Seeking inner healing through prayer
One may hear terms such as inner healing, spiritual counselling, and healing prayers within Christian circles. Unlike secular counselling, such ministries seek to free people from emotional pain and the broken patterns of this world with the help of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Distinctively, they involve the use of spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, namely the gifts of mercy, discernment, exhortation, discernment of spirits, healing, prophecy, teaching, and wisdom. How can we practice wisdom when seeking such prayers?
Exodus 20:7 ESV “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: If anyone speaks, he should speak as one conveying the words of God. If anyone serves, he should serve with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Note: The most widely-used name for such ministries is ‘inner healing’. For this post, we will use the term, emotional renewal. In reality, God wants to do more than just heal our hearts, He wants to transform our hearts and make us new creations.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
First seek the perfect Counsellor
Counselling in general can certainly be beneficial but no human being has the power to give us new life. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
John 6:63 ESV It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
The Holy Spirit is our perfect Counsellor. He is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of God. He isn’t limited to our human frailties. As human beings, we can only rely on what we can see and what we can hear. God’s Spirit sees beyond all that into the true issues of the heart. Also, see The Holy Spirit as our perfect Counsellor.
Isaiah 11:2-4 ESV And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth…
The Holy Spirit knows every person’s full life history and generational ancestry, things that we may not be aware of or remember. He knows if we are telling the truth or if we are hiding behind shame and fear. He knows what we are truly feeling inside and can even articulate our emotions for us when we can’t. He knows if we are blinded by our own sin or being oppressed by Satan. He knows God’s plans for us and how to set us on the right path again. He will never give up on drawing us closer to God. The Holy Spirit is the perfect Counsellor and our faithful Friend.
Psalm 27:11 ESV Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
When we welcome the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, He will bring deep conviction of sin and repentance, forgiveness, cleansing, comfort, and renewal. The change He brings is more than skin deep. It is not just a modification in our way of thinking or our behaviour. The work He does will transform our hearts, minds, souls and strength. He will even give us a new heart and a new spirit. He is the One who fills us with love, joy, peace, and all good things.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
From Isaiah 61, we see that the Holy Spirit will:
- Heal our broken hearts | Isaiah 61:1 ESV The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…
- Set us free from bondage to sin and demonic strongholds | Isaiah 61:1 ESV The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
- Comfort us | Isaiah 61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
- Fill us with His joy | Isaiah 61:3 ESV to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
- Rebuild our foundations (identity, beliefs, personality, desires etc.) | Isaiah 61:4 ESV They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
- Restore spiritual blessings that have been lost through the generations (usually through rebellion and idol worship) | Isaiah 61:4 ESV They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
- Replace our shame with confidence and rejoicing | Isaiah 61:7 ESV Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
- Equip us to minister to others | Isaiah 61:6 ESV but you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations…
Conquering our sinful nature
The Holy Spirit brings healing, but ultimately, He gives us the power to “put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.” This is very important for all believers, because being led by the Holy Spirit and dying to sin are ways to prove that we are indeed God’s children.
Romans 8:12-14,19 NLT Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.
Anyone who seeks to receive emotional renewal without the desire to conquer one’s sinful nature can still end up in “the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” This is a very eye-opening warning for all of us.
Revelation 21:7-8 ESV The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
There is little point in seeking healing for healing’s sake. We can gain everything we want on earth, such as temporary comfort, greater peace, and relief from anxiety and depression, and still lose our souls!
Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
It is much more crucial to be strengthened in our faith and relationship with God through the Holy Spirit’s healing work, as well as in our conviction and ability to overcome our own sinful nature. And when we receive God’s comfort and healing, we are called to go on and bring God’s comfort to others. This is how the Body of Christ, which comprises all His believers, can be built up.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
- The pursuit of healing should not replace the pursuit of God Himself
- The true Counsellor is the Holy Spirit
- We exercise the spiritual gifts that God has given us
- Prayer ministry should be based on God’s Word, not psychology
- We place our faith in His Word and His guidance, and not in man-made methodologies and tools (especially those that originate from or rely on mysticism, manipulation of our body parts, and new age practices)
- We need to want to die to our sinful nature, not just repent of some sins that we are willing to give up
- It’s about being equipped to live lives led by the Holy Spirit
- We do not just seek God’s healing for self-centred reasons, it is to enable us to share God’s comfort with others
What to avoid
In any form of prayer ministry, we need to be careful to avoid the following.
