Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. — James 5:14–15 Updated NIV
What we are doing in healing prayer is bringing the body into a place where the power of God can flow into the affliction — especially into the places of affliction. We are also presenting ourselves to be used of God as channels of that healing power.
Step One: Consecrate the Body and the Specific Places Needing Healing.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. — Romans 12:1 Updated NIV
Consecration, brings the consecrated object back under the rule of Jesus, into His kingdom, and therefore available to His blessing. But before you have the person you are praying for consecrate his body to Jesus, you will benefit from first consecrating yourself! (We typically do this first thing in a session, or before the session if we can.) You are wanting to be used by God to heal; you are offering yourself to be a vessel of His life and power. Therefore, in order to be a better conduit, it is right for you to consecrate your life to Jesus Christ — including your gifting and hearing. The more holy the vessel, the more power can flow through.
Lord Jesus — we present ourselves to You now to be Your partners in prayer, to be Your vessels of healing. We consecrate to You our body, soul, and spirit, our heart, mind, and will. We consecrate to You our gifting, our hearing, all our prayers. Cleanse us with Your blood, Lord; restore us and renew us. Holy Spirit, fill us afresh; restore our union with Jesus, and restore the power of Jesus in us; we ask You to guide and fill this time of prayer.
Then invite the person being prayed for to consecrate her body to God. It is important to have the person being prayed for do this (unless of course she is unconscious, or in the case of a sleeping child). After all, it is her body; she has authority over it — and the kingdom works on the basis of authority. Be as specific as you can. General and unspecific prayers typically see general and unspecific results.
Lord Jesus, I present my body to You now as a living sacrifice. I consecrate all the faculties of my body to Jesus Christ and to Him alone. I consecrate [the specific part of the body needing healing]. I bring my body fully under Your rule and under Your dominion. My body belongs to You, Lord, and I consecrate it to You right now fully, totally, completely.
We have found it often helps to renounce any misuse of the body, for typically it is those abuses that have made the body subject to affliction (and of course sin is what gives the enemy a claim on us as well). For example, you are praying for the healing of ulcers. You want to ask, “Where did the ulcers come from?” Was it alcohol abuse? Anger and rage? You will find healing prayer a difficult thing to accomplish until the person repents of those things; they were the open door to the suffering.
Oftentimes in acts of consecration, repentance is required. This isn’t always necessary, but you will find it helpful if your first pass at prayer does not begin to produce results. For example,
Jesus, I renounce every misuse of my body, and I renounce all forms of sin through my body or against my body. I renounce [whatever it may have been — drug abuse, overeating, binging and purging, anger, rage, etc.]. By the blood of Jesus Christ I now cancel every claim I have given the enemy against my body. I cancel every form of access or dominion my actions have given the enemy against my body, through the cross and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I rededicate my body as a temple of the living God, a vessel of His holy life.
Step Two: Invoke the Life of God.
The mechanics of healing prayer are quite simple: we are invoking the life force of God into the afflicted body to restore it. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power that gives life to and sustains all creation. There is plenty of it to go around (four hundred billion billion suns’ worth, and more!). So as we begin to invoke the healing power of God, we will often pray scriptures that help us open ourselves to it, and call it into the specific places of suffering:
O God, You are our life. You are Nancy’s life. You have breathed into us the breath of life, and we have become living beings (Genesis 2:7). Our very existence and our being flow from You. In you we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Jesus — You are the Vine, and we are true branches of Yours (John 15:5). Nancy is a true branch of Yours. Father, You have made Nancy alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4–5). Dear Father, we give Nancy to You now to be filled with Your life. Restore this frail branch in full union with Jesus who is the Vine. Restore her full union with Christ and with You. We call forth the mighty life of Jesus Christ to flow into Nancy now. May Your life and resurrection power flow now into her body, and into these afflicted places. [Be specific — call the life of God into the places of pain and brokenness.] You are the God who gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17). And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us (and You are living in us), He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in me (Romans 8:11). Mighty Spirit of God, we call forth Your power into this body, and into every place of affliction. O God, fill Nancy with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
This is just a model, a type of approach. As you follow the Holy Spirit, He will lead you. But remember: you are not striving! No amount of anguish or trying hard will increase the amount of life that is flowing through you. In fact, all forms of striving close off the channels of your life to be a vessel of his life. Relax. Settle into it.
Use the authority of Jesus Christ given to you. In many of the cases where we see Jesus performing a healing, He actually doesn’t touch the person — He simply commands it!
We declare and we enforce the authority of Jesus Christ over Nancy and over her body. We bring the authority of Jesus Christ over her body and over these afflicted places [be specific]. By the authority we have in the name of Jesus Christ, we command the restoration of this body; we command the complete restoration of [specific places]. In the authority of Jesus Christ, we call forth the mighty healing power of Jesus into this body…
The passage in James on healing prayer recommends anointing with oil; Stasi and I try and keep anointing oil with us at all times for this very purpose. If we forgot, we’ll raid the cupboards and use whatever oil we find there — olive oil, cooking oil, whatever there is to work with. Anointing is not a law; healing can flow without it. But it is a vessel through which the Lord can work, and it often helps the faith of the person being prayed for, helps them open themselves to the healing presence of God.
Step Three: Give It Time!
