Wonderful news. My back has been healed.

Wait. Shelf that. I need to back up.

The moment I proclaim victory over something is the moment it usually comes back with a ferocious force and undermines (to say the least) my victory procession. I remember when I prayed for my sister Angie when she was fighting the war of her depression. It was a very particular time when hope was all but gone. The ultimate defeat seemed immanent. My other sister called me and asked me to pray. I paused on Lebanon Rd., just before I got to HWY 720, and prayed with all my heart that God would heal her. A little bit later I got a call saying that Angie suddenly “snapped out of it.” Excited beyond belief, I immediately asked when this changed occurred. I wanted the exact time, to coordinate it with my prayer on Lebonon. As it turned out, the “snap” came at the exact moment I prayed. Victory in the Lord! Praise God! So be it. Amen. These were all my thoughts as I began to spread the good news about the miracle God pulled off just in the nick of time. However, my excitement was short lived as Angie “snapped” back into it about an hour later. Some spiritual humiliation and embarrassment (spiritual mud in my face?) overwhelmed me as I had to tell all those that I had asked to join our victory dance to stop dancing. Eventually (a few months later), as many of you know, the depression took my sister’s life.

I could tell you a couple more stories exactly like that. That is why I am very tentative about my proclamations of victory. I don’t assume things upon the Lord and am very timid about reading too much into my experiences.

As most of you know, I am not charismatic. What I mean by this is that I don’t believe the supernatural gifts (sometimes called “sign” gifts) of the Spirit are continuing, normative, or should be expected (all three extremely important words). You know, gifts such as tongues, miracles, healings, and the like. As I have argued before, I don’t necessarily have any theological bias against them, I just think that ecclesiastical and personal experience says that they are not normative. As well, most of you know that I have been discussing this with my friend Sam Storms, who is a committed charismatic. Over the last year, we have been in dialogue about this issue. Our dialogue has been published both here on this blog and on the Theology Unplugged Podcast. I have been seeking God during this time, trying to be open to change. In fact, I want to change. I often tell people that I am the most want-to-be-charismatic non-charismatic that they will ever meet. And I am serious about this.

Now to my back. In 2005 I discovered that I had significant disc issues. An MRI revealed “Severe Degenerative Disc Disease.” Since 2005, the pain has become increasingly constant and debilitating. Those of you who have back issues know what I am talking about. For the last seven years, I have been to doctor after doctor, trying medicine after medicine, exercise after exercise, and hope after hope. I could not begin to tell you the number of people who have had “the” solution that I just had not tried yet. Nothing has worked with any degree of significance. The pain is there every day. Some days I am more functional than others, but for the most part, for the last few years, I have had to learn to live with radiating pain down my left leg; it has become a chronic butcher to my soul. I have been functional, yes, but you need to know this back story in order to know my back story.

In October, I wrote about a guy who tried to heal my back. He, along with his friend, overheard me complaining about my back at the Credo House. They, with great seriousness and gentleness, asked if they could lay hands on my back and pray for it. Open to charismatic gifts or not, who would refuse such an offer? “Of course, and thank you!” was my response. These two guys were both charismatic and had high expectations. Remember, this is often a criteria of being charismatic—you must expect God to heal. After they had finished their prayer, the pain was still radiating down my leg. In fact, it was worse as I had to stand in one place while they prayed for me (it is very difficult for me to stand in one place). They asked me after the prayer, “Did anything change?” I was heartbroken to be the bearer of bad news. I even thought about lying and just saying that it helped a little. Finally, I responded, “No…But thank you so much for praying for my back.” I then used this illustration as fodder for a blog post to show the “spiritual let-down” I see in the face of so many well-meaning charismatics who want so badly to be used of God to accomplish miraculous feats (well, maybe “fodder” is not the best use of the term).

Here is what I have not told you: About three weeks after this attempted healing, I saw the same guy at Credo studying. He is a regular. As I was walking back to my office, he stood up and asked how my back was. I told him that it was terrible, but thanks for asking. In fact, that morning was particularly bad. The pain in my leg was so terrible I could hardly think straight. I did not expect anything more than an, “I am sorry. I will continue to pray for you,” from this guy. After all, the attempt failed last time, and my present state was just further confirmation of its ineffectiveness. But this guy is a trooper. He said the unexpected, “Can I pray for your back again?” My answer was a pastoral, “of course,” as I wanted him to keep his spirits up (even if that meant a continued hope in these naive charismatic ideas). Like the time before, he laid his hands on me. Like the time before, he prayed specifically for the miraculous healing power of God to come over me and heal my back. But this time was not like the last. As I stood under his hand, just wanting to get the token prayer of concern (as I saw it) over with, something happened. From the place where his hand was laid on me to the tip of my toe, I felt a warm, burning sensation. It was only in the places where my back often hurt. The burning sensation replaced and overwhelmed the nerve pain. It was definite and unexpected. The warmth was then replaced with relief. My back pain had completely disappeared while he prayed.

