I'll start this question with a bit of background first...
I've been playing in a new group as a Cleric. Our warrior was in a pretty bad state but survived the encounter. He was about to use 3 surges during our rest to heal himself to max hit points. I told him that I could use Healing Word on him and heal him to max hit points using just 1 surge (getting the maximum benefit from it because of the Restful Healing feat).
I was then told by others in the group that Healing Word is an encounter power and cannot be used outside of an encounter. This didn't make sense to me because of the way Restful Healing is described in the Players Handbook:
After you take a short rest or an extended rest, any healing power you use before the start of your next encounter restores the maximum number of hit points possible.
For example, if a 6th level cleric with Wisdom 18 and this feat uses healing word after a rest, that power allows the target to regain hit points equal to his or her surge value plus 16 (the maximum result of 2d6 + 4)
This seems pretty clear cut to me. They wouldn't use an illegal example in the manual would they?
I'd also like an answer to the more general question, are you allowed to use encounter powers outside of an encounter?