Chapter Five – The Five Step Method

In the preceding chapters I have tried to lay out the kind of foundation for healing prayer that I wish I’d had when I first came to this ministry. It is a bit of this and a bit of that from different ministries with which I’ve been affiliated to one degree or another over my lifetime. I hope that those chapters will encourage you to approach the method I’ll outline below with some real excitement about what God has empowered you to do.

The five steps outlined below are heavily based on the model taught in the Vineyard Movement, but they are not identical. They combine a couple of steps into one and add a step that I learned while studying at Global Awakening. Randy Clark was himself set on his path of raising up other healers by Vineyard and especially John Wimber. I don’t know that the church will ever understand how deeply indebted it is to John for decentralizing healing ministry and opening the doors to all of us in the pews.
Still, the Vineyard’s model is missing something that I think is important, and it makes two steps of something that feels like one to me, so I’m offering my version here. The Five Steps as I see them are:

1. Introduction
2. Assessment
3. Prayer for the recipient
4. Second Assessment
5. Closing encouragement

1. Introduction

Healing doesn’t often happen anonymously. It springs from relationship. Not just relationship between the one praying and God, but also between the people involved. The people before you are not just diseases or injuries to be healed. They are beloved children of the Most High God and they deserve to be known, so take some time to get to know them. Let them know you. Introduce yourself and invite them to tell you something about themselves as well. Treat them as whole persons. See them as the healed and restored persons they already are in God’s eyes and share something of yourself with them so that it doesn’t feel like a one-way street.

Being honest, when I’ve been called upon to lead a healing service and I’ve had scores of people to pray for, I haven’t always given this step the time I would have liked, and I can definitely see how the encounter suffered as a result. As I mentioned in Chapter Two, one thing that every person we pray for should be able to count on is going away knowing they were loved. Not everyone will experience miraculous healing, but they will be bathed in God’s love before they walk away. It is very difficult for that to happen when we don’t know them at all.
So take time to get to know the person you’re praying for before you tackle the presenting issue.

2. Assessment

This is the step that the Vineyard divides into two parts, but it feels like one part to me. This is where you work with the person in front of you to figure out what you’re praying for and how you’re to pray.
It begins with asking them why they’ve come for prayer. What hurts? What is afflicting them? You also need to know how long it’s been troubling them. When did this begin? It is often helpful to ask what was going on in their lives when this ailment began or the injury happened. That question may or may not be useful, though.

Once you’ve established the simple issue that brought them for prayer, take time to pray, to listen to the Spirit. You may receive a sense that there is something lying behind the presenting issue that God wants you to address as well. That is when questions like, “Was there anything going on in your life when this all began?” may be helpful. Or you might be led to suggest, “I think God is asking me to pray for something else as well. Is there anything else that you’d like prayer for?” Do not pry. If they say there isn’t anything more, pray for what you’ve been asked to pray for.

Having established what you’re praying for you’ll know what sort of prayer to use. That is why I combine these two steps from the Vineyard into one. The second part flows seamlessly from the first.
If someone has come to you with a broken bone that happened while roller skating, the answer is pretty simple. You pray the prayer of authority. In the Name of Jesus you command the bone to align itself with God’s good, loving will for the person in front of you and be healed. You command pain to depart, in Jesus’ Name. If they are suffering with cancer, you command the cancer to leave, to melt away, to vanish, whatever imagery works for you, and you command it in Jesus’ Name. This will be the prayer you pray in the great majority of cases.

My experience is that too many prayer ministers try to delve too deeply and too rapidly for deeper spiritual issues. While Jesus did model this discernment for us (He declared forgiveness for the paralytic before telling him to take up his pallet and walk) it was a rare thing and probably chosen for that moment for a variety of reasons. Don’t assume that you’ll find deeper issues beneath most of the simple complaints that people bring to you. Even when there are more complex issues healing is a first step to addressing them, not the reward for bringing them up. Someone who has been touched by God’s love through healing is going to have much more courage to face the harder things, and probably in a setting where there is more time and relationship.