Once he was done praying, I held a poker face. I did not say, “I am healed!” I did not even say, “It feels better.” I just said, “thank you,” and went back to my office. In truth, I simply anticipated the pain to return and that its cessation would be short lived. As I thought about it in my office, I wondered, “what if?” After all, my “healing,” were it real, could not have been psychologically induced. I was not expecting to be healed, have been somewhat critical of those who do expect such things, and was not really even listening to the prayer. I was just anticipating getting back to my office so that I could sit down and get a tiny bit of relief. However, I sat in my office pain-free for the first time in I don’t know how long.

I did not tell anyone about this. Even as days turned into weeks, I kept quiet, anticipating that the pain would come back. Again, I don’t like to invite people to victory parades which I suspect will turn into bad investments of their hope. Remember Angie?

But here I am writing this five months later. Since that time, my back has not been an issue. Since then, I have been almost completely pain free. Now, I say “almost,” and you are going to have to take this as far as you think you should. There have been two days where I felt a bit of the pain come back. But nothing like it was for five straight years, with hardly a day’s rest. It would be like someone miraculously moving a mountain and leaving a dirt pile behind. The presence of the dirt pile (two days of slight pain), while confusing, does not undermine the absence of the mountain (the serious pain).

I believe that God miraculously healed my back a few months ago through the agency of a wonderful man who was determined not to give up. Even if the pain did come back today, the combination of the warmth, sudden disappearance of pain, and five months of being virtually pain-free after suffering so much over the years leads me to believe that God placed his hand on my back and gave me relief. For this I am so grateful.

Though my friend who prayed for me is a committed charismatic, I still am not. Even if I never have back pain again, it would not be compelling enough to make me move the that camp. Why? Because I have always believed (at least in theory) in the power of prayer and I have always believed that God may heal through prayer. The charismatic issue has to do with the continuation, normativeness, and expectancy of gifts being given to people to function in the church, not one-time healings here and there. While I remain somewhat skeptical of my own experiences, I do invite you to this parade. For five months I have been without pain in my back and God dun it!

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    58 replies to "My Back Has Been Healed – Am I Charismatic Now?"

    • edavis

      Being brought up in a charismatic/pentecostal environment from youth, it is easy to understand why I would believe in at least the continuation of the sign gifts. The gift of tongues operates in me on rare occasions, early in my Christian life quite frequently. But as I grew in my understanding of the virtue of “grace” (Grace Awakening Series by Chuck Swindoll), can’t explain it, but that gift seemed to have disappeared. For years that gift did not operate in me. Then on rare occasions usually in private, and usually it seemed during soul anguish this gift would operate in me. It is not a gift I desired, or prayed for – I love teaching. I’m okay with sign gifts working in others. They are not necessay for the maturing of my faith and I don’t think they are the norm – at least not in America. I understand that the Holy Spirit gives them to whom He pleases and operates them when and where He pleases. He is the Spirit of love, so they are always done in love. I believe the gift of healing works in me on rare occasions. I have prayed for people, family, and they said the problem immediately left them. I have agonised in prayer over others and they died anyway. Some I couldn’t pray for. What I can’t understand is why my prayers don’t seem to work for me! Every healed person still dies! Jesus took care of the healing that really matters. But it is wonderful to be pain free – even if it’s short lived!

    • […] a great read by C. Michael Patton about what appears to be a miraculous healing of his back. I love the humility that always shines through his writing. Here’s an excerpt, but, of […]

    • karinb

      THANKYOU Jeff!

      I have recently discovered the ministries of DAN MOHLER and CURRY BLAKE and ANDREW WOMMACK and have been swayed undeniably, unswervingly and joyously into the really great news Gospel.

      Reading many of these responses makes me think of those that received ‘talents’ from God and one invested, one timidedly used, and one buried his share.

