Thursday, February 11, 2010

Care-givers and Healing Prayer

Hawley Todd TSSF, Episcopal Healing Ministries

Relationships are intrinsic to human existence. They are woven into the very fabric of who we are. At the core of all interactions, there is a mutuality of giving and receiving, of caring for one another. There is a continuum of how giving and receiving is balanced. At times the dynamics embody a relationship wherein one person becomes primarily a care-giver and the other becomes the care-receiver. The purpose of this tract is to offer insights for care-givers on how they might invite God’s presence into their human relationships, especially ones with care-receivers. It is critical to note that whenever God is invited into a situation there is a triad of relationships: God & the care-giver, God & the care-receiver, and the care-giver and the care-receiver. Whatever happens in any one of these relationships may impact the other ones.

Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Rightly, care-givers often focus on loving others and pouring themselves out in their love and service. Yet too frequently a critical aspect of what Jesus told us is overlooked. We often fail to love and care for ourselves. Self-care is the most critical need facing care-givers today. Consider the metaphor of a teapot. We often think of ourselves as whole and perfect teapots with an inexhaustible supply of tea. The reality is that we are all cracked and chipped teapots with only a limited capacity.

Healing prayer is an integral aspect of self care, of mending the broken teapots of our lives, and filling us with the life-giving presence of God. Healing prayer works in conjunction with medical science and care receivers should be encouraged to seek every means of healing that is available.


As we begin to consider the implications of healing prayer for self-care, it is essential to know that God created each one of us to be whole in body, mind, emotions, and spirit. We are created in God's image and are good. Healing is restoring every aspect of our being to balance and harmony and helping us to be the person God created us to be.

How do we begin the process of self-care? My first suggestion would be a simple prayer asking God to fill your heart and mind with the Holy Spirit and inwardly incline your dispositions to wholeness and healthy choices. Perhaps a first step might be getting enough sleep each night so that you are rested. Diet and exercise are also good places to begin. Basic common sense in applying life's lessons and actually doing those things that we all know promote health and wholeness are essential.

What about spiritual self-care? How do we take care of the spiritual aspects of our being? By caring for our body, mind, and emotions, we are already caring for our spirit. Health and healing in any one area promotes wholeness in the other areas.

Having been a spiritual director for almost a quarter century, my observation is that most people are not aware of where God is and has been moving in their lives. Many of us simply do not notice God's activity and presence even though it is all around us. The easiest way to to start the process of becoming aware of God is to contemplate the following questions and one's responses.

  1. What gives me life?
  2. Where do I experience love?
  3. When do I experience joy, peace, and/or fulfillment?
  4. What brings a smile to my face or lightness to my heart?

There will be an extremely high level of correspondence with the answers to these questions and where a person is most apt to experience God's healing presence.

For spiritual self-care, we all need to note our answers to these questions. Then we need to develop a plan of action to create the time and space to honor those special opportunities for grace. This needs to be intentional and is not optional. The degree to which we care for ourselves frequently determines the degree to which we can care for others. When Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, he meant just that. Love and care for yourself and let that same love flow out to others.

Praying for Care-Receivers

As stated before, healing prayer for others always has a triad of relationships. The care-giver’s relationship with God typically includes thanksgiving, petition, and intercession for the care-receiver. Thanksgiving and adoration are keys to a healthy relationship with God. They help to manifest an atmosphere of love, trust, and expectation. Petition for guidance and discernment is essential. As we pray for others, we want our prayers to have the heart and mind of Jesus. Our goal is to harmonize our prayer with God's prayer for the care-receiver. It is as important to know what to avoid in providing spiritual care as it is to know what to verbalize and do.

Please note, healing prayers for a care-receiver can be silent. The effectiveness of a prayer does not rely in any way on its being said out loud or being heard by anyone other than God. God hears our innermost thoughts, feelings, and prayers whether we speak them out loud or say them in the quiet depths of our hearts. What we say, do, and pray out loud may have profound impact on the care-receiver! It will not control or determine what God does, but our prayers can influence a care-receiver's relationship with God. What is the image of God that your prayers are portraying? It is important to be extremely mindful of what we are conveying when we represent God to a care-receiver. A good guideline for healing prayer is simply to ask God to come and be present with the care-receiver and do whatever that person most needs to be made whole. If the care-receiver has vocalized a particular need or desire, offer it up to God for God’s love and grace to enter that request. Never escalate an issue or request, nor offer advice or counsel, or make a diagnosis in your prayers! At all times, let compassion and mercy be your guides. However, be very careful to avoid making any promises or pronouncements in God’s name. Only God knows the outcome of the prayers. As a care-giver, you are asking God to be present and helping to facilitate the relationship of God and the care-receiver. For more detailed instructions on how to pray for others, please consult Guidelines for Healing Ministers.

God and the Care-Receiver

Care-givers may at times wonder if their prayers for healing are effective. Healing prayers are always beneficial because in healing prayer the care-giver is inviting God to be present with and in the care-receiver. And that is an intercession that God always fulfills! God's desire for each and every one of us is wholeness and salvation. The mystery is how that will be accomplished best in the one for whom we pray. How God will respond in any given circumstance depends on a multitude of variables of which we will never know the full extent. Yet God does respond and will do for the care-receiver more than we can ever hope or imagine. At times, God's response may seem immediate, profound, and miraculous. At other times, it may be so subtle we hardly notice any impact at all. The critical factor to remember is that the results of our prayers to God do not depend upon how we prayed. Our training and expertise in praying for others is focused on how we may give honor, dignity, and respect to the care-receiver. May God bless those for whom you pray and restore them to the fullness of God's image.

© Hawley Todd TSSF, Episcopal Healing Ministries,

About Episcopal Healing Ministries

Episcopal Healing Ministries was established in 1987 as a 501 C 3 charitable organization to implement the threefold healing ministry of Jesus Christ--to proclaim the kingdom of God, to teach, and to heal. What is our mission?

The mission of EHM is to proclaim by word and example the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by being obedient to his imperatives of teaching and healing. The EHMF is devoted to training, instructing and preparing both clergy and laity to the highest professional standards of practice in ministries of healing. The staff of EHM is available to lead ministries of healing through missions, retreats, liturgical services, and intercessory prayer.

What is our vision of healing? All healing proceeds from God. Healing prayer is a sacramental activity. The best metaphor for prayers of healing is the epiclesis in the Holy Eucharist.

Contact Information

Episcopal Healing Ministries
Christ Church Cathedral
318 East Fourth St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202


Hawley Todd TSSF

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