Why Do We Lay Hands on People?

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If you’ve been attending Living Stones Churches for any amount of time or have spent enough time in the sanctuary after our worship gathering, you’ve noticed something that seems peculiar—people cluster together in pairs and groups to pray for each other. If they’ve decided to get real crazy, they begin to lay hands on one another and pray. Why is that?

The practice of laying hands on people starts with Jesus. Jesus, the creator and designer of the universe, was well aware of the importance of touch when He ministered. If you’ve read through the Gospels, it clearly depicts Jesus caring, loving, and healing those he encountered by touching them, more specifically, “laying on of his hands” (Luke 4:40,5:13,13:13,Matt 8:3,Mark 1:41,6:5,8:23-25).

Couldn’t Jesus have simply whipped up some fairy dust, done three heel clicks, or just spoke the healing into place? Yes, but that’s not what he did—he touched them. Why? Because many of these individuals were social outcasts due to their disease and didn’t have interaction with another person; let alone have human contact. Many of the individuals Jesus healed hadn’t experienced the touch of another person in a long time. Jesus was not only healing physical needs, he was healing emotional wounds by showing them that they’re deeply loved and cared for.

Scientific research has been released in the past decade expressing the importance of physical contact, which is a vital piece in communication. It’s the first way that we learn how to communicate. We also receive feelings such as how we feel cared for, loved on, and protected by those who are our caretakers. Though we may grow to learn to communicate in other mediums, touch is extremely important.

Fast forward to the Apostles and the early church—essentially the early church saw what Jesus did and copied him. Does this mean that people have the same inherent power to wield and use this at a drops notice to heal others? No!  We see the early church pray in Acts 4:29-30, asking God to move his hand.  When we pray and lay hands on each other for healing, imparting and empowering, we are praying in a similar fashion and putting a physical manifestation to what we are asking God to do. We are moving in an act of faith that God would stretch out His hand to heal, impart, and empower. Not only that, we are acting like Jesus in communicating similar care and love for that person as Jesus would want to.

Throughout the book of Acts, we also see God using his people who stepped out in faith to pray and lay hands on one another for different purposes. We see the Apostle Paul doing “extraordinary” works with his hands like healing and casting out demons (Acts 19:11-2). We see the early church laying hands on people for them to receive salvation and the Spirit (Acts 8:17). The laying on of hands also took in the imparting of gifts and asking for a special blessing from the Spirit as people stepped out in faith and went out on mission and respond to certain calls to serve.  We see this in Acts 6:6, 13:3, 1 Tim 4:14,2 Tim 1:6.

"When we pray and lay hands on each other for healing, imparting and empowering, we are putting a physical manifestation to what we are asking God to do."

What’s crazy about the whole thing is that the laying on of hands was intrinsically valuable to the early church. In Hebrews 6:1-2, the author writes of the laying on of hands as an “elementary” doctrine, meaning the action of praying and laying on of hands for one another was something that people would have immediately picked up and learned as they interacted with the community. Praying for and laying hands on one another is a mark of true biblical community.

This is why at Living Stones we love bringing new community group leaders, mission teams, new elders & deacons on stage and publicly praying for them. In this act, we’re asking God to move and to use these people mightily.  God loves moving in this way and has healed people from diseases and empowered them to live the life he has called them to.