|HOW TO PRAY FOR DELIVERANCE (Basic Form)
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Dec 19 2008 08:00AM
The first thing to realize when we are performing a deliverance is that deliverance prayer is different from prayer for
healing. In fact, it is not prayer at all; it is a command. And it is directed not to God, as prayer is, but to an evil spirit,
ordering it to get out. This command is backed up by God's authority, in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul, for instance,
cast out the soothsaying spirit from the slave girl who kept pestering him:
in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.. And he came out the same hour." Acts 16:18
Healing prayer, on the other hand is directed to God. We certainly do not command God to do anything; we only ask
Him - in this case to heal. We are the creatures; God is the Creator.
words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou
me. Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding."
When we pray for healing, our basic attitude is that of entreaty; I am a servant (or, better yet, a friend) asking a favor.
Based on the promise, but still a favor.
I hope you will already have had the chance to form a team and interview the person seeking deliverance. Certainly it
helps if you know the counselee's history and how the spirits gained entrance. It especially helps if you know the
identity of the main spirits. If not, the first part of the deliverance session will involve talking with the counselee and
learning as much as you can about how and why the spirits gained entry and who they are.
The session begins, of course, with prayer. First we call on Jesus Christ to give us wisdom and guide us in our prayer.
We call on His authority to cast out the spirits. We ask the Holy Spirit to anoint us with power and the love of God to
heal as well as free the person. We ask God to fill the room with His power and love to overflowing. Nothing evil can
survive in such an atmosphere.
Lastly, we forbid, in the name of Jesus Christ, any communication in the realm of evil spirits, as it might affect the spirits
that are troubling the counselee; and we forbid these spirits to draw power from any spirits outside the person.
Having finished praying for protection, we are now ready to proceed with the deliverance itself.
Remember again that you are not angry at the counselee, for whom you need to feel compassion. Do not further
wound him/her by increasing the shame and self-loathing he/she probably already feels.
Speak in a Calm Voice
It is like dealing with children: If you really have authority and know who is in charge, you can command quietly. If the
demons sense that you are calm and in charge, they will, like children, obey your commands.
They will also sense if you are insecure, and it will take longer to drive them out. (In the beginning most of us are a little
unsteady; that is to be expected.) Shouting and blustering at the demons simply demonstrates our own insecurity. Or
we may get loud because we are angry at the demons. The danger is, how does the victim sort out that anger from
anger directed personally at him/her? So it is better to remain calm.
Look the Person in the Eye
This is not absolutely necessary, but it does seem to help. I mentioned previously that when you look into the eyes of a
person who harbors a demon, you seem to be looking at something else in there. You can often identify the evil spirit
(whether hate or mockery or pride or something else) simply by that gaze.
In an account of the massacre in Rwanda, Time magazine quoted a missionary on its cover saying, "There are no devils
left in Hell; they are all in Rwanda." The accompanying article quoted a U.N. Official describing the young men who
were killers: "If you look in their eyes, there is something there that is not in the eyes of normal people."
Looking into the person's eyes seems to confront the evil spirits directly and helps in casting them out. I have found
that the spirits, even if they seem defiant, are afraid to look us in the eye and will do whatever they can to avoid it.
Sometimes (as I already mentioned) the eyeballs will roll upward, leaving you looking at nothing but the whites of the
eyes. Usually I ask the person to look at me. Ordinarily, if he/she has command of their body, he/she will do it. But if
the spirits are strong, they will force him/her to turn away. If this happens you can say to the spirit, "In the name of
Jesus Christ I command you to look at me" - and keep doing it (calmly) until it releases its grip and the person does.
Or when you are praying for people as they come forward, some may drop to the floor before they reach you. Usually
this is because the power of God is so strong that they cannot stand up, but sometimes an evil spirit will do the same
thing. The person wants to come forward, but the spirits are fighting desperately to keep you away.
