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Divine Conversation: A Present-Oriented Healing Prayer Model

SOURCE:  Excerpted from a dissertation by Bill Bellican*

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me (John 10:14, 27).

 He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught (Isaiah 50:4).

 I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out my complaint to him; before him I tell my trouble (Psalm 142: 1-2).

 Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part – Andrew Murray

There is divine conversation between our Shepherd—The Lord Jesus Christ—and us who follow him.  He passionately loves us and invites us to talk to him and to listen to him.  Since the Lord is Truth (John 14:6), what we listen for and to is truth. This truth sets us free (John 8:32, 36).  The truth dispels lies and overcomes strongholds that would constrain us (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  This truth makes it possible for us to walk in light instead of continuing to walk in darkness (John 8:12; 1John 1:5).  This truth allows us to have more of the mindset of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:2).  This truth destroys the work of the devil (1 John 3:8).  It is readily intuitive that individuals in a loving and intimate relationship with each other carry on truthful conversation for the edification and enjoyment of the other.

Divine Conversation is a spiritual tool—a present oriented healing prayer model—that fosters communication between the Lord and us for an intentional reason.  That reason involves positioning ourselves before the Lord to attune to his truth to overcome destructive strongholds of lie-based thinking.  This prayer based spiritual tool of communication with the Lord is within the tradition of healing prayer.

I find that established Spirit-led healing prayer models typically seek the deeper source of an individual’s present distress by addressing the inception of emotional woundedness or trauma that generates false beliefs that remain operative in the present.  These models position the individual to receive God’s healing truth as he brings his healing perspective to this hurtful and painful source.  Among leading deep level healing prayer models today, in my opinion, two are most notably and visibly used—Formational Prayer developed by Terry Wardle (Wardle 2001) and Theophostic Prayer developed by Ed Smith (Smith 2007).

The present oriented healing prayer model, Divine Conversation involves a basic process.  This process is “at once entirely simple and richly complex” when one thinks about how the Holy Spirit sanctifies the mind and imagination in a supernatural interaction with the living God (O’Donoghue 1986, 192).  Nonetheless, the process is simple in its application.  It is not unlike the process of salvation.  While the overall understanding of what is involved in salvation—a holy and righteous God choosing to die in the place of sinful people in order that a personal, intimate, and eternal relationship might be restored with him through faith in him—is also deep and profound, it does involve a process. However, this process is simple enough in its application that even a child might embrace it (Matt. 18:3).  This process of salvation involves some basic steps:

* understanding God’s love

* understanding our sinful and needy condition

* understanding God’s righteous, just, and redeeming response

* understanding our faithful response

In addition to these basic steps, other actions are also included to help give additional clarity and application to Scripture (Bright 2007, 1-16).

The process of Divine Conversation is much the same.  When indicated by the presence of negative emotional upheaval, the steps of Divine Conversation intentionally can be put into action.  Just as in the case of salvation, the Lord responds to a genuine invitation or expression of our will (Rev. 3:20).  The Divine Conversation process allows you to ask, seek, and knock for the truth as an exercise of the will (Luke 11:9-10).

Divine Conversation involves four primary components:

1. Emotional Upheaval

2. Core Steps

3. Prompted Steps

4. Experienced Truth

Like the process of salvation, the Divine Conversation process is simple and fluid.  The triune God’s power and plan encompasses the entire process of Divine Conversation.  The Father and the Son desire for us to be holy and formed into the likeness of the Son.  The Holy Spirit directs and empowers the various steps to make this plan possible.  The next sections look at each of the Divine Conversation process components in more detail.

Emotional Upheaval

Lie-based thinking and negative emotional upheaval are correlated.  The negative emotional upheaval serves as an indicator that something is going on within that needs attention.  Emotional upheaval serves “as God-given ‘dummy lights.’. . .[these emotions] are a God-given means for discerning inner motivation and thinking” (Kellemen 2005, 396).  This type of emotional upheaval is characterized by such things as an unsettled spirit, a lack of emotional peace, angst, anger, anxiety, and depression. Both Wardle and Smith have written a great deal about the connection between past wounding life events, associated lies, emotional pain/upheaval, and current life events (Smith 2007, 15-46; Wardle 2001, 127-144).  Our past constantly shapes and affects our present. We only have the moment to live in the present.  It then slips into our past. Our mind associates what it is currently experiencing with previously stored data whether that past data is based upon truthful or erroneous interpretation.  When a past event is based upon truth, there is no problem.  For example, each of us has learned somewhere originally in our past that a green light means go, and a red light means stop.  In the present, when we come upon a traffic light changing from red to green, there typically is no problem.  There is peace, and no emotional pain is present.  No lie-based thinking is involved.  No past wounding life event was experienced when originally learning the meaning of green and red.  The experiences associated with this original learning event were based on truth—green means go and red means stop.

However, too often, present life events tap into past experienced emotional wounds and troublesome life events that have never been resolved.  When that occurs, we ultimately experience the emotional pain or upheaval that is associated with the lies we presently believe based on our interpretation of the past event.  Left unattended, we may turn to any number of behavioral narcotics (both socially acceptable and unacceptable) in the present to quell the emotional pain we feel (Moon 1997, 39-43).  Scripture calls attention to the dual purposes of Satan and God as captured in Genesis 50:20—the same event involves two vastly different motivations.  Typically, Satan seeks to capitalize on our past woundedness to intensify and exaggerate the lies.  He desires that the emotional upheaval will turn our attention onto self and short-term fixes apart from depending upon God.  He wishes our destruction and harm.  Conversely, God uses the reality of this present emotional upheaval to get our attention focused on him and his pathway of truth and healing.  He is only interested in our good as he accomplishes his will concerning us.

Smith does clarify that some painful past experiences actually may carry truth-based emotional pain.  For example, I may experience present grief or sadness when an event triggers a memory about the reality of growing up without both parents present.  This emotional pain is real and normal.  It is based on truth—both parents were not available to me.  However, if that emotional pain and upheaval also ties to a belief that something is wrong with me because I did not have both parents in my life, a lie is present and operative.  Although some present negative emotional upheaval can be based upon past truth, “it is more common that the emotional pain . . . is rooted in what was falsely interpreted about the event as opposed to the truth in the event” (Smith 2007. 168).

Divine Conversation becomes one additional way to deal with the negative emotional upheaval and lie-based thinking in the present moment in place of turning to any other ineffective and harmful coping mechanism.  More extensive and deeper healing work may be needed to address the root or core issues fueling the lie-based thinking and emotional upheaval, but the lie-based thinking can be abated in the present moment.

Divine Conversation:  The Core Steps

We must consider the reality that we are in a personal relationship with a supernatural and triune God who greatly loves us and desires a communicative relationship with us.  He purposes to engage us in a unique relationship that is designed to mature us spiritually and conform us to the likeness of Christ.  One of the divine weapons or tools that God uses to accomplish this is Divine Conversation.  As we look more specifically at Divine Conversation, we must remain mindful that steps and technique are never to displace the relational connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What follows are the core steps for Divine Conversation (i.e., to define, to own, to move, to demolish the lie, and then desire and experience the truth).  It is desirable to have quiet, focused, and intentional time regularly to practice Divine Conversation.  However, spontaneously engaging in Divine Conversation is also feasible.  This type of prayer is to be used in the present moment of need.  As with any new skill, even a spiritual skill, practice is required.  Continued practice makes us more open, aware, receptive, and sensitive to the personal working and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Continue to practice Divine Conversation and the various spiritual exercises so that you are likely to initiate use of Divine Conversation at any time.  Use it immediately in the midst of any circumstance.  It is a form of prayer, and we are invited always to be in prayer (Rom. 1:9-10; Eph. 6:18; 1Thess. 5:17; 2 Tim. 1:3).  Just like Nehemiah, there are times where intensive prayer and communion before the Lord are necessary (Neh. 1:4).  Then, there are times when spontaneous communication with the Lord in the present moment is needed (Neh. 2:4).

Included with each step is a brief description and suggested dialog with the Lord.  The dialog is just an example.  You must convey your heart through your own words—simply and honestly.  For any words in brackets [ ], insert your specific words, feelings, and thoughts.

Core Step 1.   Define the Lie.  The initial step toward solving a problem is to define what the problem is.  In the case of lie-based thinking, the first step is to define the actual lie that is intruding upon the present.  For the most part, lies become rooted in our minds from several sources usually during our younger, formative years.  First, someone who intends to hurt us can speak lies into our lives.  In addition, we can experience traumatic episodes in our lives perpetrated by others, or we can experience trauma as the result of natural disaster or other calamity.  Second, those around us can unintentionally cause hurt and damage because of their skill-based, emotional, and relational deficiencies and/or mistakes in judgment.  Third, we can mistakenly come to the wrong conclusion about an event in our life and focus on a false interpretation.  Regardless of the situation, our mind works to make sense of an event, and we come to some interpretation of it.  As Kellemen notes, “We must make sense of our life experiences. . . . we are meaning seekers” (Kellemen 2005, 174).  Finally, we are subject to our own sinfulness and faulty natural disposition that touches every aspect of our existence.  “We are all bent souls. . . . Sinfulness infects both our thinking and our affections, blinding us to truth and causing our hearts to stray,” writes McMinn in Why Sin Matters (McMinn 2004, 37).  Ultimately, we fail to think and do that which we should, and we end up thinking and doing that which we should not (Rom. 7:15-24).

When our interpretation is not based on truth or is flawed, the seeds of lie-based thinking are planted, surrounded by emotional pain.  On a repeated basis as time passes, certain present life events serve as triggers as the brain associates the present situation with past information or memories that are stored.  When what is stored and accessed is based on lies, painful memories, and emotional pain, these intrude into the present resulting in emotional upheaval and dysfunctional coping measures.

The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), delights in uncovering anything, including lie-based thinking, that hinders our ability to live and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25).  As fallen as they are, God can sanctify our reason and imagination to use them for his good purpose (Foster 1998, 25-26).  Thus, we must look to the Holy Spirit and seek his help in determining the lie,

“Holy Spirit, sanctify my mind as I am feeling [anxious and overwhelmed] in this moment.  What feels true to me?  What am I believing right now that is not based on your truth?  I want you to bring any lie I believe to my attention.”

Wait on the Holy Spirit as you sense, feel, and listen for him to bring to you the lie(s) you believe.  Allow the Holy Spirit to do this in his way and timing.  Keep alert and attuned to the Holy Spirit to do this. The lie will typically take the form of oppressive, intrusive, negative, hopeless, and despairing thoughts.  Many times, the lie will include self-identity statements (i.e., “I” statements) such as:  “I am no good.”  “I can’t do anything right.”  “I’m pitiful.”  “I will never get over this.”