      My view is that God gave us the authority to go into the world and finish what Jesus began. To declare that the Kingdom rule of God, the reign of love and power and grace has come…to once again, like Adam, be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth. To take back what the realm of darkness has stolen.

      That dark realm has stolen health (among other things) and it is our God given responsiblity to set the captives free. Not to timidly beg God to do something, maybe, pretty please….but to command. We pray to God but command the ‘evil’ mountain.

      We are much like an army sent forth to rescue captives. Joyously…

    • April Carter

      God never changes, so all gifts are still occurring. It has nothing to do with “only the early Church/peoples needed signs”. In other words, humans always need to be shown proof that God is real and is not lying. This is how it works: The Holy Spirit gives us gifts according to God’s will and by what we can handle. They are all fueled by faith and God’s power. The more faith we have, the more our gifts will be used and the more we will see. But, we also don’t see much miraculous things because America and similar countries generally lack the ability to have faith. This is because of humanism and other forms of atheism that permeates in our culture all the way to the Church. Miracles happen more broadly in other countries where people are not atheistic and can believe that miracles can happen (like in India, e.g.). So, it is all based on faith. Without faith, little supernatural things will happen. The more open you are to God’s power, the more supernatural things he will show…

    • Emmett

      I was awakened at 3am by an old “friend” I haven’t hear from in about 9 years, Back PAIN.

      I drug myself downstairs to pray and see what was in the medicine cabinet. After finding some bottles that were in back of the cabinet I decided to look up the individual drug info to see which one would work best or if they would still be effective after all these years.

      I am working on being a better listener, both in my physical relationships and my spiritual relationship with God. So, with prompting i typed in “back pain God healing” on the search engine and Voila I found your blog.

      The years have faded the memory of my own encounter with healing. After reading your story I sat in shock at the similarities in our experience, and was reminded in detail of what God had done for me many years ago. Just the fact that I keep some of the perscriptions reminded me of the cynicism I also harboured and apparently still do. Same story… 3 years of pain and prayer and challenging, cleansing, claiming, rebuking, binding and loosing, etc… I would accept all kins of prayer from lay folks to ministers with no results. I finally came to the realization that God did not owe me, and what he did on the cross with his son Jesus was more than enough, I was grateful for what he did for me. About a week later a visiting minister at our church decided to have a prayer line and pray for individual healing. I did not respond to the invitation and was sitting at the back of the church just praying for God to move. An acquaintance got up from the front of the church and sought me out, he told me God impressed upon him that I should go up front for prayer. I begrudgingly did, and thanked him after, but had not felt any results until the next morning I awoke pain free.

      I don’t know how many people were helped over the years from the word of my testimony and healing. But, God used you to help me tonight spiritually and if the pain goes away that will just be a bonus…

    • John Bergey

      Glad you were healed!

      I am a charismatic, who often wonders why every Christian does not identify themselves as being charismatic?

      Surprisingly–at least to me–you state that “What I mean by this is that I don’t believe the supernatural gifts (sometimes called “sign” gifts) of the Spirit are continuing, normative, or should be expected (all three extremely important words)”.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but from a Biblical perspective, isn’t the essence of being “charismatic” really mean “being gifted by the Holy Spirit”?

      Doesn’t 1 Corin 12: 7 & 11 declare that the Holy Spirit has gifted every believer as He determines and every believer has at least one (or more) gifts? Since all of the gifts are imparted to the believer by the Holy Spirit, which gifts aren’t supernatural? Or are the other gifts to be conjured up by man?

      I believe the real distinction of the gifts you identify as being “sign” gifts is that they largely fall into the realm of being “miraculous” and difficult–but not impossible–to fake. Surely you have heard a teacher or preacher that is supernaturally anointed and the difference is obvious to all, and “a sign” that they are working in their gifting and being led by the Holy Spirit and that God is in the teaching and preaching. The point I am trying to make is that all of the work of the Holy Spirit is a supernatural work. As a believer, we can choose to work in our own strength or in His. Do you have a preference?

      It is encouraging that you state: “In fact, I want to change. I often tell people that I am the most want-to-be-charismatic non-charismatic that they will ever meet. And I am serious about this.”

      It would be good to begin such a discussion by examining the Biblical support for cessation-ism versus the Biblical support for continuation-ism. I have never read coherent support for the former, but can offer many passages–some rather surprising–for my belief in continuation-ism.


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