In praying for healing through the laying on of hands, Christians pray together for the sick believing that the gift of healing would be made manifest through the prayers of those who fervently seek.
The laying on of hands and praying in faith for the sick comes from the following Bible passage: “Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders– the spiritual guides and they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. And the prayers of faith will save him that is sick, and the Lord will restore him.” James 5:14-15 Amplified)
How to do this prayer practice:
1. Open yourself to the possibility that healings can take place in our time.
Soon after my wife Nancy and I were “baptized in the Spirit,” we began to be aware of physical healings happenging through prayer. We experienced a major awakening in coming to accept that healings could and would take place in our time– they were not just historical events that had been recorded in the Bible. Jesus, who we were learning to trust in all other situations, wanted to answer prayers for healing of all types of sickness and disease. A year or two earlier, most of us in our prayer group would have considered experiences of this type to be either totally out of the question or somehow contrived– our minds had been shaped by unbelief, developed in a secular culture.
2. Begin by reading books on healing and visiting a charismatic prayer meeting
The insightful books on healing by Francis MacNutt and others further unveiled for us this dynamic relationship of trust that could exist between God and man, and told us more about healing through prayer. These sources said that healings were to be fervently sought, without doubting. They pointed out that Scripture tells us, “Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking.” This opened up a whole new understanding for us, a world of faith we had never known existed.
3. Attend a healing prayer service and allow yourself to believe.
We attended healing seminars and saw healings take place right in front of us. We couldn’t help but be in awe. Remaining in prayer and waiting while someone’s leg, which has always been two inches shorter than the other leg, grows two inches before your eyes– this quickly changes your outlook and brings you to believe in healing through prayer. Undoubtedly, this was the work of the God we served and He cared about all of our needs– and was going to act on them. It was a glimpse of heaven come to earth.
4. God can use anyone. The Lord tells us all to ask. And He heals!
Perhaps the most amazing part was that we saw God allow a broad range of believers to participate, from the gifted and experienced evangelist to the recently transformed novice believer.
5. Start where you are with the needs that are around you.
In our first prayer group, our prayers over people did not result in the blind suddenly seeing or the lame suddenly walking, but the healings we saw were meaningful for us and made life more bearable and pleasant for those who were healed. They really built our faith. Some of those early healings were simply the Lord removing pain, headaches (even migraines), backaches, and the like, when we prayed and asked Him.
Sometimes the relief came right then, other times it might be a day, or days, before the healing was realized.
6. Become more attuned to pray for people, and as your expectant faith increases, the healings will occur more frequently and for more serious illnesses.
Before long, when we encountered pain, sickness, or disease in someone, our first response was to pray, and we expected the Lord to heal whenever we asked Him. Frequently, He did just that.
One of the more memorable occasions was when a woman with severe arthritis got instant release from her long suffering and debilitation as soon as prayers were offered and hands were laid on her. She seemed anxious to go home, earlier than she usually would, and told us the next day that she had joyfully done housework into the wee hours of the morning. She was that thrilled to be able to again grip firmly and painlessly with her renewed hands. She even took a gallon jug of milk in and out of the refrigerator, over and over, just to use her hands again.
7. A healing doesn’t have to be a “miracle” to count.
Most of the results we saw might not be considered miracles, but all were healings that were helpful and appreciated, and some were downright life changing.
I consider my back healing to be a miracle. It has made a huge difference in my capabilities and my productivity for over 30 years. Just the freedom from daily concern about my back was wonderful. My back has never given me any trouble at all since the Lord healed it.
8. Be open to interrupt your plans and pray with the person as soon as the need is known.
We have learned that there is great value in laying on of hands and praying audibly as soon as a need becomes known. The intentionality and boldness and stepping out in faith seem to especially resonate with the Lord. Interrupting other activities to pray, regardless of the surroundings, often bears great fruit. We learned to not let any fear of what people might think, or doubt of success, deter us from open and fervent prayer. Our part is to ask.
9. Initial fervent prayer, both laying on of hands and passionate prayers by people in other locations are instrumental.
In 2002 the Alleluia community was about to celebrate its 29th birthday and Larry and Sue were helping with food preparation for the Saturday night dinner, a community-wide event. Suddenly, Sue felt an intense headache begin. Several of the volunteers laid hands on her and began to pray. Since the pain was so severe Larry decided to take Sue straight to the hospital.
After a CT scan a neurosurgeon told Larry that Sue had suffered a class 4 aneurism deep within her brain, and there was virtually no chance for her survival. If she miraculously did survive, she would be left in a vegetative state. The neurosurgeon advised Larry to gather the family together to prepare for her death.
Across town, the community had arrived for the usual Thursday night prayer and praise meeting. As the large crowd settled in for the meeting, word came by phone of Sue’s dire condition. An immediate change of plans was made: the prayer meeting would be an all-out beseeching of the Lord to spare Sue’s life.
Individual and group prayer began and rolled on, waves of prayer offered with real fervor and a spirit of supplication, all lifted up with extreme urgency.
Back at the hospital, as Sue’s vital signs weakened, the neurosurgeon had abandoned any hope, telling Larry it was time for the family to say goodbye to Sue. Believing nothing more could be done for her, the doctor then left the hospital and went home. The family and crowd of supporters were huddled in her room as the monitors gave lower and lower readings– some of them even flat-lined.
