As to “How does Healing Prayer Work?” Various people have said it works by healing memories—that is wrong.
Healing Prayer has been described as memories being “healed.” The “healing” is a result of Jesus entering a person’s thoughts and explaining that the person has believed a lie. Jesus then tells them the truth, and from this they are “healed.” I think this is a distortion and a partial reality.
How Healing Prayer works can be explained in the simplest form as:
- A lie must be exposed
- Biblical truth that opposes the lie must be presented
- The Biblical truth must be believed & acted upon
While that is the gist of Healing Prayer, a deeper level of understanding is useful for those who are unfamiliar with the need for the process and how & why it works.
How Healing Prayer Works — Phases
A person will pass through the following phases toward their need for a ministry such as Healing Prayer.
PHASE 1: Most often, the person in need of Healing Prayer experienced childhood trauma such as: verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental neglect or divorce. Often exposure to alcoholism and/or drug abuse was also present in the child’s formative years.
PHASE 2: The traumatic event(s) allows a lie to be presented to the child. The lie is exactly opposite of what the Bible teaches. The lie(s) can be about themselves, God, others, life, etc. Most often it is a Biblically incorrect idea about themselves.
PHASE 3: From that lie the child forms a belief. Their belief is their perspective; and it causes them to think incorrectly about themselves, about what God thinks and/or what others think about them. Nevertheless, it is their reality, yet they do not go about their daily life dwelling on their perspective. It lives deep within them and they simply react to it.
PHASE 4: Their incorrect perspective develops into mental anguish that, for some, can eventually become psychological disorders. What you call the result isn’t as important as understanding that the person suffers ongoing inner turmoil.
The Healing Prayer candidate truly believes something incorrect (unbiblical) about themselves, God and/or others, thus their perspective is incorrect, and it must change or they will continue to suffer.
PHASE 5: Because of their suffering, they seek relief. The relief they find is temporary, most often something that releases dopamine, i.e drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, physical exercise, shopping, etc.
PHASE 6: They become addicted to their form of relief and the growing addiction then causes further issues in their life.
PHASE 7: They are caught in a cycle of cause & effect that will propel them on a downward spiral toward greater destruction.
Usually, after much suffering that can last many years, they reach a breaking point. Keep in mind that throughout this process they may have sought help, but that help was ineffectual for various reasons I will discuss later in this article.
The kind of help that is effective in helping that strikes at the “root” or actual cause of all their suffering is the Biblical truth, that overcomes the lie that formed their belief & perspective, that then caused their suffering. Their belief in that truth should then result in their obedience to the truth and that sets them free.
The uncanny reality is that they may have, for many years, heard, read, and even studied the portions of Scripture that relate to their situation, yet for some reason, they have never fully grasped how it applies to them.
Their lack of understanding the Scriptures is not something they have done on purpose. In other words, they did not willfully, with full presence of mind, refuse the truth of Scripture. They just don’t see how it connects to their situation.
The dynamic I cannot fully explain is that during Healing Prayer God does something with their mind that allows them to finally “see” the truth they need.
How Healing Prayer Works — Cause & Effect Outline
How Healing Prayer works is shown in the following cause & effect outline.
- A child suffers a traumatic event (often abuse)
- The child then believes a lie (statement contrary to Scripture)
- Their incorrect belief causes anguish
- They develop improper means to relieve their anguish
- Their improper means often lead to self-destructive habits
- They then live into adulthood in accordance to the lie
- They become a Christian
- Their religion demands they change their destructive habits
- They don’t realize it is their incorrect belief that drives their habits
- They try changing their destructive habits and consistently fail
- They are caught in an endless cycle
- They then often live for many years as a “broken” Christian
- They eventually encounter Healing Prayer
- God profoundly clarifies the lie during Healing Prayer
- They recognize the lie they have believed
- They recognize the opposing Biblical truth
- They believe the truth
- The truth moves them toward compassion
- They act (repent) which often means forgiving an offender
- They enjoy a new perspective & clean conscience
The Healing Prayer process then results in freedom from anguish. That freedom means they are no longer compelled as they were previously toward unbiblical thinking and destructive habits.
How Healing Prayer Works — BRIEF Cause & Effect Example
This brief example shows how the cause & effect pattern applies to a childhood rape victim who is now an adult broken Christian.
