Foundations for Prayer Ministry

When people are in need, we are to pray for them.

There are multiple types of prayer for others:

–Blessing      –Intercession     –Prayer Ministry

“Prayer Ministry” is what we call it when someone asks for special prayer from other Christians, usually about a specific need.

–Healing (physical, mental, or emotional)

–Deliverance (spiritual cleansing)

–Filling of the Holy Spirit

–Receiving the Gifts of the Spirit

–Asking God’s guidance regarding a specific situation


A time of prayer ministry might include more than one of these things, depending on the person and the time available. But take care not to turn it into a counseling session.

With the exception of Deliverance prayer, prayer ministry usually involves both the laying on of hands and listening to God for prophetic words. (In deliverance prayer it’s usually better not to lay hands on them unless you feel specifically called to do so by the Lord.)

–Prayer ministry is about the person you are praying for, not about you. It’s your responsibility to help the person to feel as comfortable as possible so they can receive from the Lord.

–It’s not your job to do something for them, that’s God’s job. Your job is to ask your heavenly Father for some bread (the Holy Spirit) to give to your friend (read Luke 11:1-13).  Humility is key.  The more humble you are, the more of God’s blessings they will receive, and that’s the goal here.

Laying on of hands in Scripture:

Matthew 19:13 – Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.

Mark 10:16 – And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Mark 17:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: bin my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” [this was a BAD request!]

James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.

Acts 9:17 – So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 28:8 – It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him.

Guidelines for the laying on of hands:

–NOTE: First ASK the person who has requested prayer if it’s okay for you to lay your hands on them. ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION first!! Some people are uncomfortable with this, respect that!

–NOTE: Place your hand/hands in an appropriate place on their body. YOU WANT THE PERSON TO FEEL COMFORTABLE AND NOT DISTRACTED! The shoulder or arm is usually good.

The situation might dictate this: a prayer of agreement might have you holding hands with them, a prayer for healing might have you place your hand on the affected area (as long as it’s appropriate).

Don’t place your hand on a person’s head unless you feel strongly it’s what you should do (and if so, get permission!)—people tend not to like it and find it very distracting!

WARNING: It is VERY important that you not place your hands anywhere near an area that could be considered sensual (stomach, thigh, chest for women, etc.), whether you are praying for someone of the same gender or opposite. You can always ask them to cross their hands on the area, and then gently touch the top of their hands, and then ask to confirm that is okay.

–NOTE: Be sure to place your hand or hands on them very gently. Don’t press firmly, ESPECIALLY if they are standing up (NEVER, EVER, try to push someone over!!). If they start to sway, REMOVE YOUR HAND or place it around the back of their shoulder.

–NOTE: If someone is overwhelmed by the presence of God and does fall/need to sit or down, keep praying for them, and then just let the Spirit of God work. AFTER their experience with God is over, GO TALK WITH THEM about it. Many people will be unfamiliar with such experiences, and most react to the unfamiliar with fear—which is an enemy to the things of God. So talk with them about the experience—start by letting them describe it. Then let them know that nobody pushed them, that it was simply the Spirit of God. Sometimes the presence of God is very tangible and “weighty,” and can overwhelm our emotions, our mind, and even our physical body. It’s not something to be concerned about, it’s a wonderful supernatural experience.  But it’s our responsibility to help them process this so that later on the Devil doesn’t tempt them to doubt that God is working in them.

–NOTE:  On anointing with oil–there is a Scriptural basis for this in some cases, but there is no need to do it every time you pray for someone.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Anointing oil is not “magic,” we follow Jesus not superstition.  If you are led to anoint someone with oil, tell them about it first and ask their permission.  Then use just a little bit (making a sign of the cross on their forehead is a simple way to do it, and many Christians will be familiar with this from Ash Wednesday, baptisms, or other special services).

–NOTE: After the prayer ministry is finished, encourage the person to continue to pray for an additional amount of time over the next few days. Tell them to bring any prophetic words before the Lord and ask Him to confirm those words in their heart.

Some quick notes about giving prophetic words:

–It’s better not to say “Thus saith the Lord” or even “I have a prophetic word for you.” That will be intimidating for many people, or might be contrary to their theology. Just say “I feel like the Lord [feels this way towards you, wants you to know this, has something for you in this passage of Scripture, etc.]”

