Experiment Series: Agnes Sandford and Prayers for Healing

Agnes Sandford was born in China over a century ago.  Her parents were strict, conservative Presbyterian missionaries.  Sandford, on the other hand, was strictly adventuresome.  From standing on the edge of tall cliffs in China to traveling by herself for three weeks on a tiny Japanese freighter to America at age 14, it seems that adventure was a part of her DNA.

Agnes Sandford was a pioneer in the area of spiritual healing.  She grew up in an age where prayer for healing was officially opposed by the church.  Her parent’s Presbyterian heritage and the teaching of her Episcopalian husband and minister’s theology was that healing miracles had ceased when the days of Jesus and his first followers ended. 

When Agnes Sandford wrote her best known book, The Healing Light, she could not find a publisher.  The fact that no one was willing to publish her book shows us how controversial her message was at the time.  She turned to her spiritual friend, Glenn Clark, for help.  His fledgling publishing house was willing to print the book.  The book was and continues to be a very insightful and balanced approach to prayer for healing.

One of my long-time spiritual friends, Dr. Bill Beachy, is the Chaplain Emeritus of St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.  He was a medical doctor during World War II.  At the end of the war, Agnes Sandford became his mentor.  Bill left the practice of medicine, obtained a divinity degree, and began his life-long service of praying for healing. 

Bill told me on a couple of occasions that he most sensed the presence of God when he prayed for the sick to be healed.  I was with him one day when he prayed for an area pastor.  The pastor had an extremely painful ankle.  He had received some medical treatment for his ailment, but was still in great pain.  I stepped out of the room for a cup of coffee and returned to see Bill smiling and this man weeping tears of joy.  In the length of time it took me to walk to another room and pour a cup of coffee, God had used Bill to heal this pastor’s ankle.

The experiments in healing that are in this article are those that Dr. Bill Beachy and Agnes Sandford used to bring healing and health to literally thousands of men and women during their respective ministries.

An Experimental Prayer Method

In her book, The Healing Light, Sandford invites her audience to participate in a prayer for healing experiment.  In this prayer experiment our focus is on some aspect that we desired healed in our own life.  The details of her prayer experiment are as follows.

1.  Decide to pray about some aspect of your life.  An illness or physical issue is the easiest prayer experiment to consider. You may want to consider an addiction or relationship issue, too.

2.  Choose the same time and the same place everyday for your prayer experiment.  Make yourself comfortable and relax.

3.  Remind yourself of the reality of a Life outside of yourself.  Focus your attention on God, who is real and who has the ability and desire to come to your aid.  Open yourself to God’s presence.

4.  Ask that Life come in and increase life in your body.  Through the activity of the Holy Spirit, God is able to actually enter your body and make a tremendous difference.  The verses below are a small sample of the possibilities that God has given to people through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 37.14 – “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life . . .”  This was spoken to God’s people in a time of deep distress.

Mark 1.8 – John the Baptist explained the purpose of his work with these words.  He said, “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  The word, baptize, literally means to “immerse.”  Jesus came to immerse us in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

John 7.38-39 – At a feast of the Jews, Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit in this manner.  He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” According to John, “ . . . this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive. . .”

Let these verses and many others like them help you believe that the power of God through the Holy Spirit is actually entering your body.  These are not just nice words to make you feel better.  They are the absolute truth of God.  Trust God that his Spirit is inside your body making a life-changing difference.

4.  Make a picture in your mind of your body as well.  Everything you see is first created in the mind.  You are reading these words on a computer, a tablet or a smart phone.  Before any of these devices ever came into existence, someone pictured them in their mind.  Use the same principle to see yourself well.  Picture yourself free from addiction.  Make a mental picture of your body free from pain or affliction.  Literally see it before you see it.  Note, this is not some form of mind control.  It is an exercise of faith based on the life of God’s Spirit whom you have invited into your life.

5.  Forget your body or the issue you are concerned about and concentrate on God.  This will allow you to open your inner self to receive more of God’s abundant life.  It will unite your heart with God’s heart.  Part of faith is bringing our issues to God and leaving them there.  Once we have brought our concerns to God, they are his responsibility.  He doesn’t need our help at this point.  Get “lost in God” at this phase of the prayer experiment.

My Experiment with Healing Prayer

Here is the way I apply Agnes Sandford’s prayer experiment in my own life.  I have a special place where I meet God.  I take time to recognize God’s presence and to sense the activity of his Spirit in my life.  I turn my attention to the subject of my need.  Truthfully, I find it is easier to focus on someone else rather than on myself.  However, for this exercise, I choose to think of an ailment of my own that needs God’s assistance.

I mentally see the Spirit of God addressing my need.  I do this by talking to God about my need or by silently meditating on the activity of God.  I remain in this thought until I sense it is time to move to another aspect of the prayer for healing. 

The next phase is difficult for me, but it is important to see myself made whole by God.  I imagine how it is to be free from my sickness.  I picture myself whole, vibrant and full of God’s abundant life.  I talk to God about it and use my imagination until I get a picture of wholeness, freedom or some other desired God-given picture.

When this is completed, I get “lost in God.”  The way I do this is by taking a passage from one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  I enter that passage as one of the participants and seek to commune with Jesus.  Jesus’ healing events and miracles are easier to connect with for me than teaching episodes.

Once again, the reason for this phase is that God doesn’t need my worry or anxiety to fix my problem.  He is a loving heavenly Father.  When I have brought to him my issues, they are now his responsibility.  Worship and getting immersed in his life is a completely relevant expression of trusting God to be at work in my life.

When my prayer time is completed, I thank God for his activity in my life and go on to the next part of my day.

Agnes Sandford makes an important observation about healing prayer.  If we are not successful in our prayer experiment, let’s not assume that healing is not for us.  She says, “Our failure in prayer for healing is not that it is not God’s will to heal, but our failure to live close enough to him so he can accomplish it in us.”

Don’t get discouraged.  Just keep coming back to God and deepen your relationship with him.  Be encouraged and see what he will do in your life.

If you have any questions please leave a reply.  I will be happy to email you a thought about your question.  Also, if you have a story of how God has brought healing to your life, please let us know.  We’d love to celebrate God’s work in your life.

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