross our paths and need our love

Finally love flows through us spontaneously and naturally to both man and beast—and completing the circuit, flows back to us again from God.

Although this may seem like a “turn-the-crank” fool-proof method, it does in fact have some merit as steps to loving your enemies.

Chapter VII – In the Shadow of His Wings

Heads up on a science alert. Most X-Rays and Cosmic rays do pass through thexray comsic ray body (duh – that’s why we take X-Rays). But hardly any visible light passes through the body completely. If the skin is thin enough, you can see some light passing through our fingers. Our eyes can see some bright light shining through our eyelids. So, watch out for: “Sunlight penetrates the open spaces of the body”

As a sponge is in the ocean and the ocean is in a sponge, so we are in God and He is in us. Rufus Mosley

I actually love that analogy of us in God and God in us.

Many a healing is not finished simply because the one who prays does not hold his faith long enough, is unwilling to seek help in prayer or does not know where to find that help.

[Once, I] spilled boiling oil on my hands while officiating over the cookstove. If I lose my temper at such times, the hand is burned. If I do not lose my temper, the hand is not burned.

As our prayers, our mental training and our acts of forgiveness fuse into a high consciousness of God’s indwelling, we become more and more aware of an inner source of power that can be tapped at will.

This being so, let us gladly seek Him without as well as within.

Again, the principle which I accept is a good one. Our awareness of God’s indwelling can be very instrumental in our ability to tap into His power for healing. If we are going to pray for healing, we need to be as much in God’s presence as possible. But the degree to which that happens does not guarantee healing.

Chapter VIII – Doctors, Ministers, and God

I like the following comment:

If all men could eat only of the tree of Life, planted in the center of the garden, and never absorb into their beings the results of knowing both good and evil, men could live above death and above the pain and illness that lead to death.

Somehow, in all the years that I have read about and heard about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Agnes’ comment opened my eyes. “never absorb into their beings the results of knowing both good and evil” is a great insight. I always had a bit of question about what was wrong about knowing evil. Paul says that we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes. That’s knowing evil and that is a good thing. Wise as serpents to the evil around us is a good thing.

A couple weeks ago I preached a sermon on intimacy with God and one of my sub points was about the Hebrew’s understood knowing and knowledge. For them it wasn’t just an intellectual fact retrieving knowledge but an intimate and personal encounter with the object of their knowing. No wonder we don’t want to partake of the knowledge of evil. And Agnes’ comment about the pain of the results of having that kind of knowledge in us is helpful. Wonderful.

But then:

It will be possible for one who daily receives from God his spiritual sustenance to live without illness or decay for a longer and longer period of time.

Chapter IX Being the Lord’s Instrument for the Healing of the Sick

Agnes has talked of this before in our posture of praying for others, but somehow I am hearing it for the first time:

Forgetting the heart, I fixed my mind upon the presence of Our Lord and invited Him to enter and use me.

How often is that the way I pray? I often concentrate on the one being prayed for and attempting to hear God’s direction as to how to pray. But the preparation described by her seems good and right. Start by concentrating on the presence of the Lord.

But if God had wanted him to live, why wouldn’t He heal him without a healer?” some people ask. God wants us to have electric lights. But He will not put them in a house without an electrician. God has graciously endowed us with the dignity of free will.

When addressing the fact that some who are healed and then gradually lose the joy of knowing Jesus, she attributes it to giving back. Those who continue in the joy and love of Jesus are those who gave back to God and to her. Those who did not continue in joy are those who never give back. She takes “As you give, so shall you receive” and makes it “As you have received, so shall you give.” I am not to sure of this logical reversal. She calls it a law of God that must operate in this world yet she makes: “If you speed, you will go to jail” into “If you go to jail, you will speed.” This can easily lead to a doctrine of works. I have received and therefore I must give back.  It is very different from “Freely you have received; freely give.” Jesus emphasizes the word “freely” by using it twice.

It is not necessary to “be a healer.” It is only necessary to learn to pray for others as effectively as we do for ourselves. … I present first a simple human way of becoming a receiving and transmitting center for love-healing by the laying on of hands.

Chapter X – Further Hints on Healing

I love this bit of instruction and wish that all who hear from God and pray for others to be healed would practice these simple disciplines:

the ominous phrase, “I feel that it is my duty to tell you this.” Neither will we say, “God told me to come to see you.” Maybe He did, but it is most unwise to mention it.

If guided to go to a stranger, we are forced to state the purpose of our call immediately. “I heard your husband was very sick,” we can say. “And I came because I think I can help you.”