Even so, you may on rare occasion find yourself called not to pray with authority, but to pray a prayer of declaration. You may discover as you listen to God before praying yourself that God is already about the healing the person requests. In this case, your job is not to command but to speak what God is already doing into the situation. “Cathy, as I was listening just now, I heard God saying that God is (or use whatever pronoun works for you) already healing this sprain! It’s already happening!”
Another kind of a prayer of declaration is one where you’re called to speak what God is doing or has done with regard to a deeper issue, without ever drawing it out. We do this to save the dignity of the person before us while still freeing them from the inner bondage that may hold them. Here is an example from my own ministry.

At the conclusion of a conference, at the end of the final worship service, I was asked to go and pray for a man who knelt at the altar rail. He was shaking and nearly rigid, his face a rictus of pain. I knelt beside him and put my hand on his shoulder and just prayed for a while, asking God what to pray. God gave me a word about this man, that the pain I saw manifest in him resulted from a deeper pain, his addiction to pornography. I remembered then what I’d learned from Bob Hazlett (a prophet and one of my teachers at Global Awakening) about prophecy. When we perceive something broken we don’t point to the brokenness, we speak the opposite into the life of the person before us. I knew then what God wanted said to this man. “You are clean,” was all I said, because he was clean, washed by the Blood of Jesus. His shaking became sobs of release and the tension went out of him, the pain in his face melted away. I repeated that several times, but I never named the issue that shamed him. Maybe he knew that I knew, but for sure he knew that God knew, and God saw him as redeemed in the Son. He was freed from at least some of his shame, and I hope he was enabled to seek continuing support in his new freedom. I wish now that I’d had the wisdom to suggest that continuing support in the moment, without being specific, but I didn’t.

Another sort of prayer that we may be led to is simple intercession. You may find yourself asking God to intervene rather than praying directly for the healing that is needed. This sort of prayer usually winds up in a later part of the cycle of assessment for me. I don’t see Jesus doing this in the Bible, and I believe that we’re all empowered to pray as He did, but sometimes I’m just stumped, and I don’t know what to pray. In those cases, I will turn to intercession.

3. Prayer for the recipient

Once you’ve identified the issue you’re praying for and the kind of prayer you’re called to offer, it’s time to get to work. Try not to get too hung up on using just the right words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled my way through a prayer only to find that something wonderful happened. We’re not here to impress the people we’re praying for with our elocution, we’re here to see them set free from pain and suffering.

Before you begin, though, there are a couple of things it’s good to ask. First, do not put your hands on anyone, anywhere, without asking permission. I like to put my hands where the pain is, but some people just aren’t comfortable with that. Some locations on the body are just too sensitive for us to touch, too. If they don’t want to be touched, you can allow your hands to hover over the place. If they don’t mind being touched, but the location is too sensitive, put your hand on their shoulder or head. Someplace safe. There is another way to approach touching. If the location makes you or them uncomfortable, you can ask them to put their hand on the spot and then put your hand on the back of their hand. This can work, but if there are some places I won’t even ask them to do that.

Now that you’ve figured out if and/or how you can touch them, ask them to pay attention to and then report anything they feel while you pray. They may feel heat or tingling, chills or lightness, any number of things. The reason for asking them to tell you what they’re feeling is simple. It helps build faith when you and they know something is “happening.” Many times they don’t notice anything at all until they check it out (Second Assessment) but sometimes they do, and it can really accelerate the healing if you both know about it.\

As you pray, pay attention also to anything you feel or hear or sense from the Lord. You may feel nudged to shift the prayer one way or another, or simply to give thanks for whatever you’re sensing and cry out for “more!”

Whether it is you or they who sense something, It is always good to give thanks right away for it and ask for “more.” Placing ourselves in a position of gratitude makes us more open to the Spirit and that makes it easier for healing to flow in and through us. I always begin my prayer with thanksgiving as well, thanks for God’s love for us, especially for the person I’m praying for, thanks for the Blood that Jesus shed that makes us worthy to pray as we pray, thanks for God’s good will for the one standing before me.

Only then do I launch into the prayer of command, or declaration, or petition/intercession. I prefer to close with thanks too, bookending the prayer for effect with worship. This reminds me that it is not my worthiness or ability that is at work here. It empties me of any pride and with the loss of pride, fear strangely melts away, too.

