Questions and Responses
Doctrinal Commission – International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
What is a cleansing prayer? Is it necessary after praying with someone for healing or deliverance? If you do not do it, are you liable to experience torment such as headaches, pain, or sleeping trouble?
A cleansing prayer is typically a prayer to free prayer ministers from the influence of any evil spirits that may have attached themselves to a person during ministry.
The first thing to remember is that both prayer and faith are essential to ministry; a particular cleansing prayer is not.
We pray before and during ministry, humbling ourselves before the Lord asking for what we need. We give thanks and praise to the One who is the deliverer and pray for greater anointing, deeper faith, humility, and for release of the captives.
We also call to mind our faith, remembering the truth: Christ is in you (Col 1:27), you have the authority of the children of God (John 1:12), you have been given faith to quench all the flaming darts of the enemy (Eph 6:16), if he sends you, nothing will harm you (Luke 10:19), and the Lord will strengthen you and guard you from evil (2 Thes 3:3)
Prayer expresses faith, deepens faith, and releases the power of faith. Prayer can overcome fear, which is opposed to faith. We must ask, is the person who stays up all night in anxious prayer really praying… or simply worrying with their eyes closed?
A good place to start
After a ministry session, it is good to follow what Jesus teaches in Luke 10:17–20:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Our first response should be to return to Jesus with rejoicing and to share in his pleasure and joy. As we humble ourselves in praise and gratitude for the privilege of participating in his ministry, we remember that our success is all by his grace. He promised, “Nothing will harm you.” We should not give the devil too much attention or become preoccupied about the works of the enemy. Nor should we be awed by the manifestation of evil in a person’s life. This can give the enemy an advantage. Rather, we should keep our eyes on Jesus and his work of redemption.
We may have greater vulnerability to the enemy if the person we prayed for did not experience relief, or if evil was manifest and in some way penetrated our thoughts through a word, emotion or images. We may also be vulnerable if the session provoked a painful memory that has not been purified. An evil spirit needs a foothold in us to become attached to us.
If this occurs, resist fear, doubt and unbelief, and see this as your opportunity for growth. Pray with others and enter into to the Lord’s presence. Renounce the lies, doubt and unbelief. You may wish to use your favourite cleansing prayer to aid you to enter into his joy.
Resist the temptation to build expectancy for some sort of retaliation from the enemy. When climbing mountains, there is a certain elevation above which snakes will not go. We should all expect to grow to the place of faith where the enemy no longer can nip at us in the same way as when we began.
Evaluate the prayer
When we pray a cleansing prayer that another ministry has developed, from time to time we should evaluate it to see if it reflects the faith that we have been given and if it fits the ministry that we are doing. A cleansing prayer that expresses your faith and draws you to God may be of great help. Conversely, you should not pray cleansing prayers out of legalism or superstition, thinking that something bad will happen if you do not pray the exact prayer.
Spiritual warfare is a normal part of the Christian life. It is part of living in the kingdom here on earth. Spiritual attacks include everything from temptation, to the daily trials of living in a fallen world, to a more intense season of attack on your identity and well being. In these times, remember that God is always good.
However, not all trials come from the enemy. We struggle against our fallen nature and against the natural pressures from the world. Sometimes, what feels to us like an attack of the enemy is really testing from God (see Deut 8:2). The Lord has set us free and he wants to expose any subtle return to the idolatry of trusting in our own strength.
Jesus is, of course, our true model. He was tempted and certainly had trials, but he never blamed the devil for his trials or focused on the enemy. He focused solely on the Father’s will and either ignored the enemy (he remained asleep in the boat), resisted the enemy’s temptation (he quoted Scriptures), or rebuked the enemy (in the desert and in Peter) as he yielded to the will of God. He daily poured out his heart to his Father, and as he proclaimed the kingdom, he advanced it by driving out spirits. In his passion, Jesus obediently took on the sins of the world and experienced the full weight of the evil that entered us through sin. He trusted the Father in all things. Our attitudes are to be the same as his.