Having entered the door, let us not hasten to instruct. Rather, let us quiet ourselves and prepare to listen with the deep comprehension of the one who loves

Often as I sit and listen with keen and loving attention to a tale of woe I pray, “Oh God, please make her say the thing that will lead me into her mind.”

And I go into that door and make myself a part of that problem, no matter how trivial or sordid it may be. I do not stay on the outside and offer sage advice.

“You mustn’t think like that” may be helpful for a third or fourth visit, but it is almost sure to be wrong for the first.

“I surround myself with the protection of Almighty God and in the name of Jesus Christ I say that nothing shall get through to hurt me.

Thus we can enter into the patient’s sorrow with a deep serenity, holding the doors of the mind open always for joy. We grieve with the patient because we love him and so his sorrows are ours.

Yet we rejoice because we know that God through us is mighty to lead him out of sorrow into joy.

How many lives and minds would be saved if only Christians knew that in dealing with the mentally ill, one does not appeal to their reason!

I laid my hands upon her head and communed in my mind with the Father of this child and with His greatest representative among men, my friend Jesus. When I felt His presence without and His authority within, I said loudly and firmly, “In the name of Jesus Christ I direct and order that from this time forth, this child shall never again be afraid at night.”

She doesn’t talk a lot about healing mental illness. But it appears as if she has some experience attempting it.

This is not as easy as it sounds. For in order to make the sick mind well the healer must believe unfalteringly that it will be well.

it is much easier to heal the body than to heal the mind.

How many times have I done this!

A natural impulse when God first sends His “electricity” through our hands is to attach too much importance to this outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

I found myself at one time watching eagerly for this new current of life that flowed through me, feeling disappointed if it did not come and pleased if it did. This distracted my attention from God and focused it on myself.

The essence of all healing is to become so immersed in the Being of God that one forgets oneself entirely

Sometimes the sudden increase of life in the afflicted part causes temporarily an increase of pain, either at that moment or a few hours later

Chapter XI – The Healing of Emotions

This warning is useful but is outside my experience base:

[there is ] a danger in spiritual healing—the danger of becoming either emotionally sterile or emotionally unstable.

This simple practice is useful both for us and for those we pray for with damaged emotions:

rooting and grounding of the emotions in the ordinary, human love of Jesus Christ, expressed through the normal channels of everyday life.

This is a profound truth that again, I either forgot, or it is truly a new insight:

Acts and words can be directly commanded and controlled. We can decide what we are going to say and what we are going to do, but we cannot always decide how we are going to feel.

emotions are not under the direct control of our wills.

I love this idea that we can control our actions and our words but we cannot always control our emotions.

We have practiced and taught this next truth for years. She presents a reason to pray in teams:

[Practicing healing alone can close] our eyes to those lingering faults of our human nature that lie deep in the subconscious.

She believes that the regular practice of confession is a path towards healing emotions. Here are her simple steps towards that end.

Choose the same time and the same place every day for an act of preparation for confession

Relax and lift the mind into the presence of God, and do so with a pencil and paper in the hand. Then divide one’s life into seven periods.

Ask the Holy Spirit of God to bring into the remembrance any unforgiven sins (or any uncomfortable memories as we would probably call them) from these years that still linger in the subconscious.

Write down these sins as they come to mind. Write them down simply, briefly, without using names or mentioning circumstances or any kind of alibis. Having done this, set aside the paper and forget the whole matter until the next day.

On the next day at the same time and the same place take the second period of one’s life and do the same thing. And so on through the seven days.

I am not sure about the same time and place – but I have begun this process but have not finished it yet. I think it is worthwhile.

She describes how she did this and then brought this before a priest who forgave her in the name of the church and offered absolution. She felt nothing until she started home. Then she experienced the Holy Spirit’s washing and cleansing. She knew that Jesus loved her and forgave her.

Through the confessional my heart caught on fire. Its dullness and boredom was burned away, its coldness was turned to warmth, its pride was melted into humility

I had to believe that God had the power and the will to heal that specific disease of that specific person through me, at that time.

Chapter XII The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Agnes returns to this central theme of her belief in healings that don’t happen:

Why did not every Christian who repented on his own knees show forth the results in a life of power? For the same reason that every Christian who believes in God does not receive healing—lack of faith.

In this chapter she continues her treatise on the power of forgiveness – some through the confessional some metaphysically. We are to discern what to use with each.

When looking to pray for healing and forgiveness she offers these two ways:

the way of affirmation and of power and the way of repentance and humility… For the law of rhythm, of balance, holds throughout the universe

We are to balance these two ways of dealing with healing and forgiveness. Throughout this she is demonstrating the need to be attuned horizontally and vertically when praying for people for forgiveness or for healing. Again, something that we practice and have taught.