It doesn’t really matter how long I pray. Sometimes I feel moved to carry on for a while. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to take long at all. I don’t recommend “piling up words” for the sake of sounding holy or competent. Pray until you feel done, then stop.

4. Second Assessment

This second assessment is probably the step that I see overlooked most often. Once we’ve finished with the prayer it is vitally important to check and see if anything has happened. Most of the time the answer will be “no” or “not really,” but part of being a healing minister is having the courage to face disappointment. I think that’s probably what drives most people out of this kind of ministry, the lack of immediate results. If it doesn’t drive us out of praying for healing, it causes us to pray with greater timidity, less expectation. We slowly slide back into prayer that has little power to stir faith because it has none of its own.

But if you’re going to pray for people for healing, the fourth step is to ask, “Did you feel anything?” We asked before we started that they interrupt you if they did, but my experience is that many people are reluctant to interrupt us if they do, so ask again, “Did you notice anything?” They may say no, but even so we then ask, “Would you check it out? Try to do something you couldn’t do before?” or, “Would you do the thing that hurt, and see if the pain is any different?” Again the answer will often be, “I don’t feel any change,” or “Maybe a little, but not much.” That’s hard to hear, but trust me, it’s harder for them to say. If you’ve done your job in a way that makes them know how much you love them in Jesus and how much you believe that Jesus loves them as well, then they usually want to tell you something is better. There have been times, many times, when I heard, “You know, I do think it hurts less,” and I thought, “Oh, they’re just saying that to make me feel better.” I’ve been heard too often to respond, “Really? Are you sure?” in my own surprise. Not a great thing, but I want you to understand how difficult it is for them to say nothing has happened. It is.

We do this because we want God to get the glory here. We want to know if healing has happened so that we can give thanks and praise to God for the healing that has occurred. In this time of joy and gratitude our own faith is built up along with the one who was healed. We acquire a new testimony to recite to ourselves and others the next time we pray. If there are others gathered at the same meeting, their faith is increased and the likelihood that we’ll see more healings is increased with it.

This is a step that Randy Clark insisted on when I went to his school. Those are the reasons he gave. I will add one more. Part of our task as healers is to enter every encounter expecting to see miracles. Much of the time we don’t, but the person we’re praying for needs to be convinced that this time we will. When we ask them to “check it out” and see what has changed, they become even more convinced of our real expectation. This doesn’t just increase their faith for healing, it increases their faith that we trust absolutely in the Love that Heals. They may not go away healed, but they will go away loved.

Before we move on to step five we will often find ourselves cycling back to step three, then four again. If your prayer doesn’t yield results the first time, pray again. When nothing happens, I often find myself saying, “Well, even Jesus had to pray for one guy more than once (Mark 8, the blind man) so I’m not giving up after only one try!” Sometimes when there is some slight improvement I say the same thing and go back at it. Like the man I mentioned in chapter two for whom we prayed three times, each time there’s improvement, there is also more faith, and many times then there is increased healing.

One Sunday after church I went out onto the streets of Westbury with a parishioner to look for folks to pray for. (I would not go out like this alone, but I’ll get to the importance of “twos” later.) We walked down Post Avenue to a lovely plaza that the village had made in the place of a decrepit old gas station. It was a chilly day, but there were several men out there enjoying the bright sunshine.

We approached the man closest to us whose name turned out to be Billy, and introduced ourselves. We explained that we had just come from church and were looking for folks who might need prayer. We believed that God did not want anyone to suffer, and that we also believed that God wanted us to try to bring healing. Did he have any sickness, any pain we could pray for?

Billy nodded rather sadly, in a sort of resigned fashion. “Yes, I have cancer in the bone,” he said (He was Latino). He poked at his chest, indicating that the cancer was in his ribs. I knew that bone cancer could be incredibly painful, so when I asked how much it hurt he nodded again and said. “Very much pain.” I told him again how beloved I thought he was to his Father in Heaven, and how I didn’t think that God wanted him to have this cancer, this pain. I asked again if we might pray for him. He said we could.

