A friend told us we were doing ‘soul care’ as we led people in prayer. The word ‘counsel’ brings up the picture of a desk, a counselor and a client. This is hardly the picture of ‘prayer resolution counseling.’ The phrase, prayer counseling, loses its meaning if you separate the phrase into prayer and counsel.
Counseling without prayer is powerless to create the setting for lasting change because it leaves out God’s power. What does prayer resolution counseling do that might be different from ‘normal’ counseling?
We need “safe others,” people we can trust who can aid us in dealing with often traumatic issues. While this may not be a new concept, it is an important element in prayer and resolution counseling.
Normally we work as a team. Ideally, any team should consist of a man and a woman. It doesn’t have to be, but a man and woman complement each other in their viewpoints, perspectives and sensitivities.
You cannot predict which member of the team will have the greater impact. Once in England, we were guiding a man in prayer who had lost his mother when he was a very small boy. The family tried to shelter him from the tragedy taking place.
After they took his mother to the hospital the family did not talk about her in his presence. He never saw her again. They did not let him attend the funeral. The family meant well but they denied that small boy closure: He never said goodbye to his mother.
Together we helped this man forgive his family for their conduct. But it was Connie alone, the mother, who touched and comforted this man in his grief as he said goodbye to his mother.
We have done prayer resolution counseling with several women who were victimized by men. It was important that they saw how I (Richard) responded, sometimes with tears or anger over what someone had done to them, and they realized that not all men were like those monsters.
Validation: Safe others can offer validation that what people are feeling is acceptable. Or, just the opposite, call to question their judgments about others if the facts, as laid out, don’t fit the conclusions.
When we bear other’s burdens we are not untouched by what we hear. Some counselors are taught to be detached and not show emotion. Sorry, safe others may feel the pain and humiliation. What is wrong with that! It is part of the validation that the hurting ones need. And they need to understand that God is crying too.
Perspective: However, if the facts are distorted then people need to see the real picture. People rage at God and blame him for famine and children dying. They cry, “Why did God make my parents hurt me so?” Yet it is not God who is running the world! Long ago people decided they wanted to control their own destinies without God’s interference.
Look at what we have done to a once perfect world! The more technologically advanced we have become the more damage we do with our improved technology and lives.
And don’t forget Satan, “We know that we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19 NIV).
Safe others help bring clarity and perspective not just on the larger picture but on the issues at hand and in the context of the spiritual forces at work.
Correction: Correcting misconceptions is another element important in prayer and resolution counseling. There is an error in thinking that the good in people’s lives nullifies the wrong they have done. It is as if God puts the good and the bad on a scale and sees which side weighs the most and if the good outweighs the bad then it is okay. This is nonsense.
We have been very hard on a pastor who admitted to sexual sin. We made sure he fully understood his sin against his wife, the other woman, his church and his God. His service on Sunday, or any fruit from that service, did not nullify or erase what he had done during the week.
On the other hand, when a believer has done something good, we should validate it. We should take time together to praise God for the service and to thank Him for the fruit yet also deal fully with the wrongdoing. They are very clearly two separate issues. One leads to victory and reward. The other leads to defeat and possible destruction.
The Greater Circle
Sin does not normally occur in a vacuum. There is usually a circle of others who have either influenced us towards good or towards evil. Often Christian workers lead people in prayer for forgiveness without considering the grudges that these believers have against others. Yet the Scriptures tell us that God forgives us in the same way that we forgive others.
Amy had prayed for years for release from the guilt she felt over aborting her baby. She came to God for forgiveness but had no release. She had never considered what others had done that made it possible for her to go against her conscience.
There was the boy friend who warned her, “If you don’t get rid of it, I will leave you.”
There was the aunt who said, “You got yourself into this. Don’t look to me for help if you keep the baby.”
There was the nurse who told Amy that the operation was “minor” and failed to mention the emotional and spiritual consequences on a mother.
When Amy faced the full facts and the part she played—that she was only one of several players in the tragedy—she could forgive and be forgiven.
By the way, sharing the blame did not make it any easier. Amy felt rage as she realized that any one of several people could have stopped this tragedy but chose not to. With difficulty she forgave the others and then, with understanding asked forgiveness for her part. And for the first time in many years she knew she was forgiven. (There are more necessary elements to Amy’s prayer, read the booklets on Cleansing.)
Some Christian counseling will not permit the hurting believer to bring up what others have done. Supposedly doing so is not spiritual! However, as God’s children, we want to see sin for what it is. This includes the greater circle.
Forgiveness is always for the past. It is impossible to forgive for the present or the future. Nor can I forgive until I first accuse. I cannot accuse if I am forbidden to bring up the wrongs I perceive were done to me. So I am left with my hurt, my anger, and my misconceptions— powerless and in defeat.
Whether it was committed by me or by others to me, until all the sin is brought into the light and resolved, I cannot be freed.
I know of several pastors who are unwilling to counsel people. One pastor put out a paper that said that God’s first priority for today is teaching and preaching. The church routinely sends their hurting members to Christian or secular counselors. It doesn’t seem to matter which.
The manifestation of the power of the Gospel does not come through preaching and teaching but though healing. Preaching and teaching are essential parts but the Gospel is supposed to change lives! The Gospel has the power to put to death the force and power of sin — Christ did not die just so we could get a ticket to heaven but to give us life and the ability to live victoriously.
I heard one preacher talk to Christian men trapped in pornographic pursuits. His advice: “It is sin, don’t do it.” This sounds good but is hardly liberating! How can the power that Christ released at the Cross come into my life and free me! Show me how! Don’t just say, “Don’t do it.”
Such advice is very 21st Century thinking: know and understand the issue and we have the power to solve or overcome. Or, find a label for my problem and then I am excused because I am ADD, SAD, MPD, or a host of other initials. I am a helpless victim.
Yet, through Christ we are victors. We can be freed from the force, power and consequences of sin as we bring specific, focused issues to Him for specific, focused resolution and healing.
Cross Resources’s Prayer Resolution exists to provide tools for today’s world—that is our mission statement. The Christian worker and lay person needs help and guidance in the particular prayer type that brings resolution and healing from the past. That type of prayer is not taught in Bible Schools and Seminaries. If it were, then pastors would not be frustrated in helping themselves or others. One experienced minister, after spending just a few hours in prayer resolution counseling dealing with his own personal issues, commented, “You have taught me more about prayer these past few days than I ever learned in Seminary.”
Copyright 2000 Richard D Smith