Picture an empty well. You are turning on a hose to fill that well; it is going to take some time. “Wait upon the Lord.” Give it time as you pray; don’t rush it. (I’m continually surprised how short most Christians’ prayers are — like, a minute or two. That barely gets things going; that is not going to accomplish much at all. It’s like trying to fell a tree with one stroke of an axe.) Stay there, laying on hands if need be; stay and linger, and as you do, repeat the prayers of invoking the life of God into the afflicted place. Linger for fifteen, twenty minutes or more. Often we will just linger praying/commanding/invoking life… life… life.
Worship really helps. Remember — you are looking to Jesus, not to the problem. Turn on some worship music if you can as you begin your session. Worship first, because it rouses the spirit of everyone present to look to Jesus. After we have consecrated and prayed our first round of prayers, we will turn up the worship music for a few songs and just worship “over” the body, still laying on hands, still praying but in worship too.
Proclaiming is also very helpful. Announcing (and therefore enforcing) truth like:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. — 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 Updated NIV
Jesus, we declare and we proclaim that Jason’s body is Yours and Yours alone. He has been bought with a price, with the blood of Christ. Holy Spirit, this is Your temple — come and fill Your temple now with the healing power of God.
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. — Romans 8:11 Updated NIV
Spirit of God, come and give life to Jason’s mortal body by the power of God within him.
Step Four: Watch for the Cloud Rising from the Sea.
It is helpful to have the person you are praying for share with you any changes she is feeling in her body as you pray. This includes positive changes: “Wow — when you guys started worshipping over me, I felt a warmth through my body.” In that case, worship more (or whatever produced the change)! But also report any negative changes, “My headache just got worse,” because that is immediate data that you are dealing with some sort of stronghold and it will guide your prayers in step five.
Step Five: Address the Demonic.
I find it fascinating that in a number of episodes where Jesus brought physical healing to someone, He actually did it by banishing foul spirits:
Then they brought Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. — Matthew 12:22
The enemy hates us; his human allies such as witches hate us, too, and they curse Christians. So it is very likely that in a number of situations where you are trying to bring physical healing, you will need to break the enemy’s work there as well. Sometimes you will pick it up as soon as you begin to pray — you feel the hatred over his life, or you feel the dark spirits trying to push you away and keep you from praying. Listen and ask Christ, “Is something here causing this? Are there foul spirits here?”
In fact, often before I ever begin the prayer session, or as soon as we get started, I will ask Jesus, “Is this physical, or is this spiritual, Lord? ” I’ll linger there, and wait. “Is this affliction physical, or is this spiritual, Lord?” My reason for asking is simple: if the affliction is based in spiritual attack, meaning, some sort of demonic assault or witchcraft, then no amount of regular healing prayer will fix it. You have to deal with the warfare, and then you can pray for healing. Now, I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but our experience has proven this to be helpful in hundreds of cases.
Then we bring the work of Christ against the assault. It is far more effective when you can be specific; ask Jesus to name the foul spirits involved, so you can kick them out by name.
We bring the body of Jesus Christ, broken for Nancy, against every foul and unclean spirit here. We bring the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of his cross against every foul and unclean spirit here — against every spirit of [name them — all spirits of affliction, destruction, death, etc.]. You are disarmed by the cross and blood of Jesus Christ; you have been defeated by the power of His resurrection. All authority in the heavens and on the earth has been given to Jesus Christ, and at His name every knee must bow. We bring the authority of Jesus Christ and the mighty victory of Jesus Christ against each and every foul spirit here, and we order you bound and banished to your judgments. You must leave Nancy now, and you must leave her body. Now. We bind and banish you, and we forbid you to transfer or return, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ who is Lord of the heavens, and Lord of the earth.
Another category to be aware of are curses. Ask Jesus if there are curses operating here. Then break their power.
We bring Jesus Christ, cursed for Nancy, cursed for each of us, against every form of curse operating here. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole’” (Galatians 3:13 Updated NIV). We bring Jesus Christ cursed against every form of curse, and we break their powers now and forever, by the mighty name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
This would include self-cursing (which is actually very common). If you seem to be encountering resistance bringing the life of God into his body, ask him how he feels about his body. Have him renounce all judgments, hatred, and self-rejection.
Step Six: Curse the illness.
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. — Matthew 21:18–19 Updated NIV
The Bible takes blessing and cursing very seriously because it is real; it works. In both Testaments we see godly men and women respecting the power of blessing, and cursing. Jesus does so. Now, yes — we are told not to curse people. But Christ by example does open the possibility for us to curse physical objects, and we have found it effective in cases of difficult illness and even cancer to curse the illness. It is a thief and destroyer. It is a foul presence in the body. It is an intruder! You are banishing it from the body as you pray — you might as well go full-on and curse it directly.
You may or may not feel comfortable doing this, but keep it as an arrow in your quiver for those situations where no break-through is coming.
Stay with It!
Physical healing can be immediate. But it can also take time, especially in cases of profound or chronic suffering. I absolutely love this story of Jesus taking more than one pass to heal a man:
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. — Mark 8:22–25
Whatever you want to make of this wild story, you have to admit it took Christ more than one pass to fully heal the man.
Surely this was for our benefit, another way of encouraging us to pray and not give up!
For further reading: Agnes Sanford: The Healing Light Bill Johnson and Randy Clark: The Essential Guide to Healing
Excerpted with permission from Moving Mountains by John Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge.
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