For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV).
Laying on of hands: that’s an old, old custom. In the Bible, it goes back at least to Aaron, who would lay his hands on a sacrificial goat, pray the sins of the people into it, then send the scapegoat out into the wilderness. Or how Aaron would also install his brother Levites as priests by laying his hands on them. Or to his brother, Moses, who laid his hands on Joshua to install the son of Nun as the new leader of Israel.
In modern congregations, pastors are installed in Scripture-heavy ceremonies in which other, senior pastors lay their hands on the one being installed, praying over them and citing Bible verses to strengthen them.
When someone lays their hands on you in this way, they are symbolically infusing you with God’s power, His Spirit. They’re doing something to set you apart for special work, for installing someone into a unique position. As one website said, it’s a special way to connect the Message to the messenger (see https://www.gotquestions.org/laying-on-of-hands.html). There isn’t anything magical about it; there isn’t anything required about it; there’s nothing in any service that says we must do this. Yet it was originally a God-ordained command to Aaron (as the lead priest) for him to set aside people and things deemed sacred.
Like I said, it’s an old custom but it’s a good one, a custom worth revering. As you can read, Paul believed it was important because he used laying on of hands to charge Timothy as a minister of Jesus’ Word. It wasn’t necessary that Paul install his protégé in this way, but it was helpful. It was special. It tied back to Aaron, that first official minister of God’s Word.
You and I do this as well. Have you ever prayed with someone and held their hand, or put your hand on their shoulder? Have you ever been right beside someone when they’re going through a tough time (like childbirth, injury, or pain)? We’re laying our hands on them to signify that we want God’s healing presence in and through them. We lay our hands on our loved ones so that our prayers may be symbolically channeled through our hands and into said loved ones. We want to connect them to ourselves and to something more powerful than ourselves. It’s a unique way to pray over someone and to share faith with them.
Next time you want to feel a unique connection, when you pray with someone, try it.
For further reading: Leviticus 16:21, Numbers 8:7-14, Numbers 27:18-20, Acts 6:6, 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 6.
Lord Jesus, You laid Your hands on my soul and healed me, forgave me, invested Your love into me. Ordain it so today that I will meet someone to share this gift with them as well.