Category Archives: Prayer

Can Catholics “Pray Over” People? Answering 3 Objections to the “Laying On Of Hands”

I grew up in a very “charismatic” family. To me, though, we were just Catholic.

As far as I was concerned, everybody who was Catholic went to mass on Sundays, listened to Scott Hahn tapes (yes, TAPES) on long car rides, and had grandfathers who would pray over people, receive words of prophecy, and experience God manifesting physical healings through the laying on of hands.

It wasn’t until I grew up and met other devout Catholics that I learned that there are some within the Church who are not on board with the “style” of prayer on which I was raised. There are those who view laypeople praying over one another as maybe not-totally-ok or perhaps even not in line with Church teaching.

Well listen here, y’all. There is nothing in Scripture or in Church teaching that prohibits laypeople from laying hands on one another and asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Not a thing. I promise.

When you look this up, the closest “objection” from any official Church teaching you’ll find is to point out that praying over someone is not the same thing as a sacrament. There is a difference between a layperson praying over someone and a bishop conferring the sacrament of confirmation, or a priest giving absolution. Of course, those in the Charismatic Renewal will be the first to tell you this. We need the sacraments. Praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is something we should all be doing regularly as Christians, in addition to receiving the sacraments.

But because praying over people is still sometimes seen as “weird” or “not ok” in some Catholic circles, I wanted to write to answer some common objections I’ve encountered over the years.

 “God Doesn’t *Need* You To Lay Your Hands On Someone”

This is absolutely true. God can work miracles in whichever way He pleases, and He is certainly not bound to our physical actions. There is nothing *magical* about physically laying your hands on someone to pray for them.

Still, there is no denying that throughout Salvation History, God employs physical means to carry out His Divine power. We see this from the very beginning. Adam is formed from the dust of the ground, Eve is taken from his rib. In Exodus, Moses must hold his arms in the air in order for the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites in battle. When his arms inevitably grow tired, Aaron and Hur have to come to his side to hold his arms for him, because when they drop, the Amalekites begin to win the battle. It seems so arbitrary (and how foolish they must have looked!). Surely God could’ve told Moses that all He needed to do was pray fervently and silently for the duration of the battle—but for whatever reason, that’s not what God wanted. Even in Jesus’ ministry, He heals a blind man with spittle and dirt. Surely He didn’t need either, but for some reason, Jesus used physical matter to do His Father’s work.

Of course God doesn’t need us to lay our hands over every person we pray for, but if He asks you to, will you?

“It’s ‘Too Showy’”

This one goes with the previous objection, and perhaps even gives some context for it. Yes, praying over someone makes a bit of a scene. And to some extent that’s probably the point.

Laying your hands on someone to pray for them is a physical witness to your belief in the power of God. When you lay your hands on someone and ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you’re saying that you believe that God will answer when He is called upon. You’re counting on Him to show up, right then and there. You’re not demanding for Him to do so, of course, but as Christians we believe our God is faithful, good, and loving to His children. Why wouldn’t we expect Him to show up?

This is not presumption. It’s faith. God may not answer our prayers in the way we expect or want Him to, but God answers the prayers of His children.

“It Ought To Be About The Giver, Not The Gifts”

I agree with this. And I think most people I’ve met who pray over others agree with it, too.

The thing is, the Giver wants to bestow His gifts on us. Sometimes we’d prefer that He did not, as His gifts are often heavy crosses that seem impossible to bear. But as we progress in holiness, we learn that it is when we embrace these crosses that we come closest to Jesus.

Ironically, many who raise this objection of “Giver and not Gifts” to those in the Charismatic Renewal are among the first to point out that we should not reject the gifts of God when they are crosses, but for whatever reason these same people struggle to accept that God also might have sweet gifts of charisms of the Spirit to bestow on His children, too. Well, just as “charismatic” Catholics must be cautious of not becoming distracted by gifts of the Spirit, so should “traditional” Catholics be cautious of rejecting the gifts God wants to bestow on them in the name of fear masquerading as a kind of false piety.

