|If you're invited to participate in a spiritual and/or|
physical healing ministry, please review
The Instructions on Prayers for Healing
published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 2000
to educate yourself on the rules which have been
established to govern such ministries.
Over the years we've been blessed beyond measure to cross paths with countless holy servants working hard to help others draw closer to the Lord. Those encounters, along with our personal experiences, have taught us that a common roadblock in the spiritual journey is unforgiveness, and it seems that unforgiveness may be a roadblock to physical healing. By compiling the various bits and pieces that we've picked up along the way, we've created a job aid that we use to minister to those who seem burdened by the past. We've been asked to share that outline so others can benefit from what we've learned.
As you read through our notes, please keep in mind that we're amateurs who don't claim to know anything; we're just trying our best, with the resources we have, to help others receive the healing that they so desperately need and that Jesus so graciously desires to pour out.
The following notes are intended to give guidance to someone that is praying with and for a loved one who is in need of healing.
STEP 1: Be reminded that "prayer is not a technique but rather a relationship...it is not something that we do for God, but rather what God does for us, in us, and through us...our part is simply to be there, as simply and humbly as a child, for Him to act." (Excerpt from The Essence of Prayer by Ruth Burrows)
STEP 2: Begin with a general prayer that acknowledges God's sovereignty, gives thanks for the opportunity to spend time with Him, and for all that He's doing to help His beloved children take that next step closer to Him. If appropriate, ask for help managing distractions so that everyone can relax in Jesus' loving arms.
When we pray in groups we begin with a song of praise, but in this case, it's prudent to pray for spiritual protection and cleansing; after all, "the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1Peter 5:8) Following is the prayer that we invite others to recite with us. We suggest reading this or another similar prayer together: Heavenly Father, I adore You and praise You for all that You are. I thank You for all that You've done for me. I forgive completely anyone who has harmed me in any way. I beg for Your forgiveness for my mistakes, oversights, failings, and outright sinful choices. I ask that You pour the precious blood of Your Son, Jesus, over me to cleanse me; that my whole person be healed and restored: body, mind, heart, will, soul, spirit, memory, emotion, values, and attitudes. In the name, power, and authority of Jesus Christ, I bind and break the power and effects in and around me of any evil spirits who are trying to harm me. In Jesus' name, I command these spirits, and all their companion spirits, to leave me peacefully and go immediately and directly to the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus Christ in the tabernacle of the closest Catholic Church, to be disposed of by Jesus and never again to return to harm me or anyone else. Holy Spirit, please fill any void in me with Your great love and increase within me the gifts of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, a hunger for prayer, the guidance I need to know God's will and the courage to surrender to it more completely. All of this, Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ by the guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Immaculate Heart of Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, please pray with and for me.
STEP 4: Sing praise to God to focus your minds/hearts on His perfect and all-loving nature. (As an alternative, sing along to an audio track.) One song that we commonly use is How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin.
STEP 5: Continue professing God's almighty nature. Invite the participant(s) to read Psalm 46 aloud, replacing the words "we" and "us" with "I" and "me": "God is my refuge and my strength, an ever-present help in distress. Thus I do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea, though its waters rage and foam, and mountains totter at its surging. Streams of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High. God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken; God will help it at the break of day. Though nations rage and kingdoms totter, he utters his voice and the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with me; my stronghold is the God of Jacob. Come and see the works of the Lord, who has done fearsome deeds on earth; who stops wars to the ends of the earth, breaks the bow, splinters the spear, and burns the shields with fire. Be still and know that I am God! [Be still and know that I am God! Be still and know that I am God!] I am exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth. The Lord of hosts is with me, my stronghold is the God of Jacob."
STEP 6: Sing another song of praise - How Great Thou Art by Carrie Underwood.
Read a couple additional scripture passages that proclaim God's goodness. It's important that these passages are read with conviction because "the Word of God is living and effective." (Hebrews 4:12) It's also important to read aloud because when scripture is read aloud God is present in a special way: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) Feel free to choose the scripture passages that you feel best capture God's goodness. We typically choose from the following:
Psalm 8:2 - "O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! I will sing of your majesty!"
Psalm 113:1-3 - "Hallelujah! Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, both now and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of the Lord be praised, Hallelujah!"
Psalm 9: 2,3,8,10,11 - "I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous deeds. I will delight and rejoice in You; I will sing hymns to Your name, Most High. The Lord rules forever. The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, You never forsake those who seek You, Lord."
