Do you know anyone who is suffering from physical illness? Yes, you probably do. In spite of our many advances medically, we are surrounded by people who experience chronic and acute pain, as well as various serious health conditions. Many of our family members, friends, co-workers, and fellow students are living with pain, often unvoiced and unknown. And all needing to experience Jesus’ love.
Today, I challenge you to pray for their healing.
Praying for physical healing in the name of Jesus has enormous biblical precedent. Jesus spent much of his ministry healing the sick, and he empowered his followers to do the same. The early church practiced regular healing prayer, and Jesus continued to heal people by the Holy Spirit, witnessing to his ongoing resurrection power through his body, the church. Paul understood that there are those within the body who have spiritual gifts of healing, but also that praying for the healing of others was just part of the normal, Christian life.
In the book of James, we are encouraged to pray for the sick as a community, calling on elders to anoint with oil and pray for healing. By no means does this restrict prayers for healing only to elders! Rather, we are to practice faithful prayer, as a community, on behalf of those among us who are suffering.
As you pray for those in need, here’s some practical advice to keep in mind:
- Before you pray for the person, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you so that you can minister to them with the Spirit’s power and grace.
- After listening to how the person is doing, and hearing them share about their physical (or emotional, mental, spiritual, etc) struggles, ask that person if you can pray for them right now. If they are unwilling, don’t press it. For many people, they’ve never been asked this before, and it may seem awkward to them. If they seem uncomfortable, ask if it would be alright for you to pray for them later. Also: if you’re in a public space, be sensitive to how they may be feeling exposed.
- If you do pray, don’t be weird about it. Don’t shout or speak strangely or get all amped up. Be at peace, and speak as you normally speak. You don’t need to close your eyes–in fact, there’s good reason not to, as you are able to observe how the person is doing as you pray.
- Simply ask Jesus to heal them. You don’t need to be flowery or verbose: just speak the truth of Jesus’ love for them and ask that he would heal them.
- If they are willing, ask if you can place your hand on their shoulder. Be sensitive to those who may not feel comfortable with being touched. Always respect boundaries and always be appropriate. (I find that there are those who like to clasp hands, which is great.) There seems to be a significant connection between physical touch and physical healing–not every time, but many times that Jesus healed others, he touched them.
- Remember that asking Jesus to heal someone is not about you–you are simply obeying Jesus by praying, and letting Jesus work. Sometimes we get worried about ourselves–how we look, what others will think, what if Jesus doesn’t heal, etc. Healing is Jesus’ job; ours is to pray.
- Remember that people feel loved when you pray for their healing, regardless of how God chooses to answer. The Holy Spirit ministers his love to others when we care enough to pray, and that works a deep healing in the life of someone who is feeling pain or suffering alone.
- In that vein, make sure to remind people of Jesus’ love for them, even quoting a simple Scripture in which to anchor your reminder (such as John 3:16 or Romans 8:38-39). Pray for the Holy Spirit to pour the Father’s love into their hearts.
- Follow up with this person later, perhaps by sending them a message or asking them about how they are doing the next week. Show that you care for them in practical ways.
- And continue to pray for them! Be faithful in remembering them before Jesus.
Praying for someone’s healing can feel intimidating or foreign, but it shouldn’t be. Laying hands on someone’s shoulder and asking Jesus to touch them should be as normal as anything we do. And praying for healing is a profound way of showing God’s concern and interest in others.
I hope and pray you will take courage today, and reach out to pray for someone else. And as you do, may the Spirit fill you, gifting you with his power and presence. And through your care and obedience, may others experience the healing power of Jesus, touching them, mending them, helping them and restoring them, in his name. Amen.