439. GUIDELINES FOR PRAYING FOR PEOPLE WITH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS. Core 2 Topic 4B. [This follows on from the previous article No.438 on the biblical background to the Laying on of hands.]

The following were guidelines for those who were authorised to pray for people at the Healing Services in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney when I was the Leader of the Healing Ministry from 1988 to 2006. They have been adapted to be helpful for those who may have opportunities to pray for people at other times and in other places. It may be in a Healing Service or even in a home with just a few folk present. These are helpful hints based on the scriptures to try to ensure that when people are prayed for, it is a safe environment and conducive for God’s healing to flow.


The tendency is to think that because all the facts about a person can’t be ascertained, that it’s not worthwhile praying. Remember that God knows exactly the whole life history (and needs) of the person before us. He is the God who heals, as he told His people Israel, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” Exodus 15:26.  [Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals. ] 

Throughout the Old and New Testaments and even to today, God has been healing people. That is His unchanging nature and character. His ears are always open to the prayers of His people. That is why we should take all the opportunities to pray for people who request prayer, for the Lord will hear our prayers for them.


2.1.     The first thing to recognise is that all people have areas of need in varying degrees, whether they recognise them or not. As people are exposed to the truths of the Bible, such as the reading of the Scriptures in church or personally, or through biblical preaching, the Holy Spirit will minister part of that word to people present. 

St Paul reminded Timothy of the power of God’s word in the scriptures, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I remember as a very young believer watching people in the congregation during a sermon to see who might be coming under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as they were exposed to the truths of the scriptures. Many indeed were! God uses His word in powerful ways.

2.2.     However the Holy Spirit may use God’s word to begin a train of thought which triggers a need in a person,  which has only a faint relevance to the passage preached on in a church service. Remember the words of Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God says that His word accomplishes what He purposed it to accomplish which might not be the same as the purpose the preacher had in mind. God can use any part of His divine word to trigger different needs in different people even in the one service of worship.

2.3.     The approach to the person.

  • It is wise to have at least two people pray for the person. It gives a wider prayer base. It hinders the “lone-ranger” type of Christian who is not accountable to anyone. There are also good theological reasons. Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Jesus was obviously encouraging His followers to come to a common mind as they prayed. So there is the promise of His presence and also the promise of His answer to prayer.
  • The prayer should be made as personal as possible. If they are willing to give us their first name, then we can use it sparingly in the prayer. (Without overdoing it).
  • The question asked of the person requesting prayer support could be in the form of “What is your area of need?” or “What would you like us to pray for you?” Or “What would you like the Lord to do for you?” It is asking the person to express their need as they perceive it. Prayer should be made for the meeting of that expressed need. People will feel rejected if prayer is made for them which completely ignores their request.
  • Don’t allow the person to give a whole life history, unless it is suitable for that to happen. On most occasions that is not appropriate.
  • Don’t try to give them advice. If you are meeting the person for the first time you are in no position to give them any meaningful advice. Your praying for them may facilitate a greater openness on their part to share greater needs with another person in the future.  (God does in fact have quite a few insights about the person and their real needs!) 
  • You are asked to pray in a believing way for the person, expecting that God will bring some positive change within the person, or within the person’s situation now or later. 


3.1.     Don’t rush into speaking out in prayer. Spend just a few moments in quiet prayer as you try to formulate what to pray audibly for them. [Moments, not minutes!]

3.2.     Ask the person whether you can lay hands on the person’s shoulder, forehead, or arm. The person needs to feel that their private space has not been invaded. Be prepared that some people will reply, “No!” Definitely do not touch them if they have not given you permission to do so.

3.3.     There is no need to pray loudly. In a church service setting it is inappropriate for loud prayers to be made. Most people are very sensitive about sharing their needs with their fellow humans and don’t want their expressed needs broadcast widely in a congregation. And besides, God is not deaf!

3.4.     Though most people asking for prayer will normally close their eyes as prayer commences,  there may be some who, because of their background, want to keep their eyes open.  It may be helpful for the pray-ers to pray with eyes open to notice any physical or emotional changes taking place in the person as they are being prayed for.

3.5.     If you feel there is another area of need in addition to the area mentioned by the person,  then you need to be careful as to what you do. Just to go ahead and pray for a need to be met that they haven’t shared with you can be very off-putting for the person. It is better having prayed for the person to ask them if there is anything else you can bring before the Lord for them, or you can say “Is there anything else you would like the Lord to do for you?” If they say ”No!” then just thank the person for the privilege they gave you in praying for them. 

 3.6.    Where there are 2 or more people praying for the person, It is better for each person to pray shorter prayers, than for one person to monopolise the whole time for prayer. Prayers should be direct and to the point, for God does know the problem. 

3.7      In most congregations, it is not wise to pray audibly in tongues in this time-limited context when the person is unfamiliar with the church or the group. Unfortunately the teaching in some churches is that tongues is demonic. Though of course that is incorrect, if the person has been taught that, then they could really freak out when they hear tongues being prayed over them and are unprepared for it. 

  • It is not appropriate to pray prayers of deliverance in this time-limited context either unless it is obvious that the person needs to be given some peace. 

What is ultimately required of people who have been involved with the occult or with any of the powers of darkness etc., is repentance of sin,  renunciation of any evil influence they may have been exposed to and a willingness to live under the Lordship of Christ. This takes longer than any brief prayer time in a church service setting.  


4.1.     Maintain confidentiality. Trust is a privilege not to be abused. The person has given you privileged information and you are not to share it without their consent. The only exception may be to share it with the church leader or the leader of your prayer group.

4.2.     Encourage the person to come again to the service or to the prayer group, for continued support in prayer. Even in the ministry of Jesus we see immediate, gradual and delayed healing.  In the meantime, we can thank the Lord by faith for the answers we have now in Christ,  until we can thank Him by sight.  John in 1 John 5:14-15 wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” There is a two-fold confidence in these verses. One is that when we pray according to the will of God, He hears us. The second is that we now possess the answers to the prayers we prayed. But as always, God’s answers [though we already have them in Christ] come in His way, in His time and through whom He wishes. 

4.3.     If you have the opportunity, encourage them to read the Bible, and to join in Christian fellowship. It is not right for people in a church healing ministry service to criticise other religious denominations. If they have no church affiliation, encourage them to keep on coming to the service they have just attended or to a church where the Bible is preached and where prayers are offered for healing. 

[TO REMEMBER.] The church is the body of Christ in this world and God uses the different members of His body to achieve His purposes. It may be that God has guided a person to come to our particular church or prayer group to receive prayer for their healing. But we may be only a part of the chain of people He desires to use for their healing. So it all doesn’t depend on us. What we need to do is to be prepared spiritually to play the part God has in mind for us in this person’s healing and to trust Him to bring more healing through other members of His body. In other words, our goal is to be faithful to His calling to fulfil the role He has in store for us. It is faithfulness rather than successfulness [in human terms] that is to be our goal in any healing ministry.  

Blog No.439 posted on Thursday 20 October 2022.

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Coping With Personal Grief, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Temptations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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