In their book “A Manual for Children’s Deliverance”, the late husband and wife deliverance team, Frank & Ida Mae Hammond, explain why children, as young and innocent as they may be, can be plagued by demons.
There are two accounts in the Gospels of Jesus healing children plagued by demons. A study of these passages brings to light several foundation principles which give direction for children’s deliverance.
The first account tells of a father who brought his son to Jesus. He had already taken his boy to the disciples, but they were unable to deliver him. Here is the scriptural account:
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. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. (Luke 9:37-42)
The second account is that of a Canaanite mother who came to Jesus on behalf of her little daughter who was suffering from demon oppression.
Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matt. 15:22-28)
CHILDREN CAN HAVE DEMONS The first truth that we discover from these two passages is that children can have demons. Neither of these parents had any problem identifying the source of their children’s torment. How different that is from most parents’ perception today. Most mothers and fathers would recoil in horror if someone suggested that their little ones were oppressed by evil spirits.
We are reminded of those days when the Lord was leading us into deliverance ministry. For us, it was a gradual process of comprehending for whom deliverance applied. At first we thought it was only for those who were deeply enmeshed in sin: the prostitute, the alcoholic, the dope addict. Next, we added the mentally and emotionally ill to our list of deliverance candidates. What a shock it was to us and those of our fellowship, when a visiting minister discerned and cast demons out of Ida Mae.
Then, after each adult in our fellowship had gone through a measure of deliverance, a young mother requested that we cast oppressing demons out of her little son. We recoiled at the idea. “Surely,” we thought, “this is taking deliverance too far!” The mother insisted that she was sure that her little boy had demons. She pointed us to Matthew 15:21-28 where Jesus delivered the Syrophonecian’s little daughter of demons. This convinced us that it is possible for a child to have demons, which gave us the faith to proceed. We cast the evil spirits out of the child, and his behavior improved.
Children are very vulnerable to the infiltration of demons. Why? Children are totally dependent upon others for their care and protection. Parents are the God-appointed, spiritual guardians of their children, yet too few parents are knowledgeable and vigilant in providing a spiritual covering for their children. When we recognize the gates through which demons enter, we can then understand what parents must do to guard their children.
Corrective punishment is a companion to deliverance. As Scripture puts it, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). Along with the casting out of demons, a stubborn, rebellious child must sometimes be disciplined repeatedly and consistently. The goal is to bring the child to the point of self-discipline. Unless the flesh3 is disciplined, the demon of rebellion and his companions will soon return.
DETECTION OF DEMONS A second truth derived from Jesus’ ministry to the two children, is that the presence of evil spirits in children may be determined by what is happening to the children. The boy whose father brought him to Jesus exhibited symptoms of epilepsy. The father described the demonic symptoms as follows: “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 9:39).
Such physical trauma in a child would motivate most parents today to seek treatment from a medical doctor. Jesus concurred with the father’s diagnosis and “rebuked the evil spirit.” The child was instantly healed and handed back to the father.
The Syrophonecian woman explained to Jesus how she concluded that her little girl was beset by a demon. She said, “My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil” (KING JAMES); “cruelly harassed by a demon” (WEYMOUTH); “seriously afflicted with insanity” (LAMSA); “in a terrible state – a devil has got into her” (PHILLIPS) (Matt. 15:22).
Jesus did not challenge the mother’s conclusion that her child was demonized. In fact, Jesus showed agreement with the mother when He declared, “You may go; the demon has left your daughter”” (Mark 7:29).
Some theologians have contended that Jesus simply accommodated Himself to the superstitious beliefs of the woman. No, Jesus did not play games with words. He who is Truth never agrees with error.
There are two ways to determine the presence and activities of demons: discernment and detection. Discernment is supernatural; a gifting of the Holy Spirit; the ability to distinguish between spirits (See: I Cor. 12:10). “Detection”’ is derived from the Latin word for discover. “Detective” comes from the same root word. A detective is one who examines the evidence and discovers the truth.
If a child is stubborn, rebellious and untrainable it does not take supernatural discernment to know what spirits are manifesting. They are readily detected.
A woman who lived about twenty miles from us brought her infant daughter for deliverance. She said, “My little baby is just two weeks old, and I want you to deliver her of evil spirits.” She explained to us that the RH factors between her and her husband were not compatible, and, at birth, the baby required a blood exchange. This procedure entailed the extraction of the infant’s blood which was replaced with blood transfusions. Ever since the blood exchange, the baby had been nervous and hyperactive. She was not sleeping normally. There was a constant nervous jerking of her body.
The doctor had sent them home from the hospital with a prescription for Phenobarbital, with instructions to give the barbiturate to the baby. The mother said, “Something in my spirit just says that I cannot start my baby out on drugs.” We agreed that her baby’s vexations were symptoms indicative of the presence of evil spirits. We had not had any experience with such things, but we thought it possible that the trauma of the blood exchange could be the root cause of the child’s affliction.
It was a precious deliverance. Ida Mae held the infant in her arms and quietly commanded a vexing spirit to go. The baby cried briefly and then became peaceful. A spirit of irritability was commanded to leave. Again the infant cried and then became quiet. This pattern of crying followed by peace, repeated itself over and over as demon after demon was commanded out. A week afterward, the mother telephoned us. She reported that her baby was sleeping, and the nervous jerking had stopped.
Through this experience, the Lord confirmed to us that even infants could need deliverance.