Decide How to Handle Temporary Possession
Sometimes in a deliverance session, spirits that have never demonstrated their presence but have influenced the
person's life in more subtle ways feel threatened enough to come to the surface and take over the victim's personality
as they fight to keep him/her in their power. Afterward the person expresses surprise at what happened. At one
moment you are talking to an apparently normal person; the next moment that personality is no longer there and you
are face to face with a demonic presence.
If this happens you will need to make a decision: Is now the time to confront the spirits that have risen to the surface and
drive them out? If they surface while you are still trying to interview the person before the actual exorcism, you can
command them to let go and say, "I want to speak now to _______________, not to you. I command you to let go of
her voice and allow her to speak."
This temporary possession often occurs when you are leading the person to commitment to Jesus Christ. He/She may
get as far as the name Jesus, then be able to stammer only, "Jee, Jee, Jee," and not be able to finish.
One of the unusual aspects of temporary possession is that later the person usually cannot remember anything that
occurred during this time. If the real person was submerged for two hours during the deliverance prayer, he/she
probably will remember nothing he/she said or did during that time. He/She may have been shouting curses at you, or
thrashing around and screaming, but afterward, mercifully, she will have no memory of it at all. In the end she will
probably feel refreshed and ready for a celebration, while you and your team will feel exhausted and ready to go to
sleep on the spot!
The phenomenon of temporary possession makes highly problematic the question of proving to church authorities, in
order to get permission to do a formal exorcism, that a person is possessed. All you can say is that the person
ordinarily acts normally, but occasionally seems to be possessed.
Temporary possession also explains why some serial murders say they are surprised the next morning when they read
in the paper about the horrible crimes they committed. They are telling the truth: Something else at the time took over.
Truly the devil made them do it.
Ultimately, of course, they are responsible for whatever led them to fall under Satan's control(for example, heavy
involvement in Satanism). But the tragedy is, their true selves would probably not have committed those monstrous
crimes. Moreover, if they repent and turn their lives over to the Lord of the universe, they are salvageable human
beings, not monsters.
Decide Whether to Touch the Person
Here we find two contrary opinions. Some hold that you should not touch the person if you do not have to; that it is
contaminating and possibly dangerous. My own experience, on the other hand, is that the power of the Holy Spirit flows
out from us to the afflicted person. If the evil spirit seems lodged in the person's throat, I (Francis MacNutt) will place my
hand lightly on the throat. The evil spirits cannot stand being close to us, and the laying on of hands increases the
pressure on them to get out. By touching their victim, you increase the spirits' discomfort and hasten their departure.
The laying on of hands is not essential, of course, and I respect the opinion that you need not (or should not) touch the
The touch should not be harsh. On the contrary, it can be a sign of love, which evil spirit cannot abide. (Several times I
have even encountered a spirit characterized by a fear of touch. "Do not touch me," it shouted.)
The Actual Prayer for Deliverance
By the time you start praying you should know (through a preparatory session or at the beginning of this deliverance
session) the identity of the evil spirit you are going to cast out first. Ideally this knowledge comes through someone on
your team who has the gift of discerning of spirits or through your interview and the discernment you have gained
through ordinary counseling.
With the team around you, you will probably want to sit facing the afflicted person, who is also seated. If the person has
not yet committed his/her life to Jesus Christ, he/she can do so now. He/She also needs to repent of any sins
connected with his/her need for deliverance and renounce any activities connected with the occult. Because it is good
to make sure the person is committed to Jesus and as repentant as he/she can be, considering that evil spirits are
trying to prevent him/her from doing this, you might want to spend an entire preliminary session on these two areas.
After these preliminaries are taken care of, ask the person to look you in the eye. Pray silently, asking the Holy Spirit to
guide you in deciding which spirit to cast out first. Sometimes you start with what seems to be the main spirit, the
strongest. If you get that one out, the other, weaker ones will follow with less resistance. At other times you start with
the lesser spirits, especially if the main spirit is unusually powerful. It is like digging out a tree stump: If you cut off the
lesser roots spreading out into the ground, the main stump will finally be cut off from its supporting tentacles and be
loosened enough for you to pull it out.