With his permission I laid a hand on his shoulder. My parishioner, a woman, put her hand on my shoulder and we prayed. We prayed fervently. Then I asked him if he’d felt anything. “No.” Was the pain any different?” I stretched his arms up and then prodded his ribs. “A little. Maybe.” I did my spiel about the blind man who saw people as trees walking and asked if we could pray again. “Okay.” (Clearly, he did not have much faith for healing but there seemed to be a wee bit of hope.) We prayed again and asked him to check the pain again.

He stretched his arms to the sky and his eyes opened in wonder. Continuing to look at me he started to prod his ribs and his eyes seemed to get even bigger. I asked him if the pain was better. He nodded. “If your pain was at 10 before, what number would it be now?”
“Zero. I have no pain.” He sounded stunned. I was stunned. So was my prayer partner. We sat with him for a few more minutes giving thanks and reminding him that it was the love that Jesus had for him that brought his relief. I didn’t want to go, but there were other men to talk to on the plaza and my faith was sky high, so we finally went off to speak to others.

Only one other man allowed us to pray for him. His shoulder was giving him pain and we prayed for him. Even with repeated prayer he only saw moderate improvement which brought me back to earth a little until we got up to leave the plaza. I looked back at Billy and he was still stretching his arms into the air and then pressing his fingers into his ribs and shaking his head in wonder. And wiping tears from his eyes with both hands.

I never saw Billy again. I don’t know if his cancer was really healed, though we did ask him to see his doctor to have it checked. I do know his pain was relieved, completely. And I know that he was touched by the love of God in that plaza that day through the willingness of two strangers to look like fools and try to see him healed. If I ever think of giving up healing ministry, Billy reminds me that all the disappointment and frustration is worth it for the times that God acts so wonderfully.
But none of that would have happened if I’d been satisfied with, “Maybe, a little,” or if I hadn’t asked at all.

So ask. Pray, ask, repeat as needed.

5. Closing Encouragement

When you sense that you’ve finished with the prayer and reassessment cycle, you’re not quite done. It is important to offer thanks to God, or Jesus. I usually offer thanks for being allowed to be a part of God’s ministry to that person. “I thank you that in your great love for Jerry, you have brought us together so that I could be Your hands in this moment. I thank you for the Blood of your Son that makes this unworthy vessel worthy and that protects us against all assaults of the evil one.” Something like that. Personally, I believe in the protective power of the Blood of Jesus, so I usually pray that over then before we leave one another.

Then it’s important to ask the person you’ve prayed for if they have any Christian community to whom they can go to reinforce what God has begun in that moment. This isn’t trying to get them into church, certainly not your church (unless they ask), but rather trying to make sure they aren’t left alone with what has happened to them. When God intervenes in someone’s life in this miraculous way it can be kind of earth-shaking. They may need someone to help them process it.

If they haven’t seen any immediate healing, they may also need to deal with some disappointment. They will often try to soften your own disappointment by saying “Well, maybe it’ll happen later.” Be gracious when they show concern for you. Also, Randy Clark told us in class that sometimes it really does take 24-36 hours for prayer to manifest fully. Especially in the cases where there’s been some healing, but not complete, I do ask them to continue to pray for themselves, to cry out to God for “more.” Just that simply. Give thanks for what you have received and ask for more as any beloved child might ask a loving parent.

Finally, if you have seen significant improvement in some way, encourage them to have it checked out by their doctor. Always instruct them to continue whatever medications they’ve been taking until the doctor confirms it. Some folks seem to think this shows a lack of faith. It doesn’t. It shows responsibility. I had a parishioner once with type one diabetes. He came to me for prayer because his A1C was somewhere north of 11 (normal is usually under 6). He told me at the time he felt something shift and we were both elated, but I was careful to remind him that he shouldn’t change anything he was doing until his doctor checked him. When he went to the doctor the next week it was six point something. He was able to cut way back on his medicine, but that wouldn’t have been safe without the doctor’s direction.

Go on to Chapter Six – What Do We Do With Failure?

Or, go to other chapters:

Chapter One – What Happened to Healing
Chapter Two – Why Do We Do Healing?
Chapter Three – Some Introductory Questions
Chapter Four – Things That Help and Things That Hinder
Chapter Five – The Five Step Method
Chapter Six – What Do We Do With Failure?
Chapter Seven – Staying On the Rails.

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