Five steps that Jesus took to pray for people in a powerful and loving way.
Praying for other people doesn’t have to feel forced or awkward. Jesus is our example for living a human life and for loving others. When someone is hurting or has a need that we can’t lovingly meet, it’s our privilege and responsibility to bring them before our Good Father. Let's look at scripture to make a plan for praying for people the same way Jesus did in His earthly ministry.
Step 1: Interview
“What do you want God to do for you?"
Luke 18:40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
Even if the person has agreed to pray with you, it’s good to double-check on what they’d really like you to pray for. They may have other needs that they haven’t talked about yet.
Step 2: Diagnose
Use spiritual discernment to consider the root issue.
John 9:13 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Don’t immediately blame a person’s issue on their lack of faith or their sin. The Holy Spirit may show you what is causing the issue so your prayer can address it.
Step 3: Select the Prayer
Before you start, consider the best way to pray.
Jesus gave us many different examples of loving people in specific situations. In Luke 5:13, Jesus chooses to reach out and touch a leper. He gave that man, who had been excluded, avoided, and untouched by his community for a long time, a signal of God’s nearness and acceptance. In Mark 10:52, Jesus tells Bartimaeus that his faith has healed him, restoring his dignity after years of begging and being ignored. In Mark 1:25, Jesus prays directly, with clear authority to cast out a demon.
If you have a good idea of how you plan to pray for this person, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 4: Pray
This is the most obvious step but consider these few tips. Invite God’s presence as you begin to pray. It’s a gentle but powerful way to start. Pray with your eyes open. This might be unusual for you, but it helps to see how the person is responding or if they are uncomfortable.
Finally, prayer can be a process. In Mark 8:23, Jesus takes a moment to ask the blind man He is praying for if he sees anything. Use feedback to adjust your prayer.
Step 5: Follow Through
What are the next steps?
God’s Kingdom is breaking into our world, but it’s not entirely here. Don’t be discouraged if there wasn’t an immediate response to your prayers. A breakthrough may be on its way at a better time.
If someone believes they have been healed, it might be a good idea to send them to a doctor for medical confirmation. Jesus gave this direction in Matthew 8:4. Jesus' command to “go and sin no more” shows us it can be wise to warn the person to avoid the thing that caused their issue in the first place. In Mark 5:19, Jesus told someone freed from a demon to “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
At the end of the prayer, the person receiving prayer should feel listened to, loved by God and by you, and ready to tell a story of God’s goodness. Getting into the rhythm of these steps can help you feel at ease, knowing that you’re doing the things that Jesus as He loved people and brought God’s Kingdom to them.