Friday, May 07, 2010

Healing Prayer Frequently Asked Questions

By Hawley Todd TSSF



One of my earliest questions was “why did God heal my back?” I had had a miraculous healing of scoliosis of my spine but I had wanted God to heal my prostate. I needed answers. Why did God heal a part of my body that did not matter to me and seemingly leave untouched another area that mattered greatly to me? As I prayed through my anger at God for not doing what I wanted, I came to realize that the healing of my back was actually an answer (healing) to my wife’s petition to the Lord. My wife was a registered nurse and was skeptical about the benefits of prayer to God for healing. Her prayer had been often “Lord, help my unbelief.” She was one of three people who had been praying for my back when my spine was straightened. At that moment, she clearly saw the Lord heal in ways that her training as a nurse could not answer or predict. The healing of my back showed that God exists and is active in the world but that fact opened up a whole new set of questions. Many of those questions follow.

What is healing?

Healing is becoming the person God created us to be. We are all created in God’s image. One way to look at healing prayer is that it is a process of being restored in God’s image. It is important to know that healing and wholeness are intimately connected. Healing is restoring us to wholeness in mind, emotions, body, and spirit. Our relationships are an integral component of our wholeness and healing. Healing is holistic and never treats one aspect of who we are in isolation from the totality of our being. In short, healing empowers us to be restored in God’s image and renewed in God’s love so that we can love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, and spirit and love our neighbors as ourselves.

What is healing prayer?

Healing prayer is any form of prayer that seeks to promote healing. One may petition the Lord for healing for oneself and/or intercede in prayer for others and anything in creation.

Will I be healed?

Healing prayer is always beneficial to those receiving it. However the specific outcome of the prayer is not under our control. God heals in God’s own manner and timetable.

Will I be cured?

Healing and curing are different. Healing is a process of bringing all the aspects of who we are into harmony and balance with one another. Curing, in a medical model, is about fixing one aspect of who we are. One can be cured without being healed and one can be healed without being cured. Most often they go hand in hand in the process of becoming whole.

Will God perform a miracle in my life?

Miracles do happen. Most stories about curing and healing are actually miracle stories. They make a great witness to God’s power and grace but create an expectation that miracles are the norm. Miracles are when the process of becoming well is done in ways that are not normal. The Apostle Paul distinguishes between the gift of healing and the gift of miracles. In healing prayer, God always acts but not always in instantaneous ways that could be labeled miracles.

What are the benefits of healing prayer?

Each person is a unique creation and God blesses us through prayer in whatever ways that person most needs God’s love, grace, and power. Typically people become aware of God’s abiding love and experience a deep sense of peace, shalom. While a person may experience dramatic improvements in areas that directly relate to that person’s prayer requests, God may touch other areas of a person’s life first in order to restore balance to the whole person. In healing prayer, one cannot manipulate God in order to receive a specific result. The benefits of healing prayer are often cumulative and impact all areas of a person’s life. It can help to clear the mind, reduce stress, restore the body, and refresh the spirit.

What about the medical profession?

Healing prayer is a transformative process of inviting God to be present in our lives. It supports and enhances medical treatments. Many medical modalities focus on curing/fixing a particular disease or issue. Healing prayer can be used in conjunction with both biomedicine and complimentary traditions of intervention to treat a specific condition because God’s presence touches the whole person and helps to align all aspects of one’s being. Moreover, one can pray for caregivers as well as patients!

Should I see a doctor?

Healing prayer is one aspect of a holistic approach to wholeness. It works hand in hand with medical science. Always use every approach available as you seek to become whole and healthy! Yes, see your doctor!

Is healing prayer just for the sick or critically ill?

Many people who seek healing prayer on a frequent basis have prayer requests that focus on giving praise and thanksgiving to God. Others realize that healing prayer helps them to maintain a close relationship with God. Others see it as promoting a healthy lifestyle and acting as a preventative health measure for optimal functioning and wellbeing. Healing prayer is for everyone who desires more of God’s presence in their lives!

Who should pray for me?

Anyone can pray for you for healing. Family and friends typically make very good intercessors. Medical professionals are another possibility but due to ethical considerations, the patient will need to initiate that as an additional component of the care-giving relationship. One of the very best places to seek healing prayer is in religious settings such as a church or retreat center. Ask and see what the options are in that locality and then choose the ones that best fit your needs. What is offered will differ from place to place. Some religious groups will provide structured sessions to receive individualized prayer. Many churches incorporate healing prayer opportunities within their liturgies. In those instances, prayers may be offered by clergy or trained laity as part of a healing team. Some localities have only clergy who are available for prayer.