At other times, the lie may be aimed at God.  These types of lies could include things such as:  “I can’t trust you.”  “You don’t love me.”  “You will abandon me.”  These are lies which you might know are not true about God, but they feel true in the present moment.

Whatever form the lie takes, always listen and sense for what seems to feel true.  It does not have to make logical sense.  You might even cognitively argue that you know better.  However, you are allowing the Holy Spirit to have you experience what feels true in the present moment.  In this case, this is the lie that is affecting you.

Allow the Holy Spirit to enable you to discern the difference between what actually could be true versus what feels true but is not the truth.  For example, a person asked to pray in front of a large group for the very first time may feel anxious or nervous about doing so.  This person may even think, “I might stumble over my words,” or “I am not ready to do this, yet.”  These are normal and true feelings and thoughts for a person in this situation.  Still, this is different from this same person thinking and feeling, “I will make a fool of myself if I do this,” or “I will stumble over my words and prove that I am an idiot.”  The latter are lies that hold us captive which the enemy capitalizes on to inhibit our spiritual walk and development into the likeness of Christ.  In his book, The Lies We Tell Ourselves, Chris Thurman does a wonderful job defining various categories and aspects of lies we believe and how to distinguish lies from truthful thoughts (Thurman 1999, 3-99).

Core Step 2.  Own the lie.  By owning the lie, we must acknowledge that the lie revealed by the Holy Spirit is real, and it is destructive in our lives.  We must embrace how this lie feels terribly true, and it is operative in the present moment of our lives.  We must agree with the Holy Spirit, not only about what the lie is, but also about the extent it has an evil hold on us.  We must see how the lie connects to our dysfunctional thinking and behaviors.  We must allow ourselves to grieve over the presence of the lie in our lives and for the space that we give it within ourselves to thrive.  We proclaim to the Holy Spirit,

“Holy Spirit, yes, it does feel true that [I am worthless and will never be of value to you or anyone else.] This lie has held me back and kept me down for so long.  I grieve and sorrow over how I continue to give in to this lie and let it control me and dictate how I live.  Cleanse me as I have focused more on this lie than I have focused on you.” 

Core Step 3.  Move the lie.  Moving the lie involves willingly, humbly, but decidedly taking the lie to the presence of Christ.  As McGee says, “We turn from our self-willed approach to life and reestablish a face-to-face relationship with Jesus” (McGee 1995, 191).  We turn the control of our lives and this lie over to Jesus.  We realize that he is the only one who desires to and can handle our hurts and fears.  Only he can tear down and effectively destroy the strongholds of lies in our lives.  Only Jesus can bring freedom for us to live freely in spite of outward circumstances with an inward peace based upon our moment-by-moment relationship with him (Isa. 26:3-4).  We must remember and take action on the fact that we cannot handle the vast array of lies that surround us and intrude into the present moment of life.  We have no power or wisdom in and of ourselves.  We must look to Jesus to fight against our strongholds and the lies within (2 Chron. 20: 12, 15).  We can confidently enter his presence with freedom to find mercy, grace, healing, and truth (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16; James 1:5).  Apart from him, we are powerless to do anything about the lies in our lives (John 15:5).  To that end, we choose to remove the lie from just our presence and take it to the presence of Jesus,

“Lord Jesus, by faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I bring to you this lie that feels so true.  What feels true is that [I am worthless and will never be of value to you or anyone else.]  It has held me captive too long.  It destroys me.  I believe that apart from you, I can do nothing about this lie.  Only you can destroy this lie.”

To be mindful of the presence of Jesus, allow yourself to feel his surrounding nearness.  Center your thoughts upon him realizing that there is not a moment of your life that he is not present and involved (Ps. 139; Isa. 52:12).  You might also use the Safe Place exercise as a way intentionally to be in the presence of Jesus as you bring to him the lies that hinder you.

Core Step 4.  Demolish the lie.   God is truth and totally truthful in all ways (John 14:17; Heb. 6:18; 1 John 1:5).  Satan is the originator, embodiment, and perpetrator of lies (John 8:44). Satan uses lies in our lives to harm us in any way possible (John 10:10).  These strongholds and lies “are ways of thinking and evaluating that are false, arrogant, and destructively disobedient. . . . [They] are beliefs that are untrue about oneself, others, or circumstances” (Murphy 2003, 376-377).

The plan of God includes destroying the works and lies of the devil (1 John 3:8).  God desires to give us what he knows is good and best for us—his presence which is his truth (Matt. 7:7-11).  God requires that we hate any form of evil (Rom. 12:9), flee any form of demonic presence (1 Cor. 10:14, 21), and let nothing master or hold sway over us that is not of God (1 Cor. 6:12).  Since we were bought at such a great price (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:20), God is vested in demolishing the strongholds that are counter to him and his love and plan for us (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  Seek his help in eradicating the present lie that you have brought to his presence,

“Lord Jesus, please now demolish this lie that [I am worthless and of no value to you or anyone].  Tear it down.  End how this lie holds me captive.”

Core Step 5.  Desire the truth.  God’s desire for us is more than just bringing us truth to counter lies we believe.  While he does want us to have his truth, his greater goal is for us to desire him more (Matt. 6:33; 22:37) and to relate to him more intimately.  He wants us to want him more than what he will bring to us or do for us.  God has placed choices before humankind from the beginning of time through the present day (Gen. 2:16; 3:6; Josh. 24:15; John 3:16-18; Rom. 1:21-25).  He considers the motives of the heart about what an individual really wants to do (Prov. 16:2; Heb. 4:12)—whether or not we genuinely want to abandon the lies believed to embrace his truth or just feel better.  Jesus even asked the blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46; Luke 18:41) what he wanted him to do.  Obviously, Jesus knew the man was blind.  However, Jesus had Bartimaeus state what he desired.  Jesus gave him more than just his sight as Bartimaeus also entered into a personal relationship with Christ.  Do we really want more of his presence in our lives?  Do we desire a full and deep application of his truth to do more than just help us in the moment?  As we truly delight in him and want more of his presence, he will give us this desire (Ps. 37:4).  Express your desire for the fullness of the truth of Christ to be experienced by you,

“Lord Jesus, I do want to hear or sense your truth in place of this lie that [I am worthless and of no value to you or anyone].  What is your perspective?  What do you say about this?  Let me not hear any other voice but yours or receive anything other than your truth.  Make it possible for me to experience you and your truth and the freedom you promise.  I am willing to receive whatever you bring to me.”   

Divine Conversation:  The Prompted Steps

The prompted steps are key elements about which to be mindful and willing to initiate as the Holy Spirit prompts you.  While attuning to the Lord and waiting for his truth to counter lie-based thinking addressed through the core steps, the Holy Spirit may encourage implementation of one or more of these prompted steps.  The reasons for these prompted steps are two-fold:  (1) The Holy Spirit knows that there is some impediment to your receiving truth; (2) He wants further to solidify his relationship with us.  Although the core steps are essential to the Divine Conversation process, any or all of the prompted steps are taken only as the Holy Spirit moves one to implement the prompted step(s).

Prompted Step 1.  Reaffirm position in Christ.   It is critical for us to know and internalize who the Lord says we are from his perspective.  We tend to spin around what we have internalized as true (Prov. 23:7).  As Neil Anderson says, “The battle is for the mind, which is the control center of all that we think and do” (Anderson 1993, 282).  Since Satan does not want us to be free because we might continue to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, he desires that we forget who we are in Christ.  Satan wants us to continue to internalize who we were apart from God.  Quite the opposite, the Holy Spirit wants us to revel in the fact that we are children of God and planned to be like Christ (1 John 3: 1-2).  As the Holy Spirit leads, remind yourself and experience the truth about who God says you are by reaffirming truthful identity statements that the Holy Spirit brings to mind,

“Holy Spirit, help me remember and experience the truths that [I am yours.  Jesus is my King, Savior, Lord, Master, Beloved, Brother, Friend, Shepherd.  I am God’s forever. God loves me more than I can understand.  God chose me to be in a forever relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.  I am forgiven and accepted in every way by you.  Allow me to receive your truth in place of this lie.”]

Prompted Step 2.  Resist the devil.   Scripture makes it clear that Jesus defeated all the powers of evil at the Cross (Col. 2:15).  Additionally, in James 4:7-8, we are reminded that as we willingly and consciously submit to God’s authority, we can take a stand against this defeated foe—the devil.  The end goal of doing so is greater communion with God.  Anderson reminds us that although Satan is a defeated foe and his power is limited, “he still has the ability to deceive ‘the whole world’ (Rev. 12:9)” (Anderson 2000, 161).  However, we counter Satan’s deceptive attempts and practices with the internalized and experienced truth and authority of Christ.

Because of our faith in Christ, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph.  2:6, NIV).  Because of Christ’s heavenly position of authority, we also have this same position of authority.  This allows us to take a stand, resist, and wage warfare against Satan and his demons (Foster 1992, 239).

One key way we are able to stand firm and resist the devil is by spiritually attiring ourselves with the full armor of God (Eph.  6:10-18).  As we understand the significance of this spiritual resource, we can assert our will against being deceived and bullied by the enemy.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit calls us to resist the devil, we do so by taking our rightful authority in Christ,

“Lord Jesus, in your Name, I resist Satan and any demonic influence upon me.  I recognize only you as my Lord and Master.  I wear your full armor that I might stand firm against the devil’s lies.  I rebuke the lie that [I am worthless and have no value to you or anyone else].  I also ask that you—the Lord who is for me and who has chosen me—rebuke this lie and any demonic influence behind it.  Lord, what truth do you have for me in place of this lie?”

Prompted Step 3.  Proclaim desire for obedience.  According to Rick Warren, “You were created to become like Christ.  From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus” (Warren 2002, 171).  The problem is that lies we believe hinder our obedience and, thereby, our progress to “be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24, NIV).  The good news is that as we seek to be obedient and in-step with the Holy Spirit, he releases his power to transform us into his image and to accomplish his purposes.  As Warren continues to emphasize, “God waits for you to act first. . . . [by] doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings.  This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit” (Warren 2002, 175).  As you seek his truth about the lie you brought to the Lord’s presence, acknowledge your desire to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in ways of obedience,

“Holy Spirit, enable me to desire obedience to you in all ways.  Train me in obedience.  Motivate me to obedience.  Open my eyes to what obedience looks like.  Bring to me the truths that I need only from you.”

