Should We Lay Hands on the Sick in Healing?

Laying hands on the sick in prayer is seen as a symbol of faith in the Lord to heal them. It can also provide encouragement and assurance to the person being prayed over, and it can be a blessing to the person being prayed over. Contributing Writer
Published Apr 13, 2022
Should We Lay Hands on the Sick in Healing?

Much confusion runs around the idea of laying hands on the sick. Those of us who are Christians can state with certainty that it is emphasized in the Bible as we read Mark 16:17-18.

Does this mean we are to lay hands on the sick as this verse implies? Actually, this verse has a lot of meaning for us today, and in order to further understand it, let's dig deeper into it.

The Definition of the Term ‘Sick’

In order to fully analyze the verse, let us first examine the term "sick." In this passage, the term “sick” describes the group of people Jesus was speaking about in which there are three occasions in which Jesus healed people who suffered greatly.

"Sickness" is derived from the Greek word arrhostos, which means weak and frail in health, as emphasized in Mark 6:13The scriptures explain that Jesus was particularly attracted to the sick who had no strength. Jesus healed these invalids that day, as we read in Mathew 14:14.

This clearly indicates that these people were severely ill. There is no doubt that these were critical illnesses and that they were not minor ailments as emphasized in Mark 6:5

It is clear from these examples that these were people who were afflicted by sickness and not simply feeling poorly. They had become invalids due to their physical weakness, critical illness, and lack of strength.

Those were not headaches and skin abrasions, but rather, sicknesses that fall under the category of critical illnesses.

Laying Hands on the Sick with Jesus’ Blessing

Jesus said that early Christian believers should lay hands on this group of sick people, and they would recover. And by sick people, He meant people who have suffered greatly and are critical.

It is important to notice the statement Jesus made about believers laying hands on the sick. In Luke 4:40, Jesus placed His hands upon a sick person during an event during which He used this word.

There were many sick people on that particular evening. The word "sick" in the ancient Greek language indicates an array of various infirmities known as asthenia.

The phrase "any sick with diverse diseases" further emphasizes the fact that these people suffered from various diseases. This represents a wide range of illnesses but using the word "diseases" lets us know that some of these people were seriously ill.

It is worth mentioning that the word "disease" is derived from the Greek word nosos, which always connotes the idea of one being afflicted by some kind of terrible disease.

There is a common misconception that the word nosos refers to a terminal health condition that cannot be cured by natural means. Therefore, the word can refer to people who are terminally ill.

The Bible says that Jesus laid hands on them, and they were healed. As a result of his example, Jesus was teaching the perfect way for believers during that time to lay their hands on the sick including those who were terminally ill, and see them regain their health as a result of their obedience.

The Early Christians and Laying on of Hands

It is worth noting, however, that, even as early as the beginning of the second century, only the apostles were able to physically lay hands on others in order to empower them with the Holy Spirit, such as in the case of the apostles Peter and John traveling to Samaria in order to perform this ritual.

Given the fact that the Church had not yet completed its embryonic stage, it was actually the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit that were meant to confirm the validity of the message that had been delivered once and for all by the apostles.

It is important to remember that these gifts were temporary due to the fact that the apostles were commissioned to deliver the Word of the New Covenant.

It is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 that miracles are temporary gifts from the Spirit, and they are only to be used for a limited time.

There is no one today who has the miraculous power to lay hands on the sick in order to heal them, owing to the primary reason for the apostles having the miraculous power to lay hands on the sick and the fact that the miraculous gifts have ceased with the revelation and completion of the will of God through Jesus Christ, which is evident in Scripture.

In addition to prayers for the sick, we should also think about asking God for a providential cure for our illnesses whenever we find ourselves sick or in the middle of a disease.

What Does Laying on of Hands Mean Today?

It is practiced today in the church during prayer times, to request healing, to bless before a ministry, to encourage, and to formally ordain or take on leadership.

People and families are often called up to the front of the church for prayer when they are getting ready to go on missions. In this time of blessing, the pastor will call on members to come "lay hands."

This does not have a magical effect but rather is an effective way for the congregation to become involved in the blessing. As part of this endeavor, church leadership often requests the laying on of hands in order for prayer to be offered for healing.

Touching a sick person with a member of the church is not a guarantee of a miracle, but instead, it is seen as a symbol of faith in the Lord to heal them.

Secondly, it can provide encouragement and assurance to the person being prayed over, and it can also be a blessing to the person being prayed over.

So, in order for the church to embrace this biblical custom with knowledge and wisdom in the present day, it should be embraced as well.

In accordance with Scripture's model, laying on of hands is a means of connecting and bonding together as the body of Christ.

The gift of touch not only offers encouragement through the gift of touch but also serves as a reminder of Jesus' empathetic humanity and the compassion He displayed during his earthly ministry.

Why Does This Matter?

Jesus healed the sick, especially the terminally ill, and he encouraged the early Christians to do the same.

When the early stages of Christianity began, the apostles were temporarily given the power to heal leprosy by laying their hands on it. After the time when the scriptures began to be written down, this power ceased to exist.

Despite the fact that we cannot heal the sick by touching them, as modern-day Christians, cannot heal the sick by touching them, there is at least something we can do to assist them in their recovery, which is praying to God for providence and offering encouragement.

The only way to heal a sick person is through God and His plans will always prevail. He will fulfill all of our needs as long as we remain faithful to Him.

For further reading:

What Is Anointing of the Sick and Is it Biblical?

What Does ‘Laying on of Hands’ Mean in the Bible?

What Is the Spiritual Gift of Healing?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/gorodenkoff

Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.


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