B. Childress
Dec 5 2008 08:00AM

Many times I (Francis MacNutt) have had to pray to free a person from evil spirits when the need surfaced unexpectedly
during a healing service.  There you are praying for a person when suddenly it erupts.  The person's eyes roll back and
he starts to scream or show some other unusual manifestation.

This is hardly an ideal situation.  (Real life is seldom tidy and ideal.)  But you pray and ask God for wisdom as to
whether you should complete the deliverance or postpone it.  Sometimes it seems best to try to finish the deliverance
then and there.  But ideally you should choose the best time and place in order to prepare yourself, your team and the
person who needs the deliverance.

What is Deliverance?

Deliverance is the practice of expelling demons by authoritative command in the Name of Jesus.  It can best be
explained as a forceful, commanding prayer given in the name of Jesus against sickness of spirit, mind, or body.  Man is
an inseparable trinity made up of body, soul, and spirit.  If he is under attack in one area, he often feels the reaction in
all three areas.

What are the Qualifications for Casting out Demons

Jesus Christ - your Lord and Savior

  •  Primarily, that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and trust in His power.  Jesus said, "And
    these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils..." Mark 16:17.

  •  Be sure that Jesus Christ abides in you.  If He is in you, you are more than a conqueror through His power and
    His name.  You can then take dominion, exercise your authority, over sickness (and demons) commanding them
    to leave in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of His blood.

  •  If all demon spirits are subject to Jesus, then they are also subject to Jesus' people because we have His
    power.  When Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood, He also stripped Satan and demons of their power.  
    Scripture says, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over
    them in it."  Colossians 2:15.  We should not be surprised at this.  Even before Calvary, Jesus gave His disciples
    power over demons - and it worked.  They came back and reported, "...Lord, even the devils are subject unto us
    through thy name." (Luke 10:17).

  •  The name of Jesus carried great authority when He walked the earth, and today we are rightful bearers of His
    delegated authority, when we cast out demons in His name, we are doing it as His representatives.  No demon
    can ignore the command of faith given by a child of God.  He must obey, just as though Jesus Himself were
    speaking.  After all, the practice of deliverance is not peculiar to the days after Pentecost.  Even the seventy
    disciples practiced this, much to their astonishment (see Luke 10:1-20).  They were operating under Christ's
    delegated authority even though the Holy Spirit had not fallen on any of them.  Obviously, then, any born-again
    Christian can cast out demons.  The great commission to the whole church begins with the statement that all
    believers should cast out demons (Mark 16:17-18).  

Baptism with the Holy Spirit?

The ministry of deliverance is not restricted to a select few, nor even to the Spirit-filled, but rather to every active
member of the Body of Christ.  Naturally certain people will become leaders and teachers in deliverance and other
ministries of the church.  This is not to suggest that the baptism with the Holy Spirit has no place in the deliverance
ministry, because Jesus intended all New Testament believers to not only speak in tongues, but also to exercise the
other gifts of the Spirit.  Any born again Christian ought to desire all of God's power he/she can get.  Not only should a
believer be filled with the Spirit, but he should also be active in the ministry of casting out demons - not apart from the
body of Christ, but working under the guidance and direction of others.

Be Under Authority

No one should ever tangle with this ministry unless HE or SHE has a spiritual leader.  To exercise authority, a person
must first be under authority.  There are certain scriptural principles that govern the exercise of authority.

First, the supreme source of all authority is God Himself.  After the resurrection, however, Jesus declared to His
disciples, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18).  This means that all authority
descends from God the Father through Jesus the Son.  To be under scriptural authority, therefore, every Christian
needs to find his or her place in a chain of authority that stretches upward through Christ to God.

In I Corinthians 11:2-7 Paul uses covering the head as a symbol of authority.  To be under authority is to be "covered" -
that is, protected.  Not to be under authority is to be "uncovered" - that is, unprotected.  For every Christian, therefore,
to be under an appropriate form of authority is to be spiritually protected.  A Christian not under authority is spiritually
unprotected and is in great danger.  

God has made Christ "head over all things to the church, which is His body" (Ephesians 1:22-23).  It is natural,
therefore, for Him to exercise His authority in any area through the leadership of a local church.  This means that a
Christian who desires to be protected spiritually should take his or her place in the structure of a local church - a local

One other main area in which God delegates His authority is the family.  In I Corinthians 11:3, Paul depicts a chain of
authority descending from God, through Christ, into every family on earth: "But I want you to know that the head of
every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."

A married woman is normally under the authority of her husband and should not be engaged in ministering without her
husband's full knowledge and approval.  Peter warns us, however, that if there is not harmony between husband and
wife, the husband's prayers will be hindered (see I Peter 3:7).  An unmarried woman, if still at home, needs her father's
authorization.  Single women living on their own should have authorization and oversight of mature spiritual leaders.

Men who practice deliverance, whether single or married, should be part of a fellowship or church with an effective
structure of authority.  This whole area of dealing with demons is a dangerous place for "lone rangers," whether male or

There is one key word in the question of being under authority:
accountable. Each Christian needs to ask, To whom am
I accountable?  A person not accountable to anyone is not under authority.

