Models Are Important
It is fair to say that there is no specific model of prayer offered in a stepped pattern given in the Second Testament or the First Testament for that matter. But, that does not mean that there were not techniques used by Jesus and others as they prayed and ministered to people. It was not the intent of the authors of the Second Testament books to write us a treatise on the ministry of Jesus. The stories of Jesus as found in the Gospels are shaped by the authors to deliver a message to the ecclesiae of the Second Testament era.
Over the years different groups have adopted different models as they have prayed for healing. We presuppose that the most visible model that is most often used is that of a one-person healer who does all the praying and usually does it in a large crowd, whether in a local ecclesia, tent, or an auditorium. This was a model developed by early Pentecostal evangelists to bring healing to the people to whom they were ministering. In addition, there are other streams held sacred by other groups.
My mom was a great Oral Roberts fan. When Roberts appeared anywhere close to where we lived in Central Florida, she would travel to that spot and attend all the meetings she could. The pattern of the tent meetings was just like a local church meeting: music, special music, sermon by Roberts, and then the healing line. Oral would pull a folding chair to the edge of the platform which had a ramp in front of it going up on the right and down on the left. Folks that had received cards for pray in an adjacent tent before the service would line up to be prayed for. They were led up the ramp by one of the teams’ ministers and stood in front of Roberts. His mike stand had been lowered so he could speak and still lay hands on the person who was being prayed for. He prayed for me once for my eyes to be healed. I was not, even though mom made me take off my glasses for a week while professing that I was healed. A form of “claim it” theology. I was not. But, that does not mean that I don’t believe in healing.
My mom also had all kinds of memorabilia from her Oral Roberts days. One item was a picture of Oral’s hands in full living color that hung on the wall between the living room and the dining room in our home. While visiting her in her later life, I asked her one day why she didn’t have a picture of my hands hanging on her wall. “Winston,” my given name, she said in amazement. “Don’t be sacrilegious, you are NOT Oral Roberts!” Such was life in the house of a zealous religious individual who was close to idol worship of one individual preacher. I would like to believe that in her present state of life, i.e., life after death, that she thinks differently.
It is my intention to rehearse the model that I first met when I took the first course at Fuller Seminary called “MC510: Signs and Wonders and Church Growth.” There were many different stripes of Christians there, as John Wimber faithfully taught and modeled for the class this model for praying for the sick.
It is a model that is transferable to anyone. Remember, in ministry, everyone gets to play, and being trained is often a prerequisite to playing well. This is not a one-person model, but a model that gets everyone involved in ministry. It takes the mysticism out of praying. The more one practices it, the better at praying he or she may become. It is not a model that is found in tack in scripture but is assembled from may things Jesus did when he prayed for the sick that were brought to him.
Since my introduction to this model, I have watched many people use this model for prayer, and many folks train others to do so as well. It allows an individual to pray for anyone for anything. By using this model, It does not work out on every occasion that the person was healed. But, I think that it did work out as a path to help one pray. The downside: my observation is that over the years this model seems to be infused with some “power” by some people in the tribe who developed it, i.e., the model became the “only” way to pray. Ah, but such is life.
There are five simple steps involved in this model. They are interview; diagnosis; prayer selection; prayer engagement; and a post-prayer direction. In the preliminary stage of ministry, the person praying should make sure that the person being prayed for is relaxed and protected from any embarrassment.
An interview implies just that, an interview. This means that you might ask the person that has come for prayer what they want you to pray for. This is not a detailed medical report of their ailments, which actually dissipates the faith of the one praying and the one being prayed for. In this initial step, two dimensions are useful to note: the natural and the supernatural. In the natural, you should note what you see and what the person who is being prayed for is telling you. You simply gain as much pertinent information as possible about the situation that you are going to be praying for. You might ask questions like: How long has this been happening? Do you know of any sin that could be contributing to the illness? Ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. It is possible that hurting people will know much more than they are willing to tell you, so become a skilled listener.
At the same time listen to God for any additional information that he might want to provide regarding the person’s need. It is possible and most probable that God will share some prophetic insight, often erroneously called “word of knowledge,” into the person’s life or condition. These insights can come to the prayer as a picture that is seen in the mind, like seeing a part of a body that is damaged. They may come as literal words that just come into your head. Collect all this information so that you can effectively use it as you begin the actual process of prayer.
