By laying hands upon someone else for whatever reason (this act is not forced upon us), we assume certain personal responsibility in the matter. Before we accept the position of doing what God allows humans to do in this area, we need to weigh some things from a scriptural perspective. Let us accept these challenges of personal commitment and allow ourselves to be used of God, whether we are a minister or saint.
- Right Living – Living a holy and godly life in accordance with the teaching of God’s Word and being in good standing in our local assembly is necessary before we lay hands on someone else.
- Sceva’s seven sons assumed the responsibility of casting out Satan when they were in no position to do so (Acts 19:11-17).
- Simon was not right with God but wanted the privilege to lay hands on others for them to receive the Holy Ghost; Peter rebuked him for this (Acts 8:14-23).
- Before we can give we must receive. Peter and John has something to give before they took the lame man by the hand and raise him up (Acts 3:1-16).
- Right Motives – Our motive must be right in laying our hands on someone else, asking God to help him or her. Glory and honor belong to God; we must never accept glory when God uses us in the laying on of hands.
Humility must be the hallmark of those who God uses, as we see from Peter and John’s attitude in Acts 3:12, 16. Being showy, calling attention to self, or accepting praise or honor should be far from us. We are only vessels of clay through which God chooses to work; we must give Him all glory and honor.
- Faith Is Required – When laying hands on someone and asking God to perform something in his or her life, we must exercise faith for what we are asking. We must believe that God is going to do what we ask Him to do.
- Faith in the name of Jesus Christ healed the lame man (Acts 3:1-16).
- Isaac and Jacob had faith when they laid hands on others (Hebrews 11:20-21).
- It is the prayer of faith that saves the sick (James 5:14-15).
- Lay Hands Suddenly on No One – Paul warned Timothy not to be hasty in ordaining others into the ministry or in placing them in places of responsibility or leadership (1 Timothy 5:17-22). (See also 2 John 7-11.)
A good rule to follow concerning the laying on of hands is to be careful, cautious, and biblical in the truest sense of the word. Capriciously laying hands on anyone without thought, reason, or purpose behind it, lessens its importance and sacredness. We are working with a principle of the doctrine of Christ, not a playful antic of showmanship.
- Discretion – All who lay hands on others must show consideration, caution, and thoughtfulness for the people they pray for. Here are some guidelines.
- Do not handle a person roughly, especially praying in the altar or one who is sick. Conduct of this type is more distracting than beneficial. Rough handling does not bring more power from God; it only attracts undue attention.
- When praying with or for someone of the opposite sex, place your hand on the head only.
- Knocking off a lady’s hat or messing up someone’s hair is unnecessary, disorderly, and uncalled for.
- Going all over the church building and laying hands on everybody for no reason is out of order. Purpose, reason, and cause must be behind the act of laying on of hands.
- When working with unbelievers or those who know nothing of this doctrine, show wisdom and consideration for them. Know that God is directing you to lay hands on them, or it could be a detriment to them.
- Follow guidelines established by the pastor as to who should practice the laying on of hands and when it is appropriate.
God’s work is contrary to the carnal thinking of the unregenerate, but when we act according to the Word and Spirit we will see the desired results. Good manners, spiritual decorum, and the dignity of the Almighty always accompany the principles of the doctrine of Christ. May it ever be so in the laying on of hands.
God has allowed us to place our hands upon others and ask God to bless them through our prayers – what a privilege! God’s people must accept both the privilege and responsibility of laying on of hands. We live in a hurting, hungry, and lonely world, starving for not only a human touch but also a divine touch. As we reach out to touch others, may we also be touched by Him.