There may also be blocking spirits that get in your way, like skirmishers in the army that try to protect the major spirit.
(Among these spirits we find mockery, lying, confusion, sleepiness, and game-playing.) You need to cast them out.
I (Francis MacNutt) remember praying with a woman for deliverance (a missionary, no less) when a spirit of mockery
surfaced. The woman held up an imaginary wineglass and toasted the prayer team. She also made some witty remarks
to try to distract us with laughter. And she really was funny! When we realized what was going on, however, we
commanded the spirit of mockery to stop the foolery that was distracting us from the task at hand.
The heart of the deliverance is, of course, the deliverance prayer itself, which has several very definite components.
The ordinary deliverance prayer contains the following elements:
4. What you command the spirit to do: "Depart! Go! Now!"
5. How the spirit is to go: "quietly, without hurting anybody,"
6. Where the spirit is to go: "to Jesus Christ" (or else to "to hell").
We cast these spirits out not by our own authority, but by the power of the name of Jesus Christ. (The "name" really
means the "Person of Jesus Christ.)
2. "...I command you..."
It is no polite request we make of the evil spirits; we use authority. If there is doubt or hesitation in your voice, the spirits
will pick up on your fear and try to further intimidate you ("We are stronger than you are"; "You will never get us out";
etc.). Believe fully in the authority of Christ to drive the spirits out. True it is that you cannot do it, but Jesus Christ
within you will free the captive.
3. "...you spirit of____________..."
When possible, identify the spirit by name (for example, spirit of hate, spirit of lust, etc.).
4. "...to depart..."
This part of the command is self-explanatory.
5. "...without doing harm to_____________[name the person by first name or entire name] or anyone else in
this house, or in her family, and without making any noise or disturbance..."
There have been times other people have been attacked (or even entered) by the spirits as they leave. Sometimes,
too, pets in the house have been invaded and behave strangely afterwards. You can avoid all this by getting under the
blood of Jesus and pleading the blood of Jesus over your family members, your household, and all other possessions in
and around your home before the deliverance and praying for protection during the deliverance.
Evil spirits like to create uproar and frighten you off by ugly and sickening performances, so command them to be quiet
and not to create any disturbance. This will lead to a peaceful deliverance, or at the very least, cut down on any violent
or noisy displays.
A human failing is for us to become infected by what we fight, and it is an occupational hazard for an exorcist to become
harsh and judgmental.
durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, the Lord rebuke thee." Jude 1:9
Occasionally you do not have to name the evil spirit, but simply, as you look into the person's eyes, command the spirit
at whom you are looking to leave. You are already in contact with it and you can tell it to go.
So here you have the basic form of a prayer for deliverance. Fashion it as you will, developing it in your own way.
Sometimes just a simple Go! is enough to force an evil spirit to flee.
How to Tell When the Spirits Have Left
Sometimes the spirits go instantly. Other times it takes hours or even days for the more powerful spirits to let go.
Obviously we do not want to keep hammering away if a spirit has already left. Sometimes the spirits pretend to go,
however, and then go underground, biding time, hoping you will be the one to get tired and leave them alone.
How can we tell when the spirits have left? There are three ways.
The Team's Discernment
The easiest way to know whether a spirit has left is through the gift of the discerning of spirits. If you yourself do not
have this gift, it is wonderful to have someone on your team to whom you can turn and ask, "Has that one gone?"
Once the first spirit has gone, you can ask, "What's surfacing now?" And the team member with discernment can
identify the next evil spirit that needs to be cast out.
The Victim's Discernment
It amazes me that most people for whom I have prayed seem to know if a given demon has departed. Even when you
cannot see a difference, the person will look up and say, "It's gone. I feel so much lighter now."
