Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
© George Hartwell M.Sc., March 2004, www.HealMyLife.com, (416) 234-1850
I believe that flexibility in Listening Prayer Therapy is needed for the following reasons:
1. To allow the practitioner to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit,
2. To respect the client's wishes re what they want to experience,
3. To respond to people's unique issues, sensitivities and ways of learning and listening to God.
I avoid inflexible in Listening Prayer Therapy in fear that:
1. A lack of flexibility often means the person ministering is stopped when a client gets blocked at a certain point.
2. I don't want to follow a fixed set of rules and have to say: "Sorry, I can't help you." I find that unacceptable as a professional
3. If I was inflexible then I might not even stop and ask the Holy Spirit: "What do we do now?" I prefer you to have options and to keep moving.
What are the options when someone in listening prayer says: "I don't get anything?" You have many options. I would suggest some of the following:
1.Stay quiet without responding for a little while to see if they add anything more,
2.Ask: "What did happen?" You may amplify with: "Did you see, sense, remember or think anything while you were listening?"
3.You may go on to something else. Rather just 'listening to God' ask them to picture a scene where they are with Jesus. Ask them to imagine telling Jesus about the situation. When they do this ask them what Jesus did while they were telling Him. If they say that He was listening attentively then have them ask Jesus a specific question and see what He says.
When involved in listening to God, be sensitive to the three listening styles. These three listening styles are like our three learning styles.
1.Some of us learn what we hear and can hear God speaking. (Audio Learners)
2.Some of us learn what we see - for example, we like to read something for ourselves. Visual Learners use their imagination to see or visualize things.
3.Some of us "sense" or "feel" for what God is communicating to us. We like to respond with our bodies in dance or art. We are the Kinesthetic learners.
1.Previously, a focus on the sin of bitterness, on forgiving and the confession and forgiveness of our own sin patterns was at the forefront.
2.With Ed Smith's TheoPhostic approach there is a focus on getting into the memory through feelings, discovering the core beliefs and asking for Jesus' truth.
3.Some schools focus on deliverance prayer and teach our authority in Christ to cast out demons. The result is a power encounter approach to deliverance that, often, turns in to a tiring power struggle.
In Listening Prayer Therapy there are a variety of approaches to inner healing. At the core is one main principle. The main principle is that God is the source of healing. The process is to get us to a healing encounter with God. An encounter with God is healing.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit - God's three in one nature adds diversity to healing encounters. A client who doesn't want an encounter with Jesus or the Heavenly Father still has the Holy Spirit.
Where all relationships are extremely painful I have had a person imagine a safe place in her case it was by a calm lake. I am prepared to start there with God's presence in nature and God's peace in the lake.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd: make a picture of the first line of the 23rd Psalm. How would you picture a good shepherd? Picture yourself as a sheep with that good shepherd.
Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. This provides more flexibility than just Jesus we need your truth. Don't get locked in to one aspect of Jesus.
1.Jesus as The Way can deal with our habit patterns and inner vows,
2.Jesus as The Truth dispels our core beliefs where they have been wrong beliefs,
3.Jesus as The Life is invited in to replace unhealthy feelings that linger in a memory.
If a person has experienced deep levels of trauma or early rejection or abandonment - like being premature and put in an incubator - it is wise not to rush in to healing of wounds in specific memories. Instead, there needs to be times of soaking, times of receiving God's love. I would suggest that you use a listening prayer based on comfort, safety or rejuvenation.
COMFORT: A time of comfort is healing if an individual has experienced deep losses (grief) of deep wounding (fear). Imagine a safe place where one could talk to Jesus. Describe the scene first; then see yourself there with Jesus. Finally imagine sharing your pain with Jesus and Jesus comforting you.
SAFETY: Ask Jesus to take you to a safe place. Jesus may supply a scene of great safety. Jesus took one client into a round space ship type bubble where she could be safe just with Him.
REJUVENATION: A natural setting may be a good place to start. See yourself alone by a lake or in another natural setting. Relax and enter into the different aspects of this scene.
Releasing Anger: If your anger blocks you from listening to God - especially if you have anger at God, then picture yourself by a calm lake. You pick up a stone and tell God that this stone represents my anger. Picture yourself throwing the rock into the lake, which represents God's peace.
Do not rush yourself or people through these scenes. Take time to soak in the comfort, the love, the safety and the rejuvenation. When people have taken time to enter in and as they open their eyes I ask them how that was. If they don't say how they feel I will ask them "How do you feel?" If they feel good I will ask them to thank Jesus.
The results of the prayers of comfort, safety and rejuvenation are developing trust. It is important that a trust bond be developed with God for work to proceed. Take time for this trust to develop and do not be in a hurry. Your inner child may need some positive experiences.
People who have been deeply traumatized often have been exposed to more pain that their spirit - the inner person - can tolerate. God provides some escapes like electricity blowing a fuse. If these emotional escapes have been necessary then the person will, at times, be out of touch with their feelings. It is important to take time to bring comfort and safety to such persons before doing more direct healing of the memories.
The TheoPhostic approach to healing of a memory takes the route of:
1.following the painful feelings back to the memories and
2. entering the pain there to
3. uncover the wrong beliefs then
4.asking for Jesus truth. What does one do if there is too much pain or if a person decides they are not ready to face the memory? In Listening Prayer Therapy, I honor the client's request and follow another route.
One flexible alternate route would be to ask God "what did I believe?" without entering the memory and increasing the pain of the client. Once the painful beliefs are uncovered then one can ask for God's truth. This is a less painful route when one cannot face the painful scene. It is best to respect people's feelings about this.
For some people, it is even too painful to confront the beliefs. A flexible alternative, for that person, it to find a way to encounter God and listen for God's healing truth for them. God's truth and love are the source of healing. We just go directly to God.
Sometimes positive memories can be used. I have used listening prayer around a child's dedication, Christening or baptism to allow a time for the adult to commit the baby into Jesus' care. This allows one to hear God's word for the child and puts the baby into God's care. Listening prayer can reinforce the power and presence of god in such a sacrament.
One could imagine Jesus baptizing the person as a child or as an adult. This represents leaving the old identity behind and receiving a new identity - represented in the picture as fresh white robes. I will ask the person to have Jesus pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit at the time of this imagined baptism. If there are several persons present I will suggest we join in and lay hands on the person to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
So you see that with all this flexibility we don't need to get stuck, we can be lead by God; we can be sensitive to the person's needs and requests. The therapist needs to be listening to God as they guide the process of Listening Prayer Therapy. It is essential to begin a session with a prayer for God's guidance during the session.
Blessings, George Hartwell <><
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