Chapter XIII Intercession: Healing from a Distance

Agnes brings up something that I believe but rarely practice. We pray at a distance for healing but rarely to invoke the forgiving power that Jesus gave us at a distance. Some of us are okay with hearing a confession and offering absolution when in the presence of the person. But at a distance?

This law [of forgiveness of sins] will work at a distance as well as in the presence of the sick person. But the method of intercession is much more difficult than healing at the bedside of the sick.

In this chapter she reiterates something we teach:

The first step in intercessory prayer is to find out the will of God

Let us begin our intercessory prayer then by quieting ourselves, holding each suggested person up before the Lord and seeking for His guidance concerning our duty toward that person.

[She once was praying for a child and] asked His instructions concerning this matter. The answer was almost as clear as a voice within my mind: “Pray for him now, from this place, and he will recover.”

I prayed, and felt after the prayer that sense of peace and of release that means that the prayer-work is finished. So I knew that the child had recovered.

As we become skilled in prayer, we dare go one step further, to ask “Lord, will he recover?” and then face the answer.

Here again is her explanation of why all are not healed when it is God’s perfect will. We depart ways on this but she at least addresses the possibility.

God’s perfect will for this His child is life, as it is always life. But His infinite wisdom knows that the sum of the skill of the doctors, the faith of the patient and my own spiritual development is such that in this life His will is not to be completed.

Here again she reiterates some simple steps towards intercessory prayer which I find helpful:

the first step in intercessory prayer is to quiet ourselves before God and with His guidance to choose our path, fearing not to follow it wherever it may lead.

The second step is to contact the power that heals and fill ourselves full of it. Love is the healer. In order to fill ourselves with His whole Being, let us think of Him, imagining His presence, seeing Him with the eyes of the mind, trying to love Him with the heart

Let us ask Him to enter into our spirits and fill us with His own consciousness of the Fatherhood of God; to enter into our minds and think within us His own thoughts; to enter into our hearts and feel through us His own love.

Let us beseech Him to come and dwell within us. Let us ask Him to enter into our spirits and fill us with His own consciousness of the Fatherhood of God; to enter into our minds and think within us His own thoughts; to enter into our hearts and feel through us His own love.

This insight is again powerful sounding and new to me. I cannot speak to how valid it is:

And the success of our prayer depends as much on the depth of our love to man as on the height of our love to God

Those in convents and monasteries … have learned to rise into God, but they have not learned to sink again into man. They reach a high state of religious contemplation and there they stay.

Then if we would help man through intercession, we must hold God by one hand and man by the other hand, never separating ourselves either from the love of God or from the love of man.

I like this quote she offers:

Thomas Kelly says, “First He takes the world out of our hearts, so that we can give our hearts to Him. Then He puts the world back into our hearts, so that we can give Him to the world

Chapter XIV Two or Three Gathered Together

This chapter is devoted to praying together for others:

These are different from the fact finding step that John Wimber taught and that I have believed:

For the one who would send forth health must think health and nothing else. If he would inquire of the patient’s symptoms let him do so at some other time, and not turn the hour of prayer into a gossip circle.

If we can see Christ, and Him self-given for the patient, and then see the patient well, healed by the love of Christ, we will be sending forth a pure stream of that love

I saw my wife shrink back from praying for others during a season when our own daughter was chronically ill for 3 years. But I am not sure that this is a valid prohibition. If this was true, I would never intercede. I love the scene from Season 3 of The Chosen where little James is a cripple and yet one of Jesus disciples. The issue that Jesus healed others and not him has obviously not escaped his notice. But when Jesus sends him out with the 12 to heal, little James has to address the issue with Jesus. Basically, Jesus told him that it would be even more powerful for the people to see one cripple heal another.

One should not attempt any work of intercession while in the grip of his own pain. Let him first rise above his own illness and then he can see clearly the wholeness of another.

This is a curious statement for me since the miraculous healings that I saw with Barbara my wife were cancer and arthritis. Even now, my arthritis in my knee has improved through prayer.

Organic diseases, such as cancer and arthritis, are naturally much more difficult than functional diseases. Nevertheless they are sometimes healed.

I like her reasoned answer about concentrating our prayers on our family when there is so much need outside our family.

No mother would refuse to feed her child because she could not at the moment feed every hungry child on earth

This chapter contains a number of stories of healing and protection.

She then lays out some simple steps for praying for protection:

How can one set in motion this protective force and so respond to the prayer-requests of those in danger?

