George's HealMyLife book
- a manuscript in process on Listening Prayer Therapy - Chapter Five
Just copy this page into Microsoft Word, edit and comment, and e-mail to me:
George Hartwell M.Sc.
We established in Chapter 4 that there are times in prayer therapy sessions when we need to encourage a client to confess sin aloud and to ask God for forgiveness. Now I want to outline the Listening Prayer Therapy way to provide the heart experience of forgiveness.
In my practice of Listening Prayer Therapy, an imagined encounter with Jesus opens the heart to receive a revelation from God which produces a heart-felt experience of forgiveness by God. This experience of heart forgiveness from God brings comfort, deep relief from guilt and healing to the heart.
Agnes Sanford often taught those she prayed for to use pictures to get in touch with God. She asked the boy with the bone that would not heal to picture God's healing light coming in to his leg and to picture what activities he would like to do when his leg had healed. She knew that the unconscious (heart, emotional brain) aligns to a picture of the goal. She wanted positive language and pictures in the minds and imaginations of those she was praying with.
A woman, in the later years of her life, carried depression and guilt from a minor sexual incident when an early teen. Agnes knew better than to try to convince her not to feel guilty. Therapists had tried to tell her that she did not need to feel guilty about the incident but that did not relive her life-long depression.
Agnes held her own words of assurance in check and found a way that the woman could hear something straight from God. She knew that a revelation from God would have more power and authority in the woman's heart than her own attempt to assure her of forgiveness.
Therefore, she asked the lady to imagine going for a walk in the fields with Jesus, confessing her sin to him and asking forgiveness of him. The woman was able to picture meeting with Jesus, asking for forgiveness and then experienced Jesus speaking to her of God's love and forgiveness.
Finally, the woman had the joy of knowing that Jesus had forgiven her. By experiencing forgiveness, the women's life-long depression was lifted.
What Agnes Sanford did was invite this woman into a story that involved herself and Jesus. By using this imagined story, the woman was speaking Biblical language and God's preferred language. God sent Jesus to incarnate God in human form. Jesus is God's best story. When the woman pictured Jesus and asked about forgiveness, she was talking God's language. We all know the story of Jesus death on the cross for our sins. Forgiveness of sins is part of the Jesus story. In these imagined stories, the Holy Spirit often speaks up in the story character of Jesus and there is a powerful revelation of God that penetrates the heart and heals lives.
When she hears Jesus assure her of forgiveness of sins, of course it is going to speak to her heart. She is speaking heart language, involving Jesus who died for her sins and asking him who is God incarnate for forgiveness of a particular sin. It is very likely that the Holy Spirit used the story to speak through Jesus in the story. She received a breakthrough that no therapy or human assurance had yet been able to produce.
Agnes was a master of the language of the heart. She knew to use a story and to use the woman's own imagination. She had been guiding Christians and nonChristians in healing prayer for a long time and made effective use of people's imagination for this.
Agnes found a way for the deep truth of the cross and the forgiveness of sins to speak to the guilt in the heart of this woman. She knew that this Christian woman knew intellectually that Jesus died on the cross for her sins.
If you and I are to become masters of inner healing through listening prayer therapy, then we, too, must use biblical picture language, imagined story and expect revelation word of God to breakthrough for our clients. In this book I will give you repeated examples of how to use the picture language of the heart so that the Holy Spirit is able to communicate God's word to the heart and heal your life. I invite you to master this skill with me.
I have designed the prayers in this book as encounters with Jesus. Their purpose is to allow you to receive life-changing revelation from God.
When we open our imagination in prayer to the Holy Spirit to picture an encounter with Jesus, the resulting revelation may be a subtle as a feeling of comfort. It may involve hearing Jesus speaking God's truth to deal with wrong thought. It might involve seeing our inner child playing with Jesus and having the fun we missed out on in childhood. The healing revelation can come through in any of these forms because we have individual giftedness in learning and in hearing from God.
'Listening' in these prayers is a broad category that includes hearing what Jesus is saying, seeing what he is doing or feeling his presence as comforting.
Forgiveness experienced, forgiveness received (heard) at the heart level is life changing. For our heart to be assured of the love of God is emotional healing. To know with assurance, that our sins are forgiven brings great relief. In the process our inner barriers to communication with God will come down.
Step One - Verbal Confession: In your conversation your partner has confessed their sin. You ask them to pray aloud for forgiveness from God.
Step Two - Forgiveness Scene:Talk to the client about picturing meeting with Jesus to confess to him directly. This may allow the other to receive a revelation from God through Listening Prayer of God's forgiveness.
In this part of the prayer I do not required that my client speak aloud. I ask him or her to describe the setting where they will meet with Jesus. I ask them to invite Jesus to join them. The rest of the imagined scene does not need to be aloud. This part can be in my client's imagination - just between them and Jesus. I will ask them to let me know when they are finished. At that point, I will ask for an account of the details.