When there are a number of evil spirits present (as there usually are), the person can usually tell if there are any more
left. He/She also knows when the last one has gone. It is as if the person being delivered has the gift of the discerning
of spirits during the time of prayer.
If I were to estimate how often this happens, I would say about ninety percent of the time. Obviously this is a wonderful
gift that helps us free God's people from bondage.
Even without the supernatural gift of the discerning of spirits, we have a number of ways to tell when a spirit has left, just
by human observation. Looking into the client's eyes you can often see a change. A previous expression of alien hate
may suddenly change as the eyes soften and clear, and once more you are looking into the eyes of a human being.
Frequently the spirits come out with a struggle. Often people cry out; sometimes they are thrown to the ground.
Distressing as these manifestations are, they can be a help, for the screams will change to silence and the body
struggling will be transformed into a body at peace as the deliverance comes to an end. (The prayers commanding the
spirits to come out peacefully help in diminishing all these violent demonstrations.)
Sometimes the spirits seem to be lodged in a particular part of the body, which they torment with pain. The usual
course is for the pain to rise to chest level while we are praying, then to the throat and finally through the mouth. If the
spirit comes out through the mouth, it is usually accompanied by retching or coughing. If the person retches, material
often comes up. It is not vomit; it is more like phlegm. We just let the person cough while we continue to pray. After a
while it ceases; then you can ask, "Is it gone?" The person will say, "Yes," or, "Not quite; there's still something left." So
you continue to pray. To make this transition easier, we try to have a plastic-lined wastebasket or pail present.
I know this must sound weird to those who have never seen it, but it is a common phenomenon in the deliverance
ministry. I would guess that this coughing phenomenon occurs at least half the time we pray for deliverance.
Other bizarre, violent phenomena occur during deliverance prayers. We read about these ugly displays in the ministry
had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him." Mark 1:25-26
Sometimes we see people convulse; other times we hear them scream. In our church culture we are embarrassed by
such unseemly displays, but the Gospel writers were matter-of-fact about it. When these manifestations occur, and
when the convulsions give way to peace and the shrieks give way to silence, you can judge that the spirit has probably
gone. Note that the man screamed and was convulsed even after Jesus had told the spirit to be quiet. Apparently
Jesus wanted to prevent the spirit from engaging in a lengthy argument and postponing its exit.
One Session or Many?
After each spirit departs, you must decide whether to go after the remaining spirits that are present. At times you can
finish it all in one session, which may last for ten minutes or for hours - or days. Sometimes it is more merciful to finish
the deliverance in one session. If you want to attempt to pray for th entire deliverance this way, be sure you have the
time and strength.
At other times it is wiser to take more time and schedule a number of one-hour sessions a week apart, perhaps over
months. For spirits that have entered through human weakness (for example, depression) or sin (for example, murder),
the person needs time to change long-established patterns of thought or action, and may be overwhelmed if you try to
do the deliverance all at once. It may be like the time following surgery when you need to convalesce and learn once
again to walk.
Praying and listening to the Holy Spirit are the most important things you can do. It is not technique or the loudness of
our voices; it is the power of God working through us as we listen and follow the Spirit's guidance.
Filling in the Emptiness
After the spirits have left, there remains a spiritual vacuum in the counselee. So we finish our prayer by asking God to
fill in any empty space with those characteristics of Jesus that are the opposite of the evils that have left.
It is remarkable that there is, for every one of our sins and frailties, some aspect in the life of Jesus that serves as its
antidote. "All I have is yours," said Jesus at the Last Supper (John 17:10). In place of anxiety and fear, Jesus said,
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). In place of lies and confusion, Jesus is the "the light of the world" (John 8:12) and
"the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). In place of hate, the Spirit pours the love of Jesus into our hearts
(Romans 5:5). In place of lust we receive the pure love of God in Jesus (I John 4:10).
So end every deliverance on a positive, God-centered note by praying for an infilling of every strength and virtue that
characterized the life of Jesus.