Prompted Step 4.  Praise God.  Scripture commands us to offer praise and give thanks to God.  For example, we are told to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:17, NIV).  Additionally, the psalmist explains that God is good and what he does is good even when he allows affliction.  He goes on to say that it was good that he was afflicted given that God in faithfulness brought forth the affliction (Ps. 119: 67-75).  McGee offers, “praise is the highest form of spiritual warfare” (McGee 1995, 194).

As you wait upon the Lord to bring his truth to you in place of the lie, praise him for whatever way he directs you to praise him.  Allow the Holy Spirit to freely carry your praises heavenward,

“Lord Jesus, help me to praise you.  Enable me to believe and experience how you are using my circumstances, the lies affecting me, and even Satan’s attempts to destroy me to work out my salvation and character to become more complete in you.  I praise you for your goodness in spite of what my problems and hurts are.  I trust you will only do what is right and good for me.  For all of this, I praise you for your wisdom and sovereignty over me.  Help me to be open to your truth.”

Prompted Step 5.  Remedy Sin.  To remedy sin involves engaging one or more of several components that the Holy Spirit might bring to our attention:  confession and repentance, releasing anger – bitterness – resentment, and receiving cleansing.

Confession and repentance involve more than just acknowledging sin or a stronghold and deciding to turn away from it.  Confession means that we allow the Holy Spirit to show us the reality of personal destructiveness caused by the sin or stronghold including the depth of evil it injects into our lives.  Repentance calls us to move away from a self-willed or rebellious approach to life and to move toward a humble, relational encounter with Christ (McGee 1995, 189-194).

By releasing anger, bitterness, and resentment, we become willing to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us (Matt. 18:15; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32).  First, we move toward forgiveness, not because the offender deserves it, but because Christ deserves our obedience given that he sacrificed all to pay for our sins.  He did this for us when we did not deserve it and were, in fact, still his enemy (Rom. 5:6-10).  Second, when we hold onto unforgiveness, we impede our own healing, our fellowship with the Lord, and our ability to receive his truth (Ps. 66:18; Matt. 6:12-15; 18:21-35).

When releasing and forgiving others who have hurt us, Seamands has provided a wise and prudent way to go about this process as outlined in this summary (Seamands 2003, 130-147):

*Facing the facts.  We must be genuinely and ruthlessly honest about what we experienced.

*Feeling the hurt.  More than just being honest about the facts, we must allow ourselves to feel and connect with the pain we have and do experience.

*Confronting our hate.  We must have the courage to confront our hatred for the offender given what we experienced.

*Bearing the pain.  Forgiveness is costly.  When we choose to forgive, we also choose to bear the pain of the injustice we have experienced.

*Releasing those who have wronged us.  While not ignoring the demand of justice, we choose to release our offenders and turn them over to God.  Faithfully, we trust God to exact justice in his way and timing (Rom12:17-21).

*Assuming responsibility for ourselves.  We cease being a victim or needing to blame someone else.  We recognize that our identity is not defined by what happened to us.  A choice is made that holding on to the  pain and resentment caused by another is not to be a source of meeting our needs.

*Longing for reconciliation.  The goal of forgiveness is the restoration of broken relationships.  Just forgiving to get beyond the pain and get on with life does not go far enough.  It is very true that the nature and extent of reconciliation with an offender depends on a number of significant factors.  At the same time, as we are willing to trust the Holy Spirit to oversee this process and outcome, we find ourselves in the presence of the Cross of Christ.

After we have confessed and repented about a sin or stronghold and/or released others from our debt, it is critical that we are willing to receive the cleansing of Christ in our own lives.  His death on the Cross made provision for us to be cleansed from all aspects of every sin regardless of the source and to continue to experience this cleansing on an ongoing basis (Heb. 10:22-23; 1 John 1:9).  At times, we may feel that we have failed too many times, our failures are overly egregious, or we have been stuck in a sinful, shameful position for too extensive of a time.  The lie-based belief that either we are too bad to receive cleansing or that God will not provide further cleansing is another attempt of the devil to constrain our freedom in the Holy Spirit and hinder our relationship with Christ (2 Cor. 3:17).

As the Holy Spirit leads, express your heart to remedy any sin or stronghold, and/or for the release of troublesome emotions,

“Holy Spirit, you have shown me that I do hold [anger] toward [specific person].  Honestly, I have been [hurt] by [specific person].  However, I desire to be obedient to you.  I choose to forgive [specific person] for the damage done to me.  I do this not because [he/she] deserves this, but because Jesus deserves my obedience given how he has forgiven me.  Make it possible for me to forgive [specific person].  Take away the [anger and hurt].  Replace this with the thoughts and feelings you would give to me.  Forgive me for holding on to what happened for too long.  Allow me to experience your cleansing and release from this.”

Prompted Step 6.  Receive the Holy Spirit’s filling.  According to Ephesians 5:18, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a natural part of the believer’s life.  However, it is important to make a clear distinction.  Being indwelled by the Holy Spirit and filled by the Holy Spirit are two distinct aspects.  When a person by faith accepts Christ as personal Savior, a spiritual birth or conversion immediately takes place where the Holy Spirit forever indwells and seals the individual as proof of the redemption that has taken place (John 3:1-8; Eph. 1:13-14, 4:30).  However, being filled with the Holy Spirit as noted in Ephesians 5:18 means being empowered, released, guided, and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  This is not a one-time event like being indwelled by the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion.  Rather, this is an act of our will where we seek the continual, moment-by-moment presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  As noted by Siang-Yang Tan, “When we are open to the Spirit—continually filled and seeking to be filled—we are less likely to quench or grieve the Spirit in our daily living” (Tan and Gregg 1997, 20).  When the Holy Spirit prompts or reminds us to be filled, we exercise our will inviting him to overtake us and undertake whatever he desires in our lives in the present moment,

“Holy Spirit, I seek your total and complete filling in this moment.  Take control of everything about me.  I willingly invite you to be over my entire life, and I submit to you.  Make my will and desire to be exactly what your will and desire is.” 

 Divine Conversation:  Experienced Truth

“God is not simply to be learned about in life,” according to Wardle, “[h]e is to be experienced.  He waits in every moment to be encountered by those who seek him” (Wardle 2007, 110).

We are in a deeply intimate and personal relationship with a God who is to be known and who is to be experienced.  Our problem experiencing God has several facets:  (a) We have primarily a surface understanding about Christ and do not have sufficient knowledge about him, his work, and his Word.  We have treated him like a very distant cousin who we know of but do not really know well at all and with whom we do not spend any significant time; (b) At the other extreme, we know about God in great detail and have made it a disciplined practice to study about him and his Word.  At the same time, we have ignored, not understood sufficiently, or simply downplayed the reality of the experiential aspect of our relationship with him.  In other words, we know a lot about God without really knowing God (Benner 2003, 27).  Kraft reminds us that “John 8:32 refers to experiential knowledge, not mere theoretical knowledge, as that which undergirds the truth that sets us free” (Kraft 2002, 76); (c) Some are more left brain oriented and are not as oriented to the right brain functions allowing the spiritual senses to be open to imaginative and experiential encounters with God.

God works in the totality of our lives—past, present, and future.  He wants to bring us his truth to deal with the more past-oriented, deeply seated wounds and resultant lies of past troublesome events through deeper level healing processes.  At the same time, he wants to bring us his truth in the present moment of need to counter the lie-based thinking that invades our present.  In both cases, it is the relational experience of God and his truth that bring to our lives correct meaning, thinking, feelings, and actions.

As you apply the Core Steps of Divine Conversation and are mindful how the Holy Spirit leads using the Prompted Steps, you now are open to experiencing the truth in the way that the Holy Spirit knows best to bring it to you.  God will apply his unique truth tailored to the individual.  As Smith indicates, “God’s Spirit may convey truth through thoughts and words, visual imagery, or a sense of His presence” (Smith 2007, 159).  Additionally, God may apply his truth through:  (a) his Word as we read and meditate upon it; (b) timely and wise counsel of mature Christian believers; (c) the use of providential circumstances; (d) our sanctified common sense and reason; (e) applications of nature and creation such as a majestic sunset or the worry free existence of a squirrel gathering food (Tan and Gregg 1997, 57-60).

While waiting for God’s truth, we must be vigilant in the process and careful not to desire the outcome of the process over the One we are in relationship with.  We must not put our desire and focus more on what God might say or bring than on God himself.  With this in mind, we must guard against:  (a) putting God on our timetable to bring us his truth.  He will bring it in his timing; (b) limiting how God brings us his truth.  We must be open, willing, and sensitive to his choice of how he communicates truth to us; (c) putting words in God’s mouth.  We must discern the difference between our voice/other voices and the Voice of God; (d) seeking the spectacular.  As indicated in 1 Kings 19:12, many times God communicates in the manner of a “gentle whisper;” (e) ignoring basic good sense.  God will not convey anything that is contrary to his nature or Word (Johnson 1996, 92-95).

Having reviewed the core steps and prompted steps, I want to make a final observation.  There is no reason to feel guilty or perplexed if it seems that you are encountering the same or similar lie on frequent occasions requiring repeated truth from the Lord.  First, various characters in Scripture (Moses, the Israelites, Joshua) received reoccurring truths from God (e.g., “Be strong; Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged”), perhaps, to counter reoccurring lies they were believing.  The enemy knows what particular lies in his arsenal work best against us, and he will trigger us through life events to bombard us with them. More important, the Giver of Truth will overcome these lies with his truth on each occasion (James 1:5).

Second, keep in mind that as you focus on healing prayer in the present moment, you are not attending to the lie at its source, as would be the case in deeper level healing prayer.  Simply allow the Holy Spirit to identify whatever lies are present and bring to you the experience of truth as he directs.  As you continue to hear the Lord’s persistent truth, it will tear away at the lie stronghold weakening its ability to stand against truth.  In God’s timing and way, the stronghold will be demolished.  Scripture indicates the need for us to position ourselves as persistently dependent on God for his mercy and truthful intervention (Ps. 123:2; Luke 11:5-13).

Finally, you might consider entering a season of deeper level healing prayer to address a reoccurring lie at its source.  In this case, Divine Conversation becomes complementary to deeper level healing prayer process.

APPENDIX

 DIVINE CONVERSATION: PRESENT-ORIENTED HEALING PRAYER MODEL

 

Bill-Bellican-chart

Divine Conversation Present-Oriented Healing Prayer Model

                                                                                                  

 

CORE STEPS

 Understand Life Events – Various life events trigger associated negative past experiences and/or are capitalized upon by Satan as a venue to breed an unsettled spirit within us.

 Recognize Emotional Upheaval – A negative emotional indicator that something is going on within me that needs attention.

