Job Essentials: 5 Step Ministry Prayer Model
A basic skill that every believer needs to master is the process of praying with or for someone. This is the frequent and normal biblical reality that Paul assumes in I Corinthians 11-14 where the members of the body build each other up through the use of spiritual gifts and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But ministry prayer isn’t limited to church meetings; often we have the opportunity to introduce outsiders to the love of Jesus when we pray for them as described in this lesson.
This lesson introduces a practical model you can use to pray for anyone, anytime, or anywhere. John Wimber developed this model to give normal believers like us a place to start praying for people, what in this course we are calling Power Ministry. Since the mid-1980’s hundreds of thousands of believers and many thousands of churches all around the world have used this model to train and equip themselves and their members for active, practical, and powerful ministry. [Do a Google search to see how widespread the use of this model has become.]
This prayer model is not magic or a rigid formula; it is a pattern or a model to follow that is made up of biblical principles and practices drawn from the example of Jesus and the first disciples.
Ministry is often more of a process than an event
From what we can observe from Jesus’ own ministry described in the gospels, it seems that often ministry prayer is more of a process than an event. The 5-Step Healing Prayer model is designed to help you learn how to work with Jesus within this process.
Process in Jesus’ ministry to individuals
In the gospels we find evidence of process when Jesus ministered to people – not always, but often. By process, we mean a sequence of events over a period of time that culminates in a specific effect. In the gospels we can discern that at times Jesus’ ministry to individuals seem to involve a process of several steps or some time to complete.
- The blind man in Mark 8:22-25 (Jesus had to pray more than once).
- The epileptic boy in Mark 9:20-27 (Jesus needed to interview the father of the boy first).
- The Gerasene demoniac Mark 5:7-13 (Jesus seems to be repeating his command to the demons to come out of the man).
Power Ministry is a process the Father initiates and we follow as he leads us by the Holy Spirit
As we participate in the ministry process, we need to learn to follow along with what the Father is doing, as he is doing it. We are not in charge of the process like a doctor or nurse who is caring for a patient using their medical education and experience. We are participating with God in working out his specific and loving will on earth as in heaven for the person in front of us. Often that means hear from God regarding where he wants to start, then what he wants to say or do next, etc., until he is finished.
This means that the ministry prayer process can be experienced in two main ways:
- We see the Father initiating a ministry situation and join in with what we see him doing. This can happen in a number of ways, but suffice it to say it is based on our growing ability to hear from God. Sometimes this involves things you can see with your normal senses, and sometimes it involves God’s revelation of what is going on in the unseen realm.
- We follow the Spirit of God as he provides guidance during the ministry prayer time. We are listening to God while praying with the person specifically to hear what it is that God wants to do or say, to identify what God wants to do next, etc.
John Wimber, 1985 Signs & Wonders Conference, Anaheim, California
This first step in the model is about answering the question, “Where does it hurt?”
This is not a medical interview or a counseling session, but rather an opportunity to listen as we assess the person’s situation and need.
This step ensures that the person feels valued, and gives us an opportunity to listen to God and the individual before any prayer begins. It also enables us to hear how the person perceives his or her condition before jumping to any conclusions. We take our time, are quiet, and listen. Our dependency is on God to make something happen, not on ourselves. He wants to do something beautiful and creative in this person and loves to use us in the process. John Wimber once said, “It’s more important to know what kind of person has a bug rather than what kind of bug has a person.” In other words, God may want to touch something in the person’s life other than the illness or topic of the prayer request! Be open to the Spirit’s guidance. If you have no clue what to pray after the interview, then be honest; don’t fake it or put on a spiritual persona. Maintain your integrity, and if necessary, just pray for God to bless the person.
The second step is about answering the question, “Why does this person have this condition?”
Reasons someone may need prayer include disease, sin, emotional pain, relationship problems, and demonic influence. Sometimes you may discern it is a combination of a few of these causes above. This is why we must depend on the Spirit – we don’t want to be praying about one area for a person when the real issue is coming from something else.
Our goal is to see the person experience the depths of God’s love and to find freedom and healing in his or her heart, mind, and body. It is important to note here that in the Vineyard we see every person as a precious human being made in the image of God, who has chosen to be vulnerable in this moment of asking for prayer.
We never treat people like a project, or with indifference; we dignify people in the process of them seeking God for help. In ministry moments, the highest call of God on us is the second commandment – to love this person that He loves. Often people may not know the exact root of the problem. What they are asking for prayer about may not be the main issue God wants to address.
