How do you start a healing prayer service? Here are some useful guidelines and ideas. Healing prayer services are a powerful means of bringing God’s healing power into the lives of those who are suffering from illness, physical disabilities, grief, fear, and mental or spiritual health issues. Starting a healing prayer service can meet these needs through the power of prayer that brings the gift of healing into the lives of others by connecting them to God’s loving presence.
If you are not sure you have been called to a healing service, pray and ask God. He may answer you directly, through the encouragement of others around you, or through an experience.
God has placed gifts within each one of us that He intends us to use to help one another. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on healing. 1 Corinthians 12:4 tells us, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” It is God’s Holy Spirit that assigns, activates, and guides us in the use of His gift(s). No one gift is above another but all are used in concert for the benefit of His people. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
I was made aware of my calling experientially. While at a prayer meeting, my hands became very warm and began to swell. This was God’s way of telling me He wanted me to use my hands. As I placed my hands upon the man for whom we were praying, God gave me His prayer for the man, which I repeated. The man was given God’s peace and was eventually healed (not instantly in that meeting).
2. Pray and meditate on scriptures on healing
Both the Old and New Testaments contain healing verses. You can search the word ‘healing’ in a Biblical concordance or a Biblical search engine online (such as BibleGateway.com). Ask God for guidance in the Scriptures on which He wants you to focus.
There are healing prayer services at churches as well as independent ministries. Attend with an open mind and an open heart. Do not be overwhelmed by the experience. What you see, hear, feel, & experience is the result of God’s guidance over several years. It did not just materialize but is the result of heartfelt prayers by many seeking God’s desire for the ministry.
I visited a healing prayer service at Riverstone Church in Kennesaw, GA. Their service is held once a month on the last Thursday night from 7-8:30 PM. They have conducted healing prayer services for more than 12 years. My experience was a calming confirmation by God of His desire for me to pursue this ministry. The soaking area was a place for me to rest and focus on God, to un-plug from the concerns of my day-to-day life. When it was my turn to pray with a team, God used them to confirm I was on His path regarding a healing prayer ministry at my church. The experience ended with a quiet moment of receiving communion. God uses these moments to help & heal His children which is what I experienced that evening.
If you are led, call the church and schedule a meeting with the Pastor and team leaders to answer your questions and discuss your interest in establishing a ministry. This is not to be taken lightly or entered into rashly. This is an extension of God’s heart for His people on earth.
If you are a member of a congregation, you should seek the permission of your clergy before seeking out the opportunity to serve at another church. Not only is it simply polite manners, by asking permission, you are asking for your pastor’s blessing, and as such, submitting yourself to God’s authority through the pastoral office He has established for you.
The opportunity to serve will vary by ministry. Some ministries allow people to come and observe their healing service but not take part immediately. Some may have established training programs that would include participation in their healing service at some point. Do not feel rejected if they do not immediately allow you to join the team. They are stewards of God’s ministry and are trying to do what is best for you and the team. To rush into this unprepared can set you up for a difficult or dangerous encounter. Their caution is for your protection.
Meet with your pastor(s) and explain the ministry that God is leading you to establish. Discuss your ideas for the ministry and be willing to listen to their ideas. You may be surprised how God speaks to you through them. Once your pastor(s) has approved the idea of hosting a healing prayer ministry, enlist his/her help to present the idea to the church planning committee, if that is a requirement of your church. Present not only the idea of the ministry, but the reason for the ministry and why God has laid this on your heart for your church.
6. Cover the ministry in prayer and pray for ministry participants
Now that you are ready to actually begin the process of establishing a healing prayer service ministry at your church, PRAY. Ask God for His guidance in all aspects – physical layout of the ministry area, who is to be on the team, when the meetings should be held, etc. At my church, Birmingham United Methodist in Milton GA, we decided to meet the first Thursday of the month from 7- 8:30.
When praying about team members, pray not only to ask for whom God wishes to join the ministry team, but also that they would have an open and willing heart when asked to participate. Our leadership team did this when forming our ministry team. God led us to ask each person that is on our team and when asked, each person responded with an enthusiastic, ‘Yes’. Some of our team members explained that they had a desire for this type of prayer but was not sure how to go about manifesting it in their lives.
7. Create a plan that will work for your church’s needs and resources
Realize that God’s plan for how the healing prayer ministry will be conducted in your church or area is distinct and unique. Although there may be similarities between ministries at different locations, God has a tailor made plan just for you. Be prayerful about how God wants the ministry to develop in your church. Do not feel that the first plan is the only plan He has. Remain open minded and flexible as the ministry grows. Here are some things to pray about.
Plan a way to welcome visitors and let them know what to expect. At our church we have a greeter that welcomes each person that arrives in our Narthex. This is a separate area from our Sanctuary, which allows for our greeter to welcome people, tell them about what they can expect during the prayer time, and answer questions.
We ask everyone to complete a short questionnaire, which asks them to explain why they are coming for prayer and also provides a place for them to sign a release. It is unfortunate that this is necessary, but it is best to protect the team and the church. On the reverse of this form is a step-by-step explanation of what they can expect when they enter our Sanctuary
Establish a way to gather prayer requests and identify those who want special prayer with the prayer team. When they have completed the prayer info form, they take it back to our greeter that asks them whether they want to pray with a prayer team or whether they just want to soak in God’s presence. If they want prayer with a team, the greeter gives them a number to place on the pew in front of them. This identifies them as someone who wants prayer with a prayer team. It also tells the usher the order in which to invite those wishing prayer to be escorted to a prayer team.
