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Praying For the Sick

I’m not sure why this topic makes me nervous, but it does. Maybe it sounds a little too man-centered. Maybe it doesn’t sound spiritual. Or perhaps, it’s just too close to the same old way we’ve always prayed. As I travel in churches, it’s clear that praying for health issues absolutely dominates the typical church. Though I believe that God is showing the Church today that there are many other issues that need to be addressed in prayer, praying for healing is still valid.

As a matter of fact, I believe we need to pray for one another’s physical needs in a much more effective way than we have in the past. Our prayers sometimes sound like this: “Lord, bless brother so-and-so in his illness. Give direction to his physicians. And if it be thy will, bring him to health. Amen.” Though I don’t fault the heart behind that prayer, I want to suggest some ways that we might sharpen our prayers for those who are ill.

Who can pray for the sick?

All Christians are given that privilege, though there may be those who are more gifted in this area than others. Certainly elders are to be involved in praying for the sick. James writes, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15

When and where do we pray for the sick?

We should pray in our families for the sick We should pray in the routine of everyday life. We should pray in our small groups or Sunday School class. We should pray in the whole church, whether it is coming forward for prayer by a prayer team, or by the elders, or in a prayer room after a service.

How do we pray for the sick?

There is no divine methodology. The most fascinating aspect to the healing ministry of Jesus is His astonishing variety of methods employed to bring about healing. Anything from a touch to a mud-pack was used by Jesus to demonstrate His Father’s desire to heal. Jesus shows us that methodology is not doctrine. He gives us the freedom to pray in various ways that work.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of being in a seminar on healing prayer taught using John Wimber’s methods. I believe that Wimber’s basic five steps are a good, well-balanced approach to praying for healing. The five steps with my commentary are as follows:

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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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