Attend To Lie-Based Thinking – Inner statements/beliefs/attitudes that are intrusive but feel uncomfortably true.

Define The Lie – Ask the Holy Spirit to define specifically what feels true.

Own The Lie – Once defined, embrace the lie-based thoughts that feel true owning them as though they were true.

Move The Lie – Bring the lie-based thoughts into the presence of Christ recognizing your powerlessness to deal with them.

Demolish The Lie – Seek and depend upon the Lord to demolish the lie-based thoughts and enable you to take them captive.

Desire The Truth – As an act of the will, seek and expect the reality, application, and experience of the Lord’s truth counter to the present lie-based thoughts.

Experience The Truth – In the present moment, sense, listen for, be aware of the Lord conveying and applying His truth in the ways He chooses to do so.

Peace/Freedom – The opposite of emotional upheaval enabling you to experience freedom and peace in the present moment as truth is experienced.

 PROMPTED STEPS

 Should the Holy Spirit prompt you:

Reaffirm position in Christ – I must know who Jesus says I am to Him and who He is to me.  The devil does not want me to know this. (2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 3:1-2)

Resist the devil – The devil is defeated, and I can resist him because I belong to Christ. (Eph. 6:10-12; Col. 2:15; James 4:7-8)

Proclaim desire for obedience – I must cooperate with the Holy Spirit to allow God to produce his character in me.  The devil does not want me to change.  (Ps. 119: 33-37, 44-48; Eph. 4:24)

Praise God – I can reflect God’s goodness by being thankful regardless of circumstances.  The devil wants me discouraged and mistrustful of God.   (Ps. 119:68; 1 Thess. 5:16-18)

Remedy sin – I must receive the abundant cleansing from my sin continuously offered by Christ. The devil continuously accuses me to promote a guilty conscience.  (Heb. 10:22-23; 1 John 1:9; Rev. 12:10)

Receive the Holy Spirit’s filling – I can live an empowered new life controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit.  The devil wants me to live apart from God’s power.  (Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:18)

Examples of Lie-Based Thinking

Lies about God – He will not take care of me.  I cannot trust him.  He will never answer me. He could not possibly love me.  He is angry with me.  He is disappointed in me. He will not help me so I have to figure it out myself.  He cannot/will not forgive me because I have done too much.  He is not enough. God owes me. God is not fair.

Lies about others – No one will ever love me.  Everyone will hurt me.  All reject me.  No one sees any value in me.  Others do not like me.  No one cares anything about me.  People do not want to be around me.  Everyone is out to get me.

Lies about myself – I will never amount to anything.  I always fail.  I am worthless.  I can never do anything right.  I am hopeless.  I cannot change.  I cannot take it anymore.  I will always be miserable.  I will make a fool of myself.  My life is wasted.  I am stupid.  It is always my fault.  There is something wrong with me.  I am doomed.  I cannot stop.

Lies about circumstances – This will go on forever.  Nothing will ever change. This situation is impossible. There is no way out of this situation.  This problem cannot be solved.  My situation is hopeless.  There is no end to this problem.

Lies that seem positiveIt will not hurt me to do this.  I need to look at this/do this.  Doing this will make me feel better.  God understands if I do/think this.  If I do this, no one will know.  I will do this only this time.

NOTES: 

Anderson, Neil.  1993.  Living free in Christ.  Ventura, CA:  Regal Books.

________.  2000.  Victory over the darkness.  Ventura, CA:  Regal Books.

Benner, David G.  2003.  Surrender to love.  Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity

Bright, Bill.  2007.  Would you like to know God personally?  Peachtree City, GA: Campus Crusade for Christ.

Foster, Richard J.  1992.  Prayer: Finding the heart’s true home. New York:  HarperCollins Publisher.

Kellemen, Robert W.  2005.  Soul physicians:  A theology of soul care and spiritual direction.  Taneytown, MD:  RPM Books.

Johnson, Jan.  1996.  Enjoying the presence of God.  Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Kraft, Charles.  2002.  Confronting powerless Christianity.  Grand Rapids:  Chosen Books.

McGee, Robert.  1995.  The search for freedom.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Servant

McMinn, Mark R.  2004.  Why sin matters.  Wheaton, IL:  Tyndale House

Moon, Gary.  1997.  Homesick for Eden.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Servant Publications.

Murphy, Ed.  2003.  The handbook for spiritual warfare.  Nashville:  Thomas

O’Donoghue, N. D.  1986.  The Mystical Imagination.  In Religious imagination, ed. James P. Mackey, 186-205.  Edinburgh UK: Edinburgh University

Seamands, Stephen.  2003.  Wounds that heal.  Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity

Smith, Edward M.  2007.  Theophostic prayer ministry:  Basic seminar manual 2007. Campbellsville, KY:  New Creation Publishing.

Tan, Siang-Yang and Douglas H. Gregg.  1997.  Disciplines of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House.

Thurman, Chris.  1999.  The lies we tell ourselves.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Wardle, Terry.  2001.  Healing care, healing prayer.  Orange, CA:  New Leaf

________.  2007.  Strong winds and crashing waves.  Abilene, TX:  Leafwood

Warren, Rick.  2002.  The purpose-driven life.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

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*Author:  Bellican, W. M. (2010).  Divine conversation: Attuning to truth in the sacrament of the present moment.©  (Doctoral Dissertation).  Retrieved from Theological Research Exchange Network. (028-0324; 773236003)  http://www.tren.com/search.cfm

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Hurts, Wounds, Lies: Getting Below The Waterline

SOURCE:   / Conversations Journal

 Getting Below The Waterline: The Role of Inner-Healing Prayer in Spiritual Transformation

In the days following my husband’s death, I desperately sought God’s comfort in the Scriptures. After an eleven-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis and all the humiliation, fear, hardship, and losses that go with it, my faith was on the fragile side. I needed solace, the kind only God could give.  So I went to the Psalms. Isn’t that where God’s children always find consolation?

But I found no consolation there. On the contrary, in fact. One day I was reading Psalm 91, the psalm just about every Christian turns to in times of fear or discouragement:

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.[1]

I didn’t want to admit it, but the psalm made me feel angry. My husband had not been saved from the deadly pestilence or the destroying plague. My whole family had experienced plenty of terrors by night, and plenty of arrows by day. Disaster had come near our tent. More than just near, it had invaded our tent, taken my husband’s life, and left my son and me wounded and bereft. God did not feel like a refuge. Actually, reading the psalm made me feel as if God were mocking me.

Hadn’t I loved God enough to deserve His protection? I wondered. Had I failed Him and in the process, nullified His promises? If God had allowed so much pain and suffering to happen to my family and me already, how did I know there wasn’t more or even worse to come? I felt as if I were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Mind you, I admitted these thoughts to no one, hardly even to myself. I was a leader in full-time ministry, after all. I’d been serious about my walk with God for decades. I invested myself in helping others to grow spiritually. How could I possibly admit such thoughts and feelings? They seemed almost blasphemous to me. I didn’t want to jeopardize the faith of others.

About that time, a man in my church whom I’d only met on a couple of occasions mentioned a healing prayer ministry he was part of. With no knowledge of my spiritual crisis, he offered, “If you ever want to have somebody pray with you and help you listen to God, we have people who do that. Just let me know.”

At that point in my spiritual journey, listening to God was something that was still relatively new to me. For much of my Christian life, I didn’t know how to hear God speak to me personally. Although I had puzzled over Scriptures like John 10 that assured me that Jesus’ sheep hear His voice,[2] my prayers had been mostly one-way monologues. And the impersonality of that seemingly one-way relationship left me feeling lonely and detached from God. But during the hardest years of my husband’s illness, God had mercifully taught me how to listen to His voice. Through experience, He proved to me that I could call to Him and He would answer me,[3] and that I could come to Him with my ears wide open and in listening, I would find life.[4] He helped me to understand that He really does call me friend,[5] and that He enjoys it when I invite Him to have conversation with me, Friend to friend.[6]

I don’t think I would have survived the years of illness, loss, and relentless caregiving if I hadn’t learned to hear my Father’s tender voice. Time and time again I was amazed by His almost unnervingly personal care for me as He patiently responded to my anger and fear, and gently comforted me and fathered me. As my ability to discern His voice grew, so did my relationship with Him. God became more personal and intimate—and thus more indispensable to me—than He had ever been before.

But in spite of having heard God and even dialogued with Him in deeply personal, relational ways, He seemed pretty silent in those dark days after my husband’s death. The warm conversations we’d had previously seemed like ancient history. So when Jack asked me if I would like somebody to listen to God with me, I was open. I wasn’t hearing much from God on my own, but maybe listening with others could help me to re-connect. I had no idea what to expect, but I set up a time to pray with him and a woman from the church’s healing prayer team.

Healing prayer, it turned out, was different from any other kind of prayer I’d ever been involved with. But even though it was a stretch for me, it made complete sense. Using listening prayer as a foundation, it is a way of asking Jesus to do for people now, in our generation, the kind of ministry that Isaiah 61 (and Luke 4) describe Him as doing—binding up broken hearts, freeing captives, releasing prisoners, comforting all who mourn, exchanging despair for praise.

My prayer partners explained that they had no agenda except to ask Jesus to do His healing work. They said they would focus our prayer time on asking God what I needed and how He wanted to meet me. They asked me a few questions, equivalent to a medical doctor asking, “Where does it hurt?” Then they explained to me that they would ask God a question and invite Him to respond to me. He might bring up a memory or impression, perhaps He would stir up a painful emotion. He might bring to mind words that had been spoken to me, or maybe a verse of Scripture. Maybe He would give me a picture. Whatever came to mind I was to report. If we weren’t sure if it was from God or not, or if we didn’t know what it meant, we would simply ask Him to confirm or clarify.

In the process of listening to God in that manner, He did speak. He revealed early memories—long before the ordeal with my husband—of times when I had felt unprotected and vulnerable. He helped me to see that long before adulthood I had come to believe that those who are supposed to protect me, won’t. That if I don’t look out for myself, no one else will. He helped me to see how, subconsciously, I’d transferred these beliefs to Him, too. Without even knowing it, I’d come to believe that God would not protect or help me, that I had to take care of myself. Was it any wonder that when I needed God the most, I couldn’t find Him? I’d built my life around those devastating, isolating lies, so that I had no real expectation that He would rescue me. Sure, I “believed” Psalm 91 intellectually, but in my deepest heart, I doubted.

When those lies were exposed, I was able to confess them and ask God’s forgiveness for doubting His love and care. I was able to see and declare the truth that God is for me and He helps those who call to Him in faith. Over time, I was able to forgive the ones who had failed to keep me safe and had set me up to believe awful lies about God and life.

