Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Silent Prayer for Clients

In entering the field of counseling many Christians would like to assume that they will be able to use prayer and Scripture to aid their clients throughout the therapeutic process. However, if the counselor chooses to practice within the realm of secular counseling they are aware that they most likely will be unable to perform in this manner. Fortunately, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot still pray for the clients and bring their concerns for their client before the Lord. In Dr. Garzon’s article “Interventions That Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy” he not only outlines a variety of Scriptural interventions that can be useful in therapy but acknowledges ways that the counselor can use quiet and non-overt strategies to implement prayer into the therapy session. This includes praying for the client outside of sessions and quietly during sessions, an approach known as implicit integration. This allows the counselor to bring their requests before God and to thus grow in Christ while overtly respecting the worldview of the client.

The question in this situation is whether it is unethical to pray for a client without the client’s knowledge. Most Christians would respond yes with little hesitation. However, it is important when raising any theological question to look to the Word of God for the correct response. In doing so one find’s that many people throughout the Bible prayed for their counterparts regardless of whether or not they were believers, occurring in fact more often in instances when they were not. Abraham prayed for Sodom and Gomorrah, and Moses prayed on behalf of the Israelites. Daniel, Ezra, Elijah, and Nehemiah all prayed for the sins of their people who were not only unaware of their petitions to God but were not believers. Jesus prayed to God not only for His followers but for all of those that they would lead to Him. Each of these examples makes it clear that God admonishes prayer on behalf of others. The question then is whether it is correct to pray for our clients when the law states otherwise. Here we should look to the example of Paul who prayed fervently for the Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians despite persecution from the Roman Empire. Furthermore, Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray on his behalf (I. Thessalonians 5:25). Above all we see the importance of bringing everything before the Lord; our praises, our requests, and our concerns for one another.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. - Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)


  1. I whole-heartedly agree with you on this. In Matt. 5:44 we are instructed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Surely, our clients deserve at least as much prayer as our "enemies". Also, the focus in class seemed to revolve around what specifically was prayed for on a client's behalf. I feel certain there is no danger that God is going to grant a request to me that is detrimental and/or not a part of His will for another person as my knowledge and grasp of what others need in this world pale in comparison to His divine wisdom.

  2. When Dr Corsini presented this question in class, my immediate thought was, "What in the world is he talking about? Of course you should pray for your clients as a Christian counselor." He made a comment about Spiritual warfare, however, that made me a little hesitant on how far you should go in praying for your clients. As Christians we believe that there is a Spiritual warfare going on for the souls of men. If I were to pray for a client in a very specific way, I could very well bring about a concentrated battle over their soul. I believe that as Christian counselors, we should pray for the session and direction in what to say before each session, but even as I am writing this, I am struggling on whether or not we should secretively pray for a non-believing client in a specific way. The topic of secretive prayer for clients is going to have to be one that I pray about as I am in school and then see where God is leading me.


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