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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Three Steps in Praying for the Sick

Over the years, evangelism models have been popular and used with great success, including “The Four Spiritual Laws” and “Evangelism Explosion.” Today, the “Alpha” model of attracting new converts to the faith is extremely successful in many denominations. When we approach the subject of healing, however, a groan can almost be heard in some Christian circles if the topic of a healing model is mentioned.

Someone may ask, "How can we have a model for healing? Isn't it God Who heals?" The answer to the second question is an unequivocal "yes." The purpose of a healing model is not to dogmatize the ministry of praying for the sick and demonized. Neither does it assume that following all the steps in the model guarantees healing for the person prayed for (the prayee). Rather, it is to provide a guide for those involved in such a ministry, and as such, it can be strictly adhered to, providing some order for the pray-er, or it can be deviated from if the prayer ministry situation warrants.

Jesus ministered to the sick and demonized in a great variety of ways: He spat on the ground and made mud, then rubbed it on blind eyes; He rebuked a fever; He commanded deaf and dumb spirits to leave; He even asked the prayee questions before and during ministry. In short, Jesus rarely ministered healing in the same way all the time. John 5:19 tells us Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, so we can assume Jesus was "in tune" with the Father and proceeded to heal as led. Likewise, since each person we pray for is unique, we need to approach each prayer ministry opportunity with both a general "plan of action" (a model) as well as a hearing spirit as to what God may want to do at that time and place—perhaps through us.

Some may say, "Well, Jesus didn't give us a prayer model!" Good point. However, He never gave us an evangelism model either; He simply said to "preach the gospel to every creature,"1 and "make disciples of all nations."2 As I mentioned at the onset, we know that in the 2,000 years since then, the church has created some models of reaching unbelievers. Jesus did not give us a denominational model either, but we have done an extraordinary job of creating some ourselves. In fact, we have created models for most of the things we do as Christians and Christian institutions, many times without even realizing we have.

Since a study of the gospels reveals that ministry to the sick and demonized accompanied Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God, I believe it makes sense to create some guidelines to know how to be as effective in that as we are in evangelism and denomination building.

What I am providing in this article is a simplified three-step model that anyone can engage in when praying for the sick. Before each step, ask the Holy Spirit to come and counsel you on what to do. He knows you and He knows the prayee. He also knows the Father’s will in each case. The three steps follow:

1. Pray for the obvious

If someone is suffering from depression, for example, an obvious and simple prayer might consist of one or more of the following:

  • “Lord, please heal and/or deliver <name> from depression, in Jesus’ name.”
  • “In Jesus’ name, I take authority over depression and all underlying causative conditions in <name’s> life and body.”
  • “I command depression to leave <name> in the name of Jesus.”
  • “In Jesus’ name I bless <name> with peace and joy and hope.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you even when praying for the obvious. The words we use, the commands we give, and the authoritarian actions we take are infused with much greater power if the Holy Spirit directs them.

2. Pray for more insight

If prayer for the obvious works (the prayee is healed), this step may not be needed. However, you can still engage in this step to ask the Holy Spirit if there is any follow-up you (the pray-er) or the prayee needs to do. Of course, if the prayee is not healed or if the person’s condition is merely improved, this step may prove helpful in determining the cause(s) and possible prayer ministry strategies.

In this step, we seek specific insight from the Holy Spirit on what and how to pray. We may sense the need to pray for the obvious more persistently. Perhaps there are ‘hidden’ causes to the person’s condition, and without the Holy Spirit’s insight, those ‘hidden’ causes may never be addressed. Be aware – this step takes time, persistence, and spiritual receptivity cultivated through intimacy with God.

Whether or not steps one or two help the sick or demonized person, the third step is a necessary one for the ministry itself.

3. Pray to be available

Ask God for assistance in improving your time management and your reordering of life's priorities so you can be available for ministry opportunities. Scripture is clear that we are the body of Christ, and each of us has different functions and varying gifts. However, when one is sick, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.”3) This should encourage us to be prepared if God desires to use us in ministering healing or improvement to someone. If the sick person is an unbeliever, healing can provide us with an evangelistic entry point into their lives -- it did for Jesus and the early church.

God just wants us to be available – He will do the works!


Copyright © 2005 by Frank A. DeCenso Jr.

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