© 2018 Christy K Robinson
Whether it's holding hands, massage, reiki, prayerful anointing (laying on of hands), acupressure, or another form of therapeutic healing, touch can be either a dramatic or subtle healing tool. The act of caressing a dog or cat can lower our blood pressure and heart rate.
Many of us have seen videos of faith healing services with some notorious evangelist breathing on cloths, and smacking people on their forehead, or telling people their amalgam dental fillings have turned to gold as evidence of healing. The miracle healer struts around and hollers at God and the devil, and either the gullible are persuaded they're cured, or the hired actors walk away from their mobility aids.
But miraculous healing does occur daily around the world, and cancer goes into remission. People who were clinically dead for a few minutes or an hour rise again, alive. Doctors and scientists say they were baffled that the tumor which had been terminal just disappeared, or the person with no heartbeat comes back to normal rhythm. And people whose child had been near death with a fever believe in the power of prayer because their child survived.
Miracles, by their nature, are a surprise. But there are occasions when we can bring on a degree of healing or recovery, by our actions (living a healthier lifestyle, seeking medical intervention, surgery, a drug regimen, physical therapy), or by prayer. The recipient wants and needs change, whether or not they believe in God. The skin contact from touching the sick person, especially while praying, helps the spirit help the body.
And it's not only other humans. When my cat was 9 years old, she had a three-year vaccination administered to her, and a few days later became very ill. The emergency vet gave her fluids and a blood test, and said she probably had pancreatitis, which can be very painful, and can lead to cancer. My cat wouldn't accept the expensive pain meds I was supposed to rub on her gums. So I laid both hands on her and prayed that God would heal her. He did.
In the book of Isaiah, we learn that by the stripes laid on Jesus, we are healed. Whether healed from disease, injury, or the sinful condition, that's up to God.
When my mom was so ill with lung disease or internally injured from the side effects of so many drugs she took to stay alive, I'd lay hands on her arm, shoulders, or back and pray for her, and she said she felt better. She's been gone more than 25 years, but I don't regret the time I spent with her when she needed me, nor was I embarrassed by her request. There was no miraculous cure wrought by my prayer or my touch, but the fact that it was a touch of love was enough to give her a sense of well-being. And since both of us were Christian believers, we believed that God was present and providing a measure of relief and comfort.
There were several times when I spent the night at my mother's hospital bed, holding her hand and reading the Bible aloud to her. When she recovered, she said she'd heard me and loved it. The night before she died, I didn't get a verbal response from her, and her monitors didn't register a change, but there was a supernatural connection between us that I am convinced was comfort from the Holy Spirit given to both of us.
While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Luke 4:40
Jesus broke tradition and even the health laws of the Old Testament, and touched the untouchable and the unclean: the lepers and those with contagious skin disease, the woman who had been menstrually bleeding for 12 years, the dead daughter of Jairus, the immoral woman who washed and anointed his feet, foreigners and Gentiles, the demon-possessed, the blind beggar, and countless others not recorded. He even went out of his way to search out those who felt unworthy. Granted, that was Jesus--the Creator, the Son of God--healing people.
But he gave that power to his disciples when he sent them on short missionary trips. And he promised that when he returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come to us, and work greater miracles through us than he had through Jesus!
I don't claim the gift of healing, but neither would I turn away a gift of the Spirit.
Nigel Barber, PhD, in a Psychology Today article called Faith Healing Shouldn't Work, but it Does," writes that
"It is always hard to make much sense of such anecdotal phenomena to the satisfaction of scientists but faith healing seems to evoke a placebo effect, not unlike the use of drugs to treat people who are mildly depressed (and therefore experience no true pharmacological response to the medicine). ... Social pressure might also be a factor as we feel pressure to believe in the cure after the manner of The Emperor's New Clothes."As a Christian, I believe that healing comes from God, sometimes miraculously and instantaneously, sometimes over the long term, and sometimes we see no change, and continue to suffer and die, and then are resurrected to eternal life.
But I also believe that the power of touch is real, no matter what your belief system is. Touch may be a placebo effect, or a belief in love, or a supernatural spiritual gift, but yes, it's powerful to the person being touched. It's a mantle of peace settling down over the shoulders.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11