(This article is from the appendix section of my book The Intercessors Handbook)
When I was a new Christian, I attended a large Pentecostal church for a short while, just before I met my husband, Ron. It was a great church, and I enjoyed being with people my age who were excited about God.
One Sunday, I met a few older women who said they had a special prayer meeting happening in another part of the building. They invited me to come, so I went.
Unfortunately, they had taken it upon themselves to start a deliverance session with me without my permission. When I say they started a deliverance session, what I mean is they tried to cast a variety of spirits out of me—except that I never manifested any such spirits and their methods felt really spooky.
I liked the church and so I kept attending, but I avoided those women from that point on. Every so often, they would find me in the service and try to convince me to get more prayer from them. No, thank you! It is funny to me now, but I did learn from that experience and a few others like it, what to do and what not to do when it comes to deliverance ministry.
What is deliverance ministry? Jesus said that when we preach the Gospel, we can expect to encounter the following: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons” (Mark 16: 17). This means that when we are sharing the Gospel, we will encounter people controlled by demons, and these spirits will need to be cast out.
How do we know when someone has a demon? And if they do, how do we cast them out? In this section, I will give you some basics to help you minister effectively when you encounter a person possessed by spirits. These are general guidelines. For more detailed instructions, I recommend, “Free in Christ” by Pablo Bottari and “I Give You Authority” by Charles H. Kraft.
1. Care for people, not their demons.
Jesus sent the 72 disciples, two by two, into all the places He was intending to go and minister. They came back, reporting with joy, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10: 17). Jesus responded by acknowledging their God-given authority over such spirits, but clarified what was most important: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (verse 20). In other words, casting out demons is important, but the fate of each person is more important.
When you encounter a situation that requires you to deliver someone from spirits, take care to preserve their dignity. Do not humiliate them or abuse them in the process, as this could drive a wedge between them and God and His Church. For example: Do not yell or scream at the demons inside people. Spirits respond to authority, not volume.
Do not expose them in front of a crowd, if you can help it. Take them somewhere private. Take care to alleviate any fears they might have. (For instance, I do not tell people they are possessed. I explain they are exhibiting spiritual problems, and then I ask them if they want to be free.) Show them love and care through the process.
2. Make sure they have manifested.
Just as physical diseases reveal themselves through a series of symptoms, so do people afflicted with demonic spirits reveal symptoms. Some symptoms, also known as manifestations, are obvious, and others are not so obvious and require investigation.
For example, we have had people respond in church services to the presence of the Holy Spirit with what sounds like a scream, followed by a collapse on the floor. Would you believe this is not necessarily a demonic manifestation? When this happens, I often ask the person, who is usually shaking on the floor, “What’s happening? Is this God or something else?” They can always tell me. Sometimes it is God, and others times it is demonic. Depending on their answer, we either leave them alone to enjoy His presence or we begin to address the spirit afflicting them. Other symptoms we have determined to be demonic manifestations include:
- Sudden onset of jerky, almost violent movements
- Catatonic state Growling or hissing
- Sudden outburst of expletives
- Sudden physical ailments (but investigate—sudden nausea or headaches could be demonic manifestations or an alert from the Holy Spirit that someone nearby needs healing)
- Distorted face or contorted body
- Hostile look
This is a basic list, and it can get more complex, depending on the bondage and how rooted it is. Either way, when you see these behaviors come upon a person, it is time to take redemptive action.
3. Make sure they want to be free.
I recall a time more than a decade ago when a kind, middle-aged gentleman began coming to our weekly prayer services and attending our church on Sundays. During one of the prayer services, he was seated behind me, worshiping in song, and began to sing in his prayer language. The only thing is, his prayer language did not sound right.
I have noticed over the years that when a person around me has a demonic spirit that is beginning to manifest, I become agitated and annoyed. My mind usually does not know what is happening, but the Holy Spirit in me is reacting to the demon nearby.
