The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.Luke 9:37-39
It happened at a conference, at the end of the evening worship service, when people were invited down front to receive prayer if they needed it. I’ll never forget the scene that unfolded.
At Global Awakening conferences I am what’s called a “Revival Leader.” Among other things, we help serve as the ministry team that stands down front and prays for people when the worship services are over.
On this particular night I had already prayed for physical healing for a couple people and was interviewing a young woman who had redness and sensitivity on the skin of her hands. As I asked about her condition, there was some commotion to my right. I ignored it the best that I could because I wanted to give this young lady and her husband my complete attention. But, just as I began to pray for her hands, the commotion got louder.
There was a young girl on the ground to my right who seemed to be about 12 or 13 years old. She was screaming and growling and writhing as she bicycled her legs and spun in a circle. Four or five adults were around her praying very loudly, and in some cases, yelling. They weren’t yelling at her but at the demonic spirits that they believed were causing the problem. There were also a number of teenagers, who seemed to be from her youth group, circled around her watching this bizarre scene.
As I looked over and assessed the scene, I stopped praying for the young woman’s hands and apologized. I told her that I had to deal with what was happening next to us but that, if she would wait for me, I would come back and continue to pray for her healing. She and her husband agreed.
As I stepped into the chaotic scene to my right, I realized that no one had established control or authority in the situation and no one seemed to really know what to do. In that moment, something rose up inside of me that I can only describe as a holy and righteous anger. Not anger with the people for not knowing what to do, but anger at the enemy for abusing, tormenting, and embarrassing this young girl.
The other thing that I immediately became aware of is that somehow I knew exactly what to do. Because of the intensive prayer ministry at my church, I had encountered demonic spirits and demonic manifestations in people on a semi-regular basis. So, oddly enough, I had a lot of experience with situations like this. But there was also a kind of “knowing” that came from the Holy Spirit in that moment. It was like God knew what needed to happen and He downloaded that information to me in an instant.
The first thing I did was to quickly ask about the girl on the ground and ask how she is connected to the people who were gathered around her. I then told everyone to stop praying and to get their hands off of her. The group quieted down but the girl on the ground was still hissing, writhing, and growling. I knew that we had to get this girl to a more private place where ministry could continue. But before that, I knew I had to establish authority.
I bent down, placed my right hand on her shoulder, and in a commanding, authoritative voice (the kind of voice you would used if you saw your young child about to run out into the road) I said, “STOP!” I was not speaking to the girl or the people around her. I was speaking to the demons who were manifesting and controlling her movements.
I followed this, in the same authoritative tone, by saying, “Stop it right now!” And they did. The demons knew I was speaking to them with the authority of the name of Jesus. All the girl’s movements on the ground stopped.
I stayed kneeling down next to the girl and, using her first name, called to her. It is important in these situations to get the person to regain control of their voice and body. I kept calling to the girl and inviting her to regain control of herself. Slowly the look in her eyes changed and she regained control of her body. The demons were still fighting to reestablish authority, so I knew they weren’t gone, but the girl was finally able to sit up on her own.
Now, in a gentle voice, I began to speak directly to the girl. I told her that she was going to be okay. The look of confusion and fear in her eyes told me that she didn’t understand what had just happened to her. I continued to lovingly encourage her and let her know that she was okay and that she was safe. With the help of her youth leaders, we got her on her feet. I directed them to take her to the back of the conference room so that she could receive more private and personal prayer ministry.
As the girl walked away with the help of her leaders, a few of the adults and teens looked at me confused. Finally, one of the adults in the group, with more than a hint of indignation in her voice, said, “Why are you sending her away? Why aren’t you praying for her? Why aren’t you helping her get free?”
I nodded my head because I understood where the question was coming from. They wanted me to cast those demons out right there and, in their view, all I did was send her away. But that’s not what was really happening. So I explained, “The enemy loves to draw attention to himself. And he loves to embarrass people. I didn’t want to give the enemy any more attention, and I didn’t want her to be embarrassed anymore in front of this whole crowd. She will continue to receive prayer, but it will be in the back where there is more privacy and where we can protect her dignity.”
At that, another adult in the group responded, “Ohhh, I see. Yeah… That’s really wise.” Then the group dispersed and I went back to praying for the young woman with the skin condition on her hands. Later that night, my fellow Revival Leaders and I made sure that the young girl got private and personal prayer ministry from one of the conference speakers.
Sometimes I’ve wondered why the Lord has given me so much experience casting out demons. It’s such a strange thing in our American culture to have experience with. But in that moment, I was grateful for all the experience that the Lord has given me. I was grateful that, somehow, I knew exactly what to do. I was grateful that the Lord used me to bring order to the chaos and restore dignity to a young girl. I still have so much to learn. SO. MUCH. TO. LEARN. But it’s encouraging when what you have learned gets put into practice and ends up helping someone in need.
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”Matthew 10:7-8