There are many ways to set up the forgiveness scene. I will provide some possible scenarios below.
Step Three: If your person does not specifically ask for forgiveness the suggest they ask a specific question to Jesus that requires a response. Tell them to ask Jesus, "Do you forgive me?" or "Does God forgive me?"
Different Scenarios to use for Meeting with Jesus
Possible scenes to use are the following:
1.You are walking with the Risen Christ like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Tell Him where you fell short. Ask Him "Do you forgive me?" Wait, watch, listen, and sense His response.
2.I might say, "If you were to meet Jesus as you along the pathway of your life, and if you were to ask him to forgive you, what would He say?" After my client's response, I say, "Okay. Close your eyes and go through that scene in your mind's eye. Do not rush. Wait and watch for Jesus' response. Let what he says sink in. See how it feels."
3.Imagine you are a young child coming to Jesus for him to lay hands on you and bless you. Ask Him if you can be forgiven for your sins. Wait and watch for his response.
4.Your client may have a preferred imagined 'safe place' to meet with Jesus or they might want to create such a place. Have them describe in some detail where they would feel safe and comfortable, then use that setting. Just add Jesus.
Step Four: Report to your prayer guide what happened. What did Jesus say or do? What did you sense or feel?
Step Five: Receiving the healing. It is important to take some time to rehearse in your heart what Jesus said. Have you heard of 'soaking prayer?' Now is time to let his truth soak in. Take some time right after the forgiveness scene to hold it to your heart. Let it sink in.
Step Six: Asking about Feelings. Therapist; at the right time asks, "How does that feel?" Feelings area good sign that the heart has been touched. By asking about feelings, you are staying at the heart level. The longer we stay at the heart level, the more this sinks in, the better for the client.
Step Seven: Consolidate the Gain. In some cases I will go further if there is significant impact of this exercise.
a)I ask about the feelings that the person has after the healing encounter with Jesus.
b)I create identity affirmations from feeling statements. If, after a healing encounter with Jesus, a client says they feel peaceful, then the identity affirmation is, "I am at peace," or "I am peaceful." Psychologically and "I am" statement is a description of identity of who I am.
c)I ask them to imagine what life would be like if they lived with the truth of what Jesus said, with the feelings that flowed from that and aware of these new truths about their identity - the "I am" statements.
Finish: Then, finish with prayers of thanks for what has happened and in your prayers restate the revelation received and thank God for it.
Consolidation of Identity Change
With any encounter with Jesus there is a shift in core beliefs and core identity. False thoughts, beliefs lodged in the heart, will be dislodged. The events of the past, even trauma are being replaced. The healing scene from the encounter with Jesus takes precedence over the memory in the emotional brain. The feelings from the healing encounter replace the feelings generated by the memory of the past event.
You want to consolidate that shift in identity be letting the feelings soak in, by giving thanks for it and by remembering it. For homework, ask the client to review and rehearse this scene, the feelings and the significant truths stated in the 'I am' form. They are to do this daily, at the start of each day, and to picture going through the day in this attitude.
The therapist may use the scene, the feelings and God's truth statements - stated in the 'I am' form - as a basis for some projecting forward. Here the therapist asks, "What would it be like tomorrow to go through your day feeling like this?" The person receiving healing now rehearses the identity change in their imagination.
Each time you do this, notice what feelings are associated with rehearsing it forward. Some of these can be made into a further description of the identity change and put as "I am" statements.
The picture is held in mind, the feelings remembered, the words of Jesus rehearsed to strengthen the new identity. As you practice this scene, as your encounter with Jesus is remembered, as you meditate on God's truth for you, and as new feelings sink in to your heart, your new identity is being consolidated.
Listening Prayer therapy aims to make effective at the heart level theological truths that we know in our heads. Very often our knowledge head deep and our heart (unconscious, emotional brain) does not believe it. Only heart knowledge can change heart beliefs.
We might know that God forgives us but until we hear it for ourselves directly and as revelation from God it does not heal our lives. Revelation from God is that living word spoken of in Hebrews 4:12 that is sharper than a two-edged sward and effective in matters of soul, heart and spirit.
You are invited to read and comment on early version of George's
HealMyLife book - a manuscript in process on Listening Prayer
Therapy. Just copy this page into Microsoft Word, edit and
comment, and e-mail to me:
Print off for personal use only. Do not publish. © George Hartwell, Mississauga, Canada, 2011
George Hartwell M.Sc. is a Christian counselor with a masters degree in clinical psychology, 30 years experience and who integrates prayer therapy into his counseling practice.
To learn all About George or his professional practice see: George's Professional web site, Christian marriage counselling, Christian phone therapy, and Christian Marriage Retreats.