The Power of Inner Healing Prayer

by Linda Strickland
Fall 2013

It was after midnight, and thinking everyone who wanted ministry at the healing service had been prayed for, I was gathering my things to leave. Out of nowhere I felt a soft tap on my shoulder, and as I turned around to see who it was, all I saw was the quick jerk of a head before someone leaned close and nervously whispered in my ear, "I don't belong here. I don't belong anywhere." The timid words and awkward behavior did not match the outward appearance of the young woman standing in front of me. Stunningly beautiful, she looked as though she could have been a model on the cover of a glamour magazine. When I asked her to tell me what she meant, she began pouring out her story of the verbal, mental and physical abuse she experienced—all hidden behind the walls of a perfect Christian family. I was overwhelmed by the contrast of her striking good looks and the ugliness of her personal truth; her outwardly picture-perfect life was actually a well-constructed façade of secrets, lies, fear and shame. Growing up with an abusive father and emotionally detached mother had produced disastrous personal and spiritual consequences in this young woman's life. It was evident that she was emotionally damaged and was now on the brink of self-destruction. When she finished her story, she fell limp into my arms and desperately held on as she wept uncontrollably. When she was finally able to speak again she asked a question I will never forget, she said, "Do you think God could really love someone as ugly as me?"

Earlier that same evening I had ministered to a young man whose story had uncanny similarities. He was also from a well-respected Christian family, and he told me that his parents were very loving and that his childhood was wonderful. I could tell he was carefully choosing his words, and after a while he finally relaxed and admitted that, in reality, he could not remember much of his childhood. The things he could remember were mostly memories of his family working at the church or passing out evangelical tracts in their neighborhood. He suddenly seemed embarrassed and told me that he felt bad for talking about his parents, especially because he had nothing but the highest respect for them. He said that they were amazing people, and that everyone loved them. He also told me that for most of his life he had felt invisible, insignificant, and empty. Although I was looking at a 30-year-old man, I was listening to a neglected, love-starved little boy. Isolated and shamed for wetting the bed, he told me that the deepest desire of his heart had always been to experience the love and compassion his parents showed to everyone else—everyone but him.

Of all the kinds of healing, inner healing touches us in our deepest suffering—that of the heart, the mind and the inner core of our being. When we have been deeply wounded through past experiences, we carry the memories and the feelings associated with those experiences. In contrast to the strengthening and life-giving effects of positive memories, painful memories can damage the emotions, crippling and binding us in our personal, emotional and spiritual lives. Unless God heals us in our areas of brokenness, we will not live and grow into the people that God created us to be. We will live as prisoners trapped in the bondage of our deep wounds. Inner healing is God's way of liberating and restoring us from our brokenness and the deepest wounds of our heart.

In his book, Healing, Francis MacNutt writes about our need for inner healing—"Inner healing is indicated whenever we become aware that we are held down in any way by the hurts of the past." He goes on to say, "We are deeply affected not only by what we do—our own sins and mistakes—but by what happens to us through the sins of others, and the evil in the world (original sin). Our deepest need is for love, and if we are denied love as infants or as children, or anywhere else along the line, it may affect our lives at a later date and rob us of our peace, of our ability to love, and of our ability to trust other people—or God."

How to Pray

At Christian Healing Ministries' School of Healing Prayer®, prayer ministers are trained to pray for inner healing by first listening to the person's story. As the person shares, the Holy Spirit will highlight areas that need to be addressed. Several vital questions should be asked to help discern the root causes of the problems, including: When did the problems begin? Who was involved? What is your image of God? (It is very helpful to find out how the person actually perceives God.) If the person has experienced severe trauma, they may not be able to remember events in a timeline. The memories will likely come out in bits and pieces and very disjointed. It can be very difficult for people to share experiences that have caused deep pain and shame, and some will be in a state of denial. Emotional honesty is the first step in healing and what sets inner healing ministry apart from other healing (such as physical healing or generational healing) is that these emotions and memories have to be acknowledged and dealt with. Most people hide their wounds, not understanding that their wounds can be the source of healing. The pain shows where the injury is—it directs us to the memory that needs healing, just as a pain in the foot shows us that we may need to see a physician. A prayer minister must demonstrate tremendous patience in this listening phase while the person tries to reveal their memories. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to bring to light whatever memory needs to be healed.