- Stay away from manipulating God | We should not try to manipulate God into giving us what we want, but be willing to receive whatever He has in store for us. God’s plans will always surpass ours. | James 4:3 NLT And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
- Stay away from all new age methods | We must be very careful not to introduce new age practices, such as visualisations, hypnotism, chanting, meditation, sound therapy etc. This can also include manipulating our eyes, brain signals and other body parts. God abhors all forms of manipulation and witchcraft. | Galatians 5:19-21 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery… I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Do not quench the Holy Spirit | We should not quench the Holy Spirit through unbelief. If we think we may have received a revelation from Him, we should be careful not to scoff at it but instead, test it and ask Him to confirm that it is indeed from Him. | 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 ESV Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
- Do not only rely on human wisdom | We should not rush to rely only on our human understanding but wait on God’s counsel. Human wisdom may not lead us to God’s will. The Bible tells us to “not wise in our own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” | Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
- Do not be legalistically tied down to man-made procedures or timelines | We see that Jesus used many different methods to heal. Sometimes, healing came immediately, sometimes there was a waiting period. Sometimes, the person had to first do so something. We should not restrict how God may choose to bring emotional renewal to someone. He is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” in His perfect timing. | Ephesians 3:20 ESV Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
- Do not neglect to repent of idol worship and witchcraft | There a few things that block our prayers, and none more than unconfessed idol worship and witchcraft. We need to renounce all idol worship and sorcery (both ours and our family’s) so that Satan cannot blind our minds to God’s truth. It is His truth that will set us free. | 2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
- Do not neglect to repent of mis-judging God | We can misjudge God’s character because we believe that God is the One who has inflicted suffering onto us. Perhaps we have listened to too many lies about God from this world. Most times, we are not even aware that we hold resentment or grudges towards God. Nonetheless, our subconscious judgements will hinder our relationship with God. For instance, if we subconsciously believe that God must be “angry and cruel”, we will resist drawing close to God and find it hard to receive His healing because we fear it will come with severe consequences. Our hearts need to be purified so that we can relate to God based on the truth | 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Clearing some common misconceptions
Seeking the Holy Spirit’s counsel and emotional renewal is a wonderful privilege for all believers. When we are just beginning to relate to God through the Holy Spirit, we may have questions or misunderstandings about asking Him to heal our hearts.
Here are some of them, briefly:
1. “I can pray on my own.”
The Bible makes it clear that healing comes when we confess our sins to another person and ask them to pray with us. This should be someone whom God sees as righteous in His eyes; a person who has also made conscious efforts to love God and die to their sinful nature through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because we are wounded by the unloving actions of other people, God’s will is that we are also healed by the loving actions of His faithful followers. He wants us to experience what it is like when people are genuinely kind, caring, and loving.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
God certainly hears our prayers when we call out to Him but when two or more are gathered in His name, He is there with us.
Matthew 18:19-20 ESV Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Clarification: “I need to confess my pain, burdens, and sins to a God-fearing believer/s who will seek the Holy Spirit for His counsel, comfort, and healing for me.”
Also, see Confessing to receive freedom.
2. “I’ll consider emotional renewal only when I can’t cope on my own.”
God is only truly God of our lives when we give Him control over every aspect, not only when we can’t handle something. He is not a part time God or an emergency service. Also, see Unlearning coping mechanisms to become overcomers.
Sometimes we try to control things or cope on our own because we don’t actually trust Him. We are afraid that He will disappoint or condemn us, just like other people in the past. Perhaps we think we are unworthy of God’s time because He “must have better things to do” than to listen to us. It is such unbeliefs that can keep us from experiencing God’s comfort and rest.
1 John 4:18 NLT Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
Hebrews 3:18-19 ESV And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
We don’t see God for who He truly is – the King of kings who loved us to the point of sacrificing His most precious Son for us. We haven’t learnt to “give up our own ways, take up our cross”, and follow the God who has shown us incredible compassion and kindness. God wants to save us, not condemn us.
Romans 5:7-8 ESV For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Mark 8:34 NLT Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it…
John 3:17 ESV For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Clarification: “I will gladly seek the Holy Spirit’s healing because I know I cannot transform my heart like He can.”
3. “If I am actively exercising my spiritual gifts, I don’t need prayer.”
A trustworthy test of our relationship with God is the evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us, not the spiritual gifts He has given us to build up His church. Because we live in a performance-based culture, we may be tempted to think that God will rewards us with spiritual gifts because of our good standing with Him. This misses the point. Our spiritual gifts are more a reflection of His favour on His church, rather than on individual people.
1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
Jesus Himself has warned that there will be some who can “prophesy, cast out demons and do mighty works in His name” whom He will reject one day. Evidently, the ability to exercise our spiritual gifts is not an indication of our righteousness before God. Those who practice witchcraft are in fact, exercising their prophetic gift, albeit a corrupted form of it.
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
We should never reject prayers for our personal healing if we find that the Holy Spirit has been leading us down that path.
Clarification: “I will follow the Holy Spirit’s conviction for my need for prayer, and not rely on my own judgments.”
4. “There’s no point talking about the past. It’s the future I want to focus on.”
Our past greatly affects our future. One’s formation years set the foundations of our beliefs, our fears, our desires, our thought patterns, our idols, and so on. If the foundation we have built upon is weak, what hope can we have for a strong future?
Often, we need to go back to the first six to ten years of our lives when we were at our most vulnerable. Painful or frightening incidences that we can speak about in matter-of-fact ways now we are adults would have been crushing and terrifying for us at that time.
Reacting childishly and foolishly does not make us innocent though. God will still hold us accountable for every careless word we have spoken as children and every sin we committed against others, especially our own parents.
Matthew 12:36-37 ESV I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Proverbs 30:17 ESV The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.
Ephesians 6:2-3 ESV “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
In order for us to be fully healed, we will need to release forgiveness and repent of our own bitter judgements towards those who hurt us when we were little. God wants to reset our foundations so that our spirits can be fully restored.
Psalm 23:1,3 ESV The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Clarification: “I will welcome God to restore my past and write my future. He is the Lord of my entire life history.”
5. “It hurts too much to think about the past.”
No one leaves any form of malignant cancer to fester in their bodies. Emotional toxins are unhealthy and will eventually seep into and contaminate our relationships. The longer we leave them inside us, the longer we delay coming to full spiritual health. God wants to heal us and make us whole, and restore us to His original design, before the events of this life brought devastating results.
Psalm 34:18-19 ESV The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
It can be painful to talk or even think about past grief and trauma, but it is when we bring the dark things in our hearts out into the light that we can receive comfort and healing through confession and prayer. We need to give ourselves the chance to mourn the painful events of our lives. Even God mourns and has regrets. If God grieves, what more us?
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Genesis 6:5-6 NIV The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Matthew 5:4 ESV “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
There are, however, some steps we can take to ensure that our path to healing is entrusted to the right people. It is important to confide in a Holy Spirit-filled counsellor who is humble, compassionate, and loving but who is also unafraid to speak God’s truth because it is the truth that will set us free.
John 8:31-32 ESV So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Clarification: “It hurts to think about the past, but this pain will be temporary. When I humble myself and confess my grief, God will comfort me and relieve me of my emotional burdens.”
6. “I don’t hear from Holy Spirit, so prayer won’t work for me.”
Our ability to hear God’s voice clearly can be blocked by various factors. This is why we need to confess and pray with someone who has experienced deliverance from their own blockages through their own humble repentance and healing. Also, see What stops answered prayers, Hearing God’s voice clearly, and How to prepare our hearts to hear from God.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
We should not allow shame or unbelief to keep us from experiencing God’s healing. Everyone has their own blindspots and emotional blocks, and we need one another to comfort, encourage, and edify us.
When we earnestly seek the God’s help together with a Holy Spirit-led person who has been made righteous through their own confession and repentance, His blessings and healing will come.
Clarification: “I will humbly seek God’s will for me together with a Holy Spirit-filled believer.”
7. “Things won’t change anyway, so why bother praying?”
When Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, He knew that many things in the world would not change. Yet He came any way because He came to save our souls. Let us, therefore, not be held back by our circumstances. Rather, let us first honour the price Jesus paid to forgive us for our sins and to set us free from our emotional burdens.