Healing for me wasn’t one quick prayer session. It involved a series of times similar to what I just described in which God revealed to me the obstacles that were standing in the way of my trusting Him. Over a period of months, as one by one I dealt with them, my confidence in God’s loving care grew so that now I can read Psalm 91 with peace and hope.

Inner-Healing Prayer’s Part in Spiritual Formation

My personal experience with inner-healing prayer, both offering it to others and receiving it, has prompted me to believe that it plays a helpful, if not critical, role in spiritual formation. In my case, I desperately wanted to trust God. I was miserable when I dreaded the future because I couldn’t bring myself to trust in His care for me. My struggle filled me with guilt and shame. I hated feeling suspicious of God while all the while professing my faith in His goodness. So I read books on faith. I memorized Scriptures about His goodness. I confessed (over and over and over) my fear. I gritted my teeth and tried to “just do it.” I learned so much about what it meant to trust God that I suspect I probably could have given a convincing inspirational talk or written a powerful devotional about the faithfulness of God. But no matter how firmly my head was convinced, my heart still struggled.

As others have invited me to pray with them for inner healing, I’ve discovered that I was by no means alone in my spiritual frustration. Many of us have deep-rooted wounds that get in the way of our spiritual transformation. My issues of doubting and distrusting God are far more common than I realized. But there are many others: inferiority, shame, perfectionism, addictions, obsessive and compulsive behavior, anxiety, gender confusion, people-pleasing, body image issues, and more. All of these are serious barriers to our ability to experience God and grow in Jesus’ likeness. And all of them are nearly impossible to address by conventional means of discipleship such as Bible study, Scripture memorization, or petition-based prayer.

Rusty Rustenbach, director of pastoral care and counseling for The Navigators and author of A Guide to Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places, describes how, as a seasoned counselor, missionary, and disciple-maker, not only was he unable to help the people he ministered to get past these obstacles—he could not get past them himself. As a boy, he had not received from authority figures the affirmation he needed—which led to insecurity, people-pleasing, and periodic overreactions to triggering events that continued into adulthood. He wanted to be free from those inner attitudes and weights —but the spiritual disciplines he tried weren’t setting him free. Then one day he read Psalm 18:9: “He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”[7] Yeah, I’ll bet God delights in me,Rustenbach mused, cynically. No, He puts up with me because He’s stuck with me.”[8]

A friend talked to Rustenbach about listening prayer (in 1997, before much had been taught or written about the inner-healing aspect of listening prayer) and Rustenbach reluctantly agreed to try it. He really didn’t expect anything to happen, but God surprised him. “Rusty, I am for you… for you and not against you. You belong to me I chose you to belong to Me because I love you with an everlasting love. You are Mine!”[9] That intimate encounter with God was deeply healing to Rustenbach; as he relates the story today, fifteen years later, his eyes still fill with tears. And now, listening and inner-healing prayer has become the foundation of his fruitful ministry with The Navigators.

“As our global society increases in complexity, size, and brokenness, growing numbers of people struggle with issues that seem impervious to traditional ministry methods.”[10] Rustenbach says. Spiritual disciplines are useful and necessary, but inadequate to deal with issues that are hidden “below the water line.”[11]

Often a person is not even aware of these below-the-surface wounds. Nevertheless, he or she may feel trapped by unwanted but automatic reactions, unhealthy habits, and negative thought patterns. In persons who have walked with the Lord for a long time these are especially troubling. After all, intellectually, they believe the right things. They have good theology. But there is a head-heart schism. What they believe in their heads does not work itself out in their lives, in spite of counseling , effort, or traditional forms of prayer. These kinds of wounds require a touch from Jesus, a manifestation of God’s grace. We need God to show us where the problem is rooted—and we need Him to bring the healing.

This process does not require a person to probe deeply into his or her past. Such introspection, as many of us have learned the hard way, often isn’t helpful, and can even be harmful. Through difficult experience we understand that “the heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.”[12] But God is able to lovingly, gently, objectively sort out what we cannot. “I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”[13]

Assumptions and Principles of Inner-Healing Prayer

There are different models of inner-healing prayer, most of which rely on some variation of these assumptions and principles:

  • A person experienced an emotional wounding, often in childhood (e.g. abandonment by a parent, real or perceived rejection by significant people, sexual, verbal, or physical abuse, loss, deprivation, etc.).
  • Lies about God, self, or the way the world works were believed as a result of that traumatic, painful or disappointing experience (e.g. “If I let people know who I really am, they won’t like me”).
  • Vows may have been made in an attempt to protect the person from future hurt (e.g. “I’ll never trust a man again”).
  • Generational patterns may have been inherited (such as patterns of fear, a poverty mindset, and so on).
  • As we practice listening prayer, the Holy Spirit speaks in our minds or hearts, through pictures, the stirring of emotions, words, symbols, or other creative and very personal means.
  • Usually God takes us back to memories from childhood where the wounding took place. He helps us to see what happened to our souls at that time, exposing lies we came to believe, unbiblical vows we made, faulty strategies for living that we adopted, and perhaps the pronouncements others made over us.
  • We confess these lies, vows, and so on, to Him and ask Him to reveal truth. As we embrace the truth He reveals, our minds are renewed and we are freed from the emotional bondage that hindered our spiritual growth and freedom. We stand with Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life, and declare our independence from the father of lies.
  • Sometimes we see Jesus with us in the memory of the painful event.  He may speak words of truth or offer comfort that usually is deeply moving and penetrating.
  • With His help, (sometimes over time rather than immediately) we forgive the ones who wounded us, both for the actual offense, as well as for the consequences we have experienced as a result of that offense.
  • By replacing lies with truth and forgiving those who hurt us, we close off areas of access to the enemy. He can no longer energize those places for us.
  • We adopt our true identity in Christ rather than the false identities we assumed because of the lies we believed and the wounds we were compensating for.
  • We expect that the Wonderful Counselor actually will meet us and touch us when we invite Him into our wounded places. When we invite Him, He will come, and He will heal.

Recently I had a conversation with a young Christian medical student who is seeking to understand God’s role in healing. He cited research that supports the efficacy of prayer for soul healing. That wasn’t surprising, he told me, since prayer is a form of catharsis, allowing for the release of painful emotions so that healing can occur. I agreed with him that pouring out our hearts to God is indeed cathartic. What kinder, wiser Listener could we ever have than our Abba, Father, who made us and redeemed us and constantly watches over us in love? But there’s more, I told him. Inner-healing prayer is supernatural. God actually does something when we invite Him to heal our hurting hearts. Somehow, He enters into our pain with us and releases us from it with no less power than when He healed 2,000 years ago.

As Richard Foster so aptly puts it, “Don’t you know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lives in the eternal now, can enter that old painful memory and heal it so that it will no longer control you?”[14]

Healing Prayer Resources

Inner-healing prayer can be a helpful adjunct to spiritual direction, counseling, discipling, and pastoral care, although depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a good practitioner. This form of soul-care, as in any other, should be left only to those who are reliably trained, spiritually and emotionally mature and healthy themselves, biblically sound, in accountability relationships with other Christians, and with a proven record of helping others find healing and freedom. If you cannot find someone like that in your community, you may want to consider receiving training yourself. There are several options:

The Pastoral Care Team of The Navigators (Rustenbach’s organization) offers listening and healing prayer seminars several times a year in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and elsewhere, by invitation.

Ministries of Pastoral Care (founded by Leanne Payne, who has since retired) offers training each summer at Wheaton College, in Illinois.

The International Association for Theophostic Ministry (founded by Ed Smith) offers comprehensive training resources for individuals or groups (such as a church prayer team).

Christian Healing Ministries (founded by Francis MacNutt) offers conferences, seminars, a healing prayer school, and internships, along with printed and video resources for basic or in-depth training in healing prayer of all kinds.


[1] Psalm 91:3-10, NIV

[2] John 10:3-4, 8, 16, 27

[3] Jer. 33:3

[4] Is. 55:3

[5] Jn. 15:15

[6] Rev. 3:20, NLT

[7] NASB

[8] Rusty Rustenbach, teaching at the Listening and Healing Prayer Seminar, The Navigators, Colorado Springs, May 18-19, 2009

[9] Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide for Listening & Inner-Healing Prayer, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2011, p. 22.

[10] Ibed, p. 165

[11] Ibed, p. 103

[12] Jer. 17:9, MSG

[13] Jer. 17:10, MSG

[14] Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. New York: HarperCollins, 1992, p. 205.

Cynthia Hyle Bezek facilitates inner-healing prayer through her local church’s prayer ministry. She is author of Prayer Begins with Relationship, former editor of Pray! magazine, and blogs about prayer at cynthiaprayblog.wordpress.com. She currently serves as editorial director for Community Bible Study.

Strongholds of the Mind VS. Divine Weapons

SOURCE: Taken from an article by Rick Thomas

  How do you take every thought captive–the battle for your mind

Have you ever had someone accuse you of something that was not true?

Have you ever accused yourself of something that was not true?

Either way, whether from you or another, any false argument launched against you can turn into a stronghold in your mind that will spiritually debilitate you.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

We all are susceptible to false arguments that control our minds.

There are recurring thought patterns, if left unchecked, will become the dominating argument of a person’s mind, to the point where they become what the argument says they are.

Madison was such a person. She was bound by fear. Some call it insecurity. That is a fair term. She was an insecure young woman who was preoccupied by the arguments that swirled around in her head.

The controlling opinion of man was a stronghold that seemingly could not be broken. Even though she knew God’s opinion of her, as understood through the Gospel, should be the dominating opinion of her mind, it was not.

She had learned early in life that performing for others was the way to be accepted. Her daddy taught her this by his passive parenting model and in the brief moments when he did say something, it was generally discouraging.

This helped to shape her as a people pleaser. She was motivated not to disappoint others and incur their displeasure. She became all things to all people with the hope of being accepted.

In time, she became what others expected her to be. Though her early years with Christ were met with excitement, eventually the old argument came back.

The stronghold was never broken.

She never learned how to take every thought captive. She learned how to be saved, which she was, but she never learned how to grow into a new creation. Her former manner of life, which was corrupt through her deceptive desires to be liked, still had control of her mind.

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds. – Ephesians 4:22-23 (ESV)

She was still living the way she always lived and had not learned how to renew her mind according to true right living and true holiness. She was what I call an unbelieving believer–a Christian who still lives according to an un-Christian quality of life.

And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:24 (ESV)

It’s a spiritual warfare

Madison was in a warfare of the mind. It was her mind that was under attack. According to Paul, this was more than just a human, living in a human body, being attacked by the negativity of other humans.