First, let us be still and know that He is God. He is from everlasting to everlasting,

Let us know also that He is love, and that He has made us of Himself and for Himself.

Here is a broad claim that I cannot support:

We must keep this clearly within our minds, for if we once accept death through man’s hate as God’s will for anyone, we lose the power to protect a single one in prayer.

This stems from her belief that death is never God’s will for anyone.

Chapter XV For the Healing of the World

I haven’t said much about the terminology that Agnes uses that I amEarth uncomfortable with but here is one:

Our thought-vibrations are not limited by time or space. The sorrow of a nation is the sorrow of the world, for it creates in the air a thought-vibration of sorrow.

I am not convinced there are actually thought-vibrations that spread sorrow throughout the world. She uses this phrase nine times in the book and doesn’t really explain it. She approaches it as if it is not just a metaphorical description of world views and attitudes of people. But as if it really is some physical thing that happens.  If she means that our thoughts can be transmitted mediated through the Holy Spirit I believe that. But I think she really believes that they are physical. She thinks that we can transmit love and healing in the same way. Lord teach me if there is some reality You wish to teach me concerning this.

This chapter is all about the Biblically sound idea that our prayers are not to just be offered for those we know but the whole world. Certainly Paul and Jesus modeled this. Jesus, use this chapter to make this more of a reality in my life.

How can we pray for the immense needs that are scattered across the globe. Agnes offers some good suggestions for approaching the overwhelming needs of the whole world through prayer:

My own answer to this is to simplify my prayer-objectives; to choose only a few objects for prayer at a time and to make them plain, concise and concrete

In other words, if we are going to pray effectively for the world or a sick friend or one in danger or anything else, we must believe that the thing for which we pray is at that moment being accomplished.

So our first step in world prayer is the seeking of guidance. “Lord, for what or for whom shall I pray at this time so as to further the coming of Thy kingdom?”

Pray for people not just vague nations . Once God has revealed some leaders or people in these nations,

One by one we bless these leaders of nations, hold them up into the light of God’s love and send the love of Christ into their minds.

She encourages us to do this in groups – not individually

The ones we pray for healing are normally open to the healing – but the leaders of the world are usually closed minded. …But how can we direct this great flow of life into a closed mind? By repenting not only of our own sins but of the sins of the world. … And by taking that one to the cross of Christ and there receiving for him forgiveness, healing and life.

This suggested method of prayer for the world, then consists of two parts: first, simplifying our prayer-objectives, and second, praying for the world in the sacramental as well as in the metaphysical way…confessing, that is, the sins of our nation and our world, repenting for them and doing penance for them in our own name and in the name of the nation . . .and having done so, seeing by faith the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.

My Conclusions

Agnes has done a valuable service to the Kingdom of God. In her quirky way, she led the way for generations of healing ministries to apply her simple techniques and heal many. You can see her teachings being modified and worked out in the ministries of John Wimber, Francis MacNutt and Dallas Willard.

Here are the my take-aways from the book.

Scientific approachEven though she gets a lot of the science wrong, I love her attempt at using the scientific method to learn how to successfully pray for people and see them healed. It is also my experience that there is much benefit in praying for the body to do what it was made to do – heal thyself.

Prayer of CommandI am going to think of Amen from now on as a prayer of commend. So be it. Dallas Willard’s amen is sometimes: “And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Start Simple– This is an important principle that runs throughout the book. We may disagree with what is a simple project in prayer, but we agree on the KISS principle. 

The Process of PrayingI love her simple steps that she offers. But I especially like the waiting on God at the beginning of a prayer time.

Visualization of the HealingI was not taught this nor have I practiced it. We are told to expect to receive what we have asked for so I think visualizing it is a good thing and will alter my process to include this.

Focusing on God’s Presence – The strong emphasis on the pray-er being focused on the presence of God is powerful. I am changing the way I practice healing prayer based on this principle.

Prayer ProjectsI love the idea of prayer projects and have been doing it for years with pretty amazing success. This is a much undertaught methodology for prayer.

Team approach to Intercessory Prayer – This too is a much under utilized method of praying. I love the idea of starting small and focused.

Prayer for Protection This is something we learned a while ago and have taught our prayer teams how to do this. Agnes adds some additional insight to the process that I find helpful.

The Healing Power of Forgiveness – Although there was nothing new in this for me, her teaching in this area is very much needed. I am encouraged to pray at a distance the prayers of forgiveness that I have prayed in person. Though not new, I don’t practice it currently and will!

Practical Guidelines on Approaching Healing Prayer – These are very practical and well worth teaching.

[1] She says that when we try to heal just by asking, we are missing the importance of being filled with God Himself.