We will find that we will look at our circumstances differently once we receive the Holy Spirit’s counsel and healing. We begin to see things from His point of view and eternal perspective. God’s timeline for change is very different from ours.
2 Peter 3:8 ESV But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Sometimes, we think that things won’t change because we have tried everything we can and have exhausted all our options. We need to be careful not to think that God is anything like us. We should not reduce God to our proportions. Miracles can, and still do happen, but they may require us to persevere in faith and hope. Being emotionally restored can prepare us to do so with a stronger spirit.
Isaiah 30:18 ESV Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Clarification: “Things may not change according to my timeline but I will trust God anyway.”
Some unhealthy attitudes to take into prayer
When we seek God’s healing for our hearts, it is advisable to check our hearts so that we enter any prayer session with a healthy attitude.
1. “I know what I need healing for.”
God will fulfil the desires of our hearts for healing, but He often also wants to go beyond what we can see to the things that only He can show us and help us with. This may involve deeper issues in our hearts, such as our impure motives and idolatrous desires. These are things that we may have normalised for so many years that we no longer recognise them as sinful.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
God may also show us the idols in our family line, long-forgotten hurts He wants to heal, subconscious inner vows and so forth. While it is good to bring a list of prayer requests to God, we also need to be completely open to how the Holy Spirit may lead us. There may be other more pressing issues that He wants us to confront, confess, and come clean on.
1 John 1:9 ESV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Clarification: “God knows what my heart needs. I will seek His will and guidance.”
2. “One prayer session will fix my problems.”
We all want to escape from pain and suffering as quickly as we can, but things are not so simple when it comes to emotional renewal. When our hearts have experienced trauma, pain and abuse, there is often a ripple effect into other areas as well, such as how we see ourselves, how we learn to cope with stress or pain, how we relate to other people and how we relate to God. All these are areas that also need to be healed and renewed. One prayer session is never enough to fully recover from what has been lost over years of emotional distress. We also need time to put into practice what we learn through prayer.
James 1:22-23 ESV But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
1 Timothy 4:15 ESV Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
Clarification: “Healing is a process that cannot be completed in one day. God knows the pace my heart needs in order to recover well from my past wounds. I can trust His timing.”
3. “I want to be better (for my children, for my spouse, for my future …)”
There is nothing wrong with wanting to become a better person and improve our relationships with other people. At the same time, we need to realise that no one has ever died on our behalf, except Jesus Christ. When we make emotional renewal about our earthly relationships, rather than about restoring our relationship with God, we dishonour our Creator and Saviour. Our earthly relationships can become our idols when we put them before God.
Matthew 10:37 ESV Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Clarification: “I want to restore my relationship with God to its fullest.”
4. “I am afraid I will be judged.”
We can develop deep rooted fears of other people when we have been unfairly judged, mocked or rejected in the past. In order to protect ourselves, we end up pre-judging others in self-defence.
The irony about a statement such as, “I am afraid I will be judged,” is that it involves a presumptuous judgment that “other people are always judgemental.” This makes it hard for us to receive the love that God wants to show us through genuine followers who practice God’s command in Philippians 2:3-4. We are suspicious and quick to take offence when they try to lovingly lead us to the truth. We may even resent God because one day, He will judge us for all that we do too.
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Let us put down our presumptions and fears, and bring these judgements into the light by confessing to other believers who can pray for us. At the root of such fears are many hurts that we need God’s help with healing.
We can also keep in mind that God will judge anyone who judges us. We should not let our fears and judgments hinder our own healing.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Clarification: “I can bring my fears to God and move forward to seeking healing. My relationship with God is more important than any fear.”
5. “I want to remove the pain that other people have caused me.”
Often, we continue to carry emotional pain because we have held on to bitterness, resentment, judgments, hatred, thoughts of revenge and so on. All these quench the Holy Spirit’s healing work in us. It is in forgiving our offenders from our hearts that our true healing can begin.
Matthew 18:33-35 NLT Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
We can also make the mistake of believing that we need to be pain free before we can forgive someone. Most times, it is when we choose to forgive someone that we start to truly heal from the pain inflicted on us.
Luke 6:37 ESV “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Luke 6:35-36 ESV But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Matthew 6:15 ESV But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Clarification: “I need to forgive people for the pain they have caused me, then my healing can truly be fulfilled.”
