June and Alzheimer's - Prayers for Healing
- Published on Friday, 15 May 2015 19:55
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
When June first was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was one that thought perhaps Jun's life could be saved by prayers for healing…I had heard of such claims of miracle Cures through prayer…but I was also concerned about the often expressed opinions that "all that has or will happen, was or is a part of God’s plan"…Does the Bible even endorse healing through prayer in this modern world...the answer I found out is NO!
Prayer’s for June’s Healing
I requested and received prayers in June's behalf by:
(1.) The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association…
(2.) Pat Robertson’s – The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN)…
(3.) Redeemer Lutheran Church Pastors…
Special prayers by our Redeemer Lutheran Church Pastors involved anointing June’s forehead with oil.
(5.) Catholic Church friends…
(6.) June’s family and I prayed individually for June…
(7.) The Benny Hinn's Healing Crusade…on 4 September 2004, I took June to the Benny Hinn’s Crusade at the Target Center in Minneapolis. I remember being in prayer for June’s healing throughout the course of the evening during the combination Hinn’s Crusade and service…but it was not to be…there was no change in June!
I wondered why God did not intervene for one of his best servants. June who dedicated her life to service in the church and was involved in serving the poor and afflicted…as time went on and I studied the Alzheimer’s disease, I became aware that Alzheimer’s was an always terminal disease and that there is no record of any healing or recovery from the disease either medical or miracle…
But why were there claims to be “miracle cures” of the other diseases?...Why would God provide miracle cures for other diseases while ignoring Alzheimer’s?...Recent research (2015) suggests that for every year, around 500,000 persons die from Alzheimer's in the US alone...none have ever recovered...to suggest that God would not grant a single prayer for healing of this many persons while performing miracle cures on other diseases is ludicrous...My mother Ellen had also died of Alzheimer’s in 2007, almost 1 year to the date before June died in October 2008...two (2) of my favorite cousins as well as four (4) close friends have also died from Alzheimer's...all died despite many prayers for the recovery of each of them...
I later remember how much I was comforted when I finally understood and gained the knowledge and the understanding that June’s terrible illness was not a part of any of God’s master plans…but that instead this was the doings of Satan. God's plan is clearly stated in the Book of Jeremiah 29: 11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Satan’s hand in causing illness and disease is clearly stated in the Bible…"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10. (KJV)…but again…what about the claims of miracle cures of other sickness and disease?
David’s Cancer Death and Prayers
June and my son David was diagnosed with Lymph Node and Lung Cancer in mid 2012. David was placed on chemo-therapy and told he had 6 months to live with 1 chance in 10 of surviving.
I again solicited prayers for David’s healing...this time from my worldwide network of Alzheimer’s caregivers and victims. David received a huge outpouring of prayers that were world wide in origin...literally hundreds of prayers!
During this time David told me he was “not afraid to die”…in view of the predicted small chance of recovery, had God wished to intervene with a miracle cure, the restoration of David’s health would have been a snap for God to perform.
But again it was not to be…a few months short of the predicted 6 months survival, David lapsed into unconsciousness from which he did not awaken…the evening before, David gave me a most precious gift when he told me “I love you Dad”…this was a special gift that June could not give me...that is so because June's Alzheimer's both attacks and destroys the mind so that in the period of months before her death, June was no longer responsive...such is the nature and the horror of Alzheimer's.
Perhaps as David later passed through the mysterious veil separating earth and Heaven, his mother June was standing with Jesus at Heaven’s Gates to welcome him into a world without death, pain, sorrow or tears..
