There are three categories of individuals that the Bible specifies laid hands on others.
The first whom the Bible speaks of as laying hands on others were the Apostles. Once again we return to the seven men who were chosen to serve tables, and we see that they were brought before the Apostles, who after praying laid hands on them. It was not the entire congregation, but the Apostles who laid hands on these men.
The second category of individuals whom the Bible speaks of as having laid hands on others are prophets and teachers.
Acts 13:1-3, “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”
So it was these prophets and teachers that the Bible enumerates that laid hands on Saul and Barnabas for the work which God had called them to, and then they were sent away to go and pursue the ministry to which God had called them. Now the Bible tells us there was a church at Antioch, yet only these prophets and teachers laid hands on Barnabas and Saul. Why didn’t everybody just come up and lay hands on them? Well, because throughout the Bible we can clearly see that those who laid hands on others were men with the authority of God, full of the Holy Spirit, and recognized by the early church. In every case, with the exception of healing, the elders were those who laid hands on individuals. Due to the serious nature of the things laying on of hands entails, immature individuals are not allowed to participate in it.
The last category of individuals whom the Bibles speaks of as having laid hands on others are the elders. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul mentions the presbytery, or the elders of the church, and the fact that they had laid hands on him.
1 Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of hands of the presbytery.”
Now that we’ve discussed who it is the Bible says can lay hands on others, I want to discuss, if only briefly, the conditions one must meet in order for the laying on of hands to have an effect. Yes, there are conditions, and even though today’s church has chosen to ignore the word ‘if’ in the Bible, God is still God, His word is still His word, and when God says ‘if’ you do a certain thing then I will likewise do a certain thing, He means what he says.
The first condition that an individual must meet, in order for the laying on of hands to have an effect is that they must have faith in God. Absent faith in God, we can have elders, and prophets, teachers and apostles lay hands on us until kingdom come with no effect and no visible demonstration of any power.
As Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus who had been dead for four days, as Mary and Martha stood beside Him pleading with Him not to take away the stone from the tomb since there would be a stench, Jesus said something to Martha that we must all take to heart.
John 11:40, “Jesus said to her, ‘did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?”
When we lay hands on an individual, be it for healing, for restoration or for the power of God, they must believe. If we believe, we too will see the glory of God, if we believe we too will see the miracles of God. But absent belief, absent faith, we will see absolutely nothing because faith stirs the heart of God and puts the plan of God into action.
John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father.”
The second condition that we must meet, in order for the laying on of hands to have an effect is to fast and to pray. Yes a prayer life, and a life of fasting are essential ingredients in ensuring that when we, by the unction of the Holy Spirit lay hands on someone they will be healed, they will be restored, they will receive power and they will have authority.
There was a revelatory exchange between Christ and His disciples when a man who had a son that was an epileptic came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his son, informing him that he had first gone to His disciples but they could not cure him. After rebuking the demon, and after the demon had come out of him, the child was cured from that very hour, but the Disciples of Christ were perplexed as to why they could not do the same thing. Why was it, they inquired, that they could not cast out the demon?
Matthew 17:20-21, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
What we must remember is that although Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, He spent more time in prayer than any of His disciples. It is often that we find Jesus alone, withdrawn, by Himself praying to the Father for strength and for guidance. If Jesus had a prayer life, then as His disciples we must likewise have a healthy and consistent prayer life. As Jesus said, there are certain evils; there are certain demons that do not go out except by fasting and prayer. He didn’t say except by laying on of hands, but fasting and prayer, which equip you so that when you do go and lay hands on someone God answers the prayer.
For those who are receiving prayer, for those who are having hands laid on them there is also a condition that they must meet and it is important enough that we discuss it because it is a practice that has fallen out of favor with much of the church today.
The practice I speak of is that of confessing one’s sin before they receive prayer.
James 5:14-16, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
I realize that in our politically correct, non-confrontational, non-offensive society it might be difficult to speak to someone about confessing their sins. I realize it may get a bit awkward, but it must be done because it is the way in which the Bible says it must be done. Confess your trespasses, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. So what this verse is saying that in order to be healed, we must do these two things, confess and pray.
We must understand that the laying on of hands is always accompanied by prayer, showing us that the gifts of grace and of healing are from God, and not from the act of one individual laying his hands on another. It is the Lord that heals, it is the Lord that saves, it is the Lord that forgives. We are vessels; we are conduits through which the power and the presence of God can work.
Now there are instances when the sick individual either will not, or cannot pray for themselves for healing, there are instances when they are too far gone to communicate, and it is then that the prayer and faith of the one who is laying hands on them is essential and crucial.
Acts 14:8-10, “And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet!’ and he leaped and walked.”
The Word does not tell us that this crippled man confessed his sins, it does not tell us that he asked for prayer, all we are told is that Paul saw that he had faith to be healed. When he saw this, Paul simply commanded with a loud voice that this man stand up straight on his feet, and he did just that.
Whenever we lay hands, whether it is for healing, for blessing, or for power we must remember to do it in the name of Jesus, who having laid hands on many an individual never failed to see the power of God manifest through Him. We must acknowledge that absent Christ, that absent the power of God in us we are nothing but empty vessels, at the mercy of our Master waiting for Him to fill us.
So often we over estimate our own self-worth refusing to acknowledge that we as individuals live, and breathe and move in God and God alone, thinking ourselves greater than what we truly are. It is God who gives us power, it is God who gives us authority, and it is the power of God that heals, restores, blesses and baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.