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Praying For the Sick

1. The Interview – the interview is an attempt to find out two things: Where does it hurt? and Why does it hurt? This is of course, the ultimate question and not always easy to answer. The “why” doesn’t have to be a physical reason. Some illnesses are caused by problem relationships, sin, emotional problems, stress or even by the demonic. The Interview operates in two planes:

The natural plane where we attempt to find out a bit of what the person is like. The spiritual plane in which we are asking in prayer for the Holy Spirit to let us know what is wrong in this situation.

2. The Diagnostic Decision – we ask ourselves what might be the ultimate cause of this illness. Not knowing the cause does not mean we do not pray. It just helps us to target our prayers more effectively.

3. Prayer Selection – knowing the ultimate cause of an illness can help us to know what kind of prayer to pray:

Petition—asking for discernment and wisdom.
Intercession—coming to God on behalf of the sick person.
Rebuke—doing spiritual battle with the evil one.
Command—speaking out a word of healing to the person.

4. The Actual Prayer Time – It is important to remember that this is a time of ministry to someone else. Therefore, it is often important to keep your eyes open so you can see what might be happening physically or emotionally to the one you are praying for.

It is okay to ask questions as you go. For example: “How are you feeling?”

When you don’t know what is wrong, ask the Spirit to come and minister to the person. The Holy Spirit knows what is wrong, even when we don’t.

5. Post-Prayer Suggestions – it is often important for you to give the person some directions after the prayer time. Depending on the circumstances, some examples might be:

Stop living an ungodly lifestyle*
Restore a broken relationship*
Praise God when symptoms leave!

*Note: If the person prayed for continues to live a sinful life, or does nothing to heal a broken relationship, God is under no obligation to heal him or her. It is important to share this information with anyone you are praying for.

John Wimber gave five additional guidelines that I believe are important for anyone who wants to get serious about praying for the sick:

1. Do not attempt to give orders to God or to write His script for Him. “When I first began praying for the sick, I used to develop mental scenarios of this celebrity or that one getting healed and turning the world upside down for Jesus. I was saying, ‘Hey, God, I’ve got a fantastic idea for You. Have You ever thought of this one?’ I quickly learned that He wasn’t interested.”

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Category: Living the Faith

About the Author: David Butts, M.A. (Indiana State University), Ph.D. (Atlantic Coast Theological Seminary), is president of Harvest Prayer Ministries and has nearly twenty years of experience in pastoral ministry. Besides authoring numerous magazine articles on prayer and missions for various publications, Dave is the author of ​When God Shows Up: Essay in Revival (2013), Desperate for Change: 40 Days of Prayer for America (2013), The Devil Goes to Church: Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan (2003, 2016), Prayer and the End of Days: Praying God's Purposes in Troubled Times (2009), <em>​Asleep in the Land of Nod: Thirty Days of Prayer Toward Awakening the Church (2008), Revolution on Our Knees, Forgotten Power: A Simple Theology for a Praying Church (2015), and With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America (2016). He wrote Pray Like the King: Lessons from the Prayers of Israel's Kings (2007) and ​Vertical with Jesus​: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living (2014) jointly with his wife, Kim. He has also completed DVD presentations on leadership and prayer. See his page for current itinerary. Twitter: @hpmdave

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