6. “Everything will change immediately afterward.”
After we begin a journey of healing through the counsel and power of the Holy Spirit, we will feel naturally more joyful and hopeful, and less burdened and weary. At the same time, we will also become more aware of our sinful nature. We will begin to see our own shortcomings or the ways we have sinned against others, that may have led to the problems we now face. We also become more aware that we can go to God for comfort, confession, and guidance. These are the changes we can expect.
John 16:8 ESV And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
Lasting change, however, comes from the choices we make after prayer ministry. Will we put on new habits in the ways we think, speak and act with others? Will we repent quickly, forgive others, and learn to speak the truth win love? Will we choose to think well of others, rather than judge and condemn them? Will we study God’s Word and take His will seriously, and so forth?
Colossians 3:12-14 ESV Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
It is often when we change that our relationships and circumstances will begin to change too. This takes time because becoming a new person in Christ takes intentional and repeated practice.
Clarification: “I will be changed afterward but my circumstances will not change. How I react to them can change but it is up to me.”
7. “I will enjoy a smoother life afterward, just the way I want it.”
When we seek the Holy Spirit for emotional renewal, He will often also reveal many beliefs, attitudes, thought patterns, and coping mechanisms that need to be renewed based God’s commandments. While we do feel refreshed and lighter in spirit after prayer, we can also be sure that these new ways will be tested. Will we hold on to what God has shown and taught us, or will we quickly revert to our old sinful patterns? It is those who are tested and learn to overcome who will hold onto their victories.
Therefore, our lives may not always be smoother after receiving prayers, we may in fact, face very real tests – except that we will now be equipped with a new heart. We will be more assured that God, who is faithful and will never let us down, will be with us throughout the challenges we face.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Clarification: “God will faithfully help me and guide me through the highs and lows of life.”
8. “I am a good/better person compared to those who have wronged me.”
We all born with a sense of what is right and wrong. This is the conscience that God has placed in our spirit to keep us from sinning against Him and others. If we have no fear of God, however, we can decide that we can be our own lawmaker and judge.
We then use this sense to judge and condemn other people, especially when they hurt and abuse us. We may even use God’s Word to judge and curse others, rather than allow His Word to convict us of our own sins.
James 1:23-25 NLT For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
The Bible teaches us that “with the measure we use it will be measured back to us.” It also teaches us that if we think “we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Matthew 7:1-2 ESV “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
1 John 1:8 ESV If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Luke 6:41-42 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
The harm that people do to us is indeed grievous, but we have to be careful to not sin as a result of them. Why jeopardise our relationship with God because of mere human beings? We can overcome evil with good with God’s help.
Romans 12:17-21 ESV Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Clarification: “People have sinned against me, but I have sinned grievously against God too. God has been gracious toward me beyond measure and I can extend that undeserved grace from God to others too.”
9. “I don’t need deliverance from evil spirits.”
The Holy Spirit gives us freedom from fear, shame, self-rejection, anxiety and so forth.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Evil spirits, on the other hand, will seek to keep us in spiritual death and decay. They will hold people hostage to recurring thoughts of self-condemnation, self-loathing, suicide, depression, anxiety, not to mention nightmares, misfortune, physical aches and pain etc. They seek to destroy any love, joy, and peace that the Holy Spirit has in store for us.
One way they do this is by inciting people to meditate on ungodly thoughts that lead to fear, jealousy, and despair for example. This is how they get us to disobey God’s commandments and quench the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Some times, such spirits will operate in our family lines. We will notice generational patterns of anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness and so on.)
- Spirit of fear | 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
- Spirit of jealousy | Numbers 5:30 ESV or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law.
- Spirit of despair | Isaiah 61:3 NIV and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…
The more a person submits to such thoughts and emotions, the more such evil spirits gain control and enslave them.
Romans 6:16 ESV Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
As we seek the Holy Spirit’s healing, we should repent of submitting to such spirits and command them to leave us in Jesus’ name. As seen from the many testimonies on this website, self-professing Christians can be oppressed by the devil if we continue to choose sin over obedience to God’s will.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 ESV … God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
1 John 3:8-9 ESV Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
Clarification: “I need to repent of allowing evil spirits to take advantage of my emotions and direct me to do their will. Then I will expel them in Jesus’ name.”
James 4:7 ESV Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
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