Create a healing atmosphere of prayer, love and God’s presence. When people coming for prayer first enter our Sanctuary, they are enveloped by a prayerful atmosphere facilitated by music, candles and God’s presence. We use music on a CD at times and also are fortunate to have live musicians play during some of our services. People sit where they wish in the “soaking” area, which is separated from the prayer teams by a curtain that divides our Sanctuary.
While they wait their turn to pray with a team, we have prayer team members we call “soakers” who come behind those seated in the sanctuary and pray silently for them. The soakers stand behind them and pray. If led by God, they may quietly lay their hands on the person’s shoulders. God MUST direct this because a person may have a strong negative reaction to being touched by a stranger. Many people comment that feeling a person’s touch on their shoulder while praying was comforting.
Decide on a good way for the prayer team to privately pray for those requesting healing prayer. The soaking area and the area for prayer teams need to be separated. It does not have to be anything elaborate, but a visual barrier is helpful. It allows those in the soaking area to focus on God and not be distracted by what is going on with the prayer teams. A visual barrier also provides a sense of privacy for those being prayed for by the prayer teams.
God led us to create a visual barrier with a curtain. We use PVC poles cemented into 5 gallon buckets as supports from which to suspend our curtain. The curtain runs down an aisle in our Sanctuary and delineates the soaking area from the prayer team area. In the prayer team area, we have 2 – 3 prayer teams (usually 2 people per team). We have elected to use chairs arranged in a circle to facilitate the prayer. Depending on space and number of people attending, you may choose to use chairs or have the teams stand. If standing, make sure chairs are available for those who may come for prayer that have trouble standing.
There are different methods to get people to the prayer teams. We have chosen to use an usher. When it is time to take someone to pray with a team, our usher quietly invites them back. She introduces herself and asks their name. The usher will then introduce the person receiving prayer to the prayer team and then leaves. We find that this method creates an atmosphere of caring. We do not want those coming for prayer to feel anxious or confused about what should be happening or what they should be doing. By escorting them into the soaking area, then to the prayer area, and then to communion, we are demonstrating our care for them and creating a sense of safety.
Consider offering communion. Communion is a moving experience. It is through Communion that we often feel a deep connection to Jesus. It was Jesus Himself who instructed us to remember Him through this simple act. When our prayer teams have finished, they offer communion. We have set up a communion station in the soaking area of the sanctuary with elements that have been consecrated by our pastor. Sometimes our pastor is the one presenting the elements and at other times, it is the team members.
We find that offering communion helps people draw closer to God and gives them a time to reflect on the prayer they just experienced. Different churches have different traditions and requirements for offering communion so please check with your clergy before deciding to offer communion.
You should also know that there will be some people who decline communion. There are various reasons for this and you should not be offended. For example, Catholics will not take communion at churches of other denominations. There are also those who do not feel worthy to receive communion. We had a woman who came for prayer a while ago. At the end of the prayer, she was offered communion. She did not accept the invitation, believing she was not worthy to receive communion. One of our pastors was on the prayer team and was able to tell her about the true meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, that we are all invited to his table. After some conversation with her, some additional prayer, and many tears, this woman accepted Jesus into her heart and took Communion for the very first time at the healing prayer.
8. Let others know about the healing prayer service
Make announcements in your church and community. Consider placing a street sign in front of your church a few days before the service to let others know that God is providing a refuge for them in your church; a safe place that they can seek the healing they long for from Him. If your church has a website, ask for permission to place an announcement or informational page about this ministry.
You need to consider having a follow up process so people do not feel abandoned. They may have had a wonderful prayer experience but may have many questions. If they do not have anywhere to turn to get the answers they seek, they could feel isolated or abandoned. If your pastors are willing, consider sending an email to attendees after the prayer, thanking them for their attendance and informing them that they can make an appointment with your pastor(s) to ask questions or discuss the prayer.
As Peter, Paul, and many other disciples of Jesus Christ have stated, it is God that is at work. We are merely the instruments He has chosen to use in a particular situation. But whether through us, or in spite of us, all healing comes from God. God should not only be acknowledged but also praised and thanked joyfully. The process of grateful thanksgiving opens our hearts, minds, & spirits to who God truly is. It is in the process of thanksgiving that we draw ourselves closest to Him.
Every member of our healing prayer ministry has been blessed by being a part of this team with God. There has been healing of every type through this ministry. We have seen physical healing, emotional healing, as well as healing of a person’s spirit. We have not yet seen any instantaneous physical healings but that is not necessary to validate this ministry. We often pray for a physical healing and the person does not feel an immediate improvement but we hear from them later how God has healed them.
We have had a couple that was told that it was doubtful they could have children. They had been trying for a very long time and had come to the healing prayer to ask God for a child of their own but they had also been open to the possibility of adopting. They had come seeking His guidance. After the first night of prayer, they returned for prayer every month. God answered their faithful and diligent prayers. A few months after their initial visit, she became pregnant and will soon deliver their first child.
This ministry is a joyous privilege as well as a responsibility. Seek God’s heart and follow His leading and His blessings will surely follow.
Copyright Ken Franchini 2013. All rights reserved.