Lately, as I’ve travelled and taught in new places on transformation and the value healing through heart-focused community and prayer ministry, I have encountered more and more people who have had negative and sometimes abusive experiences with inner healing prayer practitioners.
Now, I realise that if I say ‘Prayer Ministry’ or ‘Inner Healing’, many different views, opinions and experiences will be associated with those terms. To clarify what I’m speaking of here, I’m talking about a Christian person or small team you may go and see for help with emotional, relational or spiritual issues you are facing. You typically have some kind of session with them that involves discussion and prayer with you and/or prayer for you. I’d say a session is typically 50 minutes onwards (I allow around 3 hours.)
I’m not interested in discussing what approach is best, more effective or otherwise; I believe in the progressive value of revelation, insight and practice of many approaches that seek to bring people into wholeness AND most importantly, deeper connection with Jesus Christ. I’m also convinced that the effectiveness (positive or negative) of a session is 70% dependant on the person facilitating it and 30% percent dependant on approach/methodology.
What I’d like to do here is give you a few things to consider when choosing to journey with someone that practices in prayer ministry, inner healing and/or deliverance ministry. These are not rules, just advice and guidelines – because the reality is, like most things in Church life, there is no governing body policing these practices, so basically anyone, regardless of training, endorsement or support can call themselves a ‘prayer minister’ or ‘person gifted in this area.’ And they may be!! But how can we exercise wisdom in choosing to meet with someone?
Here are some things to consider:
This is a big one. Why are they doing it? Why do they want to help you? I have heard stories of keen and well intentioned people who have gone looking for the most broken to go and help and ‘FIX’ for Jesus. I am very cautious of those who pursue others to ‘heal them’, or ‘fix them for God’. Sadly, there are a few too many co-dependant & rescuing types that are actually motivated to make THEMSELVES feel valuable and needed by what they can do for others. Go with your gut on this. I know this is hard to do if you are in pain, but consider this person’s motives, the situation and what they are promising.
I have been privileged to watch and work with some exceptional and experienced prayer ministers over the past 5 year. I love what Sandra Sellmer-Kersten from Elijah House would say, ‘A good prayer minister is one who can love another person to life’. I also love what John Sandford says, ‘Prayer ministers should never guarantee results. We are not commanded to do anything other than love and pray for others.’.
The Lord rebuked me once when I was getting frustrated with the lack of results during a lengthy ministry session couple of years ago. He said ‘David, this man is not a problem to solve, he’s a person to love!’ Point taken! If you don’t feel loved and honoured by the practitioner, consider someone or something else.
This goes by age, stage and character. I’m going to personally admit that at 38, I’m one of very few people in my age group that do what I do – let alone travel and make an income from it. Pastors and people tell me all the time that I’m a bit of an anomaly, because most people serving as prayer ministers are 60+ and mostly female. I can attest to this as I managed Elijah House Ministries Australia for 3 years and I saw thousands of records and met hundreds of volunteers that served in this area. They are commonly grandma’s. And I think that is great! Maturity really matters! I received deep healing and ministry through these precious ladies.
However, age doesn’t guarantee maturity. After motive, consider the fruit, years lived and especially, the length that they’ve been following Christ for. Also, consider and don’t be afraid to ask for some background on themselves. Ask how they got into where they did. A love and passion for Jesus with a healthy dose of the reality of life’s serious challenges is a good indication of some inner maturity.
Also, be sure they carry some joy! If you find defensiveness or strange gaps, consider finding someone else.
APPROACH AND TRAINING
When you go to a doctor, you know the person has been through several years of university and education. Psychologists also. Streams of counselling too right? What about prayer ministers. What I loved about the Elijah House prayer ministry training path, is that is took years. That filtered out a lot of people. You could complete the training in one year if you were fast and had a lot of time but commonly a minimum of two years before you might be facilitating sessions and praying for others. I did it progressively over three years, volunteered on local teams, watched hundreds of hours of it and most importantly received lots of healing myself. Dealing with open hearts, spirits and minds is serious business!
For those who don’t know, there are different approaches and modes to healing prayer. Some are fairly new, some old, some improvements on older modalities but most are founded by brave pioneers who God used to bring healing to many. Find out what approach the prayer minister uses, where they were trained etc. You see, they are not all the same. I am VERY concerned with any approach that promises big results and that a person can learn in a two day seminar.
I could list some approaches that I like and endorse but as I mentioned before, some practitioners shouldn’t be allowed to practice. They can give good approaches a bad name because of their defilements, bad theology and own unhealed lives.
For the record, my main training (and own healing) was with Elijah House Ministries. Over the years I’ve expanded my tool box to include tools from Arthur Burk, Paul Cox, Anne Hamilton, Immanuel, Lifemodel, and more recently, HeartSync. This has been over 5 years 1000+ hours and I am dedicated to keep learning, growing and expanding options for those that I see and train. I’ve discovered there is no single approach that heals all. Jesus’s approach and answers to those that sought Him were vast and varied.
ENDORSEMENTS / REPUTATION
People came to Jesus because they had heard and saw that He heals. Good prayer ministers have living testimonies of loved and healed people as a result of their efforts. Not abused and shamed people.
It pains me to hear of the way some people leave sessions having been shouted at, dishonoured and sometimes spiritually abused by some demon chasing person or team that are more interested in fixing the problem than loving the heart of the person. Again, love and honour must remain central to any ministry.
So find out and ask for endorsements. We put some of ours on our website but the best thing is word of mouth and the evidence of a changed life. I find good prayer ministers, like anyone in health care, are busy enough simply through word of mouth.
I’d like to finish writing an apology to anyone who has had a negative experience in receiving inner healing prayer. I’m sorry if you were not loved and honoured. I’m sorry if you felt abused. I’m sorry if you were shamed and felt you needed to BE better and fixed even though nothing changed. I’m sorry if your demons were ministered too, it should have been YOU who received the attention. Finally, I’m sorry if you were pursued by a co-dependent, needy prayer minister who you felt trapped by and dependant on for your healing – Your will, pace and space should have been honoured.
At the end of the day, good prayer ministers simply facilitate ways for you to connect with Jesus and relate better to God, life, self and others as a result.