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LISTEN TO GOD - a safe, healthy way of doing Christian inner healing using  Listening Prayer Therapy

By George Hartwell M.Sc.. © 2002, www.HealMyLife.com, Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario (416) 234-1850.  #125 1454 Dundas Street.  More about George Hartwell M.Sc. 

Part A:  Some history: Three Generations of Inner Healing.

Part B:  Some specific inner healing prayers using listening prayer therapy:

1 Put it on the Altar - a prayer of letting go
2 Grief and Comfort - prayer therapy in grief and loss
3 Releasing Anger - creative viualization of releasing anger
4 Letter to God - a way to practice listening to God
5 Burden Exchange - letting go of an old identity
6 Projecting the Healing Forward in Life
7 Cleanse the Temple - letting go of idols (including People Pleasing)
8 Peace with Heaven - opening up communication with God
9 Healing of Trauma
10 Listening Prayer for Dreams
11 The Children's Garden
12 Listening Prayer Journal

Some history: Three Generations of Inner Healing

Agnes Sanford - The Pioneer = Generation One

I consider Agnes Sanford and her generation to be the pioneers of inner healing - Generation One. John and Paula Sandford, who followed up on her work, and their generation, I regard as 'Generation Two.'

So, for me, Agnes Sanford is the grandmother of inner healing. It all started when Agnes Sanford was asked to pray for someone with sudden rages. She did so and they were healed. This convinced her that healing prayer can be applied to emotional issues. This is what became known as inner healing - transforming early memories through healing prayer.

This discovery launched the Inner Healing Movement. Agnes Sanford wrote "Healing Light" and lead schools of prayer ministry for ministers. She worked with the mainline churches in the 1930's before there was any awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit or answers to healing prayer. In her time the mainline church began to discover the power of prayer and to be more open to healing prayer. This was pioneer work with a church that had no belief in healing or understanding of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says to "honour your mother and father that it may go well with you." Therefore I need to acknowledge and express my gratitude to this pioneer - one of my mentors in inner healing (through books, tapes and a conference in Calgary, Alberta) - Agnes Sanford.

John and Paula Sandford - Elijah House (Generation Two)

John and Paula Sandford taught that inner healing owed its power to the confession and forgiveness of sin. They discovered behaviour patterns, such as Performance Orientation, that were rooted in our sinful reactions. They taught that heart transformation depends upon Christ's provision for the forgiveness of sins on the cross.

The Sandfords wrote in the 1970's at the time of the move of the Holy Spirit in the mainline churches. They wrote to those in the church who were discovering the work of the Holy Spirit. This was called the charismatic movement.

The Sandfords wrote to protect people from getting out of balance. They carefully avoided focusing on the demonic and kept their readers focused on the work of forgiveness of sins and healing through confession and forgiveness. This was a time when the charismatic movement was exploring with mixed fruit about deliverance and spiritual warfare.

The Sandfords were diligent to keep the inner healing movement on sound evangelical theology. They provided a correction to some of Agnes Sanford's language that communicated to her generation but would be misunderstood by their generation. The Sandfords provided balance by keeping the revelation of inner healing grounded in Biblical concepts and sound evangelical theology. You will find this especially in the opening chapters of "Transformation of the Inner Man."

The reason for some of their caution is that inner healing came under attack by some Christians in USA that made accusations that this was 'new age.' Since much of Jesus ministry was based on healing and miracles, Satan did all he could to discredit healing, the work of the Holy Spirit and deliverance. The Jewish religious scholars of Jesus time accused him of healing by the power of Beelzebub (Lord of the flies.) Now 2,000 years have passed and the same accusations were flying.

Any use of the imagination has been vulnerable to the familiar attack (slander, accusation, fear) that it is "New Age." Of course saying it is "New Age" scares Christians because it sounds like some devilish cult. Jesus said they would treat His followers the same way they treated Him and here it is: the slanderous accusation of being of the devil.

Please note that your imagination and your ability to have dreams and visions was note created by the fallen angel - the devil - nor does it belong to him. There is nothing inheritantly evil or sinful with using the faculties God gave us. I value the imagination as the door to heaven. Almost every time my clients use their imaginations to visualize Jesus we get in touch with Jesus! Let me suggest we call the imagination the glory gate.

The imagination is not the only tool that we use in Listening Prayer Therapy. I have found it powerful and effective in the work of inner healing and life transformation. Don't let the devil steal the tools God has given us. We need all the tools we can get!

My next mentors in inner healing were John and Paula Sandford - through tapes, books and some full week long courses. I taught many from my notes and their books: Restoring the Christian Family, Transformation of the Inner Man and Healing of the Wounded Spirit. Their concepts have become second nature to me. My thanks and salute to John and Paula Sandford.

Leanne Payne - Generation Two

Leanne Payne is widely recognized as a leading figure in the ministry of healing prayer with a central focus on the healing ministry of listening to God. She says of her own life: "I watched as He not only mended my broken heart but united it with His." She encourages us to see the invisible with the eyes of your heart and to hear the inaudible  with the ears of your heart. To come in this way into God's healing presence is to enter a haven of god's love and care.

Leanne also encourages us to live in the reality of "Practicing the Presence of God" - to live in incarnational reality.

Leanne's ministry has a significant impact in correcting errors in practice and theology. Hers the first warning I heard against unhealthy spiritual warfare practices and I am deeply grateful for that correction of a very dangerous prayer practice on my part. "Wrong Ways to Do Battle" is Chapter 14 of  her book "Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer" (Crossway Books, 1991, ISBN 0-89107-625-5).

Leanne Payne has provided significant insight into the roots causes of sexual identity confusion and homosexuality. For example, the opening chapter of "The Healing of the Homosexual" (Crossway Books, 1984, ISBN 0-89107-330-2) is "Homosexuality as an Identity Crisis." Her books "Broken Image" and "Crisis in Masculinity" also speak to these issues.

Leanne reported that her methods of individual counselling through listening prayer counselling accomplished good results in very short periods of time.

