Inner Healing Through Holy Laughter
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. Genesis 21:6
At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh.
In April of 1989 while South African Evangelist Rodney
Howard-Browne was conducting a meeting in upstate
The meetings were spiritually fruitful. Large numbers of souls were won to the Lord, and backsliders returned to the Lord in droves.
By 1995, through his ministry,
holy laughter had made its way into congregations all over
Thousands of Christian leaders and multiplied thousands of Christian lay people have had their lives transformed by this unusual outpouring of the Spirit.
Why Is God Using Holy Laughter
to Bring Revival?
Many people question why God would use laughter to bring revival. The most important reason is that it produces inner healing, and with the healing comes an inner holiness and a more intimate relationship with God. Holy laughter also frequently triggers, or releases, deep sobbing or crying (self-travail), which is even more powerful in releasing God’s people from the hurts of the past.
All over the world, God’s Spirit is leading individuals into an intimate relationship with Him. He desires a deep inner work of transformation. He is looking for those whom He can conform to the image of His Son.
Because of a special anointing upon his life, the holy laughter we are witnessing in Rodney Howard-Browne’s meetings (and now in many other meetings) comes spontaneously. It is unplanned, and not by man’s efforts or methods.
Holy Laughter by Faith
Almost every manifestation of the Spirit that comes spontaneously, however, can also come by an act of faith. Other manifestations in this same category include dancing in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. As you step out in faith and begin worshipping or praising the Lord in the dance, God’s anointing will be upon it. Whenever you speak or sing in tongues by faith, God will anoint it. It will always be from God.
In the same away, as you begin to laugh in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit, what you are doing will be “in the Spirit” and not in the flesh. It will be “holy” laughter. As we have seen, you will receive “bread” and not “a stone,” “fish” and not “a serpent.” The Holy Spirit won’t force you to laugh. By faith, you must begin. It will be from God! The blessings from it will change your life.
Our Inner Healing Ministry to the Irish in 1976
History reveals that over a period of several hundred years
the rulers of
What could I do to help them? The Holy Spirit unfolded the answer. He revealed that if I could get the emotionally wounded Irish, in simple childlike faith, to open up to holy laughter for their hurts, their lives would be transformed.
But how could I get them to receive this manifestation of the Holy Spirit? Didn’t it come only spontaneously? The Holy Spirit taught me that such laughter could also come by faith. The Lord instructed me to:
1. Have individuals pray loudly in tongues.
2. Lay hands on their heads, and instruct them to instantly stop speaking in tongues and, by faith, to start laughing.
As I ministered to them in this manner, in the mighty name of Jesus, one person after another burst into holy laughter. I discovered, to my amazement, that after a few moments of such laughter, most individuals began to have self-travail, sobbing and crying deeply for the hurts in their lives. Often holy laughter and crying were mixed together.
It was a glorious time of God’s anointing falling heavily upon the Irish people, and one life after another was transformed.
The inability of the Irish to cry or to sob had been overcome by the Holy Spirit’s manifestation of holy laughter. We must all learn to open up to this blessing by faith. It’s easy. It will work for you, and your life will be transformed too.
Elizabeth, a young Irish sister, was strongly advised by her doctor not to come to our meeting. She was close to a nervous breakdown and was desperate for a miracle. She came forward for prayer, and we ministered to her for her deep-seated childhood hurts. She did not cry or sob. She just laughed, and laughed and laughed. She continued laughing for an entire hour. As a result, her whole countenance changed. She was smiling and relaxed and radiated peace because of the inner healing she experienced through holy laughter.
Ralph: Rejected by Father and Mother
Ralph was tall, thin and very tense. He was full of rage and childhood hurts. His early years in life had been ones of rejection by both his father and his mother. As we laid hands on Ralph for holy laughter, he instantly began laughing and crying at the same time. At times he stopped, and we prayed for him to continue laughing. This went on for an hour or more.
Later, he said he felt like a thousand volts of electricity were zapping through him as he laughed and cried in the Spirit. The laughter pulled out the “stopper” from his container of childhood bitterness and rejection, and the pain poured out like water.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15
The root of bitterness was removed from Ralph, and he was able to forgive his parents deeply for the first time. Tension that had built up over many years left him, and a deep peace came into his life. Our God is truly able to deliver!
How Did It Come?
You may wonder how holy laughter came so easily to Elizabeth and Ralph? Did it come spontaneously? No! It came as they willingly followed the directions of the Holy Spirit.
They first prayed loudly in tongues. Then we “laid hands on them” and told them to stop tongues and, by faith, to begin to laugh. They were obedient, and holy laughter flowed forth.
It is just that simple! It works because it is not man’s method but that of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Laughter and Its Impact on Our Ministry
Holy laughter has become a major Holy Spirit “tool” or method we use to set thousands of people free from deep rejection, anger, self-hatred and hurts of the past. Holy laughter is also a tool of spiritual warfare. I laugh at my trials, at my disappointments, and even at Satan, for it brings me a deep certainty in my soul that Christ has made me “more than a conqueror” over all the things that would try to hinder me. This has opened me up to new dimensions in prayer, enabling me to receive deep inner healing and deliverance that I had never been able to receive before. I can now open up much more deeply to crying, groaning and sobbing before the Lord. Holy laughter can do the same for you.
The Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine” (Proverbs ). Our Bible is full of scriptures on joy, on rejoicing, on praising, on clapping our hands, and even on dancing, for there are great blessings that come into our lives through joy. Joy is medicine to our bodies, to our emotions, to our minds, and to our relationships. As the Word of God teaches:
The joy of the Lord is your strength.
Holy laughter is a great key to moving into the peace and joy of the Lord, and that joy produces energy and health in us.
Laughing at Trials
The most important time to laugh (or praise God) is when you don’t want to, when circumstances are screaming at you to be negative. Your cash flow is low. Your bills are overdue. You have lost your job. Your spouse has just left you for someone else. At such times, you must laugh at the circumstances and praise God for the victory.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Laughter is a language of faith, a language of victory, and a language of joy.
God Commands Laughter
One day Job seemed to be having a very bad day. The Sabeans stole all his oxen and asses and slew all the servants who guarded them except one. Then lightning came from Heaven and burned up his sheep. After that, the Chaldeans stole his camels. A windstorm came upon the house where all his children were gathered for a party and they were all killed. Not long afterward, Satan struck Job with painful boils all over his body.
Job had lost his children, his health and his wealth. So what advice did the Lord give him? He didn’t tell Job to pray, to fast, or even to trust Him, but He did give Job a key to victory that is valid for all of us. The Holy Spirit said to Job through one of his friends:
At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh.
God was saying to Job (and to us) that we must laugh in faith at the tragedies in our lives. We must get rid of our self-pity and anger, and trust Him to bring us into victory.
God knew that the quickest way for Job to move out of self-pity and depression into faith would be to begin laughing at his trials. Likewise, when you will be obedient to laugh when you don’t want to, God will perform miracles for you. Your laughing will quickly bring joy and victory into your life.
Pattie and I Laughed Over
Our Destroyed Vehicle
Several years ago a Christian friend repaired about
twenty-five problem areas on our lovely, white, four-door
Not long after everything was fixed, I drove over to
Because the car was an older model, the insurance settlement we received was less than half of what it would cost to replace the vehicle. In spite of much resistance inside of me, with Pattie’s encouragement, I laughed and laughed at the accident and praised God for the trial.
I certainly wasn’t happy that the car was destroyed. I was laughing because I believed God would bring good out of the accident. I kept laughing and praising God until I felt a release of victory. I believed God would give us a better car!
All Things Work Together for Good
I have experienced over and over in my life that the promise of God is true:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In His perfect timing, following
that trial of our faith, God guided us and we were able to replace our
Holy laughter works. It gets rid of fear and unbelief and produces faith.
When we submit to God, even in the trials of life, all things do work together for our good, and one way of proving our submission to Him is through exhibiting an attitude of praise and laughter.
God is continuing to bring miracle after miracle into my life — as I continue, in faith, to laugh and praise Him for my trials, and to thank Him for my miracles before I see them. When we “walk by faith, not by sight,” He is pleased.
Let us laugh our way through every trial, and learn to live in the provision, peace and joy of the Lord.
David: A New Heart Through Holy Laughter
David, a large black brother, had a spiritual “burden” for the street people, and he had won many of them to the Lord. In three days, he was scheduled to undergo a dangerous heart operation. He had been warned, however, by his doctors that there was a real possibility that he might die on the operating table. This would produce great fear within anyone.
This type of fear makes it difficult for a person to have faith for healing. I sensed that the Lord wanted to delivered David from his fear through holy laughter. “Brother,” I said to him, “I want to pray for you. God wants to heal you. I am going to speak an unusual word. Will you laugh when I say that word?”
He replied, “Yes, I will.”
“I am going to pray for you now,” I said, “but when I say the word ‘operation’ I want you to laugh.”
I asked him to pray loudly in tongues for a while, then I laid hands on his head and spoke the word “Operation.” David immediately began to laugh, and he laughed and laughed in the Spirit about the greatly feared operation. I repeated that word operation several times, and he kept laughing at it. Then I told him that I wanted him to laugh at the word “death,” and he did this two or three times. David kept laughing for about fifteen or twenty minutes — until all fear of the upcoming operation and of the possibility of death was gone.