Though that was true, it was more than that. We live in a spiritual world where there are real demonic forces who are out to destroy the knowledge of Christ that resides in us.

The evil spiritual world cannot utterly destroy us because Satan is not God’s evil equal. But there are demonic forces who would enjoy nothing more than to derail a child of God from making God’s name great in this world.

Paul called this a spiritual warfare in this passage. He tended to view his Christian life as a life of spiritual warfare. Knowing where the main battle comes from is huge when you go to war.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. – 2 Corinthians 10:3 (ESV)

Do you know you are in a spiritual warfare? Do you know there is a relentless spiritual battle happening in this world and you’re part of it? You’re not a sideline reporter, but an active participant.

And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. – Job 1:12 (ESV)

What Paul is teaching us here is not new. Spiritual warfare has been going on since Adam and Eve took their first bite of disobedience. The Devil tried to knock them off and he succeeded to a degree. He and his are trying to circumvent the work of God in your life too.

Do you know you have weapons to fight these spiritual battles–weapons that are divinely empowered? Do you know these weapons are designed with the power to destroy the strongholds in your mind?

Madison did not know this. One of the tricks of the evil ones is to disorient and deceive you. This is what Satan did to Eve. This is what was happening to Madison. She had bought the lie.

She believed there was something wrong with her. Owning her faith and living as a new creation in Christ were nice theological words that had no effect on her life. She was so wrapped up in her own fear, she did not know how to live in the freedom and good of God’s Gospel.

What is a stronghold?

The forces that are against you in the spirit world are no different than the forces that are against you in the physical world, in that they both desire the same thing–to take your mind captive.

The real question is how are you going to respond and fight against the forces that are against you, regardless of what the forces are. You have the power resident within you to fight against the strongholds that seek to take your mind captive.

These weapons of warfare are the divinely empowered truths of the Gospel. The real deal for you is whether you will use these weapons to destroy the strongholds–arguments and arrogant opinions raised up against God as revealed in Christ.

A stronghold is an argument you believe that contradicts the person and power of Christ. A stronghold is athought fortress of arguments that take you captive and hold you as a prisoner. These fortresses are designed to negate the person of Christ and His power (the Gospel) in your life.

Madison had bought the lie of insecurity or fear of man (Proverbs 29:25). Her fear ensnared her to a life of bondage, as manifested through people-pleasing, peer-pressure, and worry and anxiety about what others thought about her.

She was overly focused about nearly everything regarding herself. She second-guessed her thoughts, questions, and comments. She doubted her choices and actions. She anxiously controlled how she looked in public and what she wore.

Satanic forces could not destroy her soul, but they could influence her mind until her usefulness in making God’s name great was marginalized. Taking every evil argument captive and making it bow to the name of Jesus was an illusionary theological pipe dream.

What sinful thought fortresses are in your head

God is truth and His purpose for coming to this world was to transform us so we could walk in His truth. The Devil’s job is to disrupt the truth God provides and motivate us to believe a lie. He hopes to set up deceitful strongholds in our minds.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4 (ESV)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. – John 16:13 (ESV)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:17 (ESV)

What lies keep the Gospel from dominating your thought life? What strongholds have been setup in your mind, that hinder the sanctifying work of God in your life? What sinful thought fortresses reside in your head?

  1. Lies you tell yourself–I have to be perfect. I must be happy. I need people to agree with me. I can’t shake my past. I deserve better than this.
  2. Lies the world tells you–You must be true to yourself. You are number one. I’m only human; everybody does this.
  3. Lies you say in your marriage–It’s your fault. If I had not married you. You make me so mad. Why can’t you be like so and so? I wish I was like so and so.
  4. Lies that distort the Gospel–I must earn God’s love. God won’t protect me. God does not love me. I can do what I want and God will forgive me. If I were more spiritual I would not struggle like this. God will bless me if I obeyed.
  5. Lies from the questions we ask–Does God really hear me? Does God really love me? Has God abandoned me? Why does God not stop the pain?

When these types of thought-fortress-lies continue to roll around in your head, they will take your mind captive and will move you out of line with the Gospel. This will ultimately reduce Jesus to become less than what He should be and the Spirit’s power in your life will be reduced to less than what it can be.

Fighting the fight with God’s truth

It is essential you arm yourself with God’s truth to overcome. You cannot arm yourself with fleshly weapons. If you do, you may feel as though you have won the battle, but you have not. Or, you will win a particular battle, but lose the ultimate war for your mind.

Fleshly weapons come from your own strength. Here are a few that are commonly used to fight some of the lies listed above: adultery, porn, alcohol, anger, medication, shopping, un-forgiveness, bitterness, and gossip.[1]

There are plenty more. Anything that is sinful is a fleshly weapon enlisted to fight a spiritual battle. None of them will work. They will further enslave you, while creating more dysfunction in your relationships.

Spiritual warfare looks different. Spiritual warfare is contextualized in the Gospel. The Gospel is the person and the work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. He is the one you need for this battle.

I’m going to take each lie noted above and run it through a Gospel filter. I’m going to lay the Gospel hammer on it, to crush its head (Genesis 3:15).

  1. Lies you tell yourself–I have to be perfect.

     

    You do not have to be perfect. In fact, if you try to be perfect, you are rejecting the righteousness of Christ, choosing to hold up your own righteousness as the answer. Not accepting Christ’s righteousness is another Gospel–your own gospel of self-atonement. Not admitting the truth of your imperfection makes you a liar (1 John 1:8).

  2. Lies the world tells you–You must be true to yourself.

     

    You must be true to Christ. He is the one you live for, not for yourself. Living for yourself is the lie of the world, a self-centered, anti-Christ way of thinking. You are to die to yourself and fully trust another, who knows better than you do.

  3. Lies you say in your marriage–It’s your fault/I deserve better.

     

    You will never be happy if things always go your way. You will implode through your continual imbibing of self-centeredness. You’re called to be content as you learn how to be sufficient through Christ rather than your fleshly desires (Philippians 4:11-13).

  4. Lies that distort the Gospel–I must earn God’s love/God won’t protect me.

     

    Jesus Christ died for you on the cross. He, who was in the form of God, took on the form of a servant to rescue you. There is no greater love than a man who will lay down his life for another. (Read Philippians 2:5-11Romans 5:6-9John 15:13)

  5. Lies from the questions we ask–Does God really hear me?

     

    The answer is similar to what you just read in #4, plus a true understanding of a theology of suffering. We are called to suffer, but if you equate suffering to God distancing Himself from you, then you don’t understand God the way you should (1 Peter 2:18-25).

Madison’s battles were not primarily against the people in her world. Sure, her daddy did her a raw deal. She’s had some other bad things happen to her–caused by others.

Her battles go much deeper than what has been done to her by other humans. She is in a spiritual battle with the evil influences in this evil world. When Satan tempted Christ there would not have been a temptation if Satan could not have come through with what he was offering.

The way we are tempted is when our desires are influenced by Satan and the temptation is real because he can give us our evil desires. This is John’s definition of worldliness in 1 John 2:15-16. It’s our desires that are influenced by evil forces to love things in this world.

When your desires cooperate with evil influences, you can rest assured a stronghold will be setup in your mind. When those lies take your brain captive, then your body will follow suit.

When most of your life is immersed in the things of this world and its influences, then you will be influenced, controlled, and captured by the things of this world–and that warfare will be in your mind.

A Gospel informed mind can easily take renegade thoughts captive to obey Christ. Take the battle in you seriously because your enemy takes it seriously. We should be influenced by the Spirit to desire the things of God.

Healing Prayer: A Definition

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Care, Healing Prayer by Terry Wardle

Healing prayer can be defined as a ministry of the Holy Spirit, moving through a Christian caregiver, bringing the Healing Presence of Jesus Christ in to the place of pain and brokenness within a wounded person.

A ministry of the Holy Spirit: Healing prayer is thoroughly dependent upon the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. He initiates, directs and empowers the entire process.  Thus the recipient of healing and the caregiver must not only understand the work of the Holy Spirit, but be surrendered to His infilling and empowerment each step along the way.

Moving through the Christian caregiver: Healing prayer is not a technique controlled by the caregiver.  It is a transformational ministry of the Holy Spirit, with the caregiver serving as an instrument of His activity.  The spiritual vitality and emotional maturity of the caregiver are important and integrated aspects of this healing process, and must be submitted to the Holy Spirit.

Bringing the Healing Presence of Jesus Christ: People need more than solutions to their problems.  They need to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ in every aspect of their lives.  His Transforming Presence strengthens and satisfies as nothing else, the one true Source of healing for broken people everywhere.  Through healing prayer, the Holy Spirit uses a caregiver to position hurting people for what Jesus alone can give.

Into the place of pain and brokenness: Life experiences often leave deep wounds that compromise personal well-being.  Left undressed, these hurts give birth to false beliefs, emotional upheaval, and behaviors that are ultimately destructive.  During the process of healing prayer, both the source and symptoms of core woundings are brought into the light of Jesus Christ, where He alone can set people free.

The Basic Steps of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  (Information compiled from work by Dr. Sian-Yang Tan, Professor of Psychology – Fuller Seminary Graduate School of Psychology &
Dr. Ed Smith, founder of Theophostic Prayer Ministry; other articles: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1039&context=ccfs_fac_pubs)
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Healing prayer is a  (Christ-centered) Spirit-led, counselor involved, and counselee consented spiritual intervention with the specific intent of healing and breaking the chain of past traumatic, historical memory events that contain lie-based thinking/feeling still influencing present day thinking-feeling-acting.  (NOTE: Healing prayer as outlined in this article is not associated with hypnosis or guided/directed imagery.)

A goal in the use of healing prayer is that it become another important spiritual weapon or tool that you add to your repertoire and use throughout life.  Healing prayer will be useful to you along with other spiritual disciplines such as worship, prayer (conversational, traditional, listening), Scripture reading and study, fasting, meditation, solitude, etc. as you continue to cultivate your faith (Phil 2:12), seek truth and freedom (John 8:32), allow transformation through renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2) and demolish compulsions and strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Sessions incorporating healing prayer involve the following steps:

NOTE:  Initially, this process will include a counselor who interacts with you and the Holy Spirit, as you continue to “practice the Presence of the Lord” and are comfortable interacting with the Lord in this aspect, yourself.

1) The session begins with prayer asking for God’s grace, power, healing, truth, and protection from the evil one.  The understanding is the Holy Spirit is present and leading, and this will be a time of interaction between you and He (and a counselor as present).

