Prayer Cloth Basics
In the story above, the Hunters sent the grandma in England “a little piece of cloth”, but prayer cloths can be any size. Some churches, ministries, and individuals prefer a larger size. Some larger prayer cloths are printed with Scripture quotations and faith declarations that help the recipients build their faith to receive a miracle from God.
As the name “prayer cloth” implies, prayer is an essential part of using a prayer cloth. The Hunters prayed over the cloth before sending it to England. The grandma in England was also praying.
In addition to prayer, cloths may also be anointed with oil before being given to those who need them. The emphasis on prayer and anointing with oil comes from the Bible.
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
How Do Prayer Cloths Work?
Is the power of God in the cloth, or is the prayer cloth simply a “point of contact” for the recipient’s faith?
Some believe that prayer is what is effective, not the cloth itself. They point out that James 5 calls Christians to pray and anoint with oil, but doesn’t mention using a cloth.
In fact, the words “prayer cloth” are found nowhere in the Bible. So are prayer cloths Scriptural? Let’s find out.
The Origin of Prayer Cloths – Is It Scriptural?
There are three New Testament passages that mention cloth (clothing) in relation to healing. Two are found in Matthew’s gospel account of the life of Jesus, and one in the Book of Acts.
“And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind [Jesus] and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
Jesus commended the woman for her faith. “Your faith has made you well.”
Who or what had she put her faith in? Not the cloth itself, or Jesus would have corrected her. Her faith was in the only Person we should put our faith in: Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Savior, Healer, and Deliverer.
We humans love to have something to look at or touch as “a point of contact”. Something to pin our faith on. This woman put her faith into action. She named her own “point of contact”: “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” Then she pressed through the crowd to accomplish her goal. What was the result? Jesus commended her for her faith, and “at once [she] was made well”.
We see a similar story played out in a second passage, only on a larger scale. In Matthew 14:34-36 (below), Jesus cured “all who were sick”, who by faith in Him “[touched] the fringe of His cloak”.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized [Jesus], they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.
By now you might be thinking (along with me), “I wish I could just reach out and touch Jesus physically when I’m sick.” But we can’t. And sometimes we may need a “point of contact” to boost our faith. Something like a prayer cloth. The passage below, Acts 19:11-12, is the passage usually cited as the Scriptural basis for using prayer cloths.
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.
Who or what was the source of healing in this passage? God. He was “performing extraordinary miracles”, working through Paul.
God chose to work through ordinary handkerchiefs and aprons. What part did they play? Did they carry a tangible “anointing” (the power of God), or were they “points of contact” for the faith of the sick and oppressed? We are not told.
What can we conclude from these few New Testament passages? These passages provide a description of how God worked, but not a specific instruction to use prayer cloths. Nor does the New Testament prohibit their use.
Are prayer cloths Scriptural? I personally believe that based on the principles in these passages, a compelling case could be made for using prayer cloths – but within Scriptural guidelines.
Right and Wrong Ways to Use Prayer Cloths
Scripture admonishes us that whatever we do, we should do it in such a way that it brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Colossians 3:17 further instructs us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
The Right Way
- Remember that God, not the cloth, is the source of healing. Our focus should always be on Him, not on the people or objects through which He chooses to manifest His power. The glory goes to Him alone.
So always look to Jesus as the Healer. Don’t revere or trust in the cloth.
- Remember James 5:14-16. Always pray when using a prayer cloth. “…Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
The Wrong Way
Some ministries have been accused of using prayer cloths as a money-making scheme to build their ministry. Use caution if a ministry focuses more on finances than on the Lord Jesus Christ. Beware if they extol the wonders of their “anointed miracle cloth” – and offer to send you one in exchange for a (large) donation. This type of prayer cloth use does not glorify God.
Which Type of Prayer Cloth is the Best?
God can work through any kind of prayer cloth – small, large, with or without print. However, there is an additional benefit to having a larger size cloth. Larger prayer cloths may be printed with Scripture quotations and faith declarations that help the recipients build their faith to receive a miracle from God. There is power in agreeing with God’s Word! Large prayer cloth with scriptures.
How about you? Do you have question, a comment, or a story about a prayer cloth? Share your testimony.