So should we be praying for and with everyone? hmm

1 Timothy 2:1-5 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (New King James Version NKJV).

As Christians, we talk to people about their concerns.  99.9% of the time we feel that we must pray for and with that person who has come to us with life challenges that have impaired them emotionally; rented their relationships with others; or has created a divide between them and their Heavenly Father.

We can pray for [not necessarily with or during a counseling session]the person.

  • Wisdom and power for others: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength” (NKJV).
  • Strength and an indwelling knowledge of God’s love for them and others:  “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”(Ephesians 3:16-19).
  • Discernment: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God” ( Philippians 1:9-11).
  • Spiritual understanding and clarity in knowing God’s will for their situation: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
  • Steadfastness: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
  • Boldness in sharing their faith: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 1:6).

Having read the above when do we pray with the person? Can praying with a person negatively impact their relationship with their Heavenly Father?

Prayer is the power tool of the believer, but should it be used in every circumstance?

  1. Do we use prayer in every counseling situation? NO!
  2. Do we ever use prayer to chastise a brother or sister in Christ? NO!
  3. Do we ever use prayer to put people on a guilt trip? NO!

What are some cautions or possible negative impacts about the use of prayer in counseling [pastoral or otherwise]?

  1.  First, interceding for the needs of a care seeker could lead them to assume that prayer for their need is the counselor’s responsibility; thus negating him or her using this spiritual discipline to transform their lives and bring a resolution to their story (McMinn, 2011).
  2. Second, if the theological foundation of the client is not firm the use of contemplative prayer as a form of meditation and worship risks straying into the formation heresy (McMinn, 2011).
  3. Third, the use of prayer with a care seeker who is self-conscious about prayer may result in an ethical concern for the area of developing a healthy sense of self (“Week 6: Prayer for Psychological and Spiritual Health: Cautions [PowerPoint Slides],” 2015, Lecture 2).
  4. Fourth, within the limits of developing a healthy sense of need, the inappropriate timing of the inclusion of prayer during counseling can deteriorate into the care seeker hoping for magical results [This falls into the category of those e-mails that tell you to say this prayer and XYZ will happen for you.] (“Week 6: Prayer for Psychological and Spiritual Health: Cautions [PowerPoint Slides],” 2015, Lecture 2). Continuing with that thought, a counselor may inappropriately use prayer to motivate the care seeker to feel better rather than understanding that prayer connects them with God (“Week 6: Prayer for Psychological and Spiritual Health: Cautions [PowerPoint Slides],” 2015, Lecture 2).
  5. Fifth, regarding the importance of a healthy healing relationship, prayer may result in dependency on the counselor and a potential breach of ethical boundaries if the focus strays from God to the counselor (“Week 6: Prayer for Psychological and Spiritual Health: Cautions [PowerPoint Slides],” 2015, Lecture 2).

McMinn (2011) also enumerates some additional risks when using prayer during counseling sessions.

  1. Praying for the social effect – Jesus condemns this.
  2. Praying ritualistically which makes the act of prayer meaninglessness.
  3. Praying as a defense mechanism that could lead the care seeker to develop an avoidance of the presenting personal issues that is confronting them and
  4. in counseling prayer can placate the client and relieve them of their accountability for their sin and or actions before God (McMinn, 2011).

McMinn also iterated the challenges that counselors will face while using prayer as a therapeutic tool in counseling.

Prayer and an unbeliever: This quote from Ortberg (2009) is appropriate here “Right now you cannot run a marathon [Prayer is a marathon]. More to the point, you cannot run a marathon even if you try really, really hard [That is what a non-believer would be doing when forced to pray to a God in whom they do not believe.] (p. 45). Using prayer in a counseling session with a non-believer is like asking them to run a marathon. They must first know that he exists and that he cares otherwise prayer is just a religious ritual with no meaning for them at all (Moitinho, 2015). [This ay applies to a believer who is plagued with doubts. Or a believer who believes that they do something before God will relieve their suffering. In this instance, it is inappropriate to placate this believer with prayer.  Prayer is an act of contrition and worship. It is not something one does to force God to do what we want Him to do.]

According to McMinn (2011) always try to avoid situations that could harm the care seeker. McMinn declared that a counselor without training in prayer therapy could cause more harm than good. It was interesting to note that McMinn (2011) stated that prayer is not a technique (p.109)

Prayer is the power tool of Christians, it is the divine resource that creates change from the inside to the outside, but in counseling we must be careful when praying during sessions with the clients it could do more harm than good (McMinn, 2011).