To be honest, I’ve found myself leaning towards both directions at different points in my life. The fact is that we need to embrace all the gifts God has for us, simply because He wants us to have them.

Conclusion

So rest assured, my friends. There is nothing “unCatholic” about praying over one another! It is completely in keeping with Scripture and with Church teaching.

By the way, if you’re new to this “style” of prayer–or even if you’re not!– I highly encourage you to check out “The Wild Goose Is Loose” produced by 4PM media. It is a great overview and introduction to praying to and with the Holy Spirit!

A Contemporary(ish) Playlist For Holy Week

I put together a playlist of some more contemporary(ish) songs to pray along with during this Holy Week! There is soo much out there to choose from so I obviously couldn’t include everything, but below is what I came up with.

Anything you’d add?

Hosanna – Hillsong

“I see His love and mercy washing over all our sin / The people sing, “Hosanna!”

Come As You Are – Crowder

“Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been / Come broken hearted, let rescue begin / Come find your mercy, O sinner come near / Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”

Jesus – Chris Tomlin

“There is one born for our salvation, Jesus”

Letting Go – Matt Maher

“I stand in awe of You, and everything You’ve done for me.”

Dry Bones – Gungor 

“My soul cries out for you … Jesus you’re the one who saves us / Constantly creates us…Surely our Messiah will make all things new”

Love Has Come – Matt Maher

“Love has come to show the way”

Lead Me To The Cross – Hillsong

“Lead me to the Cross, where your love poured out”

Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day

“There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart / There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing / He’ll meet you wherever you are / Cry out to Jesus”

Watch The Lamb – Ray Boltz

“‘Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there? There’s so much that we don’t understand.’ So I told them of Moses and Father Abraham. And /i said, ‘Dear children, watch the Lamb'”

The Old Rugged Cross – Alan Jackson

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down / And I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown”

Thy Will – Hillary Scott

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, ‘Thy Will Be Done’ “

Amazing Love – The Newsboys

“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. / I’m accepted because you were condemned”

Were You There – feat. Andrea Thomas

“O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

 

When Good Friday Comes

Why me? Why now? Why is this happening?!

That’s what we do when things go wrong. We ask, “Why?” We look for the reason. We search for answers to, “Why?” because we desperately hope that knowing the why will somehow help us begin to put things back the right way.

And sometimes we tell ourselves that if we just knew how things would turn out in the end, we would be able to relax a little bit. This struggle wouldn’t be so hard if we knew the outcome.

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

(Matthew 20:18-19)

It’s easy to forget that Jesus told the disciples exactly what was going to happen to Him, before it happened. Good Friday was laid out in clear terms: I will be handed over, mocked, scourged, and crucified.

I am going to be killed. Brutally tortured, in fact.

But—on the third day, I will rise.

And of course, it happens. The agony, the betrayal, the torture, the death.

The disciples witness Good Friday, just as Jesus promised. –And most of them run in terror.

Did they forget what Jesus said? Did they forget that this was all part of the plan? Did they forget that He would rise?

I seriously doubt it. When things go wrong, we ask, “Why?” Surely as Good Friday is happening each of the disciples remembered: Jesus told us this would happen.

So why did most of them run?

Well, we can’t say for sure. But I can venture a guess.

If I put myself in the disciples’ shoes, my reaction to Jesus’ prediction of the Passion is probably going to be like Peter’s: “Jesus, no! I won’t let this happen.”

No, Peter. You’re not thinking as God does. This is happening. And you’re not supposed to do anything about it.

Well that would certainly shut me up, and confuse me a bit. But upon learning that I’m not supposed to try and stop it, my personal reaction would probably be mostly to comfort myself with the fact that, when it was all over, Jesus said He would rise.

Pray that you will not enter into temptation.

Of course I’ll pray, Jesus. But at the end of this you’re still going to rise, right? I got this. I can hold strong for Sunday.