TheoPhostics, God's Lightening Breakthrough  - Generation Three Of Inner Healing

Ed Smith's Theophostics (TheoPhostic Counselling), Art Zielstra's Prayer Counselling and John Regier's Biblical Concepts in Counselling,  make use of listening to God's truth to bring healing to root issues in people's lives. Each of these men demonstrated their methods experientially.

Ed Smith's TheoPhostics (TheoPhostic counseling) is a profound part of Listening Prayer Therapy. Theo = God, phostic = light to one could say that TheoPhostic is about God's light breaking through. Theophostics (theophostic counselling) methods follow an emotion to a memory with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The singular focus of TheoPhostics (theophostic counseling) is the wrong belief in the memory. The single approach to dealing with the wrong belief is listening to Jesuss' truth.

For example, in the course of a workshop, Art Zielstra would explain his methods. On Friday night he would lead a group prayer so that we each experienced listening prayer in our own lives. On Saturday he conducted one-to-one therapy sessions with volunteers from the workshop. He also showed videos of his work with clients.

I appreciate the way Generation Three teachers model and explain their methods. Experiential teaching is very effective in equipping others!

These three teachers demonstrated that listening for God's word brings dramatic levels of inner healing. They discovered, to their surprise, that a forgiveness attitude was generated in this process. This attitude change indicates clearly that listening to God transforms heart (beliefs) and gives one a new spirit (attitude).

John Regier takes a couple for a week and transforms their marriage. Listening prayer is one tool that he uses in the whole process. He may pose a critical question to God and have the person listen for a scripture, song or other indication of God's response. He avoids using language that suggests that one may hear God's voice. His results confirm the power of his use of listening prayer.

Dr. Ed Smith's TheoPhostic Counselling makes central the use of listening prayer. His approach is becoming well known. He has trained practitioners in his methods. He has tapes available of workshops that he has done.

Ed reports a workshop that he did for Psychologists on dissociative disorder. He brought along a client that he had worked with. The audience was able to confirm that this person qualified as a multiple personality. Ed also asked the audience for their experience with bringing a MPD through to the point of being clear and integrated. Their estimates went from three to ten years, even to never. Ed's client reported to being integrated and whole after six weeks of therapy. This represents a significant breakthrough in therapeutic effectiveness both for conventional psychological treatment and for Christian inner healing methods.

Is conclusion the Generation three methods represent a major breakthrough. In general more is accomplished in less time; time is saved because there is less need for history taking, for analysis, or for labels; direction is often established in prayer. God is more the focus. God is the source of healing and guidance. There is less dependence on the counsellor and more of God.

Another significant and wonderful outcome of Listening Prayer Therapy is that people learn to listen to God. People begin to practice the presence of God.

One way to see this from a Biblical perspective is that God is giving us keys to the Biblical promise of a new heart and a new spirit


Listening Prayer Therapy - Advanced Generation Three

With "Listening Prayer Therapy" I build on the foundation of Agnes Sanford, John and Paula Sandford, and Leanne Payne with some the methods of Dr. Ed Smith, Art Zielstra and John Regier - the Generation Three approach. The following are modifications, advances and innovations included in Listening Pryaer Therapy.

1.  Believing it is essential to remain 'hidden in Christ,' it is my delight to innovate methods that successfully  avoid giving attention to the powers of darkness; effectively get the work done' and give all the glory to God. Satan does not get any attention. Demons are not addressed. Yet, amazingly, deliverance happens.

2.  I believe it essential to avoid the stiffness of a fixed protocol. I accomplish this in several ways: 

3.  I believe in the importance of working below the mind ('trust not in your own understanding') at the level of the heart and Spirit. Generation Three methods focus on the heart - beliefs resident in our memories. I maintain this focus in several ways:

4.  I try to articulate the basic foundation of inner healing in broad and general terms. An encounter with God brings healing. Jesus is our Lord, Healer, Saviour and Deliverer. We can encounter Jesus as The Way, The Truth and The Life.

5.  I call upon Jesus as The Life when there are demonized feelings that are not uprooted by God's truth. When significant negative feelings resist the truth encounter I invite Jesus Life to replace that resistant feeling and peace in the memory is the outcome.

6.  I call upon Jesus as the Way when their are Inner Vows - fixed habits, practices and behaviour patterns based on fixed choices - early decisions that shape life. One could say: "Ask God what you decided at this time that effected the rest of your life." How did this decision effect your life?" Practices include patterns of denial, avoidance, disassociation, and fantasy life.

7.  I avoid any fascination or focus on dealing with 'muliple personality.' I avoid labels and initials such as DID, SRA, etc. Listening Prayer Therapy is effective in dealing with all nature of persons. I do not believe in using extra knowledge or techniques to deal with particular diagnosed conditions. Jesus is able to use the framework of Listening Prayer Therapy to integrate those whose personality needs integration without my making it a big deal. I focus on people. I and am not looking for DID, SRA, etc.

Benefits of these modifications:


My intention is that Listening prayer Therapy offer flexibility to the practitioner.  It is not a one formula approach. It includes the truth encounter and more. Inner healing occurs in any meaningful encounter with God so it is possible to be creative in practice. We then discover many ways that Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life brings about inner healing and set us free.


1 Put it on the Altar

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"Put it on the Altar" is a prayer of release, a prayer of commitment, and an act of worship. Any work can be put on the altar: the week's work, a life's work, one's ministry, and one's investment in a person. By doing so you are making it clear that this work has been done "as unto the Lord." Putting one's work on the altar frees one from concern of what people think and concern about the results of your effort. So it clears your heart from the fear of man and your mind from lingering on the project.

A person can be put on the altar. By doing so you are making it clear that you don't control this person. You have taken your hands off and put them in God's hands. Putting a person or relationship on the altar should bring a sense of freedom and release. We were made for freedom and when one person clings or controls neither is free.

You can put your heart on the altar with the meaning of putting it into God's care. This is a good idea. It is especially good when we are heart broken. When we let God hold our broken heart He keeps if from becoming hard. In His care our heart can love again.