The lie is “set” during or after the rape; the cause & effect pattern then follows.
Believed Lie (Sex is all you’re good for) = Incorrect Belief (Sex is all I’m good for) = Incorrect Perspective (I won’t be accepted/loved if I don’t provide sex) = Mental Anguish (depression, anxiety, anger, low-self esteem, perfectionism, etc).
- The mental anguish occurs because this person is literally living out a lie (not how God designed us to live) and the result is havoc within their mind & soul, aka PAIN.
- The mental anguish persists and eventually prompts the person to find a means to comfort themselves. The “means” bring temporary relief, but with constant use, becomes a destructive habit.
- The destructive habit causes other new problems to arise.
- The new problems cause further mental anguish.
- The person responds to the increased mental anguish with more of the same or a new “means” to comfort themselves.
- The person continues to repeat these actions; the actions become a downward spiral and eventually, the person spins out of control.
During this process, the suffering person may reach out to a counselor, therapist, mental health worker, pastor or some other type of helper. Unfortunately, many times all that happens is a temporary reprieve from their destructive habit (more on “destructive habits” later) because the destructive habit is nothing more than a symptom of the actual core problem.
The result of Healing Prayer is the person’s perspective of themselves, others, God, and life is changed to align with God’s perspective.
Their new, correct perspective relieves the mental anguish that originated from their incorrect perspective.
This relief of mental anguish combined with their new perspective leads to no longer relying on destructive practices that once provided temporary relief to their suffering.
How Healing Prayer Works — DETAILED Cause & Effect Example
How Healing Prayer works can be better seen with a more detailed cause & effect example of a typical Healing Prayer candidate.
Most candidates for Healing Prayer encountered a traumatic event or events as a child. Within the course of the traumatic event(s), the child came to believe a lie. The nature of the lie is not as obvious or simple as something like 2 + 2 = 5. Instead, the lie is much more insidious with the potential to devastate an entire life.
The following is just one of many possible examples of the type of lie I am speaking about.
In this case, we will once again use the example of a young girl who has been raped.
After the traumatic event of rape, she goes on to believe that the act of sex is her true worth. That is a lie because it is contrary to what God said. Thus, the ultimate actual birthplace of this lie is Hell.
Keep in mind that this is a child and she does not yet recognize or understand concepts like human worth. Nor does she fully grasp the act of sex or its purpose. Thus, the lie is more a sense or the “germ” of a growing belief than a clear fact of which the girl is cognizant.
The lie therefore functions in a somewhat covert manner in that it is not something she thinks about and reasons with at a conscious level. She doesn’t go about her daily business thinking, “I’m dirty, I’m unworthy of true love, sex is all I’m good for.”
Because the lie is presented early in life, it becomes “rooted” deep within the psyche of the child. Nobody knows it’s there.
Without the aid of a professional who can probe the mind of the child, adults have no way of actually knowing what is happening within that child. And the child does not have the maturity or Biblical knowledge to detect the falsehood within them.
The child doesn’t understand that their psychological anguish comes not from the lie, but from their belief that the lie is true.
The child then instinctively does what humans do…adapt, survive…go on with life.
From Lie to Grief to Symptoms
It is terribly sad that this is happening within a child, yet it is still sinful thinking and sin brings suffering. Remember, the belief is sinful because it is opposite of what God has said. Also, consider that this points out the utter wickedness of Satan; no one is out of bounds for his hatred of God’s creation—not even children.
The child’s incorrect belief then causes for them a sense of loss; the loss of personhood, loss of significance, loss of childhood, loss of love, loss of protection, etc. The reaction to the loss is what we call grief.
Grief then grows into symptoms such as anxiety/fear, anger, depression, perfectionism, and/or low self-esteem
The Dopamine “Kick”
Later in years, and on a somewhat subconscious level, the now teenager or adult, discovers they can “quiet” the pain of the aforementioned symptoms by employing any manner of escape. The escape can be drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, social media, video games, movies & television, physical exercise, shopping, work, tobacco, etc. Basically, anything that creates a dopamine kick is what is desired.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain. It determines how we understand and experience pleasure. Any chemical or activity that brings temporary relief to the deep anguish of a Healing Prayer candidate will release dopamine. The relief of pain thus equals pleasure.
