SOURCE: Adapted from Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer by Edward Smith
Principle One: Our 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 Two: Everything 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 Three: If 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 Four: Since 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 Five: To 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 Six: People 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 Seven: When 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 Eight: To 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 Nine: In 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 Ten: No 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 Eleven: When 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 Twelve: In 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 Thirteen: Lie-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.