I didn’t even have to pray for David’s heart. During the laughter, the power of God flowed into his body and gave him a new one. When he went back to the doctor several days later, more x-rays were taken, and what they saw amazed them. “You have the heart of a young person,” his doctor told him. The operation was canceled. God used the manifestation of holy laughter to accomplish this creative miracle. God has a miracle for you through holy laughter.
Michael: Pained From His Parents’ Divorce
Twelve-year-old, curly-headed Michael was in deep emotional pain from parental rejection and the pains of his parents’ divorce. When I laid hands on him and directed him to “laugh,” he fully cooperated with the Holy Spirit and began laughing deeply in the Spirit at the tragedies in his life. His mother later wrote about what happened. “My son, Michael, had a mighty touch from the Lord. For two hours straight he laughed and cried his way to freedom from the terrible hurts he received when his father left home, and then again he had another good dose of Holy Ghost laughter the last night, being set free of the pains I had caused and the hatred of his brother through jealousy. ... He’s a different boy. ... We are close now. He is no longer a rejected boy who can’t socialize. His grades are also improving. He now speaks with love of his father and can remember the good times. There is a compassion in him that is far beyond his years. ... God set me free also. I went forward and cried and screamed my way free. ... Praise God.”
“Priming the Pump” for the Waters
of Holy Laughter to Flow
Can you laugh when you don’t feel like laughing? Can you force laughter to come, and will it be in the Spirit? Absolutely! How do you do this? How can you begin laughing in the Spirit? The answer is “by priming the pump.” I’m a city person, but my father was from the country. They had hand pumps in those days and they kept a small tin cup beside the pump to prime it. A small amount of water had to be poured into the pump to give it suction, then the handle was worked up and down a few times, and soon water was gushing out in a great stream.
There is a “priming of the pump” that applies in many spiritual areas. Most of us have probably done this even if we didn’t know about this spiritual principle. We have all learned to praise the Lord when we didn’t feel like it or want to do it. As we compelled ourselves to praise God, the anointing came upon us, the presence of God increased, and we began to feel better and better. We were priming the pump.
We can do the same thing by jumping or leaping in the Spirit. The Bible says:
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you ... and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy. Luke 6:22-23
When we are persecuted, disappointed, hurt or rejected, we must often force ourselves to praise the Lord. We trust Him to know what is best for us, and we make a decision to praise Him, even when our flesh is fighting it. That is what we mean by “priming the pump.” It works because God always anoints what he commands us to do.
Begin to force yourself to laugh at the pains of life — a laughter of faith. This will release you from anger, hurts, fears and self-pity and bring you into a place of joy and faith.
“Hee, Hee, Ha, Ha, Ho, Ho!”
About seven years ago, nearly twenty years after the revelations on holy laughter in Ireland, God revealed to me an awesomely important way to prime the pump. As I reveal this simple, yet life-changing, truth to you, keep in mind what the Bible says about God choosing the foolish things of the world:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. 1 Corinthians 1:27
The Lord revealed that I should have individuals focus on their emotional pain, pray loudly in tongues, and then say, “Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho” several times. As they were obedient to the Lord and did this, holy laughter was triggered. Deep inner healing was experienced, and lives were profoundly changed.
The Lord Himself called it the “Hee-hee, ha-ha, ho-ho! revelation.” I now use this Holy Spirit method extensively, and many lives are blessed by it. When used as the Holy Spirit directs, it produces amazing results.
You Can Do It
When you are feeling discouraged or have hurts that need healing, close your eyes, force yourself to raise your head, and begin praising the Lord in tongues or English for a minute or two. Then begin saying “Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho!” and repeat it several times. If you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, this will usually release a flow of holy laughter.
If that doesn’t work, try saying, “Ho, ha, hee, hee” or “ho, ho, hee, hee, ha, ha!” This is not being silly. It is being spiritual! God takes the “foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” These words are holy words, heavily anointed by the Holy Spirit, and amazingly effective. To the natural mind, this “method” is so absurd, so ridiculous, but it will usually produce holy laughter in anyone. God’s methods bear fruit.
If your spouse has just hurt you deeply, your child has just wrecked the automobile, and the insurance expired three days ago, raise your head and say, “Ha, ha, husband (or wife); ho, ho, automobile; hee, hee, expired insurance.” Soon the laughter will come. Try it. It works. Fear and unbelief will depart, and faith and joy will come. Be childlike. Be humble. Laugh your way to victory!
As you begin to laugh, force yourself to continue, and not to go back into English or tongues. Laugh, even if you think you are making it up. You are getting “bread” and not “a stone,” “a fish” and not “a serpent” (Luke 11:11-13). You will be priming the pump, and soon you will feel the laughter coming spontaneously.