Psalm 145:1-21 - "I will extol you, my God and king; I will bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you,; I will praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and worthy of praise, whose grandeur is beyond understanding. One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works. They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory, tell of your wonderful deeds. They speak of the power of your awesome acts and recount your great deeds. They celebrate your abounding goodness and joyfully sing of your justice. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all your works. All your works give you thanks, Lord and your faithful bless you. They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your mighty works, making known to the sons of men your mighty acts, the majestic glory of your rule. Your reign is a reign for all ages, your dominion for all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all his words, and loving in all his works. The Lord supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look hopefully to you; you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is just in all his ways, merciful in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him, he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him. My mouth will speak the praises of the Lord; all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever."
STEP 8: After praising the Lord and acknowledging His majesty, move into prayers of thanksgiving. Lift your voices in a song of gratitude for all that He is, and all that He has done and is doing in each of you. One option is Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
Have someone read Psalm 92:2-6: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, Most High, to proclaim your love at daybreak, your faithfulness in the night, with the ten-stringed harp, with melody upon the lyre. For you make me jubilant, Lord, by your deeds, at the works of your hands I shout for joy. How great are your works, Lord! How profound your designs!"
Play some quiet, background music and ask everyone to offer prayers of thanksgiving simultaneously in quiet but audible voices. (Note: Prayers of thanksgiving are different than prayers of adoration or prayers of petition. Prayers of thanksgiving are those which describe what we're grateful for. For example, "Lord, thank you for the unity in my family.") Click here
for a sample audio track that can be played as everyone is praying.
(Depending on the environment and circumstances, it may be a good idea to take a short break before continuing on to Step 11.)
Invite the Holy Spirit to flood the space and fill each person. Continue singing/playing the song Holy Spirit by Jesus Culture
until everyone is ready to continue.
Explain that forgiveness is an essential element of healthy relationships, not just the relationships that we have with others, but also with God. Our Heavenly Father is eager to forgive us for everything/anything that we've done to offend Him but, as we know from The Our Father
, he asks us to forgive others as completely as we want to be forgiven: "...forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us..." In the gospel of Mark (11:25) Jesus says, "When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions." The process of recalling others' offenses and intentionally forgiving them can be long and painful, but it's absolutely necessary. (When I completed this activity it took me about 3 hours to complete Step 12.) At first, the task may seem daunting. Some have asked, "How am I supposed to remember everything that everyone has done throughout my whole life?" One doesn't need to remember everything that everyone has ever done but rather allow the Holy Spirit to guide him/her to those memories that still trigger negative feelings. Following is a sample of the guidance we offer:
Start in the months preceding your birth. Are you aware of anything that anyone did/said that was unloving? If so, say: "In the name of Jesus Christ, I forgive _______ for _______." Continue. Are you aware of anything that happened during your infancy? If so, forgive those involved by name, if possible. Continue. Recall your earliest childhood memories. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anything that was especially hurtful. Take your time and forgive each and every person, by name, for the things they did. Imagine yourself advancing through the elementary years. Were there teachers or classmates that hurt you? Forgive them. Are there any neighbors or community members that you need to forgive? Family members? Forgive them. Imagine yourself advancing through your middle school and high school years. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind friendships and romantic relationships that may have ended, experiences on various teams and clubs, jobs and volunteer activities that may have turned out differently than you'd hoped, academic pursuits that may have been disrupted by others' actions and decisions, medical/health situations that may not have been handled well, experiences that you may or may not have had in a faith community. Did your family move? Did your family's financial situation negatively affect you? Were there people in your life that were struggling with addictions? Beg the Holy Spirit to reveal any wounds and ask for the grace to genuinely forgive those that hurt you. Imagine yourself entering adult life and consider all the people that you interacted with. Are there any particular memories that stir something negative in your heart? Forgive the people involved, by name if possible. Continue on through your adult life with the Holy Spirit as your guide. Ask Him to help you consider each phase of life and recall anything that needs to be addressed. Remember, to say the following aloud: "In the name of Jesus Christ, I forgive ______ for ______." Bring your attention to the recent past and ask the Lord to help you forgive anyone that has done (or continues to do) anything hurtful. Pray for all those that you've forgiven. Take however much time is needed to just be still in the Lord's presence. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Some report an overwhelming sense of relief, while others experience sadness and exhaustion.
When the participant(s) finish, invite them to repeat Matthew 3:16-17 until they feel the Lord's peace in their hearts and know with certainty that they are beloved sons/daughters with whom God is well pleased:
"...the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.' "
End this portion of the exercise by praying the Lord's Prayer
(If needed, this would be an opportune time to take another short break.)
