How to pray for healing

James chapter 5 verses 13 to18

This is the final of three sermons on the issue of God’s healing. At St Albans we affirm the healing ministry of the Holy Spirit and want to encourage the development of healing gifts. We have a team of people, as well as the elders, who are willing to pray with those who request prayer for healing. Today I want to conclude this series with some practical guidelines about how to pray with those who are sick or injured.

The Pray-ers
Any Christian can pray for healing for themselves and others, and some Christians are given a special healing gift for ministry to others. God can also give healing gifts in a specific situation where the pray-er may not usually have such a gift.

In a church context we seek to identify those with both a gift or passion for healing, and a compassion for people. Each pray-er needs to be accountable to some respected leader with a healing ministry or to the local church leaders. The pray-ers need to be humble people, open to receiving prayer themselves, and able to recognise when they are out of their depth, when the person needs ministry from more experienced people.

Generally those who pray within a church context need to be recognised, trained and “authorised” by the leadership. Having appropriate people as pray-ers is vitally important.

When we offer prayer for healing in a church service or public meeting, it is important to seek any words of knowledge about illness or injuries that God may wish to identify and heal. Those who receive a word of knowledge can also be involved in the praying.

Be aware of safe practice both for yourself and the other, not giving cause for gossip and misunderstanding, avoiding pressuring the other, respecting their decision-making and recognising when the situation is beyond your expertise. Praying in twos or threes is preferable, and avoid praying alone for the opposite gender unless briefly and in view of others.

Be confidential about the prayer matter. You may think someone else’s experience could be helpful but first ask if they would like to talk about it; and if you think it may be important to share their situation with another, also ask them if they are agreeable.

Prayerfully seek to be a channel of the Holy Spirit, having put our own lives in order with God (confessing any known sin, offering ourselves afresh to Jesus), being aware of what quenches the Holy Spirit, being prayerful about the other person if known or generally about those who will seek prayer at church service. Distinguish between prayer and counselling. Some situations need more time and discussion about the person’s background, lifestyle and ongoing support.

We can of course pray anywhere, anytime, but sometimes we need to take time to prepare and to spend with the person. Ensure privacy (especially with the volume of your voices) and “comfort” for the person, including involving support people if they wish.

Praying: Be expect-ful and respectful.
1. Being expectant: God wants to meet/heal/help us even more than we want it ourselves. Believe that God is a Good God who wants to heal in his mercy and compassion. We are ministering in the place of Jesus. We act on his authority which he has passed on to us.

Pray in faith as in James chapter 5. Encourage faith & build expectation. Encourage the person to lift their heads and hands and be expectant and receptive.

2. Be respectful, sensitive, appropriate in language (avoid Christian jargon) and appropriate in touch.

3. Laying on of hands is biblical and compassionate (touch can convey love). See Mark 16 v18, and Jesus touched the leper (Mark 1 v41), in Nazareth laid hands on a few sick people (Mark 6 v 5 & 6), and on a crippled woman (Luke 13). Be respectful about where to place your hands on people, avoid the head unless you have some “authority” to do so; it can be distracting and can be offensive to Maori & other indigenous people. Sometimes the authority of ordained leaders or those with the healing gift/ministry, needs to be invoked in healing. For example, calling for the elders in James 5. Ask first if you can place hands on or ask them to place their hand on the area of concern. Pray-ers can also raise our hands towards the person.

4. Anointing with oil is only mentioned in Mark 6 v13 & James 5. It isn’t necessary every time you pray, so do so occasionally, as the Holy Spirit leads.

5. You might begin by asking why the person has come for prayer. Then begin praying by inviting the HS to come, then wait and listen. You may want to say, “Holy Spirit we invite you to speak to us about this situation; you know it better than us…” Admit our inadequacy and seek God’s help. Or say to the person, “I cant help you but Jesus Christ can, so lets focus on him and ask him to give us some insight about you…” We find it hard to wait and listen. We pray too quickly from our minds rather than listening with our hearts. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SILENCE.

You may receive a some indication from God: a thought in your mind, a Bible verse, a picture, a “sympathy” pain in some specific location in your own body… What you get may be nothing to do with the presenting issue. Discern the appropriateness of what you receive and share it gently with the person in an opened ended rather than dogmatic way – “I sense this…does that mean anything to you?”

If as the pray-er you don’t get any indication from God, ask the person if they sense anything.

Beware of knowing the person too well, and assuming you know their needs.

Beware of using a formula or fixed pattern to pray for healing, there isn’t one.

However, it is clear that Jesus and the apostles, including Paul, prayed specifically and commanded the sickness, disease or evil spirits to go: “Be healed!” And the apostles prayed/commanded in the name of Jesus, invoking the authority and power of Jesus. See Acts 3 v16.

Keep your eyes open and watch for signs (manifestations) of the Holy Spirit which indicate some work of the Spirit; ask the person how they are feeling/whats going on/is God saying something to them? Maybe ask them to do something physically that they couldn’t do before.

When finished praying, give thanks to God for the healing process having begun. All prayer is good and has positive effects, even if the outcome we seek doesn’t occur immediately. The desired outcome is for the person to experience the love of God for them in a personal way.

Follow up on people after praying for them, encouraging them to keep trusting and thanking; the Evil One will sow doubts and seek to rob their healing.

Praying for the terminally ill:
We need to be especially sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the thoughts of the dying person.

We may pray for relief from pain, a clear sense of God’s peace, freedom from worry, fear, loneliness; for right/restored relationships with family and friends (I always ask if there are any matters that are troubling them; how are your relationships with family & friends); confession of sins and assurance of forgiveness; and sometimes to pray to release them into God’s care as remaining family members give them permission to go.

Remember to pray for family members too.



  Steve Jourdain 3.11.06