Positive, life-giving memories are equally important. Everyone has some good memories, but a person in chronic emotional pain may not be able to remember these. The Holy Spirit often releases these positive, loving memories, because they are strengthening and healing.

Inner healing can be blocked by many obstacles. Again, as you hear the person's story, listen sensitively for the leading of the Holy Spirit into areas that need to be explored. We have found the following areas are common blocks to healing:
    • Unforgiveness—either the need to forgive others or to be forgiven for one's own sin.
    • Disappointments, failures, lost dreams or hopes.
    • A distorted belief system about oneself (i.e. believing other people's lies).
    • Guilt and shame. Guilt can be a God-given emotion we have when we have sinned. Shame, on the other hand, is one of our biggest enemies, which can make us feel like we should never have been born. Guilt says, "I made a mistake;" whereas shame says, "I am a mistake."
    • Demonic interference will almost always block healing. Remember to pray the binding prayers and ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.
    • Inner judgments—negative words uttered against us may eventually become our own judgments; "You're stupid" becomes "I'm stupid."
    • Extreme emotions (i.e. excessive anger or fear) indicate the person's emotions have been damaged.
    • Too little emotion—apathy. Apathetic people do not know how they should feel in a given situation; they have denied their emotions.
When we pray, God's love and healing power can transform painful memories and free us from emotional and spiritual bondage. The Holy Spirit never erases a memory; he simply reframes it with his truth and removes its crippling effect. Deliverance prayer, binding prayer, cutting-free prayer, which are all prayers of authority, may also be necessary. Always follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to reveal any blocks to healing that need to be prayed through. Inner healing is usually not instantaneous, but requires time as God removes the layers of woundedness in our complex emotional framework.

God's love is central to the restoration and healing of damaged emotions. People who need inner healing often suffer from a 'love deficiency.' Of all our emotional needs, love is the most important, and a love deficiency results when a person has not received sufficient love in their life. The capacity to trust is second in importance to love, and arises out of feeling loved and secure. Most people who need inner healing have trust issues, and their lack of trust inhibits their relationships with people and with God. Healing of damaged emotions can help reunite them to others in their personal relationships, and to God.

Francis and Judith MacNutt describe inner healing this way, "Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, takes the memories of our past and heals them from the effects of those emotional wounds that still remain and affect our daily lives. He can fill with His love all those places in us that have so long been empty. He can give us the grace to forgive past hurts and resentments. We can ask Jesus Christ to go back to the time when the hurt occurred and free us from the effects of that wound that still remain in the present. This involves two things: bringing to light the things that have hurt us and then praying to the Lord to free us from the binding effects of our hurtful past."

Inner healing is the ministry of Jesus—healing the broken-hearted and setting the captives free. Our joy is serving Him and sharing His healing love with the suffering in this broken world.

    "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." —Isaiah 61:1-4

(It is important to note that medical intervention may be helpful and even necessary for some people. If a depressed person suffers from a chemical imbalance, medication may be needed. Or, if you minister to someone like the young woman I spoke of at the beginning of this article, you may need to alert the person's family or pastor that you suspect they may try to harm themselves. Since I was a visitor at the church where I was ministering at that time, I immediately alerted the leadership there of my concerns.)





*Taken in part from the teachings: Introduction to Inner Healing, SHP® I and How to Pray for Inner Healing, SHP® II. Visit our Schools of Healing Prayer® page for more information.

Linda Strickland Fall 2013 Issue
Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt.