Guest Post by Ali Kennedy
I’ll never forget the first time someone laid their hands on me and prayed. Though I had grown up in the church among many wonderful Christians, it really wasn’t a common practice to pray with others. Rather, “prayer requests” were the custom, voiced aloud during a Sunday service with the understanding that people would go and pray in the privacy of their own home. I have memories of heading out the door of the church and hearing people say, “You’ll be in my prayers this week Ali!”
I have no doubt that many of those promises to pray from a distance were genuine and effective, for God hears all our prayers. But there was something different about the moment when my friend laid hands on me and I actually heard the words she prayed – out loud – over me:
“The vision I am seeing, Ali, is fabric. It is the most beautiful design I can imagine. It’s made from the most exquisite materials – the brightest colors, the softest silk, the finest fibers, gold. I can’t see the beginning or the end of it; I just see part of a larger piece of work, a larger design. It’s the way the Lord created you and how He sees you. It looks like it should be handled with care, but it’s a lot tougher than it looks. Versatile. Able to be used for many different purposes. And there’s only one in the world like it. Let me say it again: the fabric is you.”
At the time I had been feeling particularly discouraged about my future, so when she prayed these words, I was in awe. It was as if the Holy Spirit directed her to answer the very feelings that were concealed in the deep crevasses of my heart. I drank in the vision like a parched traveller, weary from a long and difficult season of uncertainty. It was the gift I was craving for: the reminder and assurance that God knew me. He loved me. He saw me right in that moment. And He hadn’t forgotten about me. A supernatural peace flooded my soul and I went home that night feeling touched by God Himself.
All it took is one heartfelt prayer.
Have you ever had an experience like that?
That night was the beginning of a new conviction: there was power in praying with others. Of course, we all have the privilege of approaching God on our own and engaging in two-way conversation with Him. But the more I supplement my alone time with God by praying with others, the more I’m convinced that there are special blessings that come through the act of hearing God for each other. I love how the Apostle James puts it:
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray…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. If they have sinned they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16)
It is often God’s words through our words for one another that can bring the healing, wholeness and hope we need.
What if God has a message of encouragement to deliver through you to a friend? What if God wants to bring his healing touch to a sick neighbor through your hands?
You may be well versed in engaging in prayer with others. Or like me during the early years, you may be in a community where praying with others is not the norm. Either way, here’s a simple model for engaging in prayer with others:
When you pray for another person, two kinds of listening should take place simultaneously. As Francis and Judith MacNutt of Christian Healing Ministries say, we should: “Listen to the recipient with one ear, and listen to God with the other.”
Many times we want to gather information so we can draw our own conclusions, but this is not what this kind of prayer is about. We need to be listening to God as well as the person we’re praying for.
As the person shares, listen to the Shepherd who guides us as we pray. We are his sheep and his sheep know his voice (John 10:27). It might be helpful to ask, Lord, what do You have to say to your child? This is something that takes time to learn and practise.
All our listening needs to be undergirded by love. God doesn’t need people with spectacular gifts or expertise. He just needs people who are willing to help others. The love we give often has more healing power than our advice.
Thankfully, we don’t have to muster up this love in our own strength. Paul tells us that “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:13). Through prayer, we become vehicles to pass on that love. Without it, our ministry is meaningless (see 1 Cor. 13:1-3). If you’re finding this difficult, pray silently; “God, give me Your love for this person.”
Finally, ask the person permission to lay hands on their shoulder and explain that you’re going to take what’s been shared to God. Then listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for a few moments. Start with: “Lord, I thank you for what’s been shared. Holy Spirit, we invite you into this prayer time…come Holy Spirit.”
The aim is to go beyond our human thinking about what we think needs to be prayed. Listen for anything God might want to say about the prayer needs and follow however He leads.
This model will help you to bring God’s voice to others through prayer. Start by praying with family members in your home, a colleague at work, or in a prayer time at your church. God wants to bring His heart, His healing, His wholeness and His hope through you – by His power, not your own.
May we be like the Apostle Paul, regarding ourselves as none other than “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1) as we pray with others in our midst. Now, see what God does!
Ali Kennedy ministers alongside her husband, Noah, at Union Church of Manila in the Philippines. In this season, she is called to establish and lead a healing prayer ministry in their church, helping equip people to hear God’s voice and minister in the power of His Spirit. Ali also shares her passion for prayer with God Conversations, serving on the intercessory prayer team. When Ali is not immersed in ministry, she and Noah love playing with their two young daughters. For more on Ali, go to her blog: Fuel for the Journey.