Putting on the altar the things that we want to control can free us from tension and anxiety. It we are pushing to control, striving to manage, wound up about things it is not good for our health. Letting go of wanting to control is a way of relaxing. The theme of letting go of our drive to over control as a way of reducing stress is fully explained in "the Power of Letting Go" by Patricia Carrington (1999).

Mental over control can dampen the spontaneous enthusiasm, creativity and wisdom our heart and spirit. When we learn to live more from heart and spirit and less from our head we enter a zone of excellence that the Bible calls "the rest" or "life in the Spirit." Using more secular language, Timothy Gallwey explores this interesting theme of getting out of mental over control in his books which include "The Inner Game of Tennis", 'The Inner Game of Golf" and "The Inner Game of Work."

You can put your plans (goals, vision, mission, programs) on the altar to surrender them to God and find God's will for you. To find out if God is calling you to some project surrender the project to God by putting it on the altar. When you picture putting something on the altar the message at the heart level is about taking your hands off, letting and stepping back. God's response, or non-response, can indicate whether God is in it. God may confirm with the still small inner voice, by an increase in inner joy and enthusiasm, by inner peace about moving ahead, with a clearer vision and creative ideas coming forth. With God's confirmation and the sense of God's wind in your sails you can move ahead with confidence and with the sense that you are in partnership with God.

Sometimes pleasing people is a stronger force in our life than pleasing God. That means we fear men more than God. This means that man's thinking can control us. In fact, others have become our God. We are in idolatry. It could be liberating to put these others that we fear on the altar. Sacrifice them and their approval to God. Let God do a work in your heart. Be free of the fear of man. Be free to serve God alone.


"Put it on the Altar" Prayer Encounter

The following steps are instructions for a healing encounter with God - a prayer encounter. Adapt the outline to your purposes as seems appropriate.

You start when you have identified what it is that you want to put on the altar.

Choose some image to represent what you are putting on the altar. For example, your physical heart represents your love and the center and source of your life.

Tell God what you are doing. For example, "Take my heart, loving Father as I put it on your altar. I put my broken heart in your care."

Picture the altar and the action as you put what represents your concern on the altar.

Stay attentive to this drama as it unfolds. As you put it on the altar what happens? What else do you see and hear? At the end of this symbolic inner action notice how you feel.

You can enter into a dialogue with God. For example if you have trouble letting go you may want to ask God if it is in His hands now. For example: "Heavenly Father, do you have my heart in your hands?" Listen for His answer.

When something significant happens, when something encouraging is heard in a prayer encounter, you will usually have a good feeling inside. It is important to soak in this good feeling, this encouragement and comfort. Take time to receive. Be still and let this feeling soak in. Let your heart feel good.

Let you heart be thankful. Let your spirit rejoice. Thank God. If your putting something on the altar represents a meaningful release and loss then it is health if you are experiencing some grief. See the next topic on Grief and Comfort.

(Optional extension) Ask yourself what implication this has for your life. How does this change your life? How would your life be different now?

Picture how things can be different in your life. What is one thing that would be different? Imagine how that would be. How does that change feel?

Thank God for how this went, for how you feel, and for this can change your life.

Make notes: write down a record of what happened, how you felt and what God said and review this later for discernment and encouragement.

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2 Grief and Comfort

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4.

You have experienced a loss. Sorrow is in your spirit. You weep and mourn. In grief we need comfort. A good comforter is one who comes alongside us with empathy and understanding. The best comforter is Jesus.

Let Jesus say to you: "Blessed are you that mourn, for the resources of heaven are here to comfort you."

In this prayer encounter you allow yourself to experience and express your grief. When your heart talks about losses there are feelings. There are tears. It is okay to cry; to express your feelings. By doing so you can experience the comfort of Jesus. He is comfortable to be with. He understands and loves you. He is a listener.

It may be important to tell Jesus: "I need you to be my comforter." In counselling the counsellor can express this request. We receive when and because we ask. "Ask and you will receive."

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. He will usually listen. You may feel him comfort you. It is okay to cry. Crying lets the sad out of you. Crying lets you experience the reality of you. With Jesus you are safe. You can be yourself.

When you have gotten it all out - the words said, the tears shed - 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.

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. 


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3  Anger, Hate, Forgiveness and Love


Our emotions express the state of our inner being, our human spirit. Emotions motivate us. Get us moving. Energize us. God has a purpose for anger.

Anger is aggressive, confrontive energy. The purpose of anger is to energize us to take stands, deal with enemies, overcome obstacles, accomplish tasks, confront injustice, speak up for ourselves, set limits, expose the darkness, oppose abuse and fight oppression.

When you are angry see if you need to stand up and fight for what is right; protect your loved ones or something precious to you. Ask yourself what loving purpose can be served by this energy.


Hatred is the emotion that moves us to attack our opponents, destroy whatever blocks us, kill our enemies, and annihilate the oppressor. With hatred we may abuse those who have hurt us; seek revenge on our enemies. We may curse, malign and put down our opponent - attacking their reputation with slander.

If our hatred is kept brooding on negative thoughts in our heart there are effects of our hatred. If we express hatred verbally people will feel as if they were struck. When Jesus tells us that hatred is like murder he is revealing that this negative energy is real and dangerous.

We may be surprised when those we hate back off and avoid us. Jesus isn't surprised because he knows we need to take seriously the attitude of our heart and spirit. Because we are spirit our neighbour responds to the thoughts and intents that we build into our heart. People in their spirit 'know' the inner feelings we have toward them.

Ask God to help your heart attitude to change if you are locked into hatred.


Love is the choice to do good toward another. It is to have a good heart and good will toward another. It is to have benevolent thoughts and feelings toward another. Love includes feelings, thoughts and intents of blessing, enjoying, of connecting emotionally with another.

In love there is no thought or intent of intentionally hurting, robbing, destroying, or murdering another. In love we intent good not evil toward others. We intend to build up not destroy. So love does not hate, and even if extremely angry, love will focus on  dealing with the problem not attacking the person.


Forgiveness is the process of moving away from the attitude of hatred to the attitude of love. Forgiveness happens when we choose not to hurt the person who hurt us.

When hurt and angry we speak truth to the person in love. We deal with the issues. But we don't attack the person. We talk straight. We confront injustice. do so without the intention of hurting the other though we are not afraid of straight talk to the issues.                                               

 "Releasing Anger" - Prayer Encounter 

Write down (or mentally note) five things you are angry about that you want to release to God.

For longstanding resentments make a list of 20 negative and 20 positive characteristics of the one person you resent most. Do negative list first and then balance that list with the positive list.

Declare out loud: 'Jesus, you are my Lord and Savior and I invite you to be Lord of my anger and resentment. I choose to release my anger about these issues (or my resentment about this person) to you.'

Let your mind observe and note what happens. Be aware of what you are seeing, hearing, feeling and sensing. However, do not try to control with your mind. A Healing encounter with God must touch your heart and your real inner being.

To set up this healing encounter with God, picture a beautiful natural setting where you can be alone and commune God. Picture the blue sky and a still, calm body of water - such as a lake. Find a place near the shore where you can sit and enjoy the calm of the quiet blue lake or pond.

The lake represents the peace of God. You are going to release your anger by having it be absorbed by this lake. You will dramatize this release of your anger by picturing yourself hurling a stone into this calm lake. You choose to involve your imagination so that this prayer will be from your heart.

You find a stone on the beach and declare: "God this stone represents my anger about ______. I am releasing this to you now." Now throw the stone far out into the lake. Watch it splash and sink. Let the ripples subside. Notice how you feel. Repeat this with another stone for each issue or for each negative characteristic of this person on your list. to save time, group some listed negatives together.

Now wait silently by the lake and absorb the peace and calm. Notice if a confirming verse, thought or melody comes to your heart.

How are you feeling? If you are feeling good continue to drink in this scene and what it means to you. Let there be time for your heart to receive. Let the message and the feeling sink into your heart. Give thanks to God.

Ask God how He can use these issues for good in your life. How can his redemptive power make use of these issues or the relationship with this person for some good purpose in your life? Write this down.

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4  Letter to God

In the "letter to God" we open up a written correspondence with God. A relationship expressed in writing - in letters. Once you write your first "Letter to God" other letters to God should follow. Plan how to keep these together in a bound notebook.

These letters can provide significant contact with God. This contact can be a great solace to you. It can begin to fill up emptiness and dispel the sting of loneliness.

Do not be afraid to express anger and frustration to God in your letter. So did the Psalmist express such. You are writing your own psalm.

Having expressed your hurts to God you will likely find that you are more open to hear from God. Even in expressing anger and frustration with God you are initiating communication. God wants our communication. God needs us to be real.

These letters can be a time to ask for what we need from God. For example we might ask: "Can you help me find purpose and focus in my life?" The Bible says we receive not because we ask not. Asking triggers a response from God. We start something be asking for help from God.

The "Letter to God" can be a good format to ask for guidance from God. Before I become involved in a project I need to ask: "Do you want me involved in this Lord?" I  expect to receive a word or feeling of God's confirmation before I move ahead.

The "Letter to God" can be a time to raise a question. You might be puzzled about something and want God's truth, insight or wisdom. Asking triggers a response from God. When you find the answer you will have record of asking the question and the answer to that question. Suddenly you find your life with God has become lively and interesting. You have answered prayers!

Because the "Letter to God" includes a 'letter from God' component, we need to talk about discernment. The mind is not the organ that God speaks to directly. He speaks 'spirit being' to 'spirit being.' We receive in our spirit and when God speaks to our spirit it is appears in our mind as a spontaneous thought, word, idea, sense, feeling or vision.After we have finished receiving all that God is saying. After we have allowed ourselves to respond to what God is saying or be nurtured by His word, then we can flip into mental mode and test by the Word. First Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to "examine everything carefully; hold on to that which is good."

The advantage of writing is that it allows us to focus on receiving what we are hearing from God. If we tried to test what we were receiving, as we received it, we would  jam our reception with doubt. However, later we can test what we have written down.

Mark Virkler defines Journaling as "writing out our prayers and God's answers." In Mark's book: "Dialogue with God," page 82, he says that journaling provides  great new freedom in hearing God's voice.

Leanne Payne, in "Listening Prayer", page 118, says: "I write out my petitions before the Lord then write down the words He sends. At times this word come as a strong impression on my thoughts; it comes as a picture&ldots;many times a word does not come but I know the answer will come in His good time and way."

May the "Letter to God" open up a rewarding dialogue with God in your life. Learn to share your heart openly with God and to listen and write down His response.

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5  "Burden Exchange" Prayer Encounter

You are carrying an emotional burden that is too much for you. So you bring it to Jesus.

Prayer: "Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I want to exchange my heavy burden for what Jesus has for me."

Picture: to set up this healmylife prayer encounter, imagine yourself walking along a trail through a forest and over hills carrying a heavy pack. This heavy pack represents your burden. You come to a building where there is an exchange counter. You have been told about this place. You have heard that you can exchange heavy feelings for better ones. You go in. Behind the exchange counter is a person who is waiting to serve you.


you tell him that you want to exchange your heavy pack for something lighter. Notice what happens. What does he do with your pack?

don't leave without completing the exchange. What is he giving you in exchange? How do you feel?


as you leave, thank him for doing the exchange.


now notice how you feel. Let the feeling sink in. 


what have you learned? Make notes.

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6  Projecting a Heart Change Forward in Life


once you experience a healing encounter with God - you will receive a new heart attitude. If you continue to practice this attitude it will bring good fruit in your life. One way to practice this new attitude is by faith imagination.  In life, as in sports, imagined practice can be extremely effective. Create a positive habit.


the question is "How will your life be different as your new attitude continues into upcoming situations in the future?"


picture an upcoming situation in your life. Picture yourself walking into this situation with Jesus and with your new attitude. How would this be different?


do you like this difference? Does it feel good? Thank God for this new way.


repeat this exercise several times and on upcoming days. See yourself walking through life with your new attitude. Establish a godly habit.

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7  "Cleanse the Temple" Prayer Encounter


"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" 1 Corinth. 6:19


Your own personal spirit is your inner being, the centre of the real you, the source of worship in spirit and in truth. In this Prayer Encounter you will picture an inner temple to represent your inner being. You will imagine that you have a temple within you - you personal center of worship. Imagine that everything that you serve or worship, your gods and your God, is represented here.

These gods are idols in our temple that demand worship and distract us from the Living God - Our Heavenly Father.

Some examples of such gods: if you are a People Pleaser then you fear and are controlled by people and what people think. Your idols would be people.

If you hold spouse or children as the source of your life and more precious than God, then they will be there in your inner temple - displacing God.

What if you sacrifice your life, your rest, your time, and your family to serve work, you look to work as your Provider, and your greatest fear is to be out of work. In your inner temple will be the idols of job and money putting you our of touch with God.


if you want to be at peace with God, to walk in the Spirit, be one with Jesus, then you need to find out what those idols are that are displacing God in your life. You want to ask God what is demanding your love, what do you fear, what do you serve and worship. Listen and write down the answers that you get.

canting to have peace with God and to be fruitful for the kingdom of God, you confess as sin the idols that you have identified and ask to be forgiven through Jesus Christ - "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."


then you ask the risen Christ to clean your inner temple of the idols that you have set up there. Remembering that Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem during his earthly ministry.


you allow Jesus to use your creative imagination to portray this cleansing. With his help imagine what these idols look like in your inner sanctuary, your place worship. Allow Jesus to show you the risen Christ at work in your inner temple cleaning out these idols in his own way.


when you sense he has cleansed the temple notice how you feel. Ask him if your inner temple is clean. If needed, ask him to show you what still remains to be dealt with. If you sense that the cleansing is complete, then invite God to be present in your inner temple. One sign of His presence, of communion with God, is a sense of peace. Continue with cleansing until you have this inner peace.

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8  "Peace With Heaven" Prayer Encounter

you want to be close to God; to be at peace with God; to have open communion with God.

Declare: "Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I want to know God, to be close, to be fully committed to God through you, Jesus."

To set up this healmylife prayer encounter imagine a place of worship close to the throne room of God. Let this scene be deep purple for royalty and majesty. In this picture you are bowing to the ground in worship.

Allow yourself to sense to be near to the power center of the universe - the source of life, creativity, beauty, love, wisdom and law. God's holiness as a consuming fire burns all sin. God's health destroys all sickness. Here is the source of life, creativity, beauty and health in your world.

As you worship ask yourself if there is anything that you have held back from God. Ask God if you are still hanging on to something other than Him? Tell Him you are prepared to give everything to Him. Let God reveal if there are any barriers to communication. Are you clinging to something other than God? Do you trust something other than God? Do you give Him complete sovereignty over your life? Is He the mighty king of your life?

Listen for His response. Notice what you hear, see, feel and sense. You may discover what the obstacle is between you and God. If can do so with all your heart, release it to Him.

If you sense peace then receive that sign with joy. Delight in the communion between you and God. Thank Him for that. The early Methodists believed that God granted a seal of peace when communication was open

Open communication indicates complete dedication. No holding back. You are prepared to give to God control of everything in your life. This is to be total worship - everything you are, have or will be is given over to God. Every worship service is dedicated to this purpose for this is worship - total homage to a king; total submission, total offering of all that we are and hold dear. Notice how the worship music picks up this theme. Before worship make an inventory of all that you have and are and plan to be. During worship picture placing all this before the throne of God as an act of worship. Express your love with a full heart.

q(Optional extension) Sense yourself in worship at the throne of God. Offer all that you are to Him. Ask if God has a word for you. Then listen. Practice the following: "Be still and know that I am God," Psalm 46:10. Let yourself hear and encounter God and receive who He is within you.

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9  Healing of Trauma 

The theory of trauma presented here is based on very significant breakthrough insights from two fields: parenting and inner healing therapy.

In parenting: Gerald Nelson is responsible for an extremely important and creative re-examination of parental discipline. The problem he examined is how behaviour can be corrected without using parental-child distancing maneuvers (time out, go to you room, etc.). What Dr. Nelson wanted to achieve was a way that behaviour correction and bonding can both be achieved in one wisely crafted parent-child encounter.

He crafted and tested a method that achieved these goals in a brief intense encounter. He called this the One Minute Scolding and his method was published in 1984 as The One Minute Scolding. This was published by Shambhala Publications and distributed by Random House.

The power of Dr. Nelson's insights were soon recognized by others and applied to management practice. Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard published The One Minute Manager and a variety of related books based on Dr. Nelson's original insights.

In therapy: Dr. Ed Smith, a Christian therapist from Campbellsville, Kentucky, pioneered Theophostic Counselling which represents a significant breakthrough and innovation in individual therapy.

Ed, and others like John Regier, discovered that emotional healing must deal with wrong beliefs created by emotional wounding. What is significant for prayerful Christian therapists is they also discovered the power of hearing God's truth - that hearing God's truth can completely dislodge wrong beliefs.

Such prayer counsellors as Rev. Arthur Zielstra, one of my mentors, testifies that change comes quickly when a person identifies wrongful, life-shaping assumptions and realizes the truths of God's Word applied to their life-situations.

So Christian therapists are now equipped with the significant insight that quick and effective healing is possible when one listens for Jesus' words of truth and hears the truth of God spoken into the pain of the traumatic event and against the wrong beliefs lodged in the memory of that event. 


What is Trauma?

What is the defining characteristic of trauma? Trauma is present if there are present memories associated with false and painful beliefs; painful and sometimes demonic feelings, and locked in decisions (inner vows) and behaviour habits.

When is trauma formed?  Trauma occurs in a state of heart and spirit of separation from the love and truth and spirit of God.

It is in this state of separation that whole patterns of life are established that the bible calls the carnal nature or the sinful self. And the most significant sin is lack of belief in God and therefore a lack of access to God's wisdom, love and power.

If we listen to God we will hear Him tell us that He is Our Shield and Defender, but in a the sinful state we are ready to believe that we are not safe. Jesus assures us that He will never leave us or forsake us, but when vulnerable to trauma we are ready to believe that we are alone.

