We recently had a question from a reader about the legitimacy of the Healing Room movement and whether or not it’s okay for Catholics to participate.
Healing Room Ministries is an inter-denominational movement in which special rooms are set up in cities around the world where people can come to be prayed over for healing. The rooms are set up similar to walk-in medical clinics, with a waiting area, a reception desk and a private room for each session. Some of these rooms are located in churches, others in strip malls and store fronts. According to the International Association of Healing Rooms (IAHR), there are an estimated 535 Healing Rooms around the world, with the largest concentration being in the U.S. and Europe.
The IAHR website claims that the mission of their healing teams is to “serve the community and the Body of Christ while contending for all that Christ promised the church would move in, ‘the works that I do shall you do also and greater works than these’ (John 14:12)”.
Healing teams are comprised of local people who are trained either as intercessors – those who pray behind the scenes for individuals and those who are ministering to them – or as front-line teams who meet with the people seeking healing and lay hands on them in prayer. Part of their training is to learn what is an appropriate way to lay hands on someone and how to behave in a respectful way that will help the person in need of healing to feel comfortable.
All Healing Rooms must be multi-denominational and include members from the local Christian community including Protestants and Roman Catholics. However, involvement on a team does not mean the movement has been approved by any particular church. (I could find no indication that it has approval from the U.S. Bishops.)
Testimonials from these rooms run the gambit from healing of backaches to curing cancer and cataracts. Some claims are really bizarre, such as from those who claim lost organs or limbs were restored after they were prayed over. Unlike the Vatican which requires certification from medical personnel before declaring a healing legitimate, no proof is offered for any of these healings other than testimonials from people claiming to have been healed.
While the movement may have the right idea, it’s also ripe for abuse because anyone can become a team member, including people involved in the New Age or who would love an opportunity to “convert” a Catholic to a Protestant congregation.
Because of how loosely run and monitored this movement is, I would avoid them. You can get the same kind of intercessory prayer from a variety of other sources in the Church, and your local charismatic prayer group will be happy to pray over you. If you stick to sources such as these, you don’t run the risk of encountering someone with an agenda that doesn’t quite match your own.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (03/20/15): Since writing this blog, it has come to our attention that some questionable reading material is included on the booklist for Healing Room Ministries International. For instance, they offer the occult-based work by A. J. Russell entitled God Calling (http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=75), books by Sozo prayer founders Beni and Bill Johnson (http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=23302), and by Randy Clark, one of the founders of the Toronto Blessing ministry (http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=16607) all of which have questionable content.
In addition, some questions have been raised about the original founder of this movement, John G. Lake, which can be read here.