Prayer allows each person who understands the freedom that comes from the unconditional love of God to be freed from their emotional turmoil. The caveat is, does the person you are praying with understand and or accepts the concept of unconditional love?  Are they personally crying out to Jesus for a resolution of their situation? Are they willing to allow you to pray with them for a resolution of their situation? Do they believe that God has the answer to their problems?

How, where, and when you pray for or with a person with whom you are counseling depends on your/their answer to the above question.  Yes, you can always prayer for a person at home, alone, in your prayer closet, in your office – when they are not there – CRY OUT TO JESUS – for them to see His loving hand in their circumstances.  Pray for them to see His as the one who cares deeply for them.

Blessings to all who reads this post.  Prayer changes everything! Use it wisely!

 

References

McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling [Google Books Version]. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=LNT_QSrKqggC&pg=GBS.PA119.w.3.1.15

Moitinho, E. (2015). Week 6: 3 Prayer and the Christian counselor [Video file]. Lecture, Liberty University Integration of Psychology and Theology. Retrieved from Blackboard.Liberty.edu

Ortberg, J. (2009). The life you’ve always wanted: Spiritual disciplines for ordinary people [Google Books Version]. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=jckzhepTtHMC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&hl=en&output=reader&pg=GBS.PT198.w.2.0.31

. (2015). Lecture 2, Liberty University Integration of Psychology and Theology. Retrieved from Blackboard.Liberty.eduWeek 6: Prayer for psychological and spiritual health [PowerPoint slides]

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bernice Shaver
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 11:48:10

    Scriptures backing up said research are where? I do not trust what men say, but what the Bible writes, for in it lies all truth. Show me in the Bible where these statements exist and I will read them for myself and let the Holy Spirit guide as needed. Who is Mc Minn anyway, and what qualifies him or her to write such things? And, the summation of all this is what?

    Reply

  2. Joyce/EM
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 12:19:00

    McMinn is a Christian Psychologist whose work is used to integrate the principles of Christian counseling and psychology. Many Christian believe that it is a sin to go to a psychologist. Having said that; there are instances when a person will rely on their counselor to pray for them, their situation and or their circumstances instead of taking their problem directly to the throne of Grace. When I assume a position that is relegated only to God then I become a go-between between that person and God, I become the person to whom they come for the resolution of their problem.

    My question to you is where in the Bible does it direct us to use prayer to condemn a person? Jesus gave us a prime example of the Pharisee, who clearly stated Lord I thank you that I am not as other men, etc., Praying like that negated the sinner who was standing right next to him. The sinner simply stated who he was in Christ. Note what the sinner states who he was in Christ.

    When Christ met with the Samaritan woman, He did not tell her all about her sin. He used questioning for her to reveal to herself what her sin was. Note He did not pray with her for her to accept His teachings either. He was in effect conducting a counseling session with her until she came to the realization that she was indeed a sinner, and He was indeed Lord.

    A counselor, Christian, Pastor, or anyone else can never replace the vertical relationship that a person must establish with their Heavenly Father. That is what makes evangelical Christianity different from other forms of Christianity that require a person to go to another person for the forgiveness of sins. When a person requires counseling numerous things could be the cause of the need, usually sin lies at the door. It takes some time to arrive at the resolution of the problem.

    The counselor prayer for the counselee, the counselor prays for God’s guidance, but the counselor NEVER assumes that the person wants them to pray for them. At no point did Jesus ever arbitrarily heal a person, or pray over them. They always asked Him to. We need to follow that same premise if we are in the role of a counselor. I will pray for people at home, in the car, on the roadside, in the park without their knowledge. I will ask a person if they would like me to pray for them, but I will never just start to pray for someone without knowing what their frame of reference is with regards to prayer. It also follows the throwing your pearls to swines so to speak. If the person does not want you to pray for and with them, why would you do it in front of them anyway? Just to make a point? To what End?

    McMinn is also a pastor.