As in the original fall in the Garden of Eden, when weak in courage and low in faith we are ready to desert God and God's truth. When we fail to access God's presence and desert God's truth, we come under the influence of the forces of death, deception and evil.

Just as when Eve, in the Garden of Eden, believed the serpent and then she saw things the devil's way, so, when we choose not to believe God and choose the devil's negative beliefs we, begin to see things the devil's way.

Adam and Eve began to feel shame and to avoid God. Fear, shame, guilt become part of our experience in trauma.  Loving healthy life giving relationships begin to break down. We become alienated from God and man.

How I choose to react to an event, how I choose to interpret the event, the attitude I choose, results in trauma or not.

Extremely upsetting events are not traumatic unless I allow these events to alter my belief system. I have been traumatized: when I start to believe that I am all alone and unprotected in an unsafe world; when I lose my ability to respond to love, beauty and truth and when I stop use my gifts and expressing my love.


Significance of our Beliefs 

Usually we act on our beliefs. Almost unconsciously our beliefs shape our perceptions, our thinking and our feeling. Most crucially, our beliefs shape our self-concept and our identity.

Where we have been traumatized we begin perceiving, thinking, feeling and acting more negatively. We will tend to jump to negative conclusions. We will experience more worry and fear.  Our identity and self-concept will become negative.

Clearly, our beliefs are important.


Verbal Abuse Defined 

The Bible says that we are to be angry but sin not. And what sin do we need to avoid? During an anger verbal tirade we may be tempted to attack on the character or identity of our antagonist. That would be the sin that Jesus said was like murder. Such an attack acts as a curse on the other.

Such an attack can traumatize the other. A significant relationship and intense emotion make this likely. When we direct insults at the other we can traumatize them - their core beliefs become more negative. This is the sinful misuse of the energy of anger is verbal abuse.

We can avoid this sin. When angry, we refrain from attacking the person. We deal with the issue. Whether dealing with a child, in parental discipline, or with an adult, in an assertive confrontation, the guideline is the same: your anger must focus on the behaviour - not on the person.



Effective Rebuke 

An effective rebuke may be delivered in anger without being abusive. In an effective rebuke your anger and your words will be directed towards the behaviour. You may make a simple direct request.

A client was upset because she had completely lost control. She was upset, that is, until I asked her: "What did you say?" and she remembered that in the heat of her anger she had demanded that her husband listen to her.

This dealt with his behaviour without demeaning him. She requested a change in long standing negative behaviour pattern. This was not abuse

The fact that she was intensely angry and completely lost emotional control did not make it abuse.  Emotions can make discipline effective if and when the rebuke is focused clearly and effectively on behaviour to make a specific request.


Healing Discipline 

Can one discipline in anger without traumatizing a child? Our understanding of verbal abuse and of trauma leads us to that conclusion. Anger itself does not define trauma. Parental emotion does not negate parental discipline.

In The One-Minute Scolding, Dr. Gerald Nelson explained his discovery that that parental intensity can make discipline effective. Intense negative emotion directed against the child's negative behaviour gets the message across about the behaviour.

The negative emotion and words do not attack the child's character or identity. Every "bad" label must be directed only towards the behaviour of the child. Don't even say: "Bad boy" or Bad girl."

The anger or upset in the parent is brief - it is the first half of the one-minute scolding.   Dr. Nelson asks the parent to keep the rebuke of the child's behaviour short - half of a minute. As soon as the child is responsive to the parent's rebuke- as soon as there is some sign of emotional response in the child - the parent calms down and focuses on affirming the child. Love, forgiveness and acceptance are now the focus of the parent's interaction with the child.

The genius of the one-minute scolding is the effective combination of an emotional rebuke of inappropriate behaviour with a positive affirmation of the child's identity and affirmation of belonging. The child might hear: "You are a neat kid. I love you." Parent and child may finish the one-minute scolding with a hug.

Nelson discovered that this strengthens the parent-child bond. So the child is given two types of security at the same time - secure limits and secure love.

How Trauma is Healed

The Key to the healing of trauma is understanding the significance of our heart beliefs. Unhealed trauma means fixed negative heart beliefs. These fixed beliefs distort our view of things and damages our worldview. We are living in the house built on sand that Jesus spoke of. Any storm will trigger beliefs, feelings and behaviour patterns related to the unhealed memory.

Thank God there is an answer. Just as the trauma gave ground for the planting of negative thinking, unbelief, wrong belief, so God's Holy Spirit can bring God's liberating truth and remove these painfully wrong beliefs. In a heart encounter with God's truth there is healing.


Revelation - Key to Healing 

It is clear that we need a revelation of God's truth to our inner being. We need God to speak to our heart. We need the promised new heart and new spirit. Our mind is not the key to healing. If it was we would be in control of the healing process through our conscious or mental understanding of God's truth. But humility is needed. We are not in control. We must listen to God.

This is the kind of knowledge that Paul often spoke about:

1.The wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9

2.I ask that your minds be opened to his light &ldots;  Ephesians 1:18

3.The veil is removed only when a man is joined to Christ. 2Corinth 3:14

4.For God in his wisdom made it impossible for men to know him by means of their own wisdom. 1 Corinth. 1:21

Watchman Nee, in "The Normal Christian Life," speaks of this kind of knowledge: "So our first step is to seek from God a knowledge that comes from revelation &ldots;"

Hudson Taylor of The China Inland Mission had this experience: "I have seen it long enough in the Bible, but I believe it now as a living reality."


Listening Prayer Encounter with God

The Prayer Encounters in Listen to God are designed to help you to listen for God's truth so that one's negative beliefs can be changed to more healthy, life giving positive ones. You now understand that any such change in beliefs is in the direction of healing.

The Healing Trauma prayer encounter gives directions for establishing a listening stance in regards to a recent trauma. What I mean be a recent trauma is that you remember clearly the upsetting conclusions (thoughts, beliefs) that you came to at the time of this upsetting event. The purpose of the Prayer Encounter is to allow you to hear God's truth and to move your beliefs toward more positive and healthy ones.