When I seek prayer from others, what do I have to do?

If you are requesting healing prayer in a liturgical setting, briefly share what kind of prayer you desire and what your prayer concern may be. Then relax and trust that God will be present and bless you in ways better than any of us could hope or imagine.

Will anyone else know what I have requested?

Prayer requests and the content of the prayer session are strictly confidential. Clergy and lay healing team members cannot share anything that occurs in the healing session with anyone else unless directed to do so by the person seeking prayer. The only exception to that rule is where state or federal laws would require a minister to break rules of confidentiality.

Will anyone approach me about my requests at a later time?

The prayer session is completely confidential and confined to that time frame. Unless you explicitly give the persons praying with you permission to discuss the session with you in the future, they will not initiate a conversation about anything you shared. Those who pray with you are deeply concerned for your health and wholeness and would like to know how you are doing but will not intrude upon your privacy.

What about the laying-on-of-hands?

Jesus often touched others when he prayed for them. The laying-on-of-hands has been standard practice since the earliest days of the church. However, touch is not necessary for healing prayer to occur. Jesus healed others without touching them. Tell those praying for you if you have any preferences. Some like to hold hands. Others prefer the more traditional approach of having hands placed on one’s head or shoulders. The critical factor is to convey to those praying for you your desires.

What about anointing with oil?

Anointing with oil has been connected closely with healing throughout the Christian tradition. James 5:14 states: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” While many people find that being anointed with blessed oil and the laying-on-of-hands are beneficial in the healing process, neither are required for one to receive healing.

Do I have to kneel?

The prayer session is your time with God. However you are most comfortable praying is fine. Some people like to stand. Others like to kneel. Still others prefer to sit in a chair.

Do I have to believe in healing prayer?

You do not have to believe in healing prayer in order to benefit from it. God loves each one of us and will be present in the prayers. One can try it simply as an experiment or as an opportunity to grow in God’s grace. Have an open heart and mind and watch to see what God will do. Sometimes the effects of prayer can be very subtle as God seeks to restore harmony in our lives. At other times, the impact may be immediate and profound. Trust that the process does not rely on what you believe.

Do I need to have faith?

While faith can be an important component in healing prayer, the persons for whom faith is critical are those who are offering the prayers for you. Jesus healed people who were not even aware that he was praying for them. Many times faith is a gift that people receive after having had healing prayers. In short, one does not need to have faith to receive healing prayers!

What about painful or traumatic memories?

God cannot change the events that have occurred in our lives. Healing prayer can take away the sting and hurt of those events and free us to live fuller lives. Prayers for the healing of memories and life’s hurts often take time to bear fruit. However there is no aspect or event in our life that is beyond God’s redemptive touch.

Is illness a result of sin?

It is critical to note that while some sickness may be a natural consequence of bad choices, many people experience suffering and disease through no fault or sin of their own. Repentance and confession are excellent forms of healing prayer to restore a person to wholeness through the forgiveness of sins. Human beings are made up of body, mind, emotions, and spirit and all aspects of our being are connected. Sin is a form of sickness or illness that takes place in our spirit. A problem in one area may impact other areas of our lives.

What about death?

Every single person that Jesus healed in the Gospels eventually died. Healing, wholeness, and salvation are all linguistically connected in both Hebrew and Greek languages. One way to look at healing is that healing in this life is wholeness and that healing in the next life is salvation. Death is a point of transition from life as we know it now to life in the fullness of God’s kingdom. While those of us on this side of death grieve the loss of our beloved ones, death is often the doorway to complete wholeness and healing for those we love. God will be there with us in our sorrow and grief and will never abandon us.

Can I pray for the same thing twice?

Persistence in prayer is often a key to healing. Even Jesus had to pray twice for a blind man to regain his sight. Prayers for healing are simply a way to seek the nourishment of God’s grace and love in our lives. Pray often and gives thanks to God for what is already happening.

What else should I know?

The most important healing that any of us can receive is the gift of experiencing God’s unconditional love. That sense of knowing in the depth of one’s being that God loves me is the foundation of becoming whole! It changes everything in one’s life. To know and experience God’s love is priceless!

© Hawley Todd TSSF, Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation,

Contact Information

If the reader would like to dialogue further, please feel free to contact Hawley Todd TSSF.

Hawley Todd TSSF 513-967-6581 Email:

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

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