–Ask them questions. For example, if you’re sensing unforgiveness in them, don’t say “You need to forgive so and so!” Instead, ask them if they’ve forgiven this person totally, such that it doesn’t hurt anymore when they think about that person. If they say no, talk about how that Bible teaches that unforgiveness blocks the things of the Spirit and hinders our prayers. Then ask them if you can lead them through a prayer of forgiveness, and encourage them to keep praying through that over the coming weeks.  [Unforgivenss is a HUGE issue for many people and probably the #1 way that the Devil gets a foothold into people’s lives.  Read Matthew 18:21-35].

–1 Corinthians 14:32-33 says “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.  For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”  You are not “possessed” by the Holy Spirit, rather the Spirit works through you.  You are still responsible for your own actions and speech.  So stay away from “strange” behavior, utterances, body motion, etc. etc.  Many of us have seen prophetic ministry modeled in a “strange” way … this not only unnecessary, but it’s usually highly distracting to the person being prayed for.  You do not have to make strange sounds or gyrate around while you’re praying or listening to God–this is absolutely under your control, so exercise the fruit of the Spirit of self-control while you are praying for someone.  If you want to sway back and forth or hoot and holler during your private time with God, by all means do so, but keep it out of the prayer ministry time.  Do not draw attention to  yourself by acting strangely and then blame it on the Holy Spirit.   Be as humble as you can be.  Afterwards, they should not have to discern how much of the prayer ministry time was “God” and how much of it was just “that weirdo who prayed for me.”

–Stay away from prophesying deaths, births, weddings, or telling someone to move or quit their job, etc, even if that’s what you feel you are hearing from the Lord.  If you are sensing something, you could just say “I’m sensing that maybe God wants to do a new thing in your life in the area of your job, so I recommend submitting your job and your relationships there to the Lord in prayer over the next few weeks and ask Him to give you guidance.”

–New Testament prophecy is not usually predictive, but rather is given to encourage, build up, console, or confirm something God is already telling the person.  Prophecy in a prayer ministry setting is never negative, and it is NOT appropriate to call people out on their sins.  NEVER bring shame on someone you are praying for!!  If you are sensing a sin issue (or even if you sense specifics about that), it’s better to say something like “I’m sensing that there might be something in your life that is blocking the things of the Spirit or keeping you from walking in the blessings God has given you.  Pray about that over the next couple weeks and ask the Lord to reveal to you anything in your life that He wants to change.”

I’ll have a lot more on guidelines for prophetic ministry in a future blog series!

Other Tips:

–Pop a breath mint before you pray for someone!

–Introduce yourself first!  Then ask them their name and what they would like prayer for.

–KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN. Watch their face and their reactions, as well as body language.

–Speak in a calm, comforting tone of voice.

–Keep away from “insider” Christian jargon—use normal speech, not religious words.  For example, saying “Because you are saved you are under the blood” might make perfect sense to you, but it might sound insane to them.  Take care not to throw people off or distract them with religious talk.

–Don’t loudly pray in tongues at them. If you want to pray in tongues, just say “I’m going to quietly pray in tongues for a moment.” They don’t need to, they can just relax and receive.

–It’s best not to tell them to do things, but ask them. If you feel they should hold out their hands, repeat something to themselves, look up a Scripture, etc., gently ask them to do it.

–If you’re not hearing anything from the Lord for the person, that’s OKAY!  Bless them and encourage them to keep seeking the Lord and asking Him to help them walk in His Spirit.  DO NOT try to force something, never make something up just because you feel bad that you “didn’t get anything” for them.  It’s not about you.  God the Holy Spirit is still working if you don’t give them a word or see any immediate change/reaction.  Let the Spirit do His work as He wills.

–Don’t be weird. Don’t showboat. It’s not about you. Explain anything that could seem odd or unfamiliar to them.

–When a prayer ministry time is finished, the person should be thinking about God, not about the person who prayed for them.

–NOTE: This is not magic. This is a humble way God chooses to partner with His people and work through them.  Walk humbly in the light.

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