Healing Wrong Beliefs in a Recent Trauma - Self Help


Find a time and place where you have some peace and quiet. And with your imagination, picture a peaceful setting where you would like to meet with Jesus.


State your purpose in the prayer encounter. You might declare: "Jesus, you are my Lord and Healer and I ask you for healing of this trauma."


In your imagination, tell Jesus about the upsetting event: what happened and how you felt. Tell him what you were thinking and believing at that time. Be specific. Tell Jesus the most upsetting thought that you have had from this event. For example you might say: "Jesus as a result of this experience I came to fear ____________ " or "Jesus as a result of this experience I came to believe _____________."


Now ask Him for his Truth: "Jesus, what is true? What is your truth for me?"


Listen to and receive what he says. Give time for your heart to receive his truth. An encouraging word from Jesus most often impacts our spirit with a positive feeling. Let the message and the good feeling sink into your heart.  Thank God for His truth and how it feels. Make notes.


Healing Wrong Beliefs in a Early Trauma - Listening Prayer Therapy


The therapist guides in a prayer to discover key memories associated with the problem. After a short time of listening the client may have recalled one or more significant memories.


Then lead in prayer into God's revelation of what is significant in this memory: what happened, what was felt, what was believed, what decisions were made.

You can also ask for a revelation of how a belief, feeling or decision has effected the person's life. This is the search for implications and is optional.

Deal with the wrong beliefs. One might need to work on turning feeling type statements into belief statements. For example to, "I feel alone and abandoned," ask the client 'When you feel alone and abandoned what are you believing to be true?'

Ask the client to report the degree of pain associated with a particular belief and feeling. Have them rate it on a scale of 10. This can be helpful later to determine if healing has occurred. Optional.

State the belief in general terms so that it applies to more of the person's life than just this one event. For example, "So, in this memory you are feeling abandoned and all alone. Is that correct? And this thought is very painful." This is general enough.

Invite Jesus. "Would you like to invite Jesus in - to bring his truth?"

Ask the client, out loud or to themselves, to say: "Jesus I feel like and believe that I am abandoned and all alone. What is your truth?" It helps the client to work at the heart level if they can imagine the scene in active recall and can feel the pain.

In the client responses with what they think or know God's truth is, you respond be requesting that they ask Jesus for his truth because their knowing what God's truth with their head does not bring healing.

If the client responds with God's truth and is impacted by it let it sink in by: giving them time to absorb it, by asking them how if feels, by you repeating the truth and by thanking Jesus for his truth and the good feeling it brings. Don't rush.

Now revisit the memory and see if there has been healing. Healing manifests in less painful feelings and a new attitude toward any abuser - automatic heart level forgiveness.

If some strong feeling remains in the actively recalled trauma then I move to a Listening Prayer Deliverance Prayer.

If there is peace in the memory then go to #6 - "Projecting a Heart Change Forward."

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10  Listening Prayer and Dreams

See the article: Listening Prayer and Dreams for an updated and edited version of Listening prayer for dreams.

If the bible says that God speaks to us in various ways; Job 33:15, including dreams, then we need to learn to listen to God in our dreams through listening prayer.

Read how God spoke to Abimelech in a dream in Genesis 20: 3-7.  Remember that Abimelech was not distracted by TV, radio, iPods, etc. and he may have spent 10 - 11 hours on his bed because he did not have electric lights.  If you want to be available for God to speak to you during the nighttime, you might consider, for one, turning off the lights early and going to bed.

But we can see from the story of Abimelech that God rebuked and warned in his dream.  Further on in Genesis we can see that Jacob received significant guidance from the Angel of God in a dream.  Genesis 31:3 - 13.

Like some other cultures it seems that Abraham's line considered dreams significant and shared them with their family.  Joseph did in Genesis 37 and got himself in trouble with his brothers.  His brothers envied him but his father 'kept the matter in mind.'  Even though his feelings were hurt, Joseph's father remembered the message and meditated upon these things.

Joseph did not claim to be able to interpret dreams and their symbols on his own.  His stance is that "interpretations belong to God." Genesis 40:8.  This means that Joseph is going to use some method to do get in touch with God.  He is going to find some way to do listening prayer.  See also 41:16.

In Numbers 12:1-13, Yahweh calls it "dark speech" when he speaks to prophets in dreams and visions. That means that the meaning of dreams is obscure and indirect.  As Joseph knew interpretation belongs to God.  This requires bold humility on our part: bold to approach the Throne of Grace and humility not to trust our own minds but to listen.  This is the attitude of listening prayer.

Daniel, like Joseph, had messages from God yet humbly sought God in interpreting the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar. He even told the king what his dream was - saving his life and that of his companions!

People evidently shared significant dreams with other. God used this simple act of sharing to encourage Gideon. Gideon heard the dream and the interpretation of the dream of an enemy - yet he was deeply encouraged by it. Obviously Gideon and his enemies had a deep and natural understanding and trust for God's speech through dreams.

Solomon and Yahweh have a long and significant dialogue in a dream. Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream. 1Kings 3:5-15.

Lessons about dream interpretation from the Bible:

1.sometimes the meaning is obvious to those who have ears to hear,

2.dreams are an form of obscure speech - the meaning may not be clear,

3.interpretations are of God - we need humility,

4.sharing of dreams is wise,

5.be open to meeting God in our dreams,

6.not trusting in our own analytical interpretation, 

7.make the understanding of dreams a matter of prayer.

Listening Prayer for Dreams

Catch the dream:

Record your dream in writing as close to the time as possible. When working with your dream recover the experience of it by reviewing it in the present as if it were happening in the now. Include not just what happened but also how you are feeling as is happens. Underline the strongest feeling in the dream.











Listening Prayer Question #1:

The first thing we want to know is the specific memory that God wants to bring to recall to heal our life. Ask God: "What memory is connected to the strongest feeling in the dream?"






Listening Prayer Question #2:

The second Listening Prayer Therapy question invites God to show us what needs to be healed in the memory. Ask God about this memory: "What did I believe?"