Praising God for Trials
Praise God for trials. Laugh at them, count them all joy and leap for joy because of them. When you do this, you are putting God in control of your life. Otherwise, people and circumstances will control your life and your emotions. As a result, you will live with a “victim” mentality instead of a “more than a conqueror” mentality.
Don’t blame your past for your problems, and don’t condemn yourself. You are not a victim unless you choose to be one. Regardless of your childhood, education or other negative circumstances, God has a plan of victory for you. He will even bring good out of the tragedies in your life. Start laughing at them.
Even God Laughs
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Psalm 2:4
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. Psalm 37:13
God laughs at principalities and powers, and He laughs at Satan himself. God knows that the victory is His, and He knows that we also have the victory for it has been purchased for us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote:
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14
Bill: Full of Rage
Bill had pastored a number of churches. He preached hard and legalistically and continually wounded his sheep, so he lost one church after another.
From a dysfunctional, abusive childhood, he was wounded on the inside and was full of rage. He had received little love in his childhood and didn’t know how to give love. Because of this, his relationships with his wife, children and friends had been badly damaged. He was already out of the ministry, and his personal life was falling apart.
Despite the fact that he had sought help for years and had been prayed for many times to be freed from his emotional pain and rage, he was still bound. In desperation, he decided to make a long trip to see us.
Bill had built many walls around his heart. This insulated him from change, from “losing control” of his life. However, he knew his life was headed for further disaster unless he changed. He desperately needed much inner healing.
I sensed that the deep work the Lord wanted to perform in Bill would have to take place when he was praying alone. I instructed him about his need for deep self-travail, the deep “groanings” of Romans 8:26. His rage and his buried screams needed to be released by the Holy Spirit. In addition, his deep wounds from his abusive childhood needed to be healed.
“Get alone,” I told him, “where no one can hear you, and bring your torment, your rage, your hurts to the Lord. Pray loudly in tongues, shout in tongues, and then, by faith, say ‘Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho!’ and let the laughter and the screams come.”
“Bill,” I continued, “you may be amazed at the rage, the anger and the screams that come forth from you when you do this, but don’t be afraid. God is setting you free.”
With some skepticism, Bill followed my instructions, and this is what he later related to me. “Brother Chappell, I did what you told me. To be honest, I thought it was total foolishness, and yet I had nothing to lose. As soon as I began to say ‘Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho!’ a spiritual explosion took place. I sobbed and screamed and screamed some more. Soon I began laughing at the pains of the past, and then more screams came. This went on for about two hours. My whole life has been changed — my marriage, my finances, my personality, my relationship with my children, and my closeness to God.”
With sincerity and childlike trust, do what Bill did, and see what God will do for you.
Holy Laughter Releases
Forgiveness Toward Others
Laughter will release forgiveness, rid you of bitterness, and bring inner healing into your life like it did for Bill and Bob. Holy laughter will help release deep forgiveness in your life so you can be free from the emotional pain of hurts and be free to live at a new level of love, joy and peace.
Pride — a fear of looking foolish in front of people and a fear of losing control — can easily hold you back from laughing. Religious tradition can cause you to believe laughter isn’t necessary or even scriptural. But it will be worth it all if you just give it a try. You will know forgiveness is complete when the emotional pain is gone from the hurt or disappointment, and a deep peace is present. Holy laughter, sobbing and tears are all powerful in releasing unforgiveness and bitterness. Cooperate fully with the Holy Spirit and let Him do this for you.
As you learn more about inner healing for your own life, God will bring hurting people to you for ministry. Likewise, you can minister to them for laughter for the hurts in their lives, and God will bring mighty releases within them too.
“Except Ye Become as Little Children”
As we have seen, God uses “the foolish things of this world.” Jesus also taught us to become “as little children”:
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
To enter the greatness of God’s blessings, you must come to Him with a childlike simplicity, hunger and trust, putting down your pride and saying, “Here I am, Lord. Do whatever it takes to set me free. If I have to laugh, if I have to scream, if I have to dance or jump, Lord, I will do it. I must get set free. I want all You have for my life. Here I am, Lord. Do what needs to be done. I’m willing to look foolish. I’m determined to be set free.” When you come with that attitude, you will be set free. You will be blessed greatly. The glory of God will fill your life in a mighty way.
I am hungry to be continually changed. I am hungry to be closer to God, to know Him better, and to be a greater blessing to my family and to the family of God. I believe that’s what you want too, and that’s the reason you are reading this book.
Holy laughter has been a great blessing in my life and in the lives of thousands of others, in enabling the Holy Spirit to change us on the inside, to bring new dimensions of sanctification within through inner healing and deliverance. Through holy laughter, the Lord will do the same for you and, through you, for many others. So start laughing. Laugh and Cry Your Way to Freedom and be Changed Into His Image Through Inner Healing.