In Restoring the Ministry of Jesus, I stated that healing was one of the four main things that Jesus did on a regular basis. Jesus healed people everywhere He went, and He also passed on the healing ministry to His disciples.
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
I believe that the church has a responsibility to carry on the healing ministry of Jesus. But how do we minister to the sick? What was the model that Jesus left us?
(If you have not done so yet, I would recommend reading my articles 4 Essential Beliefs for Healing the Sick and Some Thoughts on Healing before reading on. They lay more of the biblical foundation for healing ministry).
We often use the term “praying” for the sick, but technically speaking this is not accurate. Jesus did not pray for the sick; He healed the sick. I encourage you to look through the gospels at the accounts of Jesus healing people. You cannot find one instance in the gospels where He asked the Father to heal somebody.
Instead you will see Him making authoritative commands and pronouncements of healing, or simply placing His hands on the person to heal them. He healed a leper by speaking the words “be cleansed.” He healed a paralytic by commanding him to “rise up and walk.” He raised a young girl from the dead with the command “little girl, arise.” Sometimes He healed a person by casting a demon out of them. Sometimes He used unorthodox methods like putting mud on a blind man’s eyes.
Not once do we see Him petitioning God to heal. He used authority over sickness, speaking directly to it and commanding it to go.
That was Jesus, but what about the church? Can we minister in the same way?
When you survey the healing ministry of the early disciples you will find very similar methods being used. Peter spoke to the paralyzed man at the temple and commanded him to “rise and walk” and he once raised a woman from the dead with the command “Tabitha, arise.” Paul also healed a paralyzed man with a similar command and sometimes used unusual methods such as taking handkerchiefs to sick people (see Acts 19:11-12).
The early church healed the sick the same way that Jesus did.
We know that no human being has the power to heal anybody; Jesus is the Healer. However, we are so intimately involved in the process that the Bible actually says that we are to “heal” the sick. In Matthew 10:8 quoted above, Jesus commissioned the 12 apostles to “heal the sick.” Mark 6:13 says, “And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.”
We need to move beyond praying for the sick and into healing the sick.
Here is a simple model you can use when you are ministering to the sick.
1. Welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit- We need the power of the Holy Spirit to move upon the person we are praying for.
2. Make appropriate words of command in the name of Jesus- For example, if you are praying for someone with a dislocated shoulder, you can say “I command this shoulder to come into alignment in the name of Jesus.” (More on this below)
3. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and act accordingly- Listen for how the Holy Spirit may lead you to pray specific prayers, expose barriers to healing that need to be dealt with, or make appropriate commands.
4. Test to see if there is any difference after prayer- If possible, have the person test to see if there is any difference. If appropriate, pray for them some more.
Here is a personal example: I was the guest speaker at a youth retreat and on the final night had an impression from the Lord that somebody needed healing in the hip area. During the prayer ministry time a young girl came up to me and told me that she had a problem with her hips; they were unevenly aligned and this was causing her to have pain in her back and giving her other problems.
She sat down in a chair and my wife laid hands on her hips. I then welcomed the Holy Spirit and began to command her hips to come into proper alignment. As soon as I gave the command her whole body jolted, her hips lifted off the chair, and then shifted into place. Just like that she was healed.
I certainly can’t say that every time I minister to the sick they get healed, but this is the model that was given to us, and I believe it is the right approach.
It is not that we should never use the word “pray” when referring to ministering to the sick; it is just that we need to make commands instead of petitions. When we make authoritative commands for healing we need to realize a few things.
First, we are not commanding God. In Mark 11:23 Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Jesus said that we are to speak to the mountain- the specific problem or situation- and command it to move, but we are never to command God Himself.
Secondly, this authority is not of ourselves but belongs to Jesus Christ and must be done in His name. This type of authority comes from being in Christ and having total faith in His Word.
The more anointing and authority we walk in the simpler the ministry of healing will become. As we take back more and more ground in this area we will spend less time praying and interceding, and more time healing and commanding things into God’s order.