The third step is about answering the question, “What kind of prayer will I need to help this person?”
We can assume that God wants to touch this person. However, He may not intend to heal the person in the way he or she desires. We want to agree with God in our prayers, rather than expect God to agree with us on what we want to see happen. Having said this, we confidently pray for healing with 1 John 5:14-15 in mind: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask— we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
Step for answers the question, “How are we doing?”
Having decided how we will pray, we move forward, trusting we are sensing what the Father is doing in this person’s life. As was noted in the previous step, we lay hands on the person if given permission. If there is a physical spot on the person’s body that needs healing, we ask if we can lay hands on that part of the body (Luke 4:40). (When asking if we can lay hands on the person, we are always respectful. Helping him or her to feel safe aids the process.)
Ask if the person is comfortable with the laying on of hands. If the person is a member of the opposite sex, have someone of their own gender lay hands on them, or involve the spouse or friend. In some cases, it may seem best to extend one’s hands toward the person, rather than touching.
People may respond to the presence of the Spirit in various ways. They may remain quiet and still as we pray. They may experience warmth or tingling in an area of the body as the prayer continues. As prayer is a power encounter between the overwhelming love of God and the enemy of our souls, there may be other manifestations such as trembling, shaking, weeping, laughing, or even falling over. When people experience the peace and joy of God, breaking upon them, there may be physical expressions that accompany the experience.
Step five answers the question, “What should they do next?”
If the prayer is focused on physical healing the results of healing prayer can be many. Offering some simple ‘next step’ directions may be helpful. If the person was healed or had a significant breakthrough in some area, encourage him or her to continue to walk closely with God, maintaining a rich life of worship, Bible reading, church connection, and avoidance of sin. You can also encourage the person to get the healing confirmed by a medical professional. If a person was not healed or did not have a significant breakthrough in their area of need, reassure them that God loves them and encourage them to seek more prayer.
For healing of the heart, mind, and body to be sustained, even after a moment of divine intervention, environments of committed Christian discipleship, accountability, and spiritual formation are necessary for ongoing growth. If words or scriptures were received that were meaningful, encourage the person to write them down or record them so they can be referred to later. God’s intent in generously giving signs, wonders, miracles of healing, words of encouragement, words of knowledge, prophetic insights, and other gifts of love in times of prayer is that we would be drawn to love Him more, serving Him through a life of complete devotion. Anything we can do to encourage someone to live out the greatest commandment, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) is appropriate.
The 5 Step Prayer Model is a relational, interactive way of praying for others as we listen to the Holy Spirit. The 5-Step Prayer Model is not a scientific formula, fool-proof methodology, or magical incantation. Rather, it is an intentional way of praying for others, from a posture of listening to the Holy Spirit, that provides a track to run on for those desiring to see God move in power as they pray.
While physical healing is often the focus of prayer ministry, in its essence the 5 Step Prayer Model is a relational, interactive way of praying for others as we listen to the Holy Spirit – a process that begins and ends with mercy toward the person requesting prayer, and that seeks both God’s will and God’s best for the person being prayed for. It is also relational in the sense that we are leaning heavily on our intimate relationship with God as we pray for someone, welcoming Him to speak insights into our hearts or minds that would directly impact the person being prayed for. Prayer ministry can happen in a church service, in a mechanic’s garage, in a hospital room, or over a backyard fence.
“The five-step procedure may be used any time and in any place: in hotels, at neighbors’ homes, on airplanes, at the office, and, of course, in church gatherings. I have been in casual conversation with people, even with complete strangers, who mention some physical condition, and I ask, ‘May I pray for you?’ Rarely do they decline healing prayer, even if they are not Christians. I then confidently pray for them by following the five-step method” (Wimber, Power Healing).
Over time, and with practice, this way of praying for people is meant to become internalized. As we begin to see patterns when we pray for certain types of people or issues, we grow in our ability to hear God’s voice as we are praying. We may begin to experience the Holy Spirit giving us spiritual gifts as we pray. What we thought in the past were random impressions, we actually learn are gifts of revelation from God! We may begin to see people physically or emotionally healed, or at the very least leaving a time of prayer with a deposit of God’s love in their heart.
John Wimber once said that the worst thing we can do is rely on our past experience when praying for another. Each individual has a unique story, and God has something creative He wants to do. This keeps us humble, attentive, and ready to obey God as He leads us in praying for others.