Jesus and His Disciples Miracle Cures
Miracle cures of illness, sickness and disease are to be found in the times of Jesus…Jesus performed many miracle cures and commissioned his disciples with powers to do the same…“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” (Matthew 10:1 (KJV)
However, we are now in a new time and place and Jesus and his disciples are not here to cure or heal our illness, sickness and disease…can we obtain such healing from our own prayers alone…that is the question and that is often the claim…
The Spiritual gift (Holy Spirit) of healing as discussed in the Bible
1 Corinthians 12 (KJV): “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant….no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost…Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit…”
Jesus while on earth, had the gift of miraculous healing…a ift that he often practiced…Jesus also bestowed this gift on his disciples as indicated above, and commissioned his disciples (see above) to use the gift against all of Satan’s illness, sickness and disease…However, such miraculous healing did not continue post Jesus and his disciples…
Many skilled Doctors, nurses and hospital staff can be said to have the gift of healing but such gifts are not gifts of “miraculous” healing…every person is given certain gifts as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 but these gifts are simply areas of special skills and abilities…they are not miraculous gifts…every competent doctor and nurse will be able to heal persons in their care simply as a result of their skills and abilities combined by and with the natural healing ability of the body…no claim of a miracle is being made…these same doctors and nurses will daily see persons who cannot be healed and will die…if the deceased is a believing Christian, they will go on to their heavenly home…
Spiritual gifts are powers, skills, abilities, or knowledge given by God through the Holy Spirit to Christians but they are not gifts to perform miracles…1 Corinthians 12 refers to “gifts” of healing in the plural, which may indicate that there are different gifts of healing. The gifts of healing could mean a very wide range of skills or abilities .to cause healing to take place. Evidently there were various types of healings that those so gifted could produce, for example, physical, psychological, and spiritual healings. Counselors and medical doctors have a degree of ability to produce healing today. However most Christians believe as I do, that God has not given the ability to restore people to health instantaneously today as He did in the early church of Jesus and his disciples…
Martin Luther's Position on Miracle cures through Prayer
As a Lutheran I was interested in what Martin Luther had to say on the matter…Martin Luther was a German Priest and Professor of Theology, who also made the first translation of the ancient Hebrew and Latin writings into a Bible in the German language…he was noted for an entire new period of history called the “Reformation Period” in which his famous 95 Theses, changed the Catholic church’s long standing policy of “Indulgences” as a means of getting into Heaven.
He established the principle of God’s Grace and only Grace as the means of ones admittance into Heaven. So what did Martin Luther think of miracle healing by way of the prayers of the believers?
Martin Luther argued in 1520 in his paper “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” that the ritual of anointing the sick should not be a sacrament because it was not established by Jesus Christ. He observed that as it was then practiced, anointing the sick:
“promises health and restoration” but this rarely came to pass”…”Who does not see…that this promise is seldom, or rather never fulfilled?...”Scarcely one among a thousand is restored, and even this no one believes to be effected by the sacrament, but by the help of nature or medicine.”
The above quotation is a part of a 5 page discussion "The Sacrament of Extreme Unction" (section 8 of the paper)...The overall paper is a very lengthy discussion by Luther of the various Sacraments of Jesus...(Baptism, The Altar, Penance, Marriage and Ordination) the paper has 9 sections including a final overall conclusion section...Luther's conclusion in section 8 was that healing is not a sacrament and thus such prayers are ineffective.
"Extreme Unction" is defined by Merriam Webster to be "A Sacrament in which a priest anoints and prays for the recovery and salvation of a critically ill or injured person."...it was Luther's position that "Extreme Unction" was not a Sacrament of Jesus" and thus ineffective..."Sacrament" is also defined by Merriam Webster to be "A Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace ..."
Luther states flatly: ..."this fictitious unction is not a sacrament"...
The discussion of "The Sacrament of Extreme Unction" also talks about the healing of Jesus and His apostles/disciples that ended when Jesus and the Apostles/disciples were no longer on earth...Luther states: "it was a ceremony of the early Church, by which they wrought miracles on the sick, and which has long since ceased.." Note: This agrees with my above discussion: "Jesus and His Disciples Miracle Cures".
Martin Luther was an expert on the contents of the Bible...he was the one that translated the Bible into German so that the ordinary German citizen could read it...here was a man who had not only studied the Bible, he had in fact personally translated every word into the German language....if any man was totally familiar with every word of the Bible, than Martin Luther was such a man...if there was ever such provisions for our prayers of healing, Martin Luther would have known of it and understood it...
Luther did not see illness as punishment from God for our sins. He said that repentance would not cure us. He suggested that people seek medical care and look after their own health as much as possible.
Present Day Lutheran Church Perspective on Prayer Healing
One can also find a discussion in the “Lutheran Perspectives on Healing”, March 2015 edition of “The Lutheran”…“Lutherans don’t typically hold to a tradition of faith healing”…that the purpose of our prayers is not to exact miracles…God does not usually intervene in human lives in this manner…we are somewhat fragile, prone to Satan’s illness…Instead, God’s answer to our prayers is to be fully present with us in our experiences of suffering and illness and to give us each other…we are both to be healers and to be healed…”we are called on to tend to each other’s needs and to recognize each other as beloved children of God.”