The key to the scriptural exercise of all authority is
right relationships.  This applies specifically to deliverance/demonic
forces.  A person who is not in a right relationship to the Body of Christ may attempt deliverance, but the authority to
make it effective will be lacking.

Use the Cross and the Sword of the Spirit

There is one, and only one, all-sufficient basis on which anyone can claim deliverance from demons: the substitutionary
sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  By this He made atonement for the sins of the whole human race and stripped Satan of
his primary weapon against us:
guilt.  By faith in this sacrifice, each one of us is justified, acquitted, "just-as-if-I'd never

Lay hold of this truth and make it central in all your instruction to those you are helping.

Likewise, there is only one weapon that is invariably effective in dealing with demons. It is the sword of the Spirit - the
words of Scripture spoken boldly and in faith.  Demons are not frightened by denominational labels, ecclesiastical titles
or theological arguments.  But against the sharp sword thrust of God's Word, spoken in faith, demons have no defense.

Deliverance: Private or Public

Obviously, the best way to deal with each individual would be to take them into a private room and counsel them.   This
also provides an opportunity to allow the Spirit of God to help us understand the problems of the sufferer.  Following the
time of counseling and listening to them, we can agree for the prayer of deliverance to take place.  The evil spirits will
soon be ejected, and whether they are noisy or quiet makes little difference.

Obviously, the actual and the ideal are often worlds apart.  What should we do when confronted with a situation similar
to the one that Philip faced?

    "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  And the people with one accord
    gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.  For unclean
    spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and
    that were lame, were healed."   Acts 8:5-7

Philip was right out in the open air, and as he preached Christ to the people, the demons started to react very noisily.

What should he have done?  Should he have taken them to a room in the City Hall?  Should he have told them to keep
quiet?  Should he have taken each one aside for separate counseling and prayer?  Obviously, this was not possible,
and so it was necessary to have a mass deliverance service.

Some people think that this is a terrible thing to do in a public place - but what is our alternative when hundreds are
seeking relief from oppression?  In many places, it is not possible to deal with individuals privately because so many are
seeking deliverance.

I (H.A. Maxwell Whyte) know of no other way to avoid the possible confusion that might arise from a public deliverance
service.  If there are not trained workers, then we are compelled to handle the matter in whatever way we can.  
Deliverance is not an extra to the preaching of the gospel - deliverance is the very center of the gospel.

Long-Term Preparation

To truly prepare, you should be free of any serious sin.  Notice I (Francis MacNutt) said serious.  All of us are sinners:  
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."  (I John 1:8). But if you have serious,
unconfessed sin, the major evil spirits who know your past are quite capable of embarrassing you in public by exposing
your sins.  (This is different from the spirits' taunts and intimidation:  "You're too tired to cast us out.  You don't have
enough strength."  This kind of gamesmanship happens all the time.) Thank God I have never been present when
private sins have been revealed publicly, but I know it happens.

Because of the possibility of the exposure of the exorcist's sins, the
Roman Catholic Rite of Exorcism requires that the
exorcist be "properly distinguished for his piety, prudence, and integrity of life.  He ought to be of mature years, and
revered not alone for his office but for his moral qualities." [C. Karpel, comp., and the Rev. Philip Weller, trans., The Rite
of Exorcism (New York: Berkley Medallion, 1975, p. 15.  As I said before the Roman Catholic Church restricts the Rite of
Exorcism to 1) priests, 2) praying for people who are possessed and, 3) in a ministry that has the permission of the

Yet fear of the shock of public disclosure of sin is not the most important reason for personal preparation.  The exorcist
needs to be mature and sensitive to bless and not harm the person suffering from demonic oppression.  Ideally we need
a lifetime of preparation to equip us with prudence and compassion.  But those drawn to praying for deliverance are
often impetuous, snap-judgment personalities - precisely the kinds of people who should not be praying for
deliverance.  The tragedy is, they do not know their weakness.

Thoughtful persons who are aware of their weaknesses and who understand the difficulties involved may hesitate to
pray at all.  As a result, the people who should not pray for deliverance - who have no self-doubts and call that faith -
are often the very ones who rush in.  As Paul Tournier, the astute Swiss Psychiatrist, wrote:

    People who have the sort of mind that sees only one side to every question tend towards vigorous action.  They
    succeed in everything they do because they do not stop to split hairs and have abounding confidence in their
    own abilities.  Your successful journalist, for instance, is inclined to simplify every problem and condense it into an
    arresting phrase.  On the other hand, those with subtle and cultivated minds tend to get lost in a maze of fine
    distinctions.  They always see how complicated things really are, so that their powers of persuasion are nil.  That
    is why the world is led by those who are least suited to raising its cultural and moral standards.  It is only a few
    who manage to combine both tendencies; and in my view a lively Christian faith is the best pre-condition for the
    accomplishment of this miracle, because it gives both profound understanding and simplicity of heart. {Paul
    Tournier, The Person Reborn, Copyright 1966, Harper & Row].