Listening Prayer Question #3:

After discovering what we believed we now need to know God's healing truth. So the significant question to God is: "What is your truth?"






Sources: I find Russ Parker's method of dealing with dreams to be inspired. His approach uses principles that I can endorse and that fit well with Listening Prayer Therapy. A review of his book on dreams is below:

Healing Dreams by Russ Parker

The Power and Purpose of Dreams in your Spiritual Life

by Russ Parker


Why do you dream? What effects do dreams have on your waking life? How can you interpret their meaning? Russ Parker's answers to those questions are based firmly on the Bible, and on his extensive experience as a Christian dream counsellor. Drawing on a wide variety of his own and other people's dreams, he shows that dreams are a doorway to a greater self-understanding, a rich resource for spiritual growth and vitality. Healing Dreams includes practical guidelines on praying with dreams, healing with dreams, and how understanding your dreams can deepen and enhance your relationships with those around you - whether in your family or in your church fellowship. In his final chapter, Russ Parker describes five basic types of dream, giving examples of each from scripture: reminder dreams, warning dreams, predictive dreams, recurring dreams and nightmares. He then outlines four 'dimensions' of dreaming, and offers advice on how to discern the difference between them. Is the dream simply a reaponse to everyday events in the outside world? Or does it result from your own inner world of thoughts and emotions? Does the dream convey a message from deep within your unconscious? Or could it even be a 'spiritual' dream - a dream from God? To help you answer those questions for yourself, Russ Parker has written this fascinating and uplifting book

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11  The Children's Garden

Kindergarten means children's garden in German. We want to come to our Father as little children and find a place where we can be safe to play and enjoy him.

Some gardens need special walls to be safe for children. If you need a walled garden to feel safe then picture a walled garden.

You may delight in imagining a beautiful place where play is allowed and God's presence in the garden can be felt. Picture what is in your special garden - your kindergarten.

You may allow God to help create this garden and surprise you with what he puts in the Father's garden for children.


Imagine the musical sounds of children playing, of birds singing. Are there other delightful sounds?

Imagine how the sun has warmed the earth. The grass is dry. The moss is soft. The breeze feels warm on your skin. Notice the colour of the sky. How clear it is.

What else do you notice? Are there the sounds of water flowing? Are there little animals scurrying about? What other colours are there? What are the different textures?

What could you do if you were adventurous? What could you do if you wanted to relax? What could you do to enjoy beauty? Is there some place to lie in the sun? What is there to play with?

Take a moment just to be there in this garden. Just to be. Just to experience yourself and this place. What feeling does it bring to you?

Allow yourself to experience that feeling. What is the truth or belief related to this feeling? Ask God what this feeling means. Ask God for His truth for you. What is His truth for you? How do you feel now? Allow yourself to experience that feeling and to hear what God is saying to you.

If you are experiencing deep sadness then let Jesus, the risen Christ, be there with you, to listen to you, to understand you, to comfort you.


If you are experiencing joy and happiness then find out what truth your heart has come to believe that is bringing you joy.


If you are experiencing upsetting feelings then ask God what memory this is related to. Ask him what your heart believed that is causing this upset. Ask him what his truth for you is. What feelings come to you as you hear his truth for you?

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12  Listening Prayer Journal


A journal is a daily practice of writing down significant thoughts, prayers and events. To create a Listening Prayer Journal write down daily an event that triggered significant positive or negative feelings. Recording your feelings will put you in touch with the inner you.

Negative feelings can be clues to the need for healing. An inordinate feeling - one stronger than justified by events - is a great clue that an earlier event is not healed. Perceptions, thoughts, feelings and choices from earlier events in your life are effecting you feelings now. The contents of your heart are showing up, leaking out you might say.

Follow this guide to bring resolution to this earlier memory.


Tell God you would like healing of the root issues. Tell God what the feeling was that you experienced


Ask God to show you what memory or period in your life is being triggered.

Ask God to reveal what is significant about this memory. Be specific in asking what you believed to be true that needs to be healed. Your belief, which seemed right at the time, may not be God's healing truth for you. You may have believed something that soured your attitude toward God, people or yourself. A belief is a thought that goes with a feeling. Don't settle for a feeling statement; look for a general life statement. For example, translate "I felt ignored" into a generalization about your life such as: "I believed that everyone would ignore me. That I deserved to be ignored. That what I had to say was not worth listening to." (This step is not easy to do without a Listening Prayer Therapist but is often essential to the process. If you have difficulty don't despair, help is just a phone call away. It just takes a phone call to set up an appointment or a phone counselling session. Phone: 416 234-1850.)

Rank your painful feelings for each belief on a scale out of 10 for how painful they are.

Reflect and write down some of the ways that these beliefs have shaped your life.

Ask God for his truth. For example, "Jesus, I need your truth to set me free. I am listening from my heart. What I believed is painful. Relate one negative belief statement. What is your truth for me?" Listen. Write down what you hear. Treasure the good feelings that you feel. Notice what else you sense. 

Note how you feel. Healing truth will feel good. God's encouraging truth brings life. Allow the good feelings to sink in. Hold God's loving truth to your heart.

Repeat this process with each painful general life statement. 

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For Sessions with George, Retreats or Phone Counseling with Inner Healing through Listening Prayer Therapy: counselling

(416) 234-1850 for local calls in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville or Brampton.
 1 (877) 854-3990 for long distance.

Office: Suite 125, 1454 Dundas Street East, Mississauga, Ontario, L4X 1L4
Major Intersection: Dundas and Dixie
Phone: (416) 234-1850

George Hartwell M.Sc (Masters in clinical psycholgy) has a 30 year plus career of involvement in counselling using inner healing through listening prayer therapy.  Mr. Hartwell integrates concepts,  methods and training from Agnes Sanford, John and Paula Sandford, Leanne Payne, John Regier and Art Zielstra with clincial experience, formal education and in house training in the mental health field.

E-mail: e-mail G Hartwell

 www.HealMyLife.com (counselling) and www.HealMyLife.net (retreats)


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