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When I first started out in healing, I expected to go to the hospital and heal everybody in the hospital. I went with a team of more experienced people. We went through the hospital, but things did not work out the way I expected. First, nine tenths of the people we approached did not want prayer, and you cannot force it on them. Then for the tenth who accepted prayer--nothing noticeable seemed to happen. No crippled people got up, none of the cancer patients left the ward. So what happened to my expectations? I told myself, "Well, God does not really heal the sick in hospitals." I decided to try it at the service in church, hoping it would be easier there. But my faith for healing had dropped a couple of pegs. That happens to a lot of us and it is ok. As long as we keep praying for the sick and don't give up, we will eventually see results. But why set ourselves up for disappointment by aiming unreasonably high?
Part of the reason I failed at the hospital is because I set my expectations wrong in the beginning. When we start out in healing, we are like a little child in first grade math. I should have been working on addition and subtraction, but I expected to do advanced calculus.
We need to learn to start at the beginning with little things. When people start by praying for the really big things that they do not have the faith to pray for, their experience goes down; then their faith goes down the expectations goes down and they are on that downward spiral.
We need to use what I call the 'mustard seed' principle. Jesus talked about the mustard seed In Mark 4:31-32. He said it was a little teeny seed that grows into a great big plant fast. That is how it is moving in the gifts. You have to start with a something small and allow it to grow. It will grow quickly, it will grow powerfully, but you have to start at the beginning and let it grow.
There is a baseline that we can start at. If we have unreasonable expectations, we are now going to change our expectations to say, "I am going to start at the beginning, just like Jesus was born a baby and I am going to grow into it."
Think of faith as something that grows over time and gets taller as it grows. When we first start out and don't have a lot of faith for healing, I call that "ankle level." As we grow in faith and begin to believe God to heal slightly "bigger" things through us personally, our faith level grows to "knee level," then later to "hip deep," and so on.
When I first start out, I only had "ankle level" faith Things like healing cancer usually require something along the lines of "chest level" or "shoulder level" faith. My faith has grown over time and is maybe "waist level." I have seen God heal cancer in some people, but many of the people who I pray for with cancer don't get healed. There is going to be a day that I am going to be able to walk into a cancer ward and bring some people out with me. But right now, I am going to look for the people who have little things that right now my "waste level" faith can handle.
That is how to do it. When you have "ankle level faith," look for people with "ankle level" infirmities; e. g., infirmities that are somewhere in the range of my current faith. Pray for those people. They won't all get healed, but maybe half of them will. Guess what happens to your faith? It moves up to "knee level" and allows you to start praying effectively for bigger things.
The principle is this: as I keep praying, I keep seeing healing, my faith goes up and now I can pray for bigger things. That makes my faith level goes up.
When I first started praying for the sick, I saw a lot of backaches; I saw a lot of flu and colds and headaches. I was pretty good at seeing God heal things like sinus headaches, but I did not have very good results with the people who had chronic migraines.
I remember, I was taking a healing class at Fuller Theological Seminary, and our homework assignment was to pray for three sick people and report on whether or not God healed them. I thought, "Thank God the assignment was not to actually heal them, but just to pray." Before my first class meeting, I went to an early morning prayer meeting at a local church. I did not know anyone there, but I noticed a lady who was just sniffling away. She had a very bad cold and sinus headache. I figured, "well if this person probably wants to be better. So I asked her if I could pray for her. She said, "Sure."
I did not expect God to do anything. I had to pray, it was my assignment right? So, I prayed for her and she said, "Oh, I feel better!" I said, "Are you just saying that to make me feel good?" And, she said, "No really, I feel better. Look, I am not sniffling anymore"
She got healed, how about that! So I tried praying for other people who had little things that needed healing. I cannot remember what the problems were, but they were all little things. All three of my people got healed What do you think that did to my expectation? I thought, "Hey, God really does this stuff!"
Then I almost talked myself out of this new burst of faith for healing. I told myself, it only happened because I am a student of Peter Wagner's class, and it won't sustain after the class is over.
So, after the class was over and my assignment was turned in, I had to test it out again. I found someone with another little thing that needed healing. Guess what? They got healed too! A person watched me pray for that little healing and came up to me. They said, "I have got this compressed disk and the doctor wants to operate and I am supposed to go in for surgery tomorrow. I am really having second thoughts about it, would you pray for me?" I wanted to pass on that, because compressed disks sounded a lot harder than headaches or the flu. But God had nudged me to step out at a slightly higher level once I began to believe that He would really heal the little things. So I prayed for them and their back was healed! They called their doctor on the phone and cancelled the scheduled surgery.
My faith jumped up a level and I found that I could believe for more than just the little things. So I started praying for some harder things, and to my delight, God healed those as well.
If I had started with those "harder things" instead of building faith with little things, I probably would not have seen any results at all because I would not have had faith to sustain my prayer. I discovered that God healed things like slipped disks and chronic back problems. So I started looking for everybody with a back problem. "Do you have a back problem? Oh good, well, let me pray for you." About one third of them were healed, two-thirds weren't. But a third was healed! Not everyone was healed, but I saw that real healing was happening. So my expectations went up and my faith grew.
Jesus wants us to grow into higher and higher levels of faith. No matter what level we are at, we can keep growing until we can say things like, "Cancer, oh yeah, that is no problem for God," and see healing in more than half of the people we pray for..
There was a time when I would have never dreamed of a blind person getter their sight back when I pray for them. But now it is not so unusual for blind people to see again. I would say that about 20 to 25% of the blind people who I pray for get their vision back. Yeah, I know that is no where near 100%--but think of it as roughly one out five blind people have their eyes opened. That is exciting for me!
Some of the people at my church have learned a secret--the more we practice praying for "big healings," the more of them we will see. Here is an example from a couple of years ago. A lady came to our church who was deaf. We were supposed to be doing prophetic ministry, but some of the people the prophetic ministry team also pray for the sick. They flocked around her to pray for her healing. It was like "No, no let me be the one to pray."
They want to practice on these people who need big healings, and so do I. Why? Because we know that there is one out of four chances that God is going to heal them and we want to be the one who is praying when it happens. We want to see God heal the people because it blesses them, but also because seeing the miracle raises our faith level for even greater things.
Do you remember the story of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law? He went to an area He really had not been in before. People did not know Who He was or what He could do. They did not have faith to make healing demands of Him. So Jesus went to Peter's house where Peter's mother-in-law was sick, and Jesus healed her. She got up and served Him.
That is a great blessing for Peter's family, but the ramifications of that healing were wider spread than just Peter's household. The word out. People heard how He healed her; and they mobbed Peter's place hoping that they could get healed too. That one healing caused the city's expectation to change. People started coming to Jesus for healings, and He healed all these people.
What Jesus did with Peter's mother-in-law was called "seed faith." He gave one healing for free (no faith required) to build the faith to build the expectation of those in her city. Then He healed the others because they came to Him expecting a healing. He does that sometimes. He bypasses faith and gives a miracle that makes people's faith grow.
There will be times when He will put you in a situation and you will think nothing's going to happen but you pray anyhow, and you will see a miracle.