Divine healing has always been a significant part of the Church’s ministry. The Gospels record many healings by the Lord Jesus in the course of his earthly ministry, and he sent out his disciples to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Luke 9.2). In his final discourse with his disciples, he told them that anyone who had faith in him would do what he had been doing and even greater things (John 14.12), and we must understand that this would include a continuation of his healing ministry.
The early Church demonstrated this as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (3.1-9; 5.12-16; 19.11-12; 28.7-9).
In the Church, through the centuries to the present time, healings have taken place as a result of prayer.
The Healing Ministry in the Diocese of Armagh
• How has it developed?
The healing ministry has always been exercised whenever the Church has met together to pray for the sick, in both public worship and private gatherings, and through the visitation of the sick by the clergy. In our Church of Ireland, in the 1930’s, the Ministry of Healing was given more prominence as specific services were arranged to allow for prayer with the laying on of hands for those who would come forward for healing. Since then, most dioceses established committees to promote the healing ministry. In our own Diocese of Armagh, a committee was formed in 1972. This was at a most apposite time when the extent of civil unrest and terrorist activity was escalating, and it was then considered that a more structured diocesan healing ministry would bring comfort and encouragement to many in the parishes. The first Diocesan Healing service was held on Sunday, 10th May, 1972 in St Columba’s Church, Portadown. The response was encouraging and the Committee decided that four such services be held each year in parishes which would be prepared to host them. By the time of the fortieth anniversary of the Committee (2012), fifty-seven churches had hosted at least one Diocesan healing service, with more being added in the ensuing years. The Committee produced several leaflets outlining the biblical principles on which the healing ministry is based and how to prepare for participation in a healing service. These also were well received. Over the years the Committee organised several conferences and courses on prayer and healing.
The Church's Ministry of Healing – The Mount
For many years the Church’s Ministry of Healing at the Mount was a valued resource and a source of support and advice for our Diocesan Ministry. The healing ministry at ‘The Mount’ began in Belfast in the 1960’s and since then it has been extremely influential in encouraging healing ministries in the dioceses and many parishes of the northern Province. Its current CEO and Director of Ministry is the Revd Dr Pat Mollan. Asked how she would describe the Christian healing ministry, Dr Mollan said: “Christian healing is best defined as ‘Jesus Christ meeting me at my point of need’. Jesus heals today through the prayers of his faithful people. As humans, we exist as body, mind and spirit, and healing can take place in any or all of these areas. Healing may also be in relationship with individuals, with families or in communities. The most precious healing takes place when someone commits their life to Jesus”
(from an interview available on the CMH The Mount Website).
CMH The Mount offers an extensive healing ministry with teams for emergency prayer, intercessory prayer and one-to-one prayer which may be received (in times without Covid health restrictions) at its healing service at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, every Friday lunchtime; at The Mount (Cregagh House, 162 Upper Knockbreda Road, Belfast. BT6 9QF
– Telephone 028 9079 5832); or in parishes by invitation. Spiritual direction, counselling, mentoring and befriending are also offered with professionally trained and registered counsellors.
For more details, please visit the website: www.cmh-themount.org
On the website there is also the opportunity to view an on-line healing service from Down Cathedral, especially arranged for these times of Covid health restrictions, and providing an opportunity to join in a personal prayer for healing at a time of silence in the service.
• What is Happening Now?
In 2017 the Armagh Diocese reorganised its Boards and Committees and the Diocesan Healing Committee became part of the new Diocesan Board of Ministry. Most of the members of the Committee agreed to serve on the new Board and to continue to represent the aims of the healing ministry in the Diocese. As a result, it was decided to develop a new approach to the ministry. A power-point presentation was devised to provide an optional one-evening teaching course in parishes willing to host a healing service. The presentation was given at rural deanery meetings and was well received by the clergy, and several parishes had welcomed the new pattern of a teaching evening followed a few weeks later by a healing service. Unfortunately, government restrictions surrounding Covid-19, imposed in March 2020, prevented holding teaching evenings and healing services until further notice.
At present we are continuing with the limitations of lock-downs and strict mitigations when public worship is permitted. There is as yet no certainty when healing services, offering the laying-on of hands with prayer, will be able to resume. However, until this can happen, the Healing Ministry in the Diocese provides below:
• some prayers and reflections for personal use during the time of coronavirus - at this link
• praying for our own healing - a short form of worship - at this link
• some guidance on praying for those who are sick - at this link
It is hoped that these may be useful but please also look at the very comprehensive prayers of Intercession in
‘A Service of Wholeness and Healing’ (the Book of Common Prayer 2004, pages 459-460).