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" Colossians 1:27
Anything that brings us into the presence of God will make the evil spirits uncomfortable and help us deliver the afflicted
person. Having team members pray in the background, or playing prayerful music on your cassette or CD player, will
torment the evil spirits and encourage them to come out sooner. You might also ask someone to read pertinent
Scripture passages, especially any saying of Jesus that run counter to the nature of the spirit that is resisting you.
Mentioning the precious blood of Jesus, which He shed on the cross to free us from evil, also has a profound effect in
freeing people of demonic influence. There is a wonderful old Pentecostal tradition of singing "There is Power in the
Blood" before, during, or after an exorcism, and this has a rejuvenating effect on me whenever I (Francis MacNutt) grow
weary in the middle of a difficult session.
One passage that especially distresses the demonic world is the hymn in Philippians 2:6-11, which ends with,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things
under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
Other helps, used in particular by those in the Catholic tradition include oil, water, and salt, all previously prepared by a
blessing that asks God to use these elements in healing and casting out demons. The water is used to sprinkle the
room (or the person). The salt is sprinkled in the room before the prayer begins, or else the person can eat a bit of it.
And the oil is used for anointing the afflicted person. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
At times I (Francis MacNutt) have seen an amazing reaction when I anointed the afflicted person with oil that had been
blessed. Even though it was room temperature, the person jumped as if touched with a red-hot iron. It is not the
person who reacts in this way, of course, but the spirits working through the person and trying to avoid coming in
contact with a channel of God's power - like putting a finger into an electric outlet and being shocked by its power.
Other of my friends have their counselees hold or look on a crucifix. Still others place the Bible in the person's hands.
All these reminders of the life of Jesus and the power of the Spirit have some effect in hastening the exit of evil spirits.
I (Francis MacNutt) realize that, according to your Christian background and tradition, you may find some of these aids
acceptable and others not. If they are not acceptable to you, just leave them aside; none is essential.
After the deliverance session is finished, give your counselee some follow-up suggestions and end the session by
Finally, after the person has left, do not forget to pray for all the members of the team to be cleansed of anything
harmful they may have picked up from contact with the evil spirits.
Following is a cleansing prayer that I (Francis MacNutt) made up to say after a deliverance session. Use I or we as
for the healings I (we) have seen and experienced today. But I realize that the sickness and evil I encounter is
more than my humanity can bear. So cleanse me of any sadness, negativity or despair that I may have picked up.
with love, joy, and peace. If any evil spirits have attached themselves to me or oppress me in any way, I
command you to leave now.
and clothe me with Your Light. Fill me with life.
If you can get the afflicted person to take part in his/her own deliverance, it will assist you greatly and make the session
go more quickly. Often the spirits will not allow the person to cooperate with you, but you should try to get him/her to
become involved as personally as possible.
First, ask him/her to repeat the sinner's prayer concentrating especially on two key elements:
Second, ask the person to repeat after you part of the actual deliverance prayer:
again to return."
I (Francis MacNutt) also ask the person to help me by interrupting at any given point during the deliverance to let me
know from his/her point of view what is going on. This can be very helpful. He/She may say, for instance, "I feel
something moving around inside my stomach." Or he/she may say, "I hear a voice in my head telling me to kill myself."
This identifies a spirit of self-hatred or suicide. All this helps direct us in how best we can pray.
Remember, too, my earlier recommendation to have one person (or a couple) clearly in charge. And remember, if you
get tired, don't be afraid to take a rest or appoint someone to take over for a while.
Hopefully, this does not sound overwhelming. Deliverance is exhausting but very rewarding. And it is not all that
The delight and celebration of seeing a person freed of demonic shackles and emerging from prison is just glorious!
What the French must have felt two hundred years ago on Bastille Day is like the joy we feel when one of God's children
bursts out of prison and emerges into the light.
Deliverance from Evil Spirits, by Francis MacNutt, Copyright 1995, Chosen Books.
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