This dopamine rush translates to a state of euphoria. Euphoria not only feels good physically, but creates a sense that whatever their problem, it’s really not so bad. That “feels” like peace.
That false sense of peace lasts—until the dopamine rush wears off. Then the person returns to their depressed state. Often times they feel worse than before the dopamine kicked in.
A real eyeopener is the surge of dopamine and euphoric effect helps to explain why some broken Christians have a wonderful, uplifting, and even a seemingly “breakthrough” experience during a church service. Afterward, they return to their broken ways. Christian leaders may witness the experience and then are confused when the broken Christian does not change their symptomatic and destructive habits.
The same dopamine effect also explains why broken Christians, and their counselors, will “feel” like they are making progress during counseling sessions.
The counseling session itself can simulate healthy progress in the following way…
Discuss Problems + Offer Solutions = Hope Raised = Dopamine Kick. We “feel” better, thus—we think we ARE better. Unfortunately, this effect is short-lived and the broken Christian returns to their broken ways.
Keep in mind that the person doesn’t walk around saying to themselves, I need dopamine. Rather what occurs is a kind of if/then statement; if I feel bad – then (X) makes me feel good. It’s more a learned and then automatic response that fires when they encounter “triggers.”
Triggers can be: stress, anger, boredom, loneliness, fatigue, bad memories, etc. These triggers are uncomfortable, painful, unwanted. Thus, escape is desired and they return to whatever it was that previously provided the temporary escape.
Next, because the “escape” wears off, they are forced to do more of whatever provides the temporary escape. This behavior, if continued, creates addiction.
The addiction will cause further complications in their life, i.e. broken relationships, financial ruin, career failure, etc.
Those problems, in turn, create more pain.
The pattern has already been set within the person—have pain = find escape.
Thus, a destructive cycle is put into motion as they employ more of their “escape.”
Then, addictions are the “cement” that keep the broken Christian in their perpetual destructive cycle. That said, the destructive cycle is not simply going around and around. The destructive cycle is actually a downward spiral that eventually leads to greater and greater destruction.
Consider the following steps…
ACTION: The girl was raped as a child.
LIE: Sex is all you’re good for.
BELIEF: Sex is all I’m good for (her worth) thus I am rejected if I don’t provide sex.
GRIEF: The child may incur loss of personhood, protection, love, acceptance, care, etc.
SYMPTOMS: Anxiety/Fear, Depression, Anger, Perfectionism, Low Self-esteem
ESCAPE: Drugs, alcohol, food, pornography…any of the aforementioned “escapes.” In the case of sex, it can be a temporary counter to the belief of rejection; in other words she feels accepted. Sex can also provide escape because the burst of dopamine comes from the girl’s sense of power over the male.
ADDICTION: Repeated need to escape leads to mental and often physical addiction. The addiction then causes more life problems and those problems cause more pain and the pain is countered with more addictive behavior.
CYCLE: Pain > Escape > Pain > Escape > Eventual Destruction
The Lie is Like a Virus
We see then that the lie is like a deadly virus. At first, when a virus enters its host, it is microscopic, unseen. As the virus does its work, the symptoms begin to show. The symptoms increase and without the proper antidote, the virus will overtake the critical organs of the host. Death becomes imminent.
Just like a virus, when the lie “enters” a person, it is unseen. Then belief in the lie causes symptoms to emerge. Those symptoms cause the person to seek an antidote. Any “antidote” other than God’s truth, faith, repentance & obedience is a false antidote.
Thus, the false antidote will only provide temporary relief from the symptoms. The abuse of the false antidote will lead to addictions and further destructive symptoms will emerge. Eventually, like the virus, the lie will overtake the host.
Forgiveness Must Be Given
I have said much about “the lie” only to explain what has occurred in the broken Christian and why Biblical truth is the only solution to the lie. That said, Healing Prayer is an elegant and simple vehicle to help a person arrive at the truth.
I must also point out that in our example it is necessary for the girl to forgive the rapist.
This may seem impossible considering the horror of what was done to this girl and how it has affected her. It seems impossible, but—with God’s help, it is possible. Most often God shows the broken Christian, that the person who has done harm to them, were themselves also harmed by another.