2) Within the safe confines of the counseling room (or a quiet, calm place you choose at other times) in the Presence of the Holy Spirit, you allow yourself to relax as you become receptive to God anticipating (but not demanding) that He will move in a curative way.

3) You will focus intently on the emotions you are feeling, a statement (of self-talk) that feels painfully true, or a known traumatic event.  This may surface painful imagery or memories.  Ask yourself the question, “What are the emotions I feel about myself in this present situation which triggered these emotions?”  Feel for the statement(s) that best describes how the situation made you feel and couple the statement with the emotions you feel.  For example, “I feel stupid.  I feel used.  I feel rejected.  I feel hurt.  I feel violated.  I feel abandoned.  I feel inadequate.  I feel unloved…..”

4)  With the emotions and/or lie statement in focus, allow yourself to disconnect from the present and let the Holy Spirit enable you to drift back to the origin and source of the emotional pain.  Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you need to be to find complete release of the lie statement that feels true and is causing the pain. The Lord may have you recall an uncomfortable event from your past childhood, He may keep your focus on the lie statement, or He may have you focus on a more recent troubling event.  Regardless, let your attitude be one of, “Lord, I trust You to take me to the starting point at which I need to be.”

5)  Just let the past memories come to you.  Keep your focus on the feelings and lie statement that feels true.  Do not try to analyze memories or attempt to pick which memories are important or unimportant.  Whatever memory comes to mind, focus on it.  Feel your way through the memory being careful to examine every part.  Sometimes the memory will begin to open up and unfold, revealing things you had long forgotten.  Find out why this memory has an unpleasant feeling about it.

Ask yourself, “How does this memory make me feel?” or “Why do I feel this way in this memory?”

6)  Allow the intensity of the emotions in the memory picture to increase as you face and embrace this lie statement (that feels true) as the truth.  When it is strong and uncomfortable, invite the Lord Jesus to come into the memory.  Simply say to the Lord Jesus something like, “Lord Jesus, I invite you to come into my memory, and I ask You to reveal Your truth to me in whatever way You choose.  What is Your truth, Lord Jesus?”  Don’t prescribe anything for the Lord or try to help Him in any way.  Don’t try to make anything happen.  Let the Lord do what He will.

Allow the intensity of the emotion to increase as much as you can.  In the midst of this darkness, continue to ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you.  He may speak a word to you, give you a visual picture, or simply bring a realization of truth to your awareness.  Whatever you hear, see, or sense from Him, confess it out loud. Even write down your awarenesses for further reflection.

7)  If Jesus does not reveal truth to you fairly soon after focusing on the lie statement and emotional pain, it is most important to remember that, by faith, you can be assured of God’s Presence and intervention.  Remember, that while experiencing God is a wonderful result of this kind of prayer, an experience is not the goal.  Should you not receive a result you thought you might, remember that God invests value in your letting go of control and embracing trust in God, who truly cares and works things out in His good timing.

Additionally, sometimes, emotions such as anger, hate, rage, offense or revenge will be present in the memory or an aspect of what you are dealing with.

If this is the case, ask yourself these questions:

a) Why do I feel these emotions in this memory?  b) Do I really want to be free from these feelings?  If you truly want release, then confess your anger, rage, offense, etc., to Him and admit your powerlessness to overcome it on your own.  Ask Him to release you completely.

After this prayer, go back into the memory or to the lie statement and engage the process again.  If He still does not speak, you may not have discerned the core/main lie.  Look around in the memory for clues to what it might be and continue through the process.

Finally, sometimes there can be an evil presence inhabiting the memory. In such case, you will need to rebuke it and take authority over it as a believer in Christ who has been born anew into the family of God (John 1:10-13) and who serves as a member of a holy and royal priesthood (1 Pet 2: 4-5, 9).

8)  After the Lord has revealed His truth to you, go back to the memory or lie statement and search for any residual negative feelings that might remain.  Make sure there are no bad emotions left.  If you sense some evidence of unpleasant emotion after the Lord has provided truth, there may be another lie still present.  This is not uncommon.  Go back to step one and process this new lie the same way you did the other.  Once you can revisit a past hurtful memory and/or stir up the lie statement and find that a sense of calmness and peace is present based on the truth revealed by the Lord, that core lie has been dispelled.

Additionally, even after the Lord applies His truths to overcome lie-based thinking and negative emotional upheaval, feelings of sadness or grief can remain.  This is normal and healthy given the reality of past losses suffered and not necessarily part of harboring past lies.  If you discern this is the case, bring the sadness and grief to the Lord; allow Him to comfort you and walk with you through this time of healing (Ps. 119: 50, 52; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Remember, healing prayer is a time of faithfully calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for His truth to dispel what has been operating in our lives as a distorted “truth.”  Healing prayer is not just a technique whereby God can be manipulated or the right formula that will bring results.

The Basic Principles of “Healing Prayer”

SOURCE:  Adapted from Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith

Principle OneOur present situation is rarely the true cause of our ongoing emotional pain.

More often than not, the emotional pain we feel in the present tense has been triggered by lie-based thinking, which is rooted in memory.  Lie-based thinking is the false belief one holds in memory learned during a specific life event.  For example, a man raised by an alcoholic parent might believe the lie that he was somehow the cause for the chaos in his home and responsible to resolve it.  This might in turn play out by his being stressed, anxious and over-reactive to life situations in which there was perceived lack of order.  If we blame the present situation for the emotional pain coming from the earlier memory event, we will be trapped in an irresolvable cycle of emotional pain and defeat.  To believe that other people or circumstances are the cause of our emotional upheaval is to empower them to control us emotionally until they change.  When we find freedom from the lie-based thinking, we will no longer be triggered by it and can walk in peace, content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves (Phil. 4:11).

This is a common scenario in marital conflict.  Each partner in the relationship assumes that the pain he or she feels is being caused by the other.  When in reality, each one is merely triggering the other’s lie-based pain. It is difficult to admit that one’s mate is not the source of the pain and that he or she is only exposing what was already there.  It is easier to make someone else the cause than it is to choose to hold myself responsible for the emotional pain in my life.  This is not to say that what the other person may have done was inappropriate or justified, for it may not be.  However, our emotional response often goes much deeper than the current moment.  If what I am feeling is rooted in my own lie-based thinking and I blame another, then I am doomed to suffer in this pain until the other person changes.

Principle TwoEverything we presently know, feel or are mentally aware of has its roots in a first-time experience.

Everything in my brain got there at some point in time.  Therefore, anything that I access in the present tense from my thinking had a point of entry.  When we react negatively to a present situation, our mind is automatically transferring the negative feelings stored in the memory of the original experience to the present moment that is similar to the original experience.  This is a natural neurological process of association that is active during all thinking moments.  Our minds are continually networking and linking our present moment to the information learned in earlier places.  Our minds provide input as to how to respond to a current situation based upon how we have responded to similar situations in the past.  Actually, we respond to the present based upon what we have come to believe to be true within the past events.  This automatic superimposing of past emotional responses onto later similar situations will have great bearing on what behaviors we choose to act out.  We tend to act out the way we feel.  If we act out our present pain, we will likely manifest sinful behavior.  This is not to say that some people will deny the pain and choose to act rightly as opposed to acting out their pain. It is merely suggested that many people, much of the time, tend to act out of the pain that has surfaced.  For those who choose rightly, they just feel bad while doing the right think.  Both places feel pretty miserable.

Principle ThreeIf we try to resolve our present conflicts without resolving our historical lie-based woundedness, we will find only temporary relief for our emotional pain.  However, if we find healing for our past, we can redeem our present.

Some of today’s counseling and ministry methods typically try to change the present behavior of a person by providing new insight and steps of action to modify the behavior they are to carry out.  This is often only a stopgap measure and may not result in true and lasting victory if the underlying lies are not addressed.  This is not to say that discipleship and teaching are not important, for they are.  However, some have been led to believe that controlled behavior is equated with spiritual maturity when in fact many unbelievers are doing a good job of performing in this same arena.  True victory is a work of Christ in us.  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

It is not based on my effort, determination or willpower but is a natural overflow of His work in me.  This does not negate obedience, repentance, discipline or effort on the part of the believer but rather puts all of these practices in a divine perspective.  Salvation is by faith and grace, and so is the walking it out. The apostle Paul declared that we should walk in Christ in the same manner that we have received Him (see Col. 2:6).  Self-control that is provided and maintained as a by-product or fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. 5:23) is different from controlled behavior that is a fruit of man’s effort.  When I know the truth and reside in the peace that Christ gives, my “self” is under control as a work of God in me.  When I am walking in falsehood and experiencing emotional duress, I have to control myself to keep from acting out on the painful urges.  Controlled behavior is better than sinful choices, but self-control provided by the Holy Spirit is best.

Principle FourSince many of the negative emotions we currently feel are reflections of the past, they provide opportunities for the wounds of our lives to be exposed and thus for healing to occur.

It is difficult to address that which has not been identified.  God will either allow or orchestrate our surroundings to bring us under duress and testing in order to expose what is our true core belief system (see 1 Pet. 4:12-13).  It requires little effort to perform at a high level of “spirituality” when things are going well with us.  However, when the fire comes, our impurities are made evident and whatever is on the inside (our true belief system) is made evident.  These impurities, falsehoods that we believe, will express themselves through our emotional state and consequential behavior.  What we truly believe is made evident through our feelings.  As I have already stated, we will feel what we believe.  If we choose to follow the smoke trail of our stirred-up emotions back to their original memory source, we may discover the lie-based belief causing the emotional pain.  It is here we can find complete freedom from the emotional pain produced by these lies as we receive truth from the Spirit of Christ.

Principle FiveTo facilitate emotional healing, we need to identify the three basic elements in the healing process:  (1) the present emotional pain, (2) the original memory container and (3) the original lie(s) implanted in the memory container.

The present emotional pain is the feeling that surfaces in our current situation when a memory-based lie is triggered.  The original memory container is the original event in which the lie-based pain was implanted and stored.  The original lie is the belief that was implanted in the original painful memory causing the present pain.  Each of these three elements plays a part in our thinking, feeling, and behavioral responses to life.  The present emotional pain is an indicator that a lie-based belief is being exposed.  All lies have their original root in a memory source.  When the lies contained in these memory sources are identified and exposed to the light of Christ, freedom can follow.

Principle SixPeople are in emotional bondage due to two basic factors – belief and choice.  These two factors are rooted in the context of deception.

