Fibromyalgia – chronic pain and other symptoms that can be so debilitating – not a diagnosis that you ever want to hear. Why? Because modern medicine is not sure about the cause, or causes, and less so about any cure. It is almost a “mystery illness”. For years doctors thought it was “all in a person’s mind” because they were at a loss to understand it. Some researchers refer to it as a “syndrome”, with its symptomology and impact on a person’s health quite variable. The goal of treatments is to manage the pain – often with medications. Oddly enough, antidepressants are sometimes prescribed. Therapy, stress management, pain killers, acupuncture and more are sometimes part of a treatment plan.
Kristin (not her real name), a professional therapist, was suffering from fibromyalgia and then atypical migraines which were getting worse. She came for healing prayer to my prayer team. This is her story:
“It has been five years since I re-dedicated my life to Christ. In those five years, God has graced me with deep healing that flows from his love for me and his promise to bring me into wholeness in the perfect plan He has for my life. As God healed layer after layer of past wounds, I have found an ever-increasing freedom, a deep peace within and an abundance of joy! Through the revelations given to me by God and praying into these revelations, what was once pain, despair and brokenness became filled with the joy, love peace that can only come from the healing power of Jesus Christ.
As a therapist in the psychology profession, I knew all of the various theories of well-being and healing and how to apply them. And while this promoted an intellectual understanding of my pain and some degree of healing and increased coping, the application of theory and counseling did not heal the deep inner needs of my heart. But Jesus did.
I believe that wounds of the soul can crush the spirit, burden the body and cause illness to arise. While I was rejoicing in my newfound freedoms and my increasing intimacy with God, I began to experience intense headaches. While I have fibromyalgia and am no stranger to chronic pain, these headaches were different. They became more and more debilitating and soon they were diagnosed as atypical migraines. Along with the intense pain, came an aura that included vomiting, momentary paralysis of the left side of my body and seizure activity, which required brief hospitalization. The intervals of these attacks became more frequent and the pain more chronic. A CAT scan was clear, but I was then scheduled for an MRI to rule out possible brain tumors.
Without several Tylenol #3 per day, I was unable to carry out my daily activities. There were countless days and nights when I could only lay in the dark and cry out to Jesus. As always, He was faithful and I would find a reprieve, not always from the pain, but in the incredible peace of the Holy Spirit. I felt buoyed up, as if floating on a vast sea of the softest pillows. I would feel his perfect love envelop me and I could rest assured that He knew my needs.
In the middle of a nine-day bout of migraine activity, I sensed that God was going to deliver me from this condition. The morning that my healing prayer was scheduled, God quickened some verses of scripture to my thoughts. In Psalm 41 I read, “The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” As I read further, verse 9 read, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” I saw a vision of the family member who had sexually abused me and those who had betrayed me by denying the abuse. I felt a very strong sense that my migraines were rooted in the betrayal I had experienced from family members.
Though confronted with the abuse many years ago, the offender and other members of my family either denied the abuse, or were unaware of its occurrence. As part of my healing a few years ago, God had led me through a process of breaking the secret, bringing it from darkness into light. Despite my terror and my desire to protect my family, I disclosed the secret to all the members. Despite a mixed reaction, the Lord was with me and I experienced a release in my spirit. With this newfound freedom, God brought a deep healing into many areas of my life. Yet, I also knew at a deeper level that I feared to delve any further into the pain of my family’s responses. Yet, it was no coincidence that within three months of disclosing the family secret and facing betrayal all over again, that my migraines began.
In healing prayer, God revealed to me my broken heart from this betrayal. God knew, better than I ever could, that my spirit had been crushed by the weight of this burden. God took me to the depths of the feelings I had tried to bury deep, the pain I had tried to numb. I was so very tired of carrying this burden. In those moments of healing prayer, God revealed feelings I had long ago lost connection with. And as I wept, all of those feelings, thoughts and desires came tumbling out. God showed me that I wanted to be released emotionally from the burden that my family had become. And that is exactly the gift God gave me.
My healing prayer partners prayed for deliverance and healing from those roots of betrayal. And I did my part of repenting for any sins of unforgiveness towards those who had so deeply hurt me. We asked God’s blessings upon the Godly family ties that I may experience more love from those bonds that were strong, healthy and loving. We then prayed for the physical healing of the migraines and all other illnesses caused by this root. I suddenly felt the burden lift off me, as if a heavy pressing yoke had been removed from my neck and shoulders and an anvil lifted off my heart. Suddenly, what was once the burden was far removed, “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103) and in its place was a sense of indescribable lightness. My feet, my soul, my heart, my spirit were leaping with joyful abandonment, yet I had never left my sitting position of prayer. I was dancing with Jesus! And I knew with absolute certainty, with every fiber of my being, that God released me from the chains that had bound me emotionally to that betrayal. And with the breaking of those chains, I was set free from every illness that came with them!
I have been migraine free for going on five months. I have also experienced significantly less pain from my fibromyalgia. Its effects on my everyday life have been dramatically reduced. As each day passes, I am aware of less and less pain. I also have His perfect peace that I will be healed one day of this condition as well, in His perfect timing. It also became clear with that same healing prayer that the tightness in my chest and the frequent inability to catch my breath also left me that day. I was diagnosed with asthma four years ago and used a Ventalin inhaler. I have not needed that inhaler since that day I no longer carry it with me. In fact, at this moment, I don’t even know where it is! God really does bring freedom from illness and its burdens! Jesus is the ultimate healer!”
That was a remarkable healing prayer session, and we all rejoiced with her in the healing that came, especially as she reported back to us after the session. There are a number of elements of the ministry of healing and transforming prayer, which we practise in our ministry, that are quite evident in Kristin’s story.
First, we must pray for and with the whole person – body, soul and spirit, as one integrated being. Psychosomatic medicine has many examples of how stress or relational issues, among other factors, can cause chronic illnesses. We see in Kristin’s story how relational issues were the root cause of so much of her suffering. Any other approach leads to biological and / or psychological reductionism. Second, we don’t know the causes and need not spend time trying to “figure it out”. The Spirit already revealed some things to Kristin, and more were revealed during the session. The goal is not symptom management, but instead, healing and relief. Third, Jesus’ presence was central and indispensable. Jesus is both the “Therapist and the Therapy”. It is great to know the cause or causes, but how to receive the healing and transformation? Jesus does this uniquely for each person. Fourth, every person’s story and history is unique, you cannot fit anyone into a “diagnostic box”. Thus any system or method will be inadequate and maybe even cause its own problems. Kristin, as a therapist who knew all the counselling theories and systems, made that clear from her experience. I have stated at conferences that we do not follow any techniques or a system – it always about a Presence. If we follow any steps, we only follow the steps of Jesus as he actually leads the prayer session. For myself and our teams, it is always like “I wonder what Jesus will do this time for this precious child of his?”