At this point, you will try to form a diagnosis from the information you have received from the person and God. This is not a medical diagnosis. Diagnosis is not simple but often complex, because symptoms of physical illness or mental disturbance can be rooted in spiritual, relational, or emotional hurts. There may be interrelation between physical and emotional, or social-emotional; or emotional-demonic, or demonic-physical, or psychological-demonic; or spiritual-emotional. These are only some of the intricacies that could occur. The interrelations are numerous. However, not every sickness is rooted in some emotional or psychological problems. The point is to alert you to the fact that some of the problems that we are presented with to pray for might be connected with other areas of the person’s life. Try to fixate on the direction that you believe that God is taking you and then begin to pray.
What kind of prayer does the person need to be helped? Does the person need spiritual healing, physical healing, or demonic healing? At this point you should choose a direction to pray and begin, always continuing to listen to God’s direction for a course correction.
When you have chosen a specific area that you are going to pray for, it may be appropriate to lay hands on a person when you are praying. Remember, Jesus never touched anyone who was influenced by demons while he was praying for them. It might be well to follow his rule in this area. If you are going to touch the person you are going to pray for, you might tell him or her in advance that you are going to do so. Men, remember, touching a woman might be inappropriate, so it might be wise to pray in teams of a man and a woman for this purpose. Often you could get a woman to touch an area of the body and then place your hands on top of the woman’s hands to pray. It should be noted that men often don’t like women touching them as well. Be sensitive. If in doubt, ask before proceeding.
As you pray, you want to determine how effective the prayer ministry is going. You may ask the person for feedback while you are praying. You need accurate feedback so you can continue to pray with more focus. You may ask the person if they sense any relief in their condition. Do they sense any physical sensations that they might feel, like heat or tingling in their body? The need for accurate feedback from the person being prayed for is illustrated in the story of Jesus and the blind man in Mark 8.24ff.
Remember, Jesus never advised anyone to declare they were healed when they were not. He never asked a person who was sick to deny the symptoms. People were either healed or they weren’t. There is nothing gained by distorting reality as we minister to people. Asking and getting feedback is simply an extension of the interview process during the actual time of prayer.
The prayer session should be evaluated so that the one praying knows how to continue or if it is time to stop for this occasion. Remember, not all healings are immediate. Some are progressive.
Because a lot of illness that we encounter is interrelated with other parts of our body, as an example: physical tied to emotional or physical tied to spiritual or physical tied to demonic, we need to help the person who has been prayed for to allow the process of healing to continue. Direction after prayer addresses the whole person. As an example when Jesus brought healing to the woman caught in adultery he replied, “Go and sin no more.” When the power of an evil spirit is broken, it does not mean that the healing is permanent. Often without a change in lifestyle, the spirits return in force (Matt. 12.45). If the sickness has been connected to a sin, we might want to suggest that the person make better choices in that area of life, offer some Scripture to read or other books that may fill in the gap. If a person has been influenced by demonic activity, we might want to suggest a change in lifestyle while at the same time helping the person fill the vacuum on losing influence by filling it with another influence. To some, we might need to suggest that they keep on praying. You might suggest that the person gets someone to pray daily for the condition. Reading Scripture, especially the Gospels (Mark is the shortest), with a focus on Jesus healing is often a helpful suggestion. It is reinforcement food for the process that is occurring in a person’s life.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- So get started! You can’t learn to skydive by only reading a book. You’ve got to jump out of a plane sooner or later. You can’t learn to swim without getting into the water. You can’t learn to play golf by watching others do so on the TV. You learn best by doing. The model presented above is well-suited for one-on-one prayer, team praying, prayer in small groups.
- Training is important. A friendly pattern is to receive instruction, watch a model, practice, feedback, and, then, practice some more. The disciples of Jesus learned in this way. They listened to him teach about healing, then, they watched him heal, and, finally, they went away and practiced healing as a part of their ministry.
- If there is no training available in your ecclesia for ministry to the sick, speak start one. You only need God’s permission!