Holy Communion and Healing – By Dr Roland Chia (Dated 9 Apr 2021)
In the previous article, I discussed Joseph Prince’s affinity with the Health and Wealth Gospel, especially with regard to the practice of positive confession. There is, however, another aspect of Prince’s teaching that unequivocally connects him to prosperity preachers such as Kenneth Copeland.
I am referring to his teaching about the relationship between Holy Communion and physical healing.
In an article on his website entitled ‘How to Take Communion for Your Healing’, health and wealth guru Kenneth Copeland teaches that when Christians receive Holy Communion, they ‘should plan to partake of everything Jesus’ sacrifice provided – salvation, peace of mind, healing and total prosperity’ (emphasis in the original). Describing Holy Communion as the ‘powerhouse of God’, Copeland maintains that the ‘Communion table is the healing table, the deliverance table and the confession table.’
In the same article, Copeland stresses that Christians need not have Holy Communion only in the Church. ‘You can receive it anytime and anywhere’, he writes. In fact, he suggests that Christians should ‘take Communion every day.’
He then provides ‘seven tips for taking Communion for your healing’. He teaches his readers how they should pray as they partake of the bread and wine by providing a sample prayer.
For instance, before partaking the wine, the Christian should pray:
Father, I give You thanks for all You have provided for me through the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. I partake of those promises now! I am healed. I am redeemed. I am the head and not the tail. I am above and not beneath. I take the healing You sacrificed to give me, and I thank You and praise You for it, in Jesus’ Name.
If the expression ‘I am the head and not the tail’ sounds familiar, the very same words are found in Chapter 1 of Joseph Prince’s Destined to Reign. Prince evidently ‘borrowed’ this expression from Copeland.
However, that is not the only thing that Prince took from Copeland. His entire understanding of the role of the Holy Communion in bringing health and prosperity to the believer can be said to be a carbon-copy of Copeland’s teaching.
At the end of his book Health and Wholeness Through the Holy Communion, Prince not only instructs his readers on how to partake the elements for physical healing, but also provides a sample prayer. I reproduce these in full here for the benefit of the reader:
Hold the bread in your hand and say this:
‘Thank You Jesus for Your broken body. It is for my healing, my spouse’s healing and my children’s healing. Thank you that by Your stripes, by the beatings You bore, by the lashes which fell on Your back, we are completely healed. I believe and I receive’.
Next, take the cup in your hand and say this:
‘Thank You Jesus for the new covenant cut in Your blood. Your blood has brought me forgiveness and washed me from every sin. I thank You that Your blood has made me righteous. And as I drink, I celebrate and partake of the inheritance of the righteous, which is preservation, healing, wholeness and prosperity. (Drink the wine)’.
‘Thank You Jesus, I love You because You first loved me’.
In another section of the book, Prince prefaced the above instructions and prayers with these words:
See the Lord carrying all your sins and diseases. He took our sins in his body on the cross. See Him taking on his body your physical conditions. If you have a tumour, see the tumour on his body. Whatever disease you might have, see it on His body. It is no longer on you. See His health come on you …
This practice is called visualisation. It is another method that health and wealth teachers often use to ‘actualise’ physical healing. Just as positive confession enables you to speak things into existence, so visualisation enables you to bring certain desired realities (in this case, healing and health) into being – so claims these Word-of-faith gurus.
For Prince, partaking the Holy Communion not only effects healing. It also enables the believer to ‘offset the process of aging’!
Consider these remarkable paragraphs penned by Prince:
As long as we are here on earth, our bodies are subject to the ageing process, which is part of the divine sentence. All our bodies are decaying every day. Our brain cells are dying daily.
The Holy Communion is God’s solution for us to offset the decay. And even your friends will see the results. They will begin to ask you, ‘Hey, why do you seem to look younger and younger? You never seem to age!’
One day, when we get to heaven, we will have brand new bodies that never grow old, never tire and never look bad. Meanwhile, the Lord’s Supper is how God helps us to offset this process of ageing and walk in divine health. Every time you partake, you are reversing the effects of the curse or divine judgement.
Together with positive confession and visualisation, the Holy Communion has become, in the hands of Prince and the prosperity teachers, another technique to achieve health, wealth and success.
This is far removed from the teaching of the Church concerning the significance of the Eucharist or Holy Communion. In placing emphasis on health, wealth and success in this life, Prince and the health and wealth preachers have not only seriously distorted the purpose of the Holy Communion; they have perverted its true meaning.
How does the Church understand the significance of the Holy Communion?
Firstly, the Church has always understood the celebration of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of Christ’s death. This harks back to Jesus’ own words as he instituted the Holy Communion: ‘This is my body given to you; do this in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19).
However, it is important to stress that the Church does not remember Jesus as people would remember a past hero. She does not commemorate a dead Jesus, but a risen Saviour, who is alive and who is always present with his people.
Secondly, each time the Church celebrates Holy Communion she proclaims the death of Christ and all the salvific significance associated with it. In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, the apostle Paul writes: ‘as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Thirdly, as the passage from 1 Corinthians 11 indicates, in celebrating the Holy Communion, the Church looks forward to the return of Christ – and with it, the general resurrection, the final judgement and the creation of the new heavens and new earth. As the New Testament scholar William Hendricksen puts it, ‘We see, therefore, that communion not only points back to what Jesus Christ has done for us but also forward to what he is still going to mean for us.’
And fourthly, the celebration of Holy Communion points to the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church. The locus classicus of Scripture’s teaching concerning the Church as the Body of Christ is found in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, where Paul writes:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
The Church testifies to its unity in Christ each time it celebrates the Holy Communion.
Although the Church has always seen the Holy Communion as a means of grace, she has never understood the sacred meal as a means of obtaining physical healing, material wealth and prosperity, this worldly success, and as an elixir for longevity.
In making health and wealth the focus of the Holy Communion, Prince and the Word-of-Faith teachers have turned attention away from the real reason why Christians celebrate the Eucharist.
To partake of this holy meal only for our immediate material gains is surely to do so in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27).
Dr Roland Chia
Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine
Trinity Theological College
Theological and Research Advisor
Ethos Institute for Public Christianity