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)