4. The prayer minister reads a number of scriptures to the person receiving ministry, preaches a sermon at her/him, and thinks he/she ought to change his/her behavior accordingly.

My comment: There is a time and place to quote Scripture and to give teaching about it. "The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). But the Word of God is never to be used as a club. Bludgeoning can cause "spiritual brain damage" and postpone forever the subject's ability to understand clearly. Indiscriminate piercing by the two-edged sword of truth may cut the heart to pieces. Even proper sharing of the Word is not enough if that is all the minister shares. "We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives" (1 Thess. 2:8, emphasis added). Preaching and teaching involve the prayer minister only minimally. Praying with and for-yearning for and weeping with-shares "our own lives."

5. The prayer minister does do some inner healing but too soon or insensitively-and then is bemused or offended when the person is not immediately healed.

My comment: Sometimes prayer ministers rely so much upon right knowledge concerning principles and laws that they unconsciously use them like magic to guarantee results. Our first concern must be to tune ourselves to the heart of God as best we can so that we respond obediently within His timetable for His purposes. If we attempt to restore a person to ability to function too quickly, the Lord may not be given opportunity to write on the heart of the person what He wants to write there. God performs some instant miracles, but as I see it, a miracle usually occurs for one of two reasons: first, to attract someone's attention so the Lord can start a process of deeper healing and transformation. Or, He grants a "sudden" miracle as the outcome of a great deal of undercover struggle and transformation that has made the person ripe to receive. In either case, we who minister are the Lord's servants and need to move only with His patience and sensitivity, however great a miracle He may want to work. Though Jesus knew before He came to Bethany that He would raise Lazarus from more than four days of death, He waited patiently at the edge of the village for both Martha and Mary to arrive and then took time to weep with them before He acted (John 11:30-44).

It may take longer than we would like for our prayed-for miracle to arrive. The Lord said to John and me a long time ago, "I didn't ask you to succeed. I called you to be obedient." What sometimes appears to be failure may only seem so because of our anxiety to see fruit from our labors. We want to look good. Some crops take longer than others to mature. If we overwater and overfertilize to hurry growth-if in our frustration and impatience we pull a tender plant out of the ground to see how it is doing, we will likely injure and possibly kill it. "One sows, and another reaps" (John 4:37).

For a more extensive discussion on ministering to sex-abuse victims, check out Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse, from which this article was adapted.

Paula Sandford is cofounder of Elijah House Ministries. Throughout the past 50 years, she has ministered to countless people in the areas of inner healing and transformation. The restoration of family relationships became the focus of much of her writing, teaching, prayer ministry, and intercession. Paula is the author of two books and has co-authored five with her husband, John. Paula and John have been married for over 50 years. They have six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Improve your life and ministry by learning something new. Our Ministry Leadership Bundle includes 3 Books: Amplified Leadership, Breaking Intimidation and The Power of Humility. View Offer!

Get our BEST DEAL on Ministry Today magazine. Get a full year for only $12! Yes-I want this deal.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders