“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who I able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21
Perhaps one the most bypassed activities of Biblical Counseling is prayer. Counseling without prayer, robs God of His glory. This is a necessity that should be seen as a necessity, but it is all too often neglected. The temptation to rely on one’s knowledge of the Word, past experiences, or confidence in personal ability is all too common to mankind. So often the flesh rears its ugly head and desires to rely on self rather than God when counseling and ministering to others. This must not be so for the Christian counselor. Prayer must be relied upon by those who minster the Word of God, before, during, and after this ministry takes place.
Why is Prayer so vital to counseling? Well, prayer is vital because of what we looked at two weeks ago in this counseling series. Prayer is vital because the Holy Spirit is vital in counseling. The Christian counselor must be one who, through prayer, asks the Holy Spirit for wisdom, guidance, and grace as he counsels others. He must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and His illumination of the Word of God in order to handle it accurately and proclaim its truth to those in need.
In what ways then does prayer affect Biblical Counseling, and how often should it be used? Prayer in and of itself is a gift that God has given to His children. It is our way of talking to Him, and it is commanded in His word (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is not a special formula, nor is it an unintelligible speech that one utters. No, it is simply the pouring out of ones heart to God in praise, thanksgiving, worship, and a desire to please Him. Prayer should always be God-focused, in accordance to His will, and therefore in agreement with His Word. Prayer affects Biblical Counseling because it recognizes the utter inability of man to help others change and therefore magnifies his utter dependence on God. It allows the person who minsters the Word to commit their way wholly to the Lord, trusting that His plan and His purposes will be accomplished as the Word of God goes forth to weary souls.
Prayer must first be practiced regularly and with much fervency before any counseling takes place. The man who wishes to be used by God to help others change, must himself be changed. Through prayer those who counsel others must examine their own heart, test their own mind, and ask the Lord to work His change in them (Ps. 51:10; Gal. 6:1). Prayer before counseling should also include asking the Lord for wisdom (Jas. 1:5). Without the wisdom of God’s Word we would not be able to counsel others. But because of God’s graciousness, we can indeed minster the Word to those in need as we rely on the wisdom from above, not the wisdom that our sinful, hopeless world peddles to mankind. Finally, Prayer before counseling is vital as it provides the opportunity for the minister of the Word to lift up those whom he is about to counsel. In this way he can commit their lives to the care of the Lord, asking that he be used in His Master’s hand for His good and glory.
It is vital not only for the Christian counselor to personally rely upon the Lord in prayer, but for him also to teach, (through actual teaching, and through practice) the importance and necessity of prayer. At a minimum, prayer should be offered at least one time in counseling. Prayer, when counseling can be offered in many ways. Here is what I came up with as I thought of the necessity of prayer in counseling:
Besides preceding all Biblical Counseling, as we looked at above, prayer should also take place with the counselee each time you are counseling them. To start with prayer will align your focus with the Lord’s as you commit the present and the future to Him. Prayer during a session by either counselor or counselee should be taken advantage of in counseling. Whether conviction of sin in the life of counselee, or reason to praise God for His goodness in changing us into the image of His Son, prayer should be a natural outflow of the working of God in a saint’s life. Finally, prayer should bring a conclusion after God’s Word is ministered. It is an opportunity to thank God for what just took place, and to look ahead to how He will continue to grow us and change us in the future. Prayer therefore, should affect all areas of counseling.
By saturating his time with others in prayer, the man or woman who ministers God’s Word to others is teaching them to place their dependency on God. It is far too easy for those who are struggling and are weak and weighed down with sins to look for hope in something, in anything. They will place hope in methods, or materials, or other people, sometimes even in the counselor himself. This is why the counselor must direct the focus of all things to God. In this way he teaches the person he counsels to run to God with problems, and to nothing or no one else. Prayer is necessary in counseling, and it is effective. God will bless the cry of those who are His own, He will hear their prayer and will save them (Ps. 34:17; 145:19). May we be people of righteousness who realize the necessity of prayer as we seek to minister to others for, “…the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Jas. 5:16b)