As this was unfolding at the hospital, the prayer meeting received a stunning word of prophecy from Leo, a man frequently used by the Spirit. He said, “Look at your watches and note the time– the Lord is healing Sue right now.” It was 8 pm. Most of the crowd was taken aback and jolted, thinking the word might be a little bold for such a dire situation– but we all wanted to believe it.
Within minutes, a call came from the hospital. One of the founding members of the community, Harriet, had eased up next to Sue’s comatose body and softly said, “I love you, Sue.” Instantly, Sue’s eyes popped open and she responded, “I love you, too, Harriett!” A few seconds later, she followed with, “I’m thirsty.” With that, Sue returned from the “dead” to the living and was on her way back to full health.
10. Commitment to ongoing prayer– praying without ceasing—is also a big key in the eventual healing of very serious physical afflictions.
In 2002 we were shocked to hear that a young dentist named Larry was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. It was a stage IV carcinoma with metastasis to the bone, as evidenced on a nuclear bone scan. His PSA (prostate-specific antigen) was 159, and the doctor gave no hope for a cure; he could only attempt to delay the progression. Larry knew the prognosis was 18 to 36 months to live.
After the initial intense group prayer with the whole community, ongoing prayer support continued. A support group that Larry was in came to his home every weeknight for over two years to pray over him for healing. Larry was also prayed over by the entire group at every weekly community gathering. Whenever he was present at a community gathering of any size, he was prayed over. Even now, some still come to his home each week to pray over him.
11. Not everyone receives a physical healing, but prayer always makes a difference.
Sometimes, people aren’t healed, such as our friend Harry, who was taken onto Glory– the ultimate healing. Why some are healed here on earth and others are healed in heaven is something we won’t fully understand on this earth; such mysteries are not for us to comprehend yet.
12. Hold onto the Scriptures.
What you witness will look very much like the healings in Scripture. Jesus was teaching us and deepening our understanding. The Bibles says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
The Bible also says, “Inasmuch then as we have a great high priest who has already ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus , the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession of faith in Him. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace– the throne of God’s unmerited favor (to us sinners); that we may receive mercy (for our failures) and find grace to help in good time for every need– appropriate help and well timed help, coming just when we need it. Hebrews 4:14 & 16 ( Amplified)
My personal experiences and tips:
The following is an example of a healing we’ve witnessed in the Alleluia Community in Augusta, GA that shows the continual part prayer plays in healing.
Cathy had come from San Antonio to join the Alleluia Community about 20 years before. Now she and her husband, Steve, were waiting to welcome their fifth daughter into the world. Cathy delivered Dora on schedule, but then disaster struck.
The doctors couldn’t stop Cathy’s bleeding. Calls went out and a group of about25 people arrived at the hospital and began praying. As the news swept across the community, prayers for Cathy became the number one priority. The doctors performed an emergency hysterectomy, in vain, and Fr. M., a loving priest who was a favorite among us, administered last rites.
The prayers continued throughout the night. Early Saturday, the news about Cathy was dire. She had already received 40 units of blood and her condition was extremely critical, yet she continued to bleed. An already scheduled full-community meeting was quickly turned into an all-out prayer appeal for Cathy’s life. Periodic updates from the hospital confirmed that Cathy’s condition had worsened and that she was at the brink of death.
A gymnasium full of brothers and sisters of all ages were on their faces begging God for her life, many straining to touch a stand-up cross in the center of the room. This was in response to a word that was delivered from Scripture from a community member saying, “If I only touch His garment, I will be made well.” The cross was used symbolically to represent His garment.
Suddenly, around 11 am, the spiritual atmosphere in the room changed decidedly: the sense of impending death was replaced by a quiet sense of relief. New hope of healing descended over the entire group– we could unquestionably feel it!
At noon, after more prayer, song and Scripture, the meeting came to an end. As we were sent forth, Dennis, the head elder, urged all of us to continue in prayer for Cathy. Many went straight to the hospital and joined a sizable group already there praying. Then, sometime around 2 pm, the doctors noticed that some clotting had begun. The doctors were amazed and admitted it was nothing that they had done. They had totally given up on Cathy the night before and had told her husband, Steve, to expect her to die.
Prayers and prayer gatherings of many different groups in various locations continued for Cathy’s healing and restoration. The following Wednesday, at daybreak, over 50 people gathered, kneeling on the helicopter pad at the hospital in the November cold, begging the Lord for Cathy’s restoration. On Thursday, the seventh day, all bleeding ceased and the last transfusion was given to Cathy. In all, Cathy was given 342 units of blood, believed to be the all-time record at the hospital, nearly ten times the maximum amount considered safe for survival. After even that amount (some 35 units), the patient is usually disabled for life or will later die from infection.
Thirteen years later, Cathy is still being restored and has returned to singing with the music ministry. We are all so grateful to the Lord for sparing her. She is an incredible tribute to the healing power of the Lord and to His response to unceasing prayer. Cathy received much more prayer support than she received blood.
Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. Matthew 9:20-22(NIV)
With God, all things are possible. His ways are higher than our ways. It seems that our part is to pray and beseech Him with all our heart, soul and spirit, and then trust and embrace His response just as wholeheartedly.
The Biblical origins and traditional roots of this method of prayer:
And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages;… they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well. Mark 16:17-18,20 ( Amplified)
“Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders– the spiritual guides and they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. And the prayers of faith will save him that is sick, and the Lord will restore him.” James 5:14-15 ( Amplified)