“Can you help me understand 1st Timothy 5:22? I just don’t get it. What’s the context? Are we not to get prayed over?”
This question gives us a great example of the importance of the big picture. No verse just stands on its own. Every verse in the Bible is related to verses before or after, and usually both. The before and after verses help us see the big picture of what is being talked about – and therefore we can better understand what the one verse means. In other words: what’s the context?
Here’s what 1st Timothy 5:22 says:
1st Timothy 5:22 “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily…”
In this verse, Paul is writing to his protege, Timothy, and giving him a few parting instructions. He’s offering Timothy some advice about how to be a Godly leader in a church. Paul knew what it meant to be a Pastor, and he’s telling the younger Pastor, Timothy, how to avoid problems.
Paul knew Timothy would face the challenge of needing other leaders in his church, and would need wisdom to know whom to choose.
Paul is not giving advice here about healing and laying hands on someone to ask the Spirit of God to bring health to them. Instead, he is referring to the practice of church leaders “laying hands on” other church leaders to commission them for ministry. The “laying hands on” was not so much to pass on some authority or importance to the job to be done, but more to say “when you go out to minister, I am praying for the Holy Spirit to go with you….and I go with you. I am with you and I support you in what you are doing”.
So, young Timothy, don’t lay hands on anyone hastily to commission them to leadership. Don’t ask anyone to lead without first taking the time to get to know the character and heart of the one wanting to lead.
The Bible does talk about being “prayed over” in James 5:14. It is a good thing to ask the Elders of your church to pray for you as you face sickness. It’s an awesome thing to do to cement in your heart, and in the hearts of those watching you do this, that it is the Lord you are trusting through this illness.