MINISTRY GUIDELINES SHEET
You may have been praying for people for many years or may have been taught a model through attending another church. We would all like to be following the same model and so we would really appreciate your adopting the following guidelines and sticking to them.
Ministering to people in the power of the Holy Spirit is very different from praying for people at a distance. We are asking the Holy Spirit to use us as a channel of His power and the love of Jesus to bring healing, comfort, or deliverance. We are asking for the manifest presence of Jesus to come and bring change.
Ministry times usually begin with an invitation from someone leading the service, for people to respond to the Holy Spirit. In praying for people, the most important thing to remember is that this is God’s work – not ours. We are there to encourage those seeking God, and to bless what the Holy Spirit is doing in people. It is not our responsibility to ensure any particular outcome of people receiving a cure for any particular condition. For our own accountability and encouragement we request that you minister in pairs.
A basic guide to praying for others...
We don’t want to get in God’s way when we’re praying for others. We don’t want our own needs to be met and we want to glorify Jesus not ourselves.
It’s worth repeating: only pray for someone of the same gender as at least one of the ministering pair. Prayer ministry can bring up all sorts of stuff, so it’s a tried and tested principle to always have at least one person of the same sex as the one you are praying for. Some people find it embarrassing, or for some that have been abused it can be disturbing, to have someone of the opposite sex ministering. Always ask whether it is okay if someone of the opposite sex is ministering in your pair. Whisper this request so the person does not feel intimidated. Even if you’re married and wish to minister to your partner in public we’d ask you to bear this in mind to avoid any confusion for others around you. This model is not just about doing what is right but also about being seen to be doing what is right.
STAND IN FRONT
Stand in front of the person you are ministering to or to the side. Do not stand behind the Receiver (unless you are laying hands on a painful back, in which case still try to stand to the side) as it can make the Receiver feel uncomfortable or vulnerable if they cannot see you.
Keep your eyes open when you pray for someone. In this way you can observe what God is doing and how the person is responding. It also means you can be prepared if they look as though they may fall over in the power of the Spirit. If this begins to happen get your hand behind the person and let their body slide gently to the floor. Make sure they are left in a comfortable position, not draped over anyone else, and that nothing is on show that shouldn’t be! Stay with them as long as needed and encourage them to go on receiving from God. If there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and there are not enough prayer ministers available, keep an eye on those who may be laid out on the floor, to keep them safe while ministering to others. Be ready to assist them if they are trying to stand and encourage them to stay sitting on the floor if they wish to do so.
MINISTRY OF POWER
Please do not use wordy prayers. Allow the Holy Spirit to do His work through you. It is a ministry of power, not of words. Invite the Holy Spirit to come upon the whole person and just wait.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone what they would like you to pray for and what God is doing – even if the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully on them (see Luke 18:41: Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”). However, avoid turning this into a long conversation; this is a time for the Holy Spirit to offer counselling, not you!
If appropriate speak into the situation or condition in Jesus’ name. Be sensitive and recognise that you may be wrong. If you have a prophetic word or picture, offer it as a prayer or in such a way that the person being prayed for can make their own decision as to how appropriate your insight may be. Never insist that your prophetic word or picture is from God. Offer it in such a way that the person can make their own decision as to how appropriate it is. They can test this later. Prophetic words are meant to strengthen, comfort, and encourage the person you’re praying for (1 Corinthians 14:3).
CONFIDENTIALITY BUT NO SECRETS
The person you are praying for may tell you private things that have happened in their life. Don’t appear shocked by any disclosures. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance but do not promise to keep anything secret (especially with regards to claims of abuse and especially if the person is underage). If any such disclosures are made to you giving cause for alarm or concern, these should be referred to a leader of the prayer ministry team or a dedicated team member. There should be someone available who knows the proper procedures for reporting or pursuing this. The safety and wellbeing of any young person is of the utmost importance.
Share information only on a need-to-know basis. If an adult discloses to you that they have been abused in the past, and there is reason to suspect another vulnerable person’s/minor’s life is exposed to danger, refer the information on to a designated person such as the Ministry Co-ordinator or a member of the Leadership Team or designated Child Protection Co-ordinator.
Encourage the person to receive from God and be still, rather than joining in. If you see someone moving their lips praying, gently suggest that they receive rather than pray. Some people may show this attitude by opening their hands in front of them. Lay a hand gently on the person’s shoulder or forehead. Doing this is especially appropriate with regards to healing (in Mark 1:40–45, Jesus heals a man of leprosy) and as a blessing (in Matthew 19:13–15, Jesus blesses the children). If it is appropriate to pray in this way, be sensitive where you place your hands, always with respect for decency and propriety.
IF YOU SUSPECT AN EVIL SPIRIT
Never tell anyone that they have an evil spirit, not least because you may be wrong! Demonisation is not always obvious and people react in many different ways. If the person is unsure about receiving prayer ministry it’s good to have an experienced person with you to help discern the situation. If you feel out of your depth and believe there is an evil spirit at work, inform the Ministry Co-ordinator. It may be that the person needs to be ministered to away from the congregational setting to maintain their dignity, though in general ministry is carried out openly in full view of everyone. Remember the evil spirit can always be bound in Jesus’ name until you have had time to assess the situation. Never minister alone in these circumstances.
Listen carefully both to the person you are praying with, and to God. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and encouragement; be prepared to wait. This is God’s work, not yours.
RELEASE OF EMOTIONS
Allowing the expression of feelings is very important. This might involve people crying, shaking, or responding in other ways to whatever God is doing. This is totally okay, but be careful to neither suppress nor exacerbate the situation. We want God to do what He needs to do, and not get in the way of that. However, if those to whom you minister seem quiet and composed, don’t be disheartened or assume nothing is happening. People don’t have to shake for God to heal them!
Not everyone is familiar with ministry and prayer times, and some people are fearful when they sense God is working in them through the Holy Spirit. We must help people who are receiving to feel comfortable and safe, and encourage them to reach out to God. Always be sensitive and respectful. Keep in mind how you would like to be prayed for, and constantly ask God’s help. Reassure those being prayed for that God has heard their sincere prayers and the cries of their hearts, and encourage them confidently to expect answers. Speak healing, peace, and release in the name of Jesus and remember the place of repentance; being forgiven and releasing forgiveness is always important. Suppressed pain will often need to be expressed before the Receiver is able to start forgiving others. Be aware of this. Do not make appointments to pray with people outside of the meeting. If extra prayer or counselling is needed, ask your ministry team leader or another senior Christian for their advice. If at any time you feel out of your depth then ask for help. We all find ourselves in situations we cannot handle alone. This is not failure. Our model is to pray in pairs to encourage one another and learn from each other. Prayer ministry is to take place at the front of the church during services. If someone approaches you in another part of the building take them to the front so that everything remains open and transparent; you are working with a ministry partner and in the context of the ministry team. Avoid one-to-one situations independent of the recognised ministry in your church. Be confident, expect great things, and always look to Jesus!