Reiki, Spiritual Healing & Christian Prayer

reiki distant healing cupped hands method

Someone the other day asked me how to explain the difference between Reiki healing, Spiritual healing, and Christian prayer, and whether there was actually a difference between any of these things. So this is what I came up with.

Christian prayer

Christian prayer of course depends on a belief in the Christian God, and involves and individual making a request to that deity to intercede in some way in the life of another person, whether that be to eliminate a disease or symptoms or make some improvement in the life of the intended recipient. There will be no thought of an ‘energy’ providing the mechanism behind such changes, and the person offering up the prayer is essentially powerless in the situation, unable to influence the outcome beyond asking or pleading with the deity to intercede.

So there are important differences when compared to Reiki.

The practice of Reiki does not depend on a belief in any diety or pantheon and does not require any sort of religious or spiritual beliefs, so it should be acceptable to people of any, or no, religion. And because there are no Gods in Reiki, there is no-one there to ask for help in a particular situation. That’s not to say that some Reiki practitioners don’t bring their personal spiritual or religious beliefs into their practice, though, so it wouldn’t be unheard of for a Christian, say, to practise Reiki, or practise their Reiki healing, in the name of Jesus Christ, and some Reiki practitioners might call on the ‘Ascended Masters’ or Spirit Guides when treating or attuning someone, but that is their personal choice and is not something that is an essential, or necessary, part of the system.

The Reiki practice that comes closest to Christian prayer would be distant healing, I suppose, where one sits quietly, perhaps clasping one’s hands together, enters a gentle meditative state, and allows the energy to flow to the recipient. We are neutral in the process, of course, not ‘pushing’ for a particular end result, just allowing the energy to do what it does, and we tend to have in mind that the healing is for the ‘highest good’ of the recipient.

But Reiki practiitoners do not necessarily frame that ‘highest good’ in terms of a deity that decides what is right for the recipient: we are merely framing the energy transmission in such a way that we are not pushing the recipient to receive a particular result, or even receive or benefit from the energy: we are ‘offering it up’ for the recipient to receive or not receive, as is appropriate. And as to who or what determines what is appropriate for the individual… that is left vague.

So the ways in which Reiki is not the same as Christian prayer boil down to our not requesting a particular end result (we stay neutral and offer up the energy when practising distant healing, certainly) and in not requiring the existence or intervention of some deity in the process.

Spiritual healing

To the casual onlooker, Reiki healing would appear to be much the same as Spiritual Healing, where energy is channelled from a higher source, through your hands, into the recipient. But there are some major differences, and that is what I want to describe here. Spiritual Healing and Reiki are not the same. In the end I see all forms of energy healing as working with the same sort of stuff, so the differences are in how you connect to the energy and what you do with it when you’re connected. I am in no way an expert on spiritual healing in all its forms, but from my point of view the differences between spiritual healing and Reiki are as follows:

  • Origins
  • Ways of connecting to the energy
  • Beliefs
  • Ways of treating
  • Self-treatments
  • The use of Symbols


Spiritual healing grew up through Victorian Spiritualist Churches, with their table-thumping séances, and has thus had a sort of Christian origin which has continued to a greater or a lesser degree. Reiki is Japanese and has more in common with Tai Chi, QiGong, Shiatsu and Acupuncture, Mystical Buddhism, Shintoism etc. Having said that, the NFSH (National Federation of Spiritual Healers) in the UK is non-denominational, but I see the *origins* of spiritual healing as being connected to Christianity, and spiritual healing is offered at some churches.

Ways of connecting to the energy

Spiritual healers learn through practice to connect to and draw down the energy. Reiki practitioners go through a ‘connection ritual’ that gives them a strong and consistent connection to the source right from day one, which I imagine seems to be a nonsense for spiritual healers, who have to work hard and long to do this.

Though some spiritual healers would see themselves as ‘attuning’ to the energy just before they treat someone, the word ‘attunement’ has a special meaning within Reiki, and does not refer to an individual’s ‘preparation to give a treatment’. ‘Attunement’ within Reiki is a special connection ritual that is carried out on a Reiki student when they attend a Reiki course.

Once ‘attuned’ on a Reiki course, the Reiki student is able to channel chi strongly from day 1. It seems to give a strong consistent connection to the source, according to spiritual healers to whom I have taught Reiki. Students can then carry out daily energy exercises (similar to QiGong exercises) to help make them a stronger channel for the energy.


Spiritual healers believe that they can be vulnerable to astral plane entities when they open themselves to the energy, so they take steps to protect themselves by visualising bubbles of light around them, and close themselves down – closing down their chakras – at the end of a treatment session. I have heard of some spiritual healers having someone on hand ‘to stand guard’ as they treat. Reiki people do not have such beliefs, they do not generally take those steps, and the energy seems to be inherently protective.

If you believe that you need to protect yourself then your underlying belief is that you are vulnerable, and that becomes your reality. It you believe that you are safe then you are too!

Protection is also seen as needed to prevent a practitioner from ‘picking up’ problems from the person they are working on. I have met people – particularly hands-on therapists (reflexology, aromatherapy etc.) – who have experienced this problem. Reiki however seems to prevent this from happening. I have taught many therapists who found that attunement to Reiki both prevented them from ‘picking up things’ from their clients, but also stopped them from feeling ‘drained’ at the end of a session. Reiki seems to have the ‘protection’ built in, without having to do anything to achieve this.

That’s not to say that some Reiki people aren’t taught to protect themselves, and visualise protective bubbles etc., but this is usually something that is passed on by Reiki teachers who started out in spiritual healing. They have brought their ‘spiritual healing’ beliefs with them, and applied those rules to the practice of Reiki.

Ways of treating

Spiritual healers tend to treat people seated in a chair, and work in the aura. Reiki people tend to treat people who are lying down on a treatment couch and tend to use a hands-on rather than a hands-off approach.


There seems to be more of an emphasis on self-treating within Reiki, an essential part of the system. I don’t get the impression that this is the same with all spiritual healing.

The use of Symbols

In the way that Reiki is taught and practiced in the West, symbols are an integral part of the system, used both in the connection rituals (‘attunements’), and used when treating others. The symbols give the Reiki practitioner more conscious control of the energy they are working with, though ideally the symbols should be used intuitively rather than being imposed in a calculated academic fashion. Spiritual healing does not use symbols.


Now the above are generalisations, and I am sure that there are many, many spiritual healers out there who will disagree with what I have just said, but as I understand it, those are the main differences between spiritual healing and Reiki.

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5 thoughts on “Reiki, Spiritual Healing & Christian Prayer

  1. I enjoyed reading this article in your blog, Taggart. Thank you. And it led me to do further research by googling, ‘What are the origins of spiritual healing?’ to deepen my understanding of this topic. Lots of different web pages on the subject. I have enjoyed reading some of them.

  2. Thank you Taggart..well explained. I have several reiki friends who seem to be more connected to the spiritual world than I am, and they have a sort of ‘fear’ of being influenced that I do not have. I have complete faith in the security of reiki. I’m glad you feel the same.

    1. People do seem to bring ideas and principles from other systems or practices into Reiki, which is a shame if they restrict what people do or introduce unnecessary anxiety.

  3. Hi Taggart,
    Before I began Reiki, I was a aromatherapist and reflexologist and yes I did feel drained after each treatment. Since I started Reiki a few years ago, I no longer feel drained. In a way Reiki fixed so much and I am in awe of what Reiki can achieve.

    1. Hi Sean, it’s great to hear that, it really is. Reiki seems inherently protective and such a useful thing for other hands-on therapists to have, partly because it will just come through naturally when you are working on people’s feet during Reflexology etc.

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