As a teenager I watched the 700 Club (literally) religiously. It was on in our house every day and almost always included Pat Robertson closing his eyes tightly (the tighter you close them, the better the connection to God, apparently) and telling no one in particular that God was healing them of vague maladies. He was asked about this on the 700 Club recently:
I watched your son [Gordon] and a woman on TV telling people that God was healing a certain condition that people in the audience were suffering from. Then they discussed cases where viewers had written in to say that they had been healed, thus apparently proving that they have the ability to get God to heal people during the show. Is that power only available to them during the show? If not, are they spending every waking moment healing people? If not, that is just plain wrong.
And Robertson answered:
He insisted that he is not a healer: “I do not believe in a resident gift to heal” — just in “gifts of healing.”
Then, the televangelist likened the whole shtick to Santa Claus passing out gifts.
“It’s plural ‘gifts of healing.’” Robertson said. “It’s like Santa Claus. He has a pack on his back and he has gifts and he’s passing these gifts out but they come from God.”“The word of knowledge says we are merely reciting what God himself is doing, okay?
He’s right that there is a distinction there. Robertson’s approach of just announcing that God is healing someone, somewhere, or something, is actually smart business. Unlike con men like Peter Popoff, he doesn’t have to bring a specific person with a specific problem up on stage in front of an audience and pretend to heal them. He can just throw out a whole bunch of vague things — “There’s a woman out there with back problems, God is healing it right now” — and he will inevitably be right some percentage of the time. In an audience of millions, some woman is bound to have a sore back and, absent serious injury, it’s bound to get better. When one of them sends a letter saying they had a bad back and now it’s all better, he can claim it as proof that he’s really talking to God.
But this question really does apply to those faith healers who claim to have an “anointing” from God to heal people, like Popoff or Benny Hinn. If they actually believed that and were non-charlatans, they should be going from hospital to hospital “pouring out their anointing” on the sick people. But they don’t. Then only use their “anointing” in front of audiences that pay $50 or $100 a ticket to get in, plus a love offering, plus almost daily pleas for more money in their mailbox.