    Reply

  3. Bernice
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 14:32:53

    Okay, so this devotion is basically aimed at a counseling audience. Like a paper written for those taking Christian Counseling in a university setting. Jesus did pray for his disciples as thus for those following Him. I will need to look up the scriptures, am in a hurry to go to an appointment, but will do so an follow up. Jesus did not “need” to pray for the Samaritan Woman because He offered her Living Water, meaning Him. Why pray for her if what He has to give her is Himself/salvation? Counseling is not always due to sin, Joyce. I do not understand why the premise is such. Sometimes, people need intervention such as in biologically induced depression and suicidal tendencies. For the premise to be sin is the base reason people go to counseling is to also say physiological instances of depression, bi-polarism, suicidal tendencies, and other mental illnesses are thusly sins, right? The other aspect I find interesting is the fact the Bible tells us to seek, ask, knock, etc. concerning prayer. It does not limit of whom and for whom or what we pray about in the secret place. Who am I to question the salvation of another person, Joyce? Is that not God’s judgement? I am really trying to grasp what you write here. There was a case where Jesus stepped in to “heal” per se the adulterous woman in John 8. She did not ASK Jesus to heal her or to save her from her tormentors. Remember that passage? Jesus wrote something in the sand, drew a line, and of course, her accusers fled. No one knows for sure what Jesus wrote, although our pastor noted several theologists theorize such matters. I do know the spoken Word of God holds power when delivered within the directions of the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Sometimes, people who are unfamiliar with said teachings can be helped by words as prompted through the Spirit and those spoken from the Bible. How do you justify, then, those who say in Jesus name, stop (whatever crime occurs at the time) in front of perpetrators and they STOP…immediately. Is that not a prayer? What do you think people surrounding the cross who just literally put Jesus on it thought when He said the words, “It is finished?” Could not one of them been made curious about these power-filled God-spoken words enough to perhaps look into more of what Jesus represented and lived to teach? Give to others? And I get the words from the Word about how the Pharisees prayed and how Jesus condemned such. He did so because of the intents of their hearts. What they prayed aloud revealed such matters. However, based on what I’ve read in the Bible about prayer, when we come honestly, without cause of human goading or self-pride, and pray for others when prompted by the Holy Spirit, then the Good Lord “hears” those intercessions and responds. Yes, I know we must confess our sins in earnest first and come cleansed by the blood Jesus before doing so. And, I am glad you pray the way you pray. But the way others pray may not be wrong since Jesus alone is our Advocate and God our Judge and He judges the intents of the hearts of those so interceding. Therefore, based on these premises written here, what is the case for Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and other such leaders praying in churches and other venues? Is that not praying out loud to the masses of whom some may not know Christ? I hope this makes sense because I need to go.

    Reply

  4. Bernice Shaver
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 17:51:07

    Found the prayer of which I wrote about earlier: John 17: 6 “I have revealed youto those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power ofyour name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe bythat name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them bythe truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
    Jesus Prays for All Believers
    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made youknown to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

    Reply

  5. Bernice
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 17:56:40

    Act 4 demonstrates prayer said aloud in and amongst believers: 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    So then the question becomes, if there are unbelievers in our churches today, are pastors and people not to pray? I will continue looking for answers because I truly want to know biblical truths.

    Reply

  6. Bernice
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 18:04:41

    Okay, I admit I need more information about the Matthew 7 passages RE: pearls and swine. I will get it and learn.

    Reply

  7. Joyce/EM
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 18:55:11

    You completely skipped all the scriptures I posted on prayer and went to the research that pertains ONLY to using prayer during counseling sessions. It does not state that we should not pray for people. Pray without ceasing is our calling… but we should not allow a care-seeker to substitute GOD or their responsibility to go to God for him to meet their needs by us being the only one pray for and with them. You have never been in the role of a Christian counselor who is counseling a person with a personality disorder, or a person who has dependency issues, or a person who transfers their personal responsibilities to others…. those are the parameters to which this post is referencing. As a counselor you pray without ceasing for all peoples, but when do you do it within the counseling session with the counselee makes a difference.

    Reply

  8. Joyce/EM
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 18:57:27

    Peter was not speaking to a dysfunctional care seeker who is on the verge of suicide either .. read the full post Bernice. Look at the sample of prayer in general and note the times when it can and has proven to be detrimental to the mental state of the person. Look at the statements about inappropriate use of prayer to condemn a person sometimes because the counselor is aware of the person’s sin. That is not at all healing.
    Anyway thanks for your comments.

    Reply

  9. Bernice
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 22:05:41

    Joyce, I understand this devotion was written for a specific audience. Thanks for all the explanations in above comments. Without going into too much personal detail on such public forum, suffice it to say, I do possess certification in one particular area of counseling matters. I do not use it professionally now, but nevertheless, I am educated in said area. When I counseled, it was not under the auspices of Christianity. However, one of the models used by some clients inferred Christian-based outcomes/therapies. With that being said, I understand what you state and I will leave it at that. I still seek more information about the pearls and swines and have started the process of obtaining it. So, thanks for that piece of understanding I need to know more of at this time. Godspeed and God bless!

    Reply

  10. Joyce/EM
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 22:28:48

    Bernice, Try to find the Christian worldview on “Christian Based outcome therapies” – it will shock you. It shocked me when I did my Masters in 1983. Psychology was dabbling with it then.
    God bless to you too.

    Reply

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