What About Prayers for Healing and Miracles Etc?
By Fred Pruitt
A brother wrote me asking whether in our union understanding did we still pray for healings, prophecy, speak against storms, etc. Here’s my reply.
Thank you for writing and I’m glad you’re finding helpful stuff with the little bit we add to the mix.
We get that question a lot, not just about gifts of the Spirit, but lots of things that start with the words or concept, “Now what is the ‘union teaching view’ on ______?”
I’ll try to give you an honest answer here. First of all, in my nearly 40 years involved with this, we’ve never had nor attempted to form “union life fellowships,” per se. Not that individuals among us haven’t formed different groups and fellowships with union reality at their center, but first of all, we’ve never been an organization or a “ministry” out to form new churches or fellowships along our line. A lot of us got our start being touched by “Union Life Ministries,” which essentially was just a magazine, published by a fellow named Bill Volkmann, started in the mid-70s after he caught the message Norman Grubb had been sharing since the 1930s. They did sponsor some weekend conferences and summer camps, with teaching sessions, etc., and by the time I came aboard in 1980-81, there were quite a few “Union Life Conferences” all over the US and even some in Canada and the UK.
There was never an intent or movement to call people out of their churches or fellowships in order to subsequently become a new denomination. It turned out that many did leave their churches, often because they were asked to do so because their union understandings often conflicted with either the local pastor’s teaching or their denominational teachings. But lots stayed in their churches, whatever they were, and many still are there.
My background began (when I was first born again in 1972) in a charismatically-influenced Episcopal church in Georgia which nurtured us (my wife and I) in fellowship for the first few months of our Christian walk.
But the Lord took us out of that after about 6 months, taking us to Monterey California to a fellowship in a Pentecostal church. I’m sure you can figure there’s a whole story there but I’ll skip that for now and try to get to the point. It was an old-fashioned Pentecostal (AG) congregation which had been more or less “invaded” by hippie Jesus-freak Christians (my crowd), brought in by their new pastor, who was a graduate of ORU and had worked in Teen Challenge. He had a burden for the youth and was quite effective as a soul-winner and he grew the church that way through the 70s.
As things went, the pastor became influenced by the then burgeoning “shepherd movement,” along with the five-fold ministries and all that stuff. We became that, eventually running into difficulty with the AG hierarchy who removed the pastor due to his “assuming a dictatorial authority over an assembly.”
Obviously they had run into that type of thing before since they already had a term for it. That caused a split between the old-timey traditional Pentecostals and us new kids, who like zombies believed every word of “Pastor” as we were told to do. So all of us left and eventually wound up renting another church building and starting a new church. (Of course, we had all the “gifts” functioning in services. I won’t elaborate because I’m sure you know what I mean.)
Eventually, in 1980, we’d had enough and the Lord took us out of there and took us back to our home in Georgia. We had arrived in Monterey in 1973 with one child, and returned with two more to Georgia in 1980. I was under great stress, however, because the oppression and condemnation was so heavy due to our departure that I was absolutely terrified that “they” might be right, that I had broken out of the will of God and no longer had His protection, may even not be saved anymore, and God might do anything, even kill our kids for our disobedience. Nobody actually said those words to us, but they had been said to others who had left and it was “understood.”
A long story made short was when, a few months later, after a bit of correspondence, I met Norman Grubb, and with one Spirit Word from him the oppression left me and my entire life was reoriented from outer focus to inner focus. It was a real bona-fide miracle, greater than any I had ever experienced in the charismatic. Suddenly I was aware, from the Spirit, how He was the instigator of His own life in me, an artesian well if you will, one that needs no pumping but is always flowing if only it is recognized (John 7:38), so that instead of going to church and basically begging God to “come down and be with us” and bless us, etc., so that I could receive a blessing or a healing, etc., everything became the opposite of that.
It became NORMAL to walk around filled, without having to do anything whatsoever to make it happen or shore it up. Previously my days were good or bad based on how “prayed-up” I was, or by how many times I witnessed or how hard I praised, or how much Bible I read, etc. That entire way of thinking left me and has never come back in all these years, except here and there as temptation. The sense that I was ALWAYS in the Presence became my every day reality because that was God’s desire, not mine, and finally once I saw that “I” was not the one who made it happen by all those activities, I entered into the “rest for the people of God,” where we cease from our own works, as God did from His. (Heb 4:9,10). I had always read that passage as happening on the other side. How GLORIOUS it was, and still is, that I discovered it to be on THIS side.
Gal 2:20 began to be central to me, and everyday the sense of it grew, where for many many days I would say, “Not I but Christ,” “Not I but Christ,” until eventually I stopped repeating it because it became an unconscious consciousness in me that He and I are one, that “the Father that dwelleth in me doeth the works,” and “The Son does nothing of Himself, but what the Father does, the Son does,” (my paraphrase but I think entirely within the meaning of the passage). It simply was in me as an ever present reality in which I walk every moment. Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17: 11, 20-23, that we would live in the same “oneness” in which He lived with the Father, and I have taken it to be so by faith and have found it to be so in daily life.
So then, your questions about the gifts. We’re free! I’ve never lost the gift of tongues, but it’s private to me and not something I talk too much about. As far as prophecy, there isn’t much “Thus saith the Lord” with a King James style oration afterward (which I used to do frequently in the Pentecostal church) but prophecy in the sense of simply speaking by the Spirit in “ministry” situations as “normal” to me. As far as healing, it’s not too stressed among us but plenty of times we’ve laid hands on folks and prayed for healing and other things. Again, since we have no formal “union life groups,” things happen differently among the different fellowships we visit from time to time.
We don’t stress those things because they’re not our message to stress. Not that they’re untrue, just that we stick to what the Lord has given to us to stress — that we are living expressions of Christ in our human form, which is something we grow into in our awareness over the years. As Paul told the Galatians, that he labored in birth pains until Christ was “formed” in them. And what he meant was, he longed that Christ would be formed in their inner consciousness of who they were — that we are not JUST human beings alone relating to a separate God who gives us stuff, like love, wisdom, joy, peace, strength, etc. (Even if we believe He lives in us most of us still see Him as separate from us — maybe in a separate compartment somewhere inside us as I used to think, and the trick was [still my old thinking] was how to get Him to come out of His compartment inside me and do the stuff I needed.)
No, it was to realize that Jesus’ main word, again in John 17, was verse 3, “That they might KNOW thee, the true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou sent.” The word KNOW is the key. It’s the same “KNOW” when Genesis says Adam “knew” Eve, his wife. As the saying goes, “They knew each other in the Biblical sense.” Even folks that don’t know scripture know what that means. It means they were joined sexually. They were together “as one flesh.” Two becoming one. That word is intentionally used to bring out the same meaning in the spirit — two joined together as one — as the flesh meaning. (1 Cor 6:17) Both meanings may produce a child. A flesh child, an offspring of the male and female. Or in the spirit, the offspring of the union with the Spirit of God within us with our human spirit, is the new man, Christ in us. It’s not “just Christ,” nor is it “just us,” now with Christ’s attributes, but Christ in us as one with us, making one new creation. The new you and me!
A lot of the charismatic stuff to me is still with separated “get God to do stuff” thinking, a “need” mentality. It doesn’t have to be that, but in my experience with introducing this in that environment, one would think that the folks who most stress the baptism in the Holy Spirit would catch this more readily than the others, but that hasn’t been the case. People are enamored with and want to see “signs, wonders and miracles,” which is fine, I have no opposition to them, but at the same time, it seems to me that lots of folks get stuck there and don’t move on to deeper things. (Or who knows, they might be the “deeper folks,” and I’m missing out, but I just know I’ve got to stick with what the Father has given me and told me to give to others!)
Even so, that’s all God’s business and I love all and fellowship with all who love Jesus, accepting them where they are as where God means them to be at the moment, as Paul advised in that whole blessed chapter of Romans 14, and again Jesus’ word to Peter in John 21 when Peter asked what John would do, and Jesus replied, “What is that to thee? Follow thou ME!” (John 21:21-22).
I hope this sheds some light. Write again if you will!