This is a very important concept.  Belief and choice are the foundation of everything about me.  Because I believe the things I do, I make choices.  These choices maintain the perpetual cycle of bondage in which I suffer.  However, freedom also involves these two primary factors.  As I come to know God’s truth (belief), I am able to make different choices.  Freedom occurs as I receive the truth from the Lord and then choose to walk in it.  The one additional element in this truth process is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who grants us new thoughts, leading tot he knowledge of His truth that allows us to come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil  (2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Principle SevenWhen we believe a lie, the outcome will often have much the same consequences as though it were true.

The power of a lie is such that if we believe it to be the truth, it will play itself out in our lives as though it were true.  Our belief dictates much of our present reality.  Therefore, as my thinking changes, so does my reality.  When the Spirit of Christ brings truth into my thinking, He replaces the lie with truth, and I find genuine release and peace where I once only knew pain.

It is common for a person to contain opposing beliefs at the same time.  I can believe that I am forgiven for a sin in my life (logical truth) and still feel shameful when I think about what I have done (experiential knowledge).  The belief producing the shame has the real power in my life and is also that which will produce the most consequence.  My emotional state will point you to my true belief system.  It does not matter that what I believe is false; it will have much the same outcomes as though it were true.

Principle EightTo be free of the lies we believe, we must identify and own the lies rather than suppress or deny we believe them before we can be free from them.

Our natural inclination is to deny that we believe lies and to bury the apparent pain they are producing.  If we do this, however, we will maintain a cycle of perpetual defeat in our lives.  As long as lies remain embedded in our minds, they will continue to surface as pain every time they are triggered by situations similar to their original implantation.  If I believe that I am worthless and this lie causes me to feel such, I may choose to deny this belief and perform with “confidence” and become an overachiever with notable success.  On the outside this appears to be a good thing, but the purpose of the behavior is to deny and bury what I rally hold to be true, thus keeping me in bondage.  Freedom requires that I acknowledge and take responsibility for what I believe and feel its corresponding emotional pain.  I must choose to lay down my feeble defenses and attempts to deny my pain or to project the pain onto others or onto life circumstances.  In this honest context, God is released (by my will) to free me.

Principle NineIn the midst of our “darkness,” we must come to realize how utterly bound we are to the lie and how helpless we are to overcome its debilitating grip on our lives apart from God’s divine intervention.

As we experience the emotional pain in the memories, we realize that we are helpless, we are trapped in our emotional bondage and we cannot make the pain go away.  This is the same place people in the New Testament were when Jesus healed them physically.  It is the same place Paul found himself when Jesus spoke truth into his painful circumstance when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

When we try to break free through self-effort and working hard, we will eventually fail.  We have no more ability in ourselves to overcome the sin and lies in our lives today than we did before the Cross.  Christ in us is our power to overcome, not self-effort.  Freedom is not a “you and me, God” process, but an “I am weak, but He is strong” realization.

Principle TenNo person, including ourselves, is capable of talking us out of the lies we believe.  We will be free only when we receive the truth from the One who is Truth (see John 16:12).

God is not limited in the ways he chooses to deliver His truth to us.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is but one method He uses.  However, much of the training seminars and self-help books being written are based on the idea that if a person can be helped to see what is wrong in his or her thinking and be provided with truth, he or she can then choose to replace false thinking with the truth and change his or her life.  Cognitively receiving truth may have little or no impact on releasing a person from the lie-based emotional pain in his or her life unless it is delivered to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is incorrect to assume that people can walk in victory by making right choices and trying hard.  Self-effort and controlled behavior can achieve moment-to-moment abstinence but not true victory. Such thinking lies at the heart of works-sanctification and is the basis for most other world religions.  The truth is, most people already logically know why they are in pain and logically hold the truth they need, yet they are still in emotional misery and still cannot find their way to freedom.  However, when the Holy Spirit is speaking to people who are listening, glorious things always happen.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry simply encourages people to listen as the Lord reveals His truth to their hearts and minds.

One of the clearest passages in the Bible that describes this process is 2 Timothy 2:24-26.  Here the Apostle Paul gives instruction on helping someone who is believing falsehood.  “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, [if God perhaps will grant them repentance.  The original meaning of repentance being a change of thinking], so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

Notice that we as ministers or “servants of the Lord” are called to teach and correct those who are in opposition (this is discipleship), but it is God who accomplishes the task of setting them free.  For until “God grants them repentance [change of thinking]” they cannot come to “know the truth.”  It is important to note that the word translated “repentance” here is not necessarily “turning from sin” as it is often understood but rather the changing of one’s thinking.  The Dictionary of Biblical Languages, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon all define repentance as “change of mind which results in change of life (style).  The word “know” here means to embrace experientially as opposed to having just logical mental assent.  This is the same word that Mary, the mother of Jesus, used when she said to the angel that she had not “known” or had intercourse with any man.

We ministers have an important role in leading people to the place where they are willing to submit themselves unto God and receive from Him.  However, unless He grants them repentance or a change of thinking, they will never be free.  When God grants new thought, people come to “know the truth” and “come to their senses” and thereby “escape the snare of the devil” (the snare is the lie-based thinking).  The words translated “coming to their senses” can also be understood to mean to “sober up” or see clearly.  As the Lord grants “change of thinking” the raging swell of pain becomes a placid calm.

Principle ElevenWhen we know the truth experientially, having received truth from God in our memory experience, we can walk in genuine maintenance-free victory in these areas of our lives.

The areas of our minds that are renewed with truth will no longer be stirred up with lie-based pain.  Since our emotional pain is a primary motivator for our inappropriate behavior, we are able to walk in permanent and maintenance-free victory in these specific places where our lies and painful emotions are no longer present.  Knowing the truth experientially frees me to walk in my present righteousness so that I might experientially agree with the Apostle Paul who declared, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; [which I tend to do when I am emotionally stirred and in pain] but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God [which is effortless when I am walking in the truth and peace of the Spirit]” (Rom. 6:12-13).  When I say maintenance-free victory I am referring to the fruits of the Holy Spirit that are produced not through my self-effort but as a natural by-product of the abiding truth of Christ and His residing peace.

Principle TwelveIn times of crisis or in emotionally charged life situations, our experiential knowledge tends to override our logical truth.

Experiential knowledge (not necessarily truth) is that which I have come to believe through experience.  This knowledge is primarily my interpretation of the experience more so that the details of the event.  For example, if I was abused as a child, my experiential knowledge may be that I believe that I am dirty and shameful.  Logical truth is that which is confirmed truth learned through cognitive processes such as personal study and biblical instruction.  The power the experiential knowledge holds over the logical truth is in the painful emotion, which is often attached to the knowledge learned in experience.  I can know logically that God loves me and has forgiven me of my sins and yet not be able to shake the bad feelings of worthlessness, rejection, self-hate or shame attached to the lie-based thinking in my experiential knowledge held in memory.  When these lies are triggered, I have no choice but to feel their pain.  Some suggest that we should just deny these feelings and walk in victory.  Although some practice this, most would confess that this approach is lacking joy and fulfillment.

It is difficult to appropriate logical biblical truth if what we have learned experientially is contrary to our logically held truth.  But as we go to the lie-based sources, discern the lie and receive the experiential truth God has for us, we can readily appropriate the logical truth of Scripture we comprehended only cognitively before.  It is easy to logically believe that we are loved and fully accepted by God when we experientially hear Him tell us “I love you” in our painful memory experiences.  This is not to say that we should not choose to obey the truth and do what is right even while in the midst of our emotional pain.  However, while obedience in the midst of lie-based pain has merit and is praiseworthy, it is better to be able to obey from the heart without having lie-based pain in our face.  This is effortless victory that comes when the knowledge of our experience lines up with what we already know logically.

Principle ThirteenLie-based pain can only be removed as the lies causing the pain are replaced with truth, whereas sin-based pain can only be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.

The only cure for sin is the Cross.  This pain is different from the pain one carries as a consequence of lie-based thinking.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry does not minimize the role sin plays in the life of a person.  If we sin, we will and should fee pain. However, it is not an either-or but a both situation.  The writer of Hebrews said that we must “lay aside every encumbrance [weighty things and lie-based pain] and [both] the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).

I am not suggesting that Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is the only way to accomplish this.  But this is a systematic way of leading people to the place where God has always been.  He resides in truth and rewards those who seek Him.  This is nothing new in relation to what God has been doing within His people all along.  Inner Healing (Theophostic) Prayer Ministry is merely an avenue or process for effectively appropriating one aspect of God’s process of mind renewal and sanctification.

The Safe Place

(Adapted from Strong Winds & Crashing Waves by Terry Wardle, 83-85)

A Spirit-led exercise to practice the presence of the Lord

Communicating truth by creating word pictures is employed all through Scripture. Isaiah said that God gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).  The Psalmist talks about being covered by the wings of God and finding refuge under his feathers (Psalm 91:4).  In both cases, the Lord was speaking metaphorically, creating a picture in the reader’s mind so that he or she could better comprehend God’s protective care.  Creating a safe place within is a way that the Spirit communicates truth through a surrendered and sanctified imagination.  When the Spirit does speak, the truth will always be consistent with the teachings of Scripture, which is in itself the test for what one is seeing, sensing, and hearing during the exercise.

The safe place exercise is a follows:

* Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

* Take several deep breaths, letting them out slowly.

* Begin to whisper words of thanks and praise to the Lord.

* After a few moments, invite the Holy Spirit to take over your imagination.

* Ask the Spirit to create within your mind a safe place where you can meet the Lord.  It may be an imaginary place or somewhere you have actually been before that is special, like a cabin, beach, or spot along a quiet stream.

* Rest there for as long as you like, enjoying all the surroundings.  If you experience some dissonance or distraction, ask the Holy Spirit to take it away in the name of Jesus.

* When ready, invite the Lord to join you in that place.  If that frightens you, ask him to come as the Lamb, or simply allow you to feel his presence.

* Once there, notice the warmth of his love.   Let it soak into your being.  If you are allowing Christ to be there, notice his posture, eyes, and extended arms.  Draw close to him if you desire.

* When ready, tell Jesus how you feel about him.  Then ask how he feels about you.  He may respond with words or maybe actions.  Either way, experience his acceptance and delight.

* If you are ready to conclude the exercise, simply spend a few moments in thanks and praise.

* Take a few deep breaths, letting them out slowly.

* Amen

The Safe Place exercise may take time to develop as a [spiritual] skill.  Many believers, accustomed to a more cognitive expression of the Christian life may have never experienced the Lord in this way.  The idea of giving the Lord access to their “creative imagination” might seem like a foreign concept.  It is important that the believer practice this spiritual exercise every day.  This will be not only a place of peace with the Lord, but it also will be the entree into experiencing the Lord in the healing of past traumatic woundings.

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