Many Christians are fearful about praying with someone who is suffering because they don't know how to do so. But there are just a few simple requirements for being able to pray confidently and effectively for those who are sick or hurting emotionally.
First, we need to have compassion for others. This sounds obvious, but the sad truth is that we are often consumed with our own problems and don't make time to care about others, much less pray for them. As we seek to identify with the suffering of others as best as we can, God gives us the ability to pray fervently for His deliverance in their lives.
Second, we must be willing to listen. This is one of the most affirming, comforting, and healing things you can do for others. Instead of trying to fix problems by offering advice or sharing your own experience, try to express God's love and compassion. Listen patiently to people's stories. Then, go to the Lord together in prayer, and ask Him to speak directly into their specific situations. Just remember: unless you have permission, never share with others—even in the form of a prayer request—what hurting individuals tell you.
Third, we should have clean hearts. That means we must be born-again, committed to Jesus Christ, and living a lifestyle of obedience. We don't have to be perfect, but the overall patterns of our lives should be that of seeking to do God's will. We can't harbor willful, deliberate rebellion against the Lord and expect Him to use us in the lives of others.
Fourth, we need to pray in faith. James 5:15 says, "The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick." While this verse is speaking specifically about the prayer of church leaders, the principle holds true for all believers. It's true that we don't always see complete healing this side of heaven, but we need to pray confidently, knowing that God not only can heal but that He desires to do so. If you struggle with this, use a concordance to discover what the Scripture says on this subject. As you fill your mind with biblical truth, your faith will grow. Seeing God answer prayer also builds our confidence, so keep interceding for those in need.
Fifth, we must trust the Lord with the outcome. Sometimes we don't pray boldly because we are afraid that if God doesn't act, it will appear to be a failure on our part. But our job as believers is to take a hurting person's needs to the Lord. He will choose whether to answer their cries for deliverance or see them through it by His grace.
So, are you willing to allow yourself to be an agent of healing in your church and community? As a Christian, you know that Jesus Christ has the power to transform suffering, sorrow, and loss into peace and joy. All you have to do is to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you as you minister to hurting people. Listen to their stories, pray in faith, and trust God to work as He desires.