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Agnes Sanford, daughter of a Presbyterian missionary in China, and the wife of an
Episcopal rector, first book, The Healing Light, established her as a leading lay healer and minister within the Christian
church. Since its original 1947 publication, The Healing Light has sold over half a million copies.
Agnes Sanford herself suffered from severe, recurrent depressions for many, many years. In her autobiography, Mrs. Sanford
said that she finally began to break out of her chronic depression after a Protestant clergyman laid his hands on her head
and prayed for her. For the next year, she wrote, she went about her work repeating to herself, hourly and daily, the same
prayer: "Lord have mercy on me, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit."
Little by little, over a period of time, the depressions
vanished, and she was finally free of them.
It was not until years later, when she met an Orthodox
priest and told him of her experience, that Mrs. Sanford learned that she had been reciting, unknowingly, the ancient Jesus
Prayer of the Orthodox Church: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," a prayer which monks, nuns and the
Orthodox faithful had been reciting for centuries.
Short, plump, breezy, and matter-of-fact,
Mrs. Sanford taught that the principles of prayer and healing are universal--that is, they are included in all religions,
yet transcend all religions. She said Jesus stood in church services all over Christendom with his hands tied behind his back
because neither ministers nor people expected him to do anything. She said people who prayed had to expect miracles. That
required them to pray down the voice of doubt within them based on old hurts, griefs, and failures. "There is more in the
Bible than mere information. A spiritual energy we call faith, seems to
connect with the very book itself."
Agnes Sanford began a healing ministry in the '40s; received Pentecostal experience in '53/54. Together with her husband,
and alone after his death, she spoke to and taught groups all over the country about the power of prayer. The Sanfords were
primary agents for spiritual renewal in clergy of the mainline denominations. She died in February 1982 after 35 years of
The Seven Words
It was when they thus nailed Him to the Cross, and parted His raiment, that He spake the first of
the so-called 'Seven Words': 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' (Luke 23:34)
[4 The genuineness of these words has been called in question. But alike external and internal evidence demands their retention.]
Even the reference in this prayer to 'what they do' (not in the past, nor future) points to the soldiers as the primary, though
certainly not the sole object of the Saviour's prayer. [b Comp. Acts iii. 17 1 Cor. ii. 8.]
Agnes Sanford was a key figure in the Charismatic Movement in the United States during the 1960s through
to about 1980, mainly through her writing. Her books include an autobiography titled 'Sealed Orders'. Many of her books were
published by Logos Books. Her books can still be found online from various sources. There are also some websites with information
on Agnes Sanford.
Founded as The Agnes Sanford
School of Pastoral Care in 1958, School of Pastoral Care has continued to provide uninterrupted hands-on training in the Christian
healing ministry for clergy and lay persons for nearly 50 years.
Sanford – Woman of Faith and Power
At the height of my campaign to discover how faith grows, Agnes Sanford came to a church in our community. She was
in her mid-seventies by then, doing only occasional workshops, mostly for ministers. We were blessed by the fact that Agnes
was friends with the Episcopal priest at the church on the next block. She did this workshop as a favor to him. Her favor
to him became one of the spiritual milestones of my life.
A Woman Power Figure
Agnes Sanford was a force to be reckoned with. Filled with power and conviction,
for five evenings she kept us riveted to our seats with her stories of prayer and God answering prayer in the most unbelievable
Agnes talked about praying for things I would have never considered bothering God with. In her earlier
years she focused on physical and emotional healing. Now in the early 1970’s she was training others to pray for the
healing of the earth. She was a woman ahead of her time!
Power Prayer for Trouble Spots
I sat spellbound as she told how God had called her to
buy a home at the heart of the San Andreas Fault near Palmdale, California. The San Andreas Fault was to be her last patient.
She walked the hills (this elderly woman) and prayed where she felt troubled spots. Then she led groups of young people to
do the same, pounding a small white cross into the ground after they felt the trouble dissolve under their barrage of prayer.
Never had I heard anyone so comfortable with talking about and living in the supernatural realm of the Almighty! ....a
life of faith lived in a radical and measurable way.
Agnes Sanford had my attention.
During that week we were to take on a prayer project, something
that we could give testimony to at the end of the week. After a brief survey of my concerns, I was certain none of those situations
could possibly budge in five days time. So I had no project…quite uncharacteristic of me.
On Friday, the morning
of the fifth day of the workshop, I substituted for my husband at our local high school. He was tied up with an out-of-town
meeting for student activity directors. His parting words to me were: " Give my keys to the kids to open up their display
cases; be sure to get the keys back. "
I loved subbing for him when there was a display project underway in his marketing
class…lots of activity and energy…very creative. I realized that this morning was gone in a flash when I glanced
at the clock and saw that there were two minutes left before the lunch bell would ring. " Oh my! Where are Mr. Rose’s
keys? " The question was hardly heard over sounds of students working on projects inside the classroom and all the way down
The bell rang and the students were gone…along with Mr. Rose’s keys. This was a whole ring of
keys, including a master key that opened 99% of the doors on campus. (This was the privilege of being Student Activity Director.)
The rule was: if you lose a key, you pay to replace the lock. After some quick calculating, I knew we would be refinancing
our house to replace locks if the keys were not recovered.
Now I had a prayer project. I drove home for lunch, sat
on the floor, and went through the steps that Agnes had been teaching us for prayer. The first miracle was that I could actually
do the steps and not just have a heart attack. By the time I returned to campus, I felt composed and deeply at peace….quite
unexplainable by anything I had experienced before. I didn’t see anything, didn’t know anything. I was just very
God Answers Prayer
sympathetic teacher let me into the classroom (no keys, remember). I scanned the roll sheet, realizing that several students
from last period were in this class as well. One name stood out. I checked the seating chart, checked the seats just in time
to see this young man slide into his desk. I walked back to him.
" Mr. Rose’s keys are gone and I thought you
could help. "
" No, Ma’am, don’t know anything about them. "
" I just thought you could…"
He remained in his slid-down position, shaking his head " no ".
I took roll and as I hung the attendance slip
on the door, the student in question came very close, bent over, and said in low tones, " If you give me a hall pass, maybe
I can help. "
Off he went with a hall pass…who knows where…because he insisted that I put no destination
on the pass. I had just sent a boy I didn’t know off with a hall pass to "everywhere" with my name on it…like
signing a blank check for a stranger.
About fifteen minutes later he returned, set the pass on the desk, the keys
on the pass. I said, "Thank you. " He said, "You’re welcome, " and he slid into his desk, fourth row back.
was screaming inside! We were halfway through 5th period. I had to wait until the end of 6th period before I could burst into
religious freedom and shout at the top of my lungs, "Do you know what God had done? "
Faith Grows with Use
Prayer has not been the same since. It didn’t take me
long to figure out that if God would get involved in something as mundane as a set of keys, then He is certainly available
for weightier matters that concern me.
Agnes Sanford was a major milestone for me. My faith was stretching and growing.
This woman of faith made it quite clear in her example and her stories that faith grows with use and one of those uses is
Later when I read Agnes’ autobiography, Sealed Orders, I understood
how my spirit so resonated with hers…she had spiritual hunger…that burning desire for more. As the child of missionaries
in China, she heard the Gospel preached. She didn’t see the power of it, but was certain that the power was still there,
even though her mother told her that the age of miracles was past.
Sealed Orders recounts Agnes’ lifetime journey
toward tapping into the Gospel power that had so intrigued her as a child.
Her autobiography reads much like her workshop
sounded: candid, touching, and inspiring. You will be inspired in your own faith life and prayer walk as you read this one.