Hawley Todd, TSSF, has been active in healing services since 1982 and currently serves as foundation director for Episcopal Healing Ministries. The following is an excerpt of a pamphlet published by Forward Movement entitled Healing Prayer, which Todd wrote to address questions people have about healing prayer and to promote a fuller understanding of healing and wholeness, as well as to encourage others to seek a deeper relationship with God.
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.
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 his or her life!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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- All that is done is motivated by love for God and for the person seeking prayer
- Everyone is to be treated with respect and dignity.
- Confidentiality is essential.
- Any information gained in a prayer session remains in that prayer session unless Ohio State law would require otherwise.
Prior to Prayer
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
- Only if needed, ask clarifying questions.
- Give permission for the person seeking prayer to be in whatever position is most comfortable. For instance, some may prefer to stand rather than kneel.
- Ask permission for where one may place hands during prayer.
Content of Prayer
- Only pray out loud for what the person seeking prayer has named.
- Pray out loud only in a language edifying to the prayee.
- Silence may be appropriate.
- Never diagnose or give advice.
- Never speak for God or make promises, etc. in the name of God.
- Never escalate a problem named by the person seeking prayer.
- Never introduce the demonic into a prayer session. Spirits obey/respond to silent prayer so spoken prayer is not needed and may create other problems. Please consult the Book of Occasional Services (2003 edition, p. 174) for specific guidelines on Episcopal Church Policy.
- Never condemn or be judgmental in one’s prayers. Trust that God knows what is needed and will do it.
After the Prayer Session
- Maintain confidentiality. The prayee may initiate conversation about the session but not the caregiver.
- Never share information about the content of the prayer session without the express consent of the prayee.
- Only licensed professionals may give any form of counseling or medical advice and only if requested by the prayee.
- Continue to pray for the person as led by God.
Prepared by Hawley Todd TSSF
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Hawley Todd is a member of the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis, an Anglican/Episcopal religious order of people who live by Franciscan principles “in the world.” He serves as director of Episcopal Healing Ministries. You can contact Hawley at email@example.com.