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New prayer manual outlines ‘hands-on’ team ministry

FORT WORTH (BP)–While prayer may seem as simple as communicating with God, Mary Kassian, widely known author and speaker, has drawn up a detailed model that shows women how to pray effectively for others.

The “Hands-On Prayer Ministry Team Training Manual” is “really an easy and simple method for ministering to others in prayer,” Kassian told women attending a breakout seminar during a national women’s convention.

The first national Christian Women’s Convention, April 18-20 in Fort Worth, Texas, was sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. A second national women’s convention will be Sept. 26-28 in Birmingham, Ala.

“I love talking about prayer. It is just a passion of mine,” said Kassian, author of “Conversation Peace” and “In My Father’s House: Women Relating to God as Father,” published by LifeWay.

The hands-on prayer ministry team-training model teaches people how to intercede for others. Hands-on prayer is praying for another person in their presence, personally interacting with them, ministering to them and assuming responsibility for petitioning to God on their behalf, Kassian said.

“It is best to pray in teams because everybody has different gifts and strengths. You should have a maximum of four people and a minimum of two on the team,” she said.

In her prayer ministry manual, Kassian lists the characteristics of a person who is good at praying “hands on.” They are people who:

— are certain of their personal relationship to Jesus Christ;

— are confident in the promises and power of God;

— are actively pursuing righteousness in their lives, such as regularly confessing or forsaking their sins and reading the Bible;

— have a consistent personal prayer life;

— understand the basics of intercession;

— are accountable to and respect spiritual authority;

— have a spirit of humility and are teachable and open to correction; and

— have a heart of compassion and love for others.

Because Kassian has a background in rehab medicine, she compared her prayer ministry model to a medical model of accepting patients into a doctor’s office or hospital, then treating and releasing them.

“Imagine you are a nurse and God is the Great Physician. He’s giving the orders and he prescribes what is needed, but you are taking his instruction and handing out the medicine,” she said.

Once a person identifies himself/herself as a candidate for prayer, the prayer team goes to minister to them, she said, following the six steps in her hands-on prayer model.

Step one, she said, is the intake interview, and the goal is to determine and clarify the person’s perceived need.

“Ask them really simple questions like ‘Why have you come?’ and ‘How can I pray for you?’

“A person will tell you things, but first they will tell you their symptoms, not necessarily their problem,” Kassian said.

Frequently the pain is not attached to the problem, she warned. Those offering prayer should observe carefully and be aware of referenced pain.

They should then make sure they have heard and understood the person’s problem by repeating the issue and asking questions for clarification, she said.

“These should be quick questions; this is not an interrogation, just a screening process. A lot of people want to get into a counseling session here. But you don’t want them to go on and on about their problems. Keep it short.”

Still, compassion should be communicated and the dignity of the person should always be respected, she added.

Step two, Kassian said, is the preliminary diagnosis.

“The goal is to establish a starting point in your mind for the type of prayer intervention needed,” she said, listing six prayer possibilities. Those include:

— Going-deeper prayers: imparting a blessing, affirmation and confirmation.

“Going-deeper prayers are your intravenous settings,” Kassian said. “They are nourishing and scriptural prayers. If you don’t know where to start, start there.”

— Repentance prayers: confessing sins.

— Forgiveness prayers: forgiving others who have sinned against them.

— Deliverance prayers: breaking bondage, strongholds, generational sins.

— Healing prayers: prayers for physical/emotional healing.

— Salvation prayers: entering into a relationship with Christ.

Kassian told the women to remember the preliminary screening is a fast process. “You are running through these diagnoses in your mind. You’re just trying to find a starting point,” she said. “All this happens really, really fast.”

Step three, Kassian said, is to reassure the person. “People make themselves vulnerable when they share a need for prayer. Affirm them for seeking prayer. Assure them they have come to the right place.”

Be careful not to make promises for what God is going to do “because you don’t know what he’s going to do,” she said. “But you can assure them of his love, faithfulness and interest in them.”

The fourth step in hands-on prayer ministry is to secure permission by announcing intentions and making expectations clear.

“Tell them what you are going to do and get them to agree to it. You might say, ‘Sally, Jane and I are going to pray for you, just short sentence prayers. Don’t feel like you need to pray. We just want to pray for you.'”

Kassian said those on the prayer team might also want to ask if it is okay to touch the person.

“You may want to gain permission for putting your hands on them, maybe the shoulder or the upper back. Heads are okay, but women are so fussy about their hair.”

Step five, she said, is treatment and intervention. The goal here is to intervene in prayer and listen to God for direction.

“This is the place you really want to get [to]. Begin with a confirmation-type going-deeper prayer and by asking God to direct your prayer time. Then move into the prayer you got into your mind from the diagnoses.”

Take turns praying short prayers with prayer team members, she suggested.

“Pray what’s on your heart, then wait. And this is the hard part. We tend to want to fill the space because we aren’t comfortable with silence. But in the silence, you are trying to see where the Lord is directing.”

She said if the Holy Spirit is involved, a path will develop.

“So often we’re too busy praying and we don’t take the time to listen. If we do, normally God tells us what to pray. Listening is the hardest discipline in prayer. It’s taken a long, long time for me to wait and listen.”

Kassian said sometimes confirmation that God is watching over the prayer team comes in the form of response from the individual being prayed for.

“Sometimes people respond physically to what God is doing in their hearts. For women, that can be bawling. When this happens, just try to guard their dignity by handing them a Kleenex or taking them to a quieter place.”

Kassian said the prayer team should pray as long as “you feel God directing you. That could be five minutes or it could be two hours.”

Step six in Kassian’s prayer ministry model is referral and discharge.

“This is when you end the session and give instructions for follow-up. Get feedback, ask them how they are feeling, what they are thinking and if there is anything they would like to share.”

Suggestions for follow-up might include contacting a friend, a counselor or a women’s leader, she said.

Finally, affirm and bless them, she said.

“Let them know you really enjoyed praying with them and ask God to continue to bless them and their work. And remember that confidentiality is very, very important.”

For more information on Kassian’s ministry, visit www.lifeway.com and check out women’s ministry under the Quick Find pull-down menu.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MARY KASSIAN.

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  • Terri Lackey