Note: This is something I am adding to my book. It will be in the chapter that talks about How to Pray. Fortunately God brought this to my attention before the book was published. He’s so good to us!
One of the ways we can further strengthen our prayer lives is by utilizing the practice of laying on of hands. This practice actually goes back to the Old Testament and is used in two different ways. The first is as a sign of association for the sacrifice that was being offered. The Levites put their hands on the sacrifice and blessed it for the use that it was intended for. This could be for the trespass offering the sin offering, the burnt offering or the meat offering. In all these cases the Levites, who were the spiritual leaders, placed their hands on the sacrifice and blessed it. This can be found in Leviticus 1:4, 3:2, 4:15 and 16:21 and several other verses.
The second way that the laying on of hands was used in the Old Testament was to anoint an individual for service. This is especially true of the Priests and Levites, but also for Kings and leaders with authority.
10 And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:
11 And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord.
12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.
13 And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the Lord.
14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
15 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.
These verses in Numbers show us both of the ways laying on of hands was part of the ceremony in the Old Testament. First, the people laid their hands on the Levites to consecrate them for the Lord’s service. Then the Levites put their hands on the sacrifice, consecrating it and identifying themselves as the priests of Israel. They were then appointed to do the work of sacrificing the animals brought by the Israelites.
Deuteronomy 34:9 King James Version (KJV)
9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.
This is a scripture which shows the transference of the spirit of wisdom from Joshua to Moses. Since Moses was not going into the promised land with the people he had been leading for 40 years, he needed a replacement filled with the same wisdom God had endowed Moses with. Joshua was chosen the next leader. He was one of only 3 men to survive those 40 years (Caleb and Moses being the other two). This laying on of hands was done in front of the whole nation to let them know God had appointed Joshua their new leader.
In the New Testament, there are different uses for the laying on of hands as well. This practice was used by Jesus and His disciples as well as Paul. If they all thought it was important, we should take heed to its usage and practice our prayer in the same way.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
The children had come to Jesus because they loved Him and wanted to be near Him. As they came near, Jesus stretched out His hand, placed it on each one’s head, and gave them a blessing. We see this same thing in the Old testament when Jacob blessed his sons. The laying on of hands is a way to show your favor on someone and bless them. If given by someone in authority, it can signify separating them for service, much as the story above with Joshua. This can be a very powerful and meaningful time when entered into with the proper spiritual attitude of worship.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
This verse tells us that everyone who was sick and diseased was brought to Jesus. When He laid His hands on them all of them were healed. I can’t imagine how many people were there but there must have been a lot. His touch is a powerful thing. We still crave His touch today. We seek to be touched by the Holy Spirit when we worship and when we pray. I personally have felt His touch quite often. It’s hard to described to someone who has never experienced it. It feels as if He is in the room with us. Powerful times in the Lord arrive when He is present.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Jesus, in some of His last words before leaving the disciples, told them that the laying on of hands to heal the sick would follow those who believe in Him. Thus we see in Acts several cases where the disciples and Paul laid their hands on people to bring healing to them. Here are a couple of verses.
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Here we see the gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands. Again this is a transference from one person to another just like it was in the Old Testament. There’s a lot of power that comes with the laying on of hands.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Paul laid his hands on the father of Publius and he was he healed. Once again, we see this method used to bring healing.
1 Timothy 4:14
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
2 Timothy 1:6 King James Version (KJV)
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
In both first and second Timothy it is mentioned that Timothy received his gifts from the laying on of hands. This is the transference of power we have talked about before.
When we ask people to lay their hands on us to pray there are two things that take place. First of all it’s a way for them to associate with what we’re going through. In a way it puts them in our place and they can pray effectively for us because they are right where we are. It also gives us encouragement that somebody is praying for us. The second thing is it signifies a transference of power from them to us. It allows the Holy Spirit to work through them in our lives. It may be a prayer for healing, or finances or for a spiritual need in my life. Whatever the prayer it is strengthened by the laying on of hands.
I would urge all of us to make sure that we are making contact with those people that we’re praying for. It does not have to be a contact that’s out of place. Merely laying a hand on their shoulder or taking their hand in ours is enough to give them the reassurance that we care and that we’re there for them. That point of contact is more powerful than we can possibly imagine. So let’s not neglect this practice