Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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 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 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.
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 so that one can learn experientially.
Ed Smith's TheoPhostics (TheoPhostic counseling) are a profound part of Listening Prayer Therapy. 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
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 use of Listening prayer to get at the core belief in one's life characterizes this as Generation Three. Making use of imagery as used by Agnes Sanford and Leanne Payne make my approach a form of "Inner Healing Visualized."
The following are some of the characteristics of my form of 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:
Develop, use and teach a variety of methods,
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:
After a healing encounter with God my question, "How does that
feel?" invites a response from the heart.
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.
Each one adds flexibility to Listening Prayer Therapy.
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.
Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toll free: 1 (877) 854-3990