All healing is a form of spiritual warfare. What this means is that the healing minister is one who steps in between the individual and the evil that is trying to overwhelm him.
Which is not to say that a person is showing his “guilt” when he is sick or disabled in other ways.
It is clear that when Jesus and his followers healed those who presented themselves to them that the illness that was being addressed was illusory: it could be reversed or dispelled altogether.
In spiritual warfare, all battles are not with unseen forms of evil. Harm can come from wrong attachments, or childhood needs that were never met, or even choices ancestors have made.
When we work with adults we have the ability to take steps to both clarify the source of the disruption of health and also bring the experience of wholeness to the patient. If a person feels unwanted because of his relationship with his father, we can bring real experiences of God’s love—a father’s love—to the person so that he can learn what it feels like to be connected with and adored by a male parent.
But with a child these demonstrations are difficult because forms of communication are so limited.
The other thing that compounds our ignorance with working with healing a child is that we don’t realize that the child can have very strong attachments to both God and to death already in their beings.
I was called to work for the healing of a child not yet two years old. She is the daughter of a priest and his wife at a church about an hour away from where I live. So I went down to the church and began to sniff around. It was clear that the parents were doting. But what else surfaced fairly quickly was that one of the parents would not admit to the seriousness of her daughter’s condition. And the condition was an unusual one. One that could easily lead to death.
This was serious.
I had no access to the child, although I did have a chance meeting with her and was able to look into her eyes. She was so young and yet she was already filled with consternation. I felt it deeply.
All I had to work with was my limited experience of the situation and prayer.
It was during this time of healing prayer that I learned that children do have their own desires in terms of life and death.
This little girl came into the world with a strong regret of being born. To her mind, there was something very wrong with life here.
On the surface this confused me.
But then I realized that I didn’t need to know the source of her troubled heart. Something may have happened in the womb or shortly after birth.
Or she may even have carried into the world something from her grandparents’ time.
What I was struck with was how little will she had to be alive. And so let her body attempt to take her away from here.
I had to respect that choice of hers.
As I continued to pray I wondered if there was something I could do to communicate with her directly as I would with an adult and give her a reason to live.
I worked on her tiny, multi-colored prayer shawl.
It brought a smile to my face, and I hoped she would love wearing it.
But I needed more.
When I give someone a prayer shawl I enclose with it a prayer that is appropriate for the situation.
I found a prayer to go with this small shawl. Not one for the child, but one for the parents.
It asserted how ill the child was and that this illness should be respected in all its life.
It was a poking at the parents to do something spiritual to save their child.
I was grateful that I found it.
I had had a small, wooden, folk statue of Saint Francis of Assisi on my altar for most of my adult life. I had intended to give to another new child in the world, but that gift was never received. So I rewrapped it in the little shawl.
My hope was that the girl would feel the warmth and love of Francis and understand that God is here on Earth, too.
I also included a saint card of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a Canadian Native American who is renowned for her healing intercession. I hoped that both the picture might appeal, and that Kateri’s love for this child would work miracles.
So far I have not heard of any tragedy connected with this family.
It is interesting to note that on my last day at that parish, on my drive home, I felt a large dark cloud of evil overwhelm my car, and manged to just miss being propelled by the car into oncoming traffic. Struggling with my own car that suddenly had a mind of its own was an arduous experience. I was glad when I arrived home.
With children we must be patient enough with ourselves to find our ability to hear their faint voices. And not assume that they have no say in what they are going through.
We must learn to respect them, just as we respect the adults that we work with.
And, most of all, we must honor both their thoughts and wishes on the matter, as we do God’s will.