Contemplative Healing
Contemplative Healing
The Congregation as Healing Community
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Jesus introduced healing into the Judaism of his day, and for the Church’s first three hundred years, healing was an important spiritual practice. In Contemplative Healing, author Francis Geddes describes healing prayer’s importance and recommends congregations renew this ancient Christian practice.

Geddes presents an overview of Christian healing for the church and beyond. It addresses society’s need for loving connection with one another and the source of our being within a broad Christian context. Contemplative Healing demonstrates the following essential points:

Everyone can be a healer
Science and healing need not be at odds.
Jesus introduced healing as a transforming spiritual practice.
Healing is grounded in love.

Contemplative Healing communicates how the loving spirit of God and Christ function in a community by alleviating pain and bringing wholeness.


“This book’s treatment of healing as a spiritual and Christian practice is important for Christians and the church in our time. It creates a framework for seeing healing within the practice of Jesus and early Christianity, attends to the relationship between healing and contemporary medical science, and describes how to introduce the practice of healing into local congregations.”

All healing begins with pain. Every person alive has the capacity to pass on a healing force/energy to someone who is in pain. This is a book about practicing compassion within the congregation. Offering healing prayer with others can be a part of one’s spiritual path. However, that individual journey is deepened when God’s compassionate gift of healing occurs within a congregation. Every great religion in the world has a tradition of healing wherein this ability is practiced, accepted, and acknowledged. In the Christian tradition, healing is not something that a person does, rather one participates in God’s grace. God and Christ are the healers. Contemplative healing is grounded in the spiritual practices of contemplative prayer. These practices enable the healer to be more compassionate, totally present in prayer with the person in pain, intensely focused, and not distracted. The person praying needs to learn how to get out of the way so that this divine healing force/energy can enter into the relationship of prayer between the healer, the person in pain, and God. The author is has observed this healing process practiced in the life of twenty congregations on the West Coast in mostly mainline Protestant denominations. Contemplative healing is a way of being deeply present to God and compassionately present to the person who receives healing. Jesus introduced healing into the Judaism of his day as an essential spiritual practice of his teaching. He saw healing as evidence that the Kingdom of God is at hand, here and now. He insisted that this reign of God is present in our midst, but we do not have eyes to see what is in front of us. Doubtless Jesus taught his disciples to heal, and he expected them to offer healing when he sent them out to proclaim the reign of God. It is quite likely that Jesus healed several peasant fishermen in Galilee who later became disciples and went on to heal others. There is a chapter in this book that describes how healing can be taught. In this process the healer needs to learn how to get the self out of the way so that the healing force/energy or Spirit can enter the relationship to do the actual healing itself. This is taught in the contemplative healing training retreats described in Chapter 7, written by my daughter Ann who has been co-leading these retreats with the author since 2001. A congregation becomes a more compassionate, spiritually grounded community the more its members practice healing prayer. During the church’s first three hundred years, healing was a very important spiritual practice. In the United States today, healing is acknowledged but not seriously practiced in most mainline Protestant congregations. This book lifts up the stories of five congregations, their laity and clergy, where healing is practiced and taken seriously. Several stories describe how persons who receive healing prayer are opened into a transcendent Source for wholeness. Not only do they know that they are loved, they experience it first hand and are deeply moved. Every time a healing prayer is offered, some of the healing force/energy rubs off on the healer as it passes through to the person who is ill. Scientific studies in mind/body medicine over the past forty years confirm what many in the church have known for centuries: prayer for healing works. It is somewhat surprising that today some medical researchers seem more interested in how healing prayer works than theologians and leaders in the church. One purpose of this book is to help build a bridge across the gulf that has separated science and religion for more than three hundred years. Individual lay persons and clergy who practice healing prayer regularly, often notice a gentle inward transformation in themselves and discover a deeper identity. Recorded here are a number of stories of individuals who receive healing prayer and are opened into a loving Source wherein they experience transformation. Not only do they know that they are cared for and loved, but they experience it first-hand in the prayers and laying on of hands. A number of nurses and doctors who practice in the emerging field of Complementary Medicine, Alternative Medicine, or Integral Medicine point out that there is a difference between healing and curing. The goal of healing is to enable an ill person to become whole, whereas curing focuses on recovery from illness and the alleviation of symptoms. A person slowly dying may have a courageous attitude toward their situation and demonstrate a beautiful inner wholeness. Such an individual is not cured, but dies a whole person who is, in that sense, “healed.” This is a helpful distinction between healing and curing. Sometimes prayers are not answered in the way they are asked, and that is part of the mystery of God’s grace. In a larger context the healing force/energy of God takes different forms. In one form it can lift the burden of pain from an individual who is ill, as reported in these pages. In another form this same loving force/energy of God can help to heal a sick society that is suffering from racism. In the 1950s and '60s Martin Luther King Jr. functioned as a healer for a sick society. The loving force/energy of God is the same whether healing a sick individual or a sick society; it just manifests in a different form. Love is the bottom line in both kinds of healing, This book describes how the loving force/energy of God and Christ function in community by alleviating pain and bringing wholeness. The ministry of healing can help any congregation to become a more compassionate community. Interviews with individuals and stories of transformation in this book describe how compassion is empowered by prayer and how healing is enabled by the grace of God. Any individual or congregation can learn to cooperate with grace by learning to offer healing prayer as a spiritual discipline. The healing itself is in God’s hands.
Francis Geddes, DMin, has taught hundreds of people over the last thirty-five years to engage more directly in healing. He is a United Church of Christ parish minister and a graduate of Yale Divinity School; he also did doctoral work at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Geddes and his wife live in Santa Rosa, California.

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