Stay up and pray with me. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Sure, sure. I’ll pray. I’m praying, ok? Just gonna lay here and rest my eyes some while I pray.

My hour is at hand.

Good Friday came as Jesus promised. And, even though the disciples knew what was going to happen three days later, most of them still ran in terror.

They had the knowledge that this was all “part of the plan,” but when your friend and Savior and Lord is being tortured…who cares about the plan? Why is this part of the plan?! This is awful. Just awful. Make it stop.

…Sound familiar?

Good Friday is coming. {Maybe it’s already here.}

Yes, Jesus has conquered death and we can, and do, live in that victory. But Jesus promised that we would undergo trials and suffering, too.

This is all part of the plan.

“Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you; But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly”

(1 Peter 4:12)

So, when you encounter the Cross, don’t run. It won’t make it go away.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are called to do something to fix it.

Pray. Cry. Sweat. Embrace. 

Victory will come. Indeed, victory has already come.

Take up your cross, and follow Him.

Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayers?

I posted the Saint Andrew Christmas novena last week. I try to post it every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my first Christmas with my husband’s family back in 2011. It reminds me of my father-in-law (who now prays it with our family from Heaven).  Most importantly, it reminds me to focus my heart on Christ’s coming (at least three times per day) during this advent season.

So yeah, I love this prayer.

People often share novenas alongside stories of answered prayers. For example, the first time I prayed this novena I prayed for mine and Tyler’s relationship. He proposed 5 days after that Christmas. The next time I prayed the novena I prayed for us to be blessed with a baby within our first year of marriage. Our son was born ten months later.

God answers prayers.

Well, two years ago I prayed this novena for the intention that my father-in-law would be healed completely and miraculously from his cancer.

He passed away exactly 6 months after Christmas.

I feel a little bad saying that I don’t even really remember what my intention was for the St Andrew Novena last year. I do remember it was certainly harder to stay on top of praying it last year, maybe because it is such a reminder of Doug.

However, this year as well as last year I have received discouraged comments from readers (perhaps echoing my own fears) stating that God never seems to hear or answer their novena intentions. To those readers (and my discouraged self), I direct you to the first comment on the first post I ever wrote sharing this novena. It happens to be from my late father-in-law–the one who shared the novena with me in the first place:

I LOVE this “novena” even though the number nine has nothing in common with it! One year I prayed for the improvement of the financial situation of one of my adult children and their family… almost immediately after the prayer was done the husband lost his job!!! Funny (scary sometimes) how God works, that was what needed to happen to them in order to get things headed in the right direction.

God answers prayers, just not always in the way we expect.

Rest assured, dear reader, your prayers are not going unanswered, and God most certainly does hear you. His ways are not our ways.

Jesus, we trust in you!

novena

mary-sig

PSA- St. Andrew Christmas Novena Starts Today!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I am breaking my silence today to remind you to start your St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

I try to make a point of sharing this novena with you all every year. It is one of my favorite ways to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.  A couple of years ago, I ordered a handful of 5x7s of this graphic to be printed out so I would be reminded every day to meditate on the prayer. Feel free to download the image and do the same!

(The “rules” are to pray the following 15x each day from now through Christmas Eve. Fix a specific intention to offer to our Lord each time you pray it, and trust that the same Jesus who humbled Himself to be born at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold over 2,000 years ago, will hear your prayer and answer it according to His perfect will.)


novena

 

By the way, Blessed Is She has a great devotional today reflecting on who St. Andrew was in the ministry of Jesus. Here is a brief excerpt:

Throughout his life, Saint Andrew played second fiddle to his dynamic and well-known brother Simon Peter. Peter was an incredible teacher. He was the first Pope. He resurrected Tabitha. Everyone remembers Peter, few remember Andrew—he is often only referred to as Peter’s brother. However, without Andrew, there is no way to know who would have introduced Peter to Jesus. (John 1:40)

-Emily Wilson-Hussem via BlessedIsShe.net

Happy Advent!

mary-sig