As this man continued to sing with strange sounds, I turned around and said, without thinking, “Be quiet!”
When I did that, he cussed me out and began running around the sanctuary, shouting repeatedly, “You can’t cast me out!”
A few of us tried to get him to be still. We did not physically touch him, but we commanded the spirit to be bound and then asked him to let us help him. He would not allow us to help. Instead, he ran out of the building and into the parking lot. When he came back inside, we pleaded again for him to let us help. All we received in return was more glaring and cussing before he ran out the door for the last time. We never saw him again.
We have experienced many persons exhibiting much stronger demonic manifestations than this man, but those other people received our help and, in turn, their deliverance. What made the difference? Almost always, the difference was in their will. Not everyone is ready to face what he or she needs to face in order to be delivered. Or they simply do not want to be free. One young man explained why he would not receive ministry, even though he had manifested in front of us. He said, “I like the power coming from that spirit, and I don’t want to give it up.”
You see, not everyone wants to be free. When they do not want freedom, you cannot force it to happen. But when they are ready, they will not run away. They may present a strong demonic manifestation, but they will submit themselves to the process of deliverance, because inside they really want to be free.
4. Put them in control of their deliverance.
Our first goal when a person has manifested demonically is to bind the spirit and bring the person to consciousness so we can lead them to deliver themselves, if possible. The way we bind the demonic spirit is by using our words and making a command with authority (see Matthew 18: 18; Mark 11: 23). Here are a couple of suggestions:
- “I stop all demonic manifestations, in Jesus’ name.” “Submit yourself, in Jesus’ name.”
- Next, we tell the person to take control of their body and mind, which puts them back in control. Then we discuss with them what needs to happen next. If the person is not a Christian, we invite them to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as they will not be able to maintain their deliverance without having done this. (Luke 11: 26 NKJV)
Now, the person has manifested because the demonic spirit has been given access somehow. This is where you need to ask a few questions and listen to the Holy Spirit to find out why that demon is there. Typically, the point of access is in one of four main areas: fear, hatred, the occult or sexual sin. In a pastoral manner, we begin to ask the following questions: What or whom do you fear? Whom do you hate? Have you participated in any occult activities, or has your family? Do you have sexual sin in your present or past, or has anyone sinned against you sexually? I do not ask these questions all at once, but rather one at a time, and I listen to what they say while sensing what the Holy Spirit is saying. After each admission, we coach the person to ask Jesus to forgive them for the specific trespass, or we coach them to forgive those who trespassed against them. Then we have them renounce—out loud—any spirit that may have come in as a result. When the spirit leaves, some type of release will be felt or seen. This could be a cough, a sigh, a physical shake or something like it. Pay attention to those signals. This means the spirit has left them.
5. Have them receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This is the best part! Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1: 8 NKJV). Once the person has renounced demonic spirits, they need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit or receive fresh refilling (see Ephesians 5: 18).
Lay your hands on them and ask Jesus to baptize them or fill them again with the Holy Spirit. You will often feel or see His power come upon them, and they will physically manifest, but in a different way now. If they do not have a prayer language, encourage them to speak the Spirit’s language as they feel it bubble up from inside. Celebrate any manifestation of the Spirit they may encounter. This type of ending is encouraging to the participant, as it connects them to God and they receive His embrace in a meaningful way.
6. Provide good follow-up care.
Make sure to follow up with the person receiving deliverance in a way that is caring and supportive. They will need to process and talk through any spiritual happenings that show up after they are delivered. For example, they may experience nightmares or receive a demonic visitation, or someone from their past may reemerge. They will need encouragement and fellowship when this happens, as well as reminders of how to continue in their newfound freedom. Again, these are just the basics of how to minister to a person who is demonized. You may encounter some situations or people who do not respond to these simple steps, requiring you to do more to see them all the way into freedom. Look at those situations as opportunities to learn something new about Jesus and the spiritual realm—and trust the Holy Spirit to give you the right keys to unlock prison doors.