Here Tournier is talking about journalism and politics, but exactly the same thing happens in the deliverance ministry.  
Uneducated people with simple faith who see things in terms of black (the devil) and white jump in to pray for
deliverance at a Pentecostal meeting in a restaurant, while few theologians are out there in the field casting out evil
spirits.  They tend to see the deliverance ministry as filled with problems, including the biggest problem of all: Do
demons really exist?

The exorcist should be the rare kind of a person Tournier describes who combines simple faith with an awareness of
difficulties; someone who can join a knowledge of psychology and human frailty with the exercise of the gifts of the Holy
Spirit (like discernment).  Such a mature person is always prepared to pray for deliverance.

Immediate Preparation

There are a number of questions to answer as you consider prayer for deliverance.  

Who Should Pray?

The first questions to ask is, "Am I the one to pray for this person?"  

Just because the person is in great need does not necessarily mean I (Frances MacNutt) am the one to pray.  For one
thing, the case may be beyond my ability.  Certainly God's grace can supply, and many times I have been called to
minister in what seemed well beyond my own capabilities.  Still, our human knowledge and experience (which are God's
gifts) enter into the question of whether I should minister.  If a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse who has multiple
personalities comes to me for help, ordinarily I refer him or her to a member of our staff who has had experience
working in this area.  I would be derelict in my desire to help him if I tried to do all this myself.  In fact, it would be spiritual

But when we cannot pray for a person in need, we do not want to discourage him, so we can at least pray for a
blessing.  Sometimes when I am not sure whether to pray for deliverance, I put my hands on the person's head, turn the
prayer over to the Holy Spirit and simply pray in tongues.  If Jesus wants a deliverance to develop, it does; otherwise the
prayer remains a simple blessing.  

Time is another factor in who should pray. There are so many people who need prayer that you will burn out quickly if
you try to minister to all of them.  Even Jesus with just three years of public ministry needed to go off alone with His
disciples to get some rest.

Early in my (Francis MacNutt) healing ministry I learned a healthy lesson at the first healing seminar I ever attended, a
small, select one for about fifty clergy and medical professionals.  There I met and secretly admired a minister others
referred to as "the miracle-worker of Michigan."  I thought to myself,
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be known as the wonder-
worker of Missouri?
 After the last meal, where I felt privileged to sit at the same table with him, he said to me, "Oh how I
wish I were in your place!"  I was surprised and asked him why.  Then I learned he had suffered a nervous breakdown
and was on sabbatical, worn out by his visits to the sick who had called on him for help.  That taught me an
unforgettable lesson.

We need to share our ministry, teach others to minister and ask the Lord, "Do you want me to pray with this person just

Time and Place

If we do decide to pray for deliverance, we also need to decide on the best time and place.  People who sense they
need deliverance usually seem to wait until the end of a healing service, perhaps around midnight.  They come up after
the crowd has thinned out and you are drained, and then ask for help.  You cannot blame them for wanting privacy and
time to talk, but deliverance prayer does not always go quickly; and midnight, when you are exhausted, is usually the
worst time to begin praying.

Whatever the circumstance of confronting the need, you need to make a decision: Should you pray a short prayer; set
another time when you will be rested and spiritually prepared, and when you can gather a team; or refer the person to
someone else who can help him over a prolonged period of time?  Never let Satan choose, if you can help it, the time or
place of combat.  You choose it under the guidance of the Spirit.

In setting another time, you need to decide whether to try to accomplish the deliverance in one session, or whether to
see the person over a period of time in regular sessions (for example, two hours a week for three months).  I think the
best plan is usually to see the demonized person over a  period of time for a combination of counseling and prayer.

That ideal is not always attainable.  In my (Francis MacNutt) travels I meet many sufferers desperately seeking
deliverance who will be able to attend only one or two meetings.  I wish I knew of mature exorcists in every city to whom I
could refer them; sometimes I know of none.  That is part of the tragedy and one of the reasons I am writing this book.

Prayer and Fasting

It goes without saying the prayer and fasting are part of the preparation mandated by Jesus Himself.  I (Francis
MacNutt) have already mentioned the time the disciples were unsuccessful in healing a boy afflicted by an evil spirit,
and whom Jesus told that they had failed because, "
...This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
(Mark 9:29).

The Gospel says nothing about how long the disciples needed to pray (and fast) in preparation, or how they were to
pray.  Clearly there are degrees of difficulty in deliverance.  Some of the weakest spirits depart during a period of praise
and worship.  The more powerful spirits (especially the occult ones) are far harder to dislodge and require more

Fasting is not necessary, but in certain circumstances it may be helpful.  In general, there seems to be no need for the
Christian to fast before praying for the bound and tormented.  However, when people ask how long they need to pray
and fast before praying for deliverance the best answer is simply to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If we were to go on a fast for everyone seeking deliverance today, we would have no time or strength left to pray for the
multitudes of people who are now seeking help.`

A Team

The last thing to consider in preparing, aside from choosing a time and place, is whether  you are going to need a team.


Deliverance from Evil Spirits, by Francis MacNutt, Copyright 1995, Chosen Books.

They Shall Expel Demons, by Derek Prince, Copyright 1998, Chosen Books.

Demons and Deliverance, by H.A. Maxwell Whyte, Copyright 1989, Whitaker House.