The person receiving Healing Prayer is then usually surprised to find compassion arising in them toward the offender. They discover that they are able to forgive.
As Christians, forgiveness toward those who have harmed us is necessary. We must remember our Lord’s words upon the cross, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.“
In that statement, Jesus is not saying that the people who were doing harm to him didn’t actually know they were harming him; that would suggest they were all delusional or perhaps even all sociopaths. Neither was Jesus saying they were not responsible for their actions.
Jesus was stating that they were deceived as to who he was, they did not comprehend the true gravity of their actions, and that despite their actions, he was willing to forgive them.
I think a very good further explanation is found here.
The Reality of Unforgiving
The fact is, Jesus forgave them and pled with the Father to forgive them. I encourage you now to stop and take a few minutes to review what the Bible says and thus what God says about forgiveness.
We must also keep in mind what Jesus said would happen to those who refuse to forgive; they will be imprisoned and tortured.
Many Healing Prayer candidates I have worked with feel “imprisoned” and they certainly feel tortured by their issues or “inner demons.” If this were not so, they would not seek my help. Read what the Bible says about unforgiveness.
Broken Christians cannot sustain a healthy Christian life; that doesn’t mean they don’t want it. They do try but what they create instead is a “yo-yo” experience of: do poorly > do better > do poorly > do better. They are caught in what I call the Destructive Cycle.
During the Destructive Cycle is when a broken Christian will typically seek traditional counseling, mentoring, more attendance at church functions, increased Christian activities such as Bible studies, etc. They will show improvement, but then suddenly falter, then show improvement again, then falter yet again. This process continues and eventually they exhaust the input and patience of family, friends, and Christian leaders.
The destructive cycle is the result of a cause & effect pattern that was begun in their childhood.
This is the cause & effect pattern of a broken Christian:
Traumatic Event > Accepted Lie > Incorrect Belief > Incorrect Perspective > Mental Anguish > Relief Sought > Addictions > Additional Issues > Destructive Cycle: do poorly – do better – do poorly….
The Destructive Cycle of a broken Christian’s life can last for many years. I have worked with people in their 70’s who have endured their Destructive Cycle for decades. Their physical, mental & spiritual health was corrupted and it showed. They suffered much harm and caused much harm to others, as well.
In my experience, broken Christians do not intend harm. They often loathe themselves because they cannot resolve how they can be a Christian who wants to be Godly, but their actions are exactly the opposite.
When a broken Christian experiences Healing Prayer and continue thereafter with discipleship, then this is their pattern:
Traumatic Event > Accepted Lie > Incorrect Belief > Incorrect Perspective > Mental Anguish > Relief Sought > Addictions > Additional Issues > Destructive Cycle > Healing Prayer > Freedom > Discipleship Practices > Healthy Christian Life
There are those who believe that during Healing Prayer it is memories that must be “healed.” In that view, the so-called “healing” is the result after Jesus enters a person’s thoughts and explains that the person has believed a lie. Jesus then tells them the truth, and from this, they are “healed.”
In my opinion, memories do not have to be healed, nor is there any form of actual healing that takes place in the Healing Prayer process.
It is also my opinion that Jesus is involved during the Healing Prayer process. Jesus can clarify that the broken Christian has believed a lie, and Jesus can present the truth.
The presentation of truth is not enough. The broken Christian must accept that truth and act upon it in order to bring about change in their life.
The “act upon it” portion of the equation may be something like forgiveness that must be given to an offender. When one issues forgiveness it means they are turning the situation over to God. They are, in essence, trusting God instead of themselves.
They demonstrate their trust in God by doing what He says: forgive. That trust then results in joy, peace & hope.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope.” – Romans 15:13 NLT
In summary, I believe that the sensation of relief that typically fills a person at the conclusion of successful Healing Prayer is Biblical joy, peace & hope. That result is due to their act of placing trust in God. I also think that at some point we mixed up “healing” with what is actually joy, peace & hope. (If healing doesn’t happen during Healing Prayer, then why is it called “Healing” Prayer?)
Fortunately, through Healing Prayer and follow-up Biblical Counseling, we have seen broken Christians become whole & effective Christians. They healed their broken relationships and went on to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness & self-control.