The next step of this process is to encourage the participant(s) to ask the Lord for forgiveness for anything they've done to hurt Him, themselves, or others. For Catholics, this is in NO WAY a substitute for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For those that frequent the Sacrament, it's important to remember that we're completely absolved of our sins which means that there is no need to confess them after receiving absolution unless, of course, we repeat the same sinful behavior. If there is something that continues to weigh heavy on someone's heart, even though it's been confessed, it may be that he/she hasn't forgiven him/herself, which is one of the ways that they hurt themselves and should be addressed. Encourage participant(s) to take as much time as needed to apologize to the Lord for those things that could be creating barriers in their relationships. Invite the participant(s) to do this in whatever way feels comfortable: write things down, sit silently with closed eyes and call things to mind, etc. Assure the participant(s) that you'll be praying for them as they complete this examination of conscience. (We typically leave the person to complete this step alone. If you queue the song, Jesus I Adore You, you could ask the participant to start playing that song when he/she is done as a way to invite you back into the room/space.)
STEP 17: Transition into the next section by acknowledging our littleness and God's perfect, almighty, all-knowing nature, the perfection of His plan, and the wisdom of His timing. He does what He knows is best at exactly the right time. The Lord's way is so far beyond our understanding.
STEP 18: Read two scripture passages to help us remember the perfection of God's plan for our lives.
1) Sirach 2:1-18: "My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in times of adversity. Cling to him, do not leave him, that you may prosper in your last days. Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation be patient. For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation. Trust in God, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy, do no stray lest you fall. You that fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. You that fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. Consider the generations long past and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon him and been ignored? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; forgives sins and saves in times of trouble. Woe to timid hearts and dropping hands, to the sinner who walks a double path! Woe to the faint of heart! For they do not trust, and therefore have no shelter! Woe to you that have lost hope! What will you do at the Lord's visitation? Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words; those who love him keep his ways. Those who fear the Lord seek to please him; those who love him are filled with his law. Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of mortals, for equal to his majesty is her mercy; and equal to his name are his works."
2) Psalm 33: 6-22: "By the Lord's word the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host... Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell in the world show him reverence. For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place. The Lord foils the plans of the nations, frustrates the designs of peoples, but the plan of the Lord stands forever, the designs of his heart through all generations... Our soul waits for the Lord, he is our help and shield. For in him, our hearts rejoice; in his holy name, we trust. May your mercy, Lord, be upon us; as we put our hope in you."
State that sometimes the Lord allows us to suffer. We know that St. Paul certainly did. Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 and 12:7-9 - "Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure." "...that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
STEP 21: Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the opportunity to suffer because we know that suffering gives us a unique opportunity to draw closer to Jesus. Thank Jesus for the trials and acknowledge the fact that He uses everything for good when we cooperate with His most holy will, which is for us to grow in faith and learn to love Him above all things.
STEP 23: Read the account of Pentecost: Acts 2:1-4. "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."
STEP 24: Invite the Holy Spirit to come in power, as He did on Pentecost, and fill each person in attendance. Continue singing/playing the song Holy Spirit if so inspired.
Lay hands on the person who is asking the Lord for healing and pray in Jesus' name for restoration. I believe the Holy Spirit will move in your heart and give you the words you need, but if the idea of this makes you uncomfortable you can use the following prayer from St. Padre Pio as a guide: Heavenly Father, I thank you for loving us. I thank you for sending your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the world to save and to set us free. I trust in your power and grace that sustain and restore us. Loving Father, touch _____ now with your healing hands, for I believe that your will is for him/her to be well in mind, body, soul and spirit. Cover _____ with the most precious blood of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ from the top of his/her head to the soles of his/her feet. Cast out anything that should not be in him/her. Root out any unhealthy and abnormal cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild and replenish any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection by the power of Jesus’ precious blood. Let the fire of your healing love pass through _____'s entire body to heal and make new any diseased areas so that his/her body will function the way you created it to function. Touch also his/her mind and emotion, even the deepest recesses of his/her heart. Saturate _____'s entire being with your presence, love, joy and peace and draw him/her ever closer to you every moment of his/her life. And Father, fill _____ with your Holy Spirit and empower _____ to do your works so that his/her life will bring glory and honor to Your holy name. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
STEP 27: End by having each person offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done and will continue to do in his/her heart.
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Thank you and may God bless you and all those you hold dear to your heart!