Healing Line

Healing Line

Lessons from the Ministry Frontlines: Things Learned Through Prayer

by Sara Flynn
Sep/Oct 2009

Less Is More

May I give you some advice?

My seventeen year old daughter recently got a cute, new haircut. It’s much shorter than it has been in a long time. A friend complimented her on the haircut but then proceeded to give her advice about how to manage it when she decides to let it grow long again. She said, “I had a short haircut before and found it was a nuisance to grow out. To do it right, you need a strategy so it won’t look funny and stick out in all directions while it’s growing back.” She meant well but her “helpful” comments were not well received. My daughter feigned polite interest in the other girl’s remarks but soon came into the kitchen to tell me how irritated she felt. She said, “I wanted to say, ‘What makes you think I want to hear all this? Why are you telling me about how to grow my hair out? I just got it cut yesterday.’”

Unsolicited advice is seldom well received. We know this, but we go right on giving it. We do it in our families, friendships, work environment, and in casual conversations with strangers. Though we teach students at the School of Healing Prayer® not to give advice during prayer appointments, it happens anyway. However well–intended the advice may be, a prayer appointment is not the right venue. A participant at a recent conference wrote on her evaluation form that her prayer minister spent so much time giving her advice that there was no time left to pray. This breaks my heart and puts a fire in my belly.

At CHM, we take seriously the “Listen, Love and Pray” prayer model. When we pray we rely fully on God since without His direction, we don’t know what to do. I am a social worker and have a lot of professional training and education as well as my own life experiences but none can compare to the elegant work of the Holy Spirit as He ministers through fully yielded prayer ministers. The Lord is so creative in his approach and often we are awed by his ability to go straight to the point of deepest need during a prayer session.

At CHM, we often pray, “Lord, less of me and more of you. Fill us to overflowing with your love for this person.” We know it’s His love that heals people, not our advice. We also pray for wisdom. We pray that we may see what Jesus is doing and follow Him. We pray that we may hear His voice and clearly recognize His direction. We pray that He will reveal insights to us as we pray. The Holy Spirit faithfully leads us in our prayers so that we are able to pray with more understanding.

However, instead of sharing everything He reveals to us in prayer, we ask Him, “Lord, do you want me to share this information with the person for whom we are praying, or have you revealed this so we know how best to pray? How can we incorporate this knowledge into our prayers?” We may silently ask the Lord to give the prayer recipient the same revelation. As we pray, we check in with one another and the recipient and ask, “Is the Lord revealing anything to you?” Many times, the prayer recipient will have received similar knowledge in a message, vision, memory or Bible verse. Sometimes one prayer minister will pray exactly what the other is hearing from God. It’s very exciting and humbling. Sometimes we do not verbalize what we have seen or heard from the Lord except to make it a prayer; there is an art to the formation of such prayers that requires creativity and thought.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit very clearly tells us to relay a message to the individual. When this happens, we reveal only what the Lord has shown us. It’s done in a spirit of gentle obedience and humility since we may not fully understand what we are being asked to say. Often instead of saying, “The Lord says…” We ask a question. This usually engages the prayer recipient in a new way, brings a pivotal moment in the prayer session and leads to more healing.

For example, we were praying with a lady who said she could not recall anything about her life prior to the age of twelve. As we prayed I clearly heard from the Lord, “Ask her about the piano.” After a few minutes of prayer, we asked her if she was hearing or seeing anything. She said, “No.” I asked, “Was there a piano in your house when you were growing up?” This simple question opened an avenue of previously darkened childhood memory and we spent the next hour praying accordingly. We were all very excited about the Lord’s gracious entrance into that area for healing. The lady experienced Jesus’ deep love and concern for her. The prayer recipient’s relationship with Jesus is greatly enriched by this type of interaction during prayer. Their relationship with us is blessed too but chiefly, they have a powerful encounter with Him and that’s what changes their lives and heals them in some way.

Sometimes we want to share our own story, especially if the prayer recipient’s history is familiar to us. If we pray about it during the prayer session and the Lord says we should share, then we do so very briefly. Sometimes sharing a relevant piece of our own testimony gives the prayer recipient courage or comfort to move forward in their own healing journey. Sometimes a person is reluctant to share a particularly shameful aspect of their history. When we make ourselves transparent and vulnerable as prayer ministers, others may feel safe enough to allow the light of Christ into the darker corners of their lives. Even so, this type of sharing must be done with great discernment so as not to wound, annoy or frighten the prayer recipient. It’s very important that the focus stays on what God is doing in the person receiving prayer. If we share, we must make sure we do not interrupt the healing that is taking place.

Most people don’t ask for advice. It’s common that by the time they arrive at CHM they have already received advice from numerous other people who may have tried to “fix” them by answering their questions, telling them what they “should” do, or trying to “help” solve their problems. People may have tried desperately to “fix” themselves. Often they are here because they’re at the end of their rope and simply need Jesus. One word from Him is so much more powerful than a whole conversation with us. As Judith says, “Jesus brings Good News, not good advice.”

Every now and then someone will ask for advice. We may simply lift the question to the Lord in prayer and ask Him for advice instead of answering ourselves. We may offer encouraging suggestions as a follow–up to prayer. For example, if we have discerned that counseling would be beneficial and the prayer recipient seems opened to that idea, we may refer them to someone in the community who can help (as prayer ministers we need to have a referral list available precisely for this purpose). We do not counsel them ourselves. We may share a way of praying that would be helpful (i.e., we may tell them about soaking prayer and encourage them to soak at home or with friends from church, or share a prayer from Joy Lamb’s book, The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God). We may recommend a book or reading from the Bible. In this way we give the prayer recipient tools that he or she can use to draw near to God. We may invite them to make another appointment and come for more prayer. We do not give advice.

As prayer ministers our role is to usher people into the presence of the Lord so He can heal them. As Susan Stanford Rue, a local psychologist, and national advisory board member says, “We are donkeys carrying Jesus into Jerusalem.” We are His servants and must give Jesus room to do what only He can do. People come to receive our Holy Spirit filled and loving prayers. So when it comes to giving advice during prayer sessions, our advice is: less is definitely more.

Sara Flynn Sara Flynn is the Ministry Program Director at CHM. &Sep/Oct 2009 Issue