“The Will of God”, Pastor Leslie Weatherhead
One of the best explanations of God, illness and healing I have ever seen is found in an excellent discussion in “The Will of God” by Leslie D. Weatherhead, (1893-1976) a Protestant Pastor of City Temple, London – here he discuses the death of a man’s wife:
“Your wife’s death is not the will of God at all. It is the fruit of human ignorance, and if we could spend as much on medical research as we spend on a battleship, your wife’s life could have been saved.”… “Industrial oppression, selfish greed, the denial of God’s gifts to his own children because of the greed of the few, the horror of war – these things spell a greater atheism than any verbal arguments man has devised.”…“If you say concerning those stunted lives, “this is the will of God,” I say to you that is a greater blasphemy than the denial of the Holy Trinity.”…“I can not understand how anybody who has read the New Testament can ever stand at the bedside of a patient and…utter the pathetic complaint that disease is the “will of God”… I always imagine that Jesus would speak with anger about such a thoughtless dictum.”…one of the first things we must do is to dissociate from the phrase “the will of God” all that is evil and unpleasant and unhappy.”
“I like to think of our Lord standing by the bedside of the patient and working with the doctors and nurses toward the regaining of health, working on the mind and spirit of the patient as the physicians work on the body. Then, if the latter fail, I like to think of him showing the sufferer that, in cooperation with him, victory may still be wrested from defeat and the purposes of God realized.”
The Lord's Prayer
The “Lord's Prayer”, is a Christian Prayer that according to the New Testament was taught by Jesus to his Disciples…There are two variations recorded in the New Testament….a longer form in the Gospel of Matthew 6:5-13 as a part of the “Sermon on the Mount”… and a shorter form as found in the Gospel of Luke 11:1-4…The prayer was Jesus response to one of the disciples request to teach them to pray…The prayer concludes with "deliver us from evil" in Matthew, and with "lead us not into temptation" in Luke… The first three of the seven petitions in Matthew address God; the other four are related to our needs and concerns…None of the petitions address the healing sickness or disease…
Nicene Creed and Apostle's Creed
No where is the belief in miracle cures for our diseases and illnesses through prayers, mentioned either in the the Nicene Creed of 325 AD nor in the later Apostles's Creed of approx 400 AD.
The Christian Doxology
The traditional doxology used in Protestant churches was written in 1674 in England and contains no references to healing.:
Bible Passages - Healing by prayer?
Very often one hears the Bible passage James 5:14-16, quoted as support for a theory of “Miracle Cures” through prayer…but a careful analysis of the quoted passage would reveal that this is not what the quoted passage says at all…
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)
These verses do not promise that anyone will be healed. What the verses are doing, is telling those who are sick to ask for the elders of the church to pray for them. When James writes, “The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up…the writing is more about salvation than healing. This matter was studied and analyzed in depth:
The Global Advanced Research Journal of Arts and Humanities, April 2015, contains a research paper by Dei and Bonsu of the School of Theology and Missions, Valley View University in which the Bible verse, James 5: 14-16 is analyzed...they also conclude that "A Grammatical-Historical study reveals the context as the "spiritual renewal of the spiritually weak or wearied". Based on this context, the study suggests that the sick refers basically to those who are spiritually weak or lacking spiritual strength...the study concludes that James 5:14-16 are "directives for the spiritual restoration of the spiritually weak."
One of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible is the one in which Peter wrote, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” and a similar verse found in Isaiah: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds (stripes) we are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 and Isaiah 53:5)
Although these two verses are central to the topic of healing, they are often misunderstood and misapplied. The word “healed” as translated from both Hebrew and Greek, can mean either spiritual or physical healing. However, the contexts of Isaiah and 1 Peter make it clear that they are referring to spiritual healing, not physical. The verse is referring to sin and righteousness, not sickness and disease. Therefore, being “healed” in both these verses is speaking of being forgiven and saved, not being physically healed.
The majority of the Bible passages in connection with Miracle Cures of the sick or disabled are all references to Jesus and his miracle cures or they relate to the cures of Jesus’ disciples and not cures from modern day man’s prayers...
The dictionary defines (Merriam Webster) a “miracle” as: “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” It has also been defined as an occurrence “not explained by natural science or natural laws”…Almost daily I see or hear the frequent assignment of the term “Miracle” to events that are almost common place and are anything but a miracle…even in my Redeemer Lutheran church I have often seen and heard claims made and testimonials announced of medical cures that were not even a stretch for the capability of modern medical science…
This discussion is not intended in include a large body of illness that is defined as Psychosomatic illness. This illness has been defined as: : “A situation in which the mind influences the body to create or complicate an illness”…..I would agree that this group of illnesses can be prime and effective targets of prayer…
What I am talking about in this discussion is the physical illnesses and diseases that make up the leading causes of death .such as Heart, Respiratory, Cancer and Alzheimer’s and other leading dementia causing diseases…it has been suggested that psychosomatic illness represents a significant percentage of illness.
