Christian Inner Healing Prayer
Definition of Inner Healing
Inner healing is a ministry that seeks to deal with inner emotional pain. This inner pain may be present due to negative life experiences. An example of this is someone who was badly treated by one or both parents during childhood. They may have been sexually abused or perhaps just generally ignored - not properly valued and loved. In the thoughts of those who practise inner healing ministry, the negative experience is the cause of emotional pain which the victim carries with them long after the damage occurred. If someone suffered rejection in childhood, there may be evidence of this in the present. Perhaps that person may find it difficult to love others, or perhaps they may experience depression or a negative life attitude due to the damage.
The belief that there is value in inner healing ministry is based on Biblical truths. In Psalm 34:18 we read, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." It is clear from this and many other scriptures that we can be hurt by others and by circumstances in our lives. It is also clear that God loves us and cares for us in an active way. He listens to prayer and is able to answer. He is also able to intervene and heal. Isaiah 53:5 prophesies about Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross. It says, "...by his wounds we are healed." This statement refers to the damage that is done to us through the sin that we commit. This restoration includes healing from the negative effects of sin committed against us, or from the effects of damaging situations. If we accept that we can carry hurt from past (and present) experiences, and that God cares about this and is able to heal us, it makes sense to pray and invite the Spirit to come in healing and help those who are damaged.
It should be made very clear that proper diagnosis of a person's problems requires wisdom and, sometimes, medical help also. The problems that people experience can be wide in their nature and, furthermore, come out of a large range of experiences and causes. For example, someone may suffer from evil or obsessive thoughts as a result of either demonic influence or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, both may be the case and, if so, inner healing prayer may not be appropriate; the treatment of OCD by a medical professional may be sufficient. Later, the demonic problem can be dealt with because there is no longer a foothold for the enemy to exploit. One example is someone suffering from depression. This may have no root cause as such, but is due simply to a chemical imbalance in the brain and requiring drug therapy treatment. However, in our opinion, it is highly conceivable that the onset of such a condition could have roots in negative past experiences. If the person receives ministry for those past hurts, it is possible that their depression will alleviate.
As has been said, wisdom and an unbiased and balanced approach are needed as we ourselves seek help, or as we seek to help those who suffer, from emotional and mental problems. Without looking for a complete solution from any one particular source of help (be that inner healing prayer, medical treatment of depression, or any other approach), it should be possible to find the right form(s) of treatment. Furthermore, time itself has a healing effect as does our own relationship with God and contact with His loving presence. Also, strong friendships and relationships with others - which is important for our wellbeing in any case - can further act to restore the confidence of those with damaged emotions.
How Inner Healing Works
Inner healing ministry would start with conversation and counsel with the person who is suffering to try to establish the cause of that person's problem. It is advisable to have two people to pray and counsel if possible. Even if there is only one person available to minister, that person should usually be of the same sex as the counsellee to prevent any sexual distraction. An exception might be if there is a situation where this would be inadvisable. For example, the counsellee may have a homosexual inclination and a member of the same sex might cause a distraction to the ministry process. It should also be noted that, if there are two people counselling and one is of a different sex to the counsellee, this may inhibit the counsellee from conversing freely about some areas of their experience or problem. A solution to this may be to have counselling and prayer sessions held separately, or for the other member of the prayer team to arrive at a certain time, once conversation has taken place, just to pray.
Counsellors should carefully consider the possibility of a mental disorder or condition being present in the counsellee which may need treatment. If a disorder is present, or is actually diagnosed, this certainly does not mean that inner healing is therefore unnecessary. Above all, prayer ministry should endeavour to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and words of knowledge from God which can provide insight into the cause of a person's problem and some of the ways in which they may be helped. The Holy Spirit is invited to visit the person in the present and take away the pain and negative effect of hurt from the past.
God is able to meet us at our point of need and only He knows in the fullest sense what we are experiencing and the true causes of our problems. It is important to approach inner healing ministry tentatively and humbly so as not to inadvertently "place" problems upon people which may not be the true source of their negative emotional symptoms. An example of this is a counsellor who states outright that a person's current condition, for example depression, is definitely caused by their mother's lack of love for them in childhood and inner healing ministry should be pursued - however long it takes.
Practical Implementation in the Church
In any given church, there may be a lot of emotional need and potentially a significant demand for inner healing ministry. For a church with little knowledge or experience of inner healing, it is likely to be a sizeable challenge to start to train her members in this ministry. However, if the church does want to help people in this way, it is important that at least some basic training and guidance be provided by the leadership. Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that people are helped and not harmed by those ministering. Courses in inner healing ministry are run by some churches and organisations. You can, hopefully, find information about such courses by running searches related to your country through some of the major Christian index sites. This is described below under "Web links".
Although prayer ministry made available in a Christian meeting does not have the benefit of individual discussion and counselling for a person's problems, it can still be very beneficial to people. Furthermore, if one-to-one ministry is not available in a church due to lack of training or people resources, then prayer ministry which is regularly available, during or at the end of meetings, does at least provide an opportunity for help. Whatever the type of needs people have, they can receive help from God in this way. If those responding to an invitation for prayer want to share with the person praying for them what their need is, this sort of targeted prayer is particularly helpful.
Those ministering should pray with sensitivity and love. It is important and wise to strictly follow a rule that those ministering should pray for members of the same gender to avoid accidental touch or sexual attraction resulting from close proximity. We are all human and such rules are essential. An exception to this rule might again be in the context of several people praying for an individual and there being at least one person of the same gender as the receiving person. This would be coupled with very sensible placement of touch if the member of the opposite gender praying is laying on hands. For example, touching the shoulder but not the chest area (this is certainly the case for women!). In conclusion, there are cultural and commonsense considerations which will influence how a church runs its prayer ministry.