If you are serious about growth, if you long for more intimacy with your Heavenly Father, if you want to experience more freedom, you have to try these two tools/resources/spiritual disciplines.
I’m guaranteeing that you will experience a measure of growth, freedom, and increased intimacy with the Trinity. That is not an overstatement. I’m speaking from my own experience and from observing the experience of others.
Are they magic bullets? No. Will they solve all of your problems and longings? No. But will you be further along on the journey toward transformation, healing, and wholeness? Yes!
What comes up for you when you read the words “Spiritual Direction.” Is it new? Does it feel new-age? I have now met with my Spiritual Director, Lynn, for close to six years. We meet once a month for an hour. I honestly cannot put into words the fruit I have seen from this monthly rhythm and spiritual practice.
Before I explain what it is and my experience with it, let me ask you a couple questions:
Do you think that good, healthy relationships with friends are easy to maintain?
If you’re married, do you think having a healthy and growing marriage takes work and intentionality?
I think your answers to those questions would be “no” for the first one and “yes” for the second. Any relationship that matters to us takes work, intentionality, and investment.
So, if this is true of human relationships, where we can see, pick up the phone, text, and embrace each other, how much more challenging is it to have a healthy and growing relationship with God? This does bring up another question however. Do we believe that an intimate, growing, and interactive relationship with God is possible? For now, I’m just going to assume that we do believe it’s possible and that it is actually one of our deepest longings… which is where Spiritual Direction comes in.
This is how I would describe it. Even though I don’t interact with her outside of my one hour once a month appointment, Lynn is a good friend, mentor, and guide. She helps me discern what God is doing in my life, what is going in on in my heart, and is always pointing me to the Father. She asks incredible questions, we listen to God together, and she helps me sift through my thoughts, longings, and emotions to find what God is up to. Far and away, Spiritual Direction has been the most helpful thing in my life to help me develop a whole new level of intimacy with God that I did not think was possible.
Now I’ll be honest and let you know that sometimes I feel too busy to fit this in. We also live on a very tight budget, so Jam and I have discussed the investment we make in Direction every month (from my experience, most Spiritual Directors charge $50-100). But we have decided that investing in our own relationship with God and the transformation, healing, and wholeness we have seen come through meeting with our Spiritual Directors is a priority for us. Every time I walk out of Direction, I am always so thankful, I feel re-centered, and I have something to take to the Lord and discern with him. This monthly spiritual Discipline continues to bear incredible fruit in my life.
Inner Healing Prayer
What comes up for you when you read the words “Inner Healing Prayer”? Is it new? Does it feel “charismatic” (which is usually a dirty word in the circles I run in) ?
Believing we are in a battle and desiring more freedom and healing is the starting point for Inner Healing Prayer. It is for those who take seriously what Eph. 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” If you struggle with elements of fear, anxiety, regret, shame, guilt, anger, insecurity, control, etc, then Inner Healing Prayer is for you. It is a tool to bring health, wholeness and freedom.
A helpful analogy to explain Inner Healing is garbage and rats, taken from I Give You Authority by Charles Kraft. Rats feast on garbage. If there is no garbage, the rats don’t have anything to eat, so they will leave and go find somebody else to harass. The garbage in our lives can be unforgiveness (of others, ourselves, and even God), wounds, hurt, sinful behavior, curses, trauma, vows. The rats are the “spiritual forces of evil” that feast on that garbage- spirits of depression, fear, insecurity, anxiety, comparison, loneliness, shame, guilt, abandonment, etc.
As a follower of Jesus, your sins are forgiven and you have the Holy Spirit in you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any garbage in your life. I think this is one of the things we have miscommunicated in our evangelism methods. While forgiveness of sins is a reality, that doesn’t remove the garbage from our lives. Yes, we get to go to heaven when we die, but what about experiencing the promises of Jesus now? What about the freedom, newness, and peace that passes all understanding? What about the fruit of the Spirit and loving with a love described in 1 Cor. 13? Are these realities in our lives?
We can experience these promises here and now, we don’t have to wait for heaven, but in order to experience them, we have to deal with the garbage and rats! That is where Inner Healing Prayer comes in. Again, not a magic bullet by any means, just another helpful tool.
Let me tell you a little bit about my experience and then I’ll explain more about what it is.
I’ve personally experienced Inner Healing prayer for myself and I’ve helped to facilitate 15-20 of these sessions with individuals (usually 2 hours long). Without exception, the fruit I’ve seen coming out of these sessions is:
People walking away having heard from God and interacted with him for a couple of hours, which is always very encouraging and results in deeper intimacy with their Heavenly Father.
Much more awareness of the roots beneath consistent struggles and patterns.
A new awareness to the specific strategies and lies of the enemy toward the person.
A new sense of freedom and peace.
Feeling loved and cared for by the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
Overall, I would say people walk away with a new “lightness” to them, like many of their burdens have been lifted and they are no longer carrying around a lot of junk. Most of the work of Inner Healing is surrounding forgiveness, and not just for others. Many times it’s forgiving ourselves and there are also may be times when we need to forgive God. Unforgiveness weighs us down, so by going through and offering forgiveness and releasing those things to God, there is a tangible “offloading” of those burdens which results in more freedom, joy, and peace.
There are many different models to Inner Healing, but the main components are:
Asking God to bring up memories where healing is necessary from childhood to the present . This could range from watching your parents fight when you were young, to a kid making fun of you on the playground, to a coach wounding you with her words, to a boss treating you unjustly.
Once you have that memory, you interact with Jesus about it and offer any forgiveness necessary.
Once you have gone through your entire life asking God to bring up different memories and events (the garbage), then you shift and address the rats. For example, let’s just say your parents fought a lot when you were little and you were always scared they would get divorced, and maybe they got divorced. There is potential for a spirit of insecurity to attach to you because of what was going on in your home. Or, maybe you were made fun of on the playground when you were little and that allowed a spirit of shame to be attached to you. This is one thing that Inner Healing helped me with, it totally reframed how the enemy attacks us and what his strategies are. I would never have thought that the enemy was behind things like anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, or insecurity, but now it makes a lot of sense.
Two final thoughts for you in closing:
Remember the value of experimenting and practicing in the spiritual life that we have discussed many times. A lot of times we want to have full understanding before we act. Just remember that there is a lot of learning and understanding to be had as you practice and experiment.
I’ve done my best to try and persuade you to try Spiritual Direction and Inner Healing Prayer, but I understand that both of these take some commitment and require seeking somebody else out. It’s going to take effort and there will be cost involved, so you definitely have to count the cost. But if my persuading did not convince you, my question to you is this: What will you do to address the garbage and rats in your life? It’s not a matter of if you have garbage and rats, it’s just when is enough enough?
I would love to facilitate an Inner Healing session with any of you, and Jamie could join me as well, so email me if you are interested in that. Also, I would love to pass along resources for others that do Inner Healing as well as resources to help you find a Spiritual Director. Please email me if you are interested.