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George Hartwell M.Sc. is a Life Transformation Therapist with over 30 years experience in seeing marriage relationships healed and individual lives transformed.
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God's healing flows through the cross of Jesus. Through the power of the death of the Lamb of God we become whole and holy. Sin is forgiven. God and people are reconciled. When we seek healing from God it is through the death of Jesus. Inner healing - that is emotional healing - depends on the cross.
John and Paula Sandford grounded inner and emotional healing through prayer therapy in confession and forgiveness of sin. They said that inner healing is nothing but the confession and forgiveness of sins. This tied inner healing in to the cross. This position also protected the inner healing movement from those critics who picked away with various criticisms.
My position is that healing flows from a heart encounter with Jesus - the Way, The Truth and the Life. A prayer therapy session may or may not make explicit the role of Jesus as Savior offering us forgiveness. The flow from confession to forgiveness may be explicit (stated clearly) or it may remain implicit (unstated).
Use confession and forgiveness:
If guilt is an obvious issue that needs to be dealt with in the open,
If it is important to have an opportunity to receive and experience the love of God because the person does not feel loved by God,
If you need an opportunity to learn how this person listens to God and responds to listening prayer. It is very early in the counselling experience and you do not know their listen to God style.
Forgiveness can be a choice 'from the head' and also a response from the heart. Forgiveness as a choice is good but the head does not heal the heart. Our choice to forgive does not erase the memory, change the belief or resolve the feelings. Only an encounter with God has the capacity to heal the heart.
My role as a prayer therapist is to see lives be transformed and hearts healed. That will not happen if I work at the level of forgiveness as a choice (head level). I must allow Jesus to minister forgiveness to the person. To do this, I must set up a Listening Prayer Encounter.
Remember that the dialogue with Jesus must be from your heart. Express your feelings from your heart. Be honest, direct and personal. Do not try to control the process by active thinking, doubting and analyzing. This is not the way to encounter the risen Christ. In Luke the risen Christ says: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your minds?" The risen Christ says to Thomas: "Stop doubting and believe." So let your mind observe - see, hear and sense - what is happening, but stay open and ready to encounter the risen Christ in your spirit.
It will help to picture a place where you can be safe and comfortable in meeting with Jesus. Picture yourself in that safe place talking with Jesus. Tell him what you have lost. Tell him how you feel. Share with him your heart feelings.
Notice what Jesus does. Jesus has love and understanding. With Jesus you are safe. You can be yourself. Confession is about being open and honest about who you are and how you feel.
After you have made your confession - be still. Notice what happens. Let your heart be comforted by Jesus. Listen to any confirming verse, thought or melody that comes to your mind.
One way to do this is have the person speak to Jesus after imagining a meeting with Him. This can be done privately (silently) with Jesus because it is likely that they already discussed the issue with the counsellor.
I want my client to ask Jesus a simple question: "Do you forgive me?"
They are to ask this to Jesus in silent prayer of the heart (in an imagined scene). I do not accept them answering for Jesus: "oh. I already know what He would say. Of course He forgives me. etc." I do not accept "I think He would say (fill in the blank)." I want them to ask Jesus and then LISTEN.
Why is this? My role as a prayer therapist is to see lives be transformed and hearts healed. That will not happen if I work at the level of forgiveness as a choice (head level). I must allow Jesus to minister forgiveness to the person. The head may 'know' the answer. Still the heart needs to 'hear' the answer to be healed. "He sent His Word and healed them." Psalm 107:20.
Notice how you feel. Let the good feelings sink in. Stay a while with Jesus. This is your time - let your heart receive. Let both the feelings sink into your heart. While still experiencing your heart feelings ask yourself: "What is true? What have I learned?" Be still to let that message sink in to your heart.
Give thanks to God. Make note of what happened. Remember the message.