It appears that science also agrees with Martin Luther and the Lutheran Church on the effects of prayers for healing...
Mayo Clinic Scientific Study of The Effects of Prayers on Healing
A 2001 double-blind study* at the Mayo Clinic randomized 799 discharged coronary surgery patients into a control group and an intercessory prayer group, which received prayers at least once a week from 5 intercessors per patient. Analyzing "primary end points" (death, cardiac arrest, re-hospitalization, etc.) after 26 weeks, the researchers concluded "intercessory prayer had no significant effect on medical outcomes after hospitalization in a coronary care unit."
*”Double blind” means a study in which neither the patients, nor the assessor of the results knows which participants in a study are subject to which procedure, thus helping to ensure that any bias or expectations will not influence the results.
Religion and the Mayo Clinic...The Mayo brothers (William and Charles) were both of the protestant religion with Flemish roots from their father William. In 1903 they teamed up with the Catholic Sisters to form the St. Mary's hospital and calling their part of the hospital the Mayo Clinic...from this background and history, it is clear that Mayo Clinic has no bias against Christianity, prayers or healing...
The Bottom Line
"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the feet with which He has to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless man now."...Saint Teresa: (Teresa of Avila 1515–1582)
My study of this matter has finally revealed the truth to me…the same truth that my wife June, my mother Ellen and my son David now know to be the truth…that God does not go about performing miracle cures in response to prayers for all diseases other then Alzheimer’s…He does not do it for any diseases! What God does do, is to provide his Love, his Care, his Peace and his Comfort to all who suffer from illness and disease and he stands by with open arms at life’s end to greet all believers as they pass through the veil between Heaven and earth and as they prepare to enter Heaven’s Gates…
Our prayers in times of sickness, disease and illness need to be prayers requesting Jesus and God's love, comfort, care and Peace during such times and at life's end...the cure will take place in Heaven as promised in Revelations and elsewhere in the Bible...
Donald Hiatt - Clovis, California - (17 May 2015): "Hi, Stanton. In the past I have found myself disappointed when God chose not to heal a person for whom I prayed. Then I came to realize that God indeed heals all believers. He just doesn't always do it on this side of heaven. My more recent prayers have been for God to glorify Himself through the illness or death. I still pray for temporal healing with hope of a here and now answer, while also praying that the person will end their race well. Of this I am certain: God loves us and wants the very best for us. Perhaps we may have thorns now, but there are roses waiting in heaven. Gace and Peace...don."
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (18 May 2015): "I don't know what I think, Stan. I lost my Dad and 2 Grandmothers to this horrible disease. No amount of praying helped..."
Lin Schmidt - Anoka, Minnesota - (4 November 2015): "I agree with you, Stan. Lin."
Kathy Williams - Riverside, Texas - (4 November 2015): "I agree...there is no way I can believe that God would cure someone with cancer or some other disease and not cure anyone with dementia or Alzheimer's. I don't believe this makes my faith any less or God any less "good"
Scott Schmidl - Toms River, New Jersey - (5 November 2015): "I was always taught the healing and speaking in tongues ended with the Apostolic age. Charismatics and Pentecostals believe otherwise. Although there have been times when people have gone to their doctor and discovered lumps gone, blood counts change....we can pray for a cure and we have been discovering a lot more about Alz and learning treatments. One person on here uses organic diet to keep his mom healthy...may have slowed down the disease. I do believe God is still active in our lives and world..." (Stan's Note: This page has nothing what ever to do with "Speaking in Tongues"....)
Ena Castle - Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia - (5 November 2015): "I totally agree Stanton hugs Ena..."
Doug Seubert - Marshfield, Wisconsin - (5 November 2015): "I agree with you. I would also share that traveling with my mom on her Alzheimer journey allowed me to question a lot about faith and religion. I am left with a new perspective, especially in seeing disease as a normal biological functionality of life and nothing more. God does not cure one person and deny another. People do not get a disease because they are being punished. God also does not use or "allow" disease and suffering to teach us a lesson or to test us or to make us stronger or so that we can be a role model for others. It is just a part of life..."
Louise Ann Howard - Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia - (6 November 2015): "My mother in law stood by this saying Stan, God's Will Doctor's skill. Just being a Christian does not take away tests and trials to get us ready for heaven is my belief. Your mate Louise." thanks again my mate."
Jackie Irving - Liverpool, United Kingdom - (7 November 2015): "You put everything wonderfully in a nutshell for me Stan...I do believe the power of prayer can bring great comfort in time of need...thank you and take care Stan."
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on: