[Course 20 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Prayer Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]
Lessons 5 to 7 cover various dimensions of our prayer life that enable us to grow emotionally and spiritually, to come to maturity in God. Lesson 5 talked about self-evaluation, repentance and freedom from enemy oppression/bondages. This lesson will look at deep heart issues and the next lesson will cover two aspects of spiritual growth.
Inner Healing Prayer
Inner healing prayer is where God meets you in a place where there's some deep emotional pain or trauma and brings His healing to it. Sometimes God will allow painful memories to come up vividly during your prayer time. At first you may think you're being distracted, but it might actually be God's hand. He might want to heal you of the pain and trauma from that past event. You may begin to relive that experience, to feel some of the feelings you felt when it happened. Then, while you are in the midst of it, He will come into that situation with His presence or His love. When God brings His healing to a past situation, it's like being in a dark room and suddenly someone turns on the light. The darkness is gone, vanished. And when God brings His healing into an area of our past, He takes the pain and hurt out of them. We still have that experience in our past, but it no longer has undue power over us.
There are many excellent books written on inner healing ministry. God can and does minister healing through others. However, He will often work with us when we are on our own as well. God loves to bring His healing into our lives.
Sometimes He will take us back to a painful experience in our lives and then take the hurt/pain out of that experience.
Other times He will make us aware of a wrong thinking pattern and shed His light into it. For instance, I used to have a terrible fear of being deceived by the enemy. Any time God would tell me anything, I would spend a lot of time confirming and reconfirming that He really said that. As a result, I was very slow responding to His direction because I was so afraid I would hear Him wrong. One day, God challenged me on that issue. He said, "Teresa, you don't trust Me." I said, "Of course, I trust You, Lord," because I knew (head knowledge) that He is trustworthy. Then I realized that deep down, I didn't really believe what my mind told me. As a child, people frequently told me things to get my hopes up and then dashed them to the ground by not doing what they promised. I had learned not to trust people. And what I learned had entered into my unconscious (or deep-down) thinking in my interactions with God. It was like a light switch was thrown in me. Suddenly I understood (consciously and deep within my heart/emotions) that I was predisposed to distrust people, and that somehow carried over into my relationship with God. I also know that "God was not a man that He should lie" (Numbers 23:19). As soon as God exposed that wrong thinking pattern, something inside of me clicked and I was suddenly able to trust Him. My fear of being deceived literally vanished.
God has an amazing variety of ways He will work with people in inner healing prayer. But in each of His approaches, He deals with a fear or behavior or mindset that interferes with your Christian walk (or interfers with your relationship with others), and He brings His healing into it. Whatever used to have such power over you no longer does. Sometimes the healing is instant and other times He does it over a period of time. Inner healing is when God makes you whole in a certain area.
Refiner's Fire Prayer
Have you heard how they refine gold? They heat it until it melts. Once it melts, gold, which is a heavier metal, sinks to the bottom and the impurities (e.g., other materials) float to the top. They skim those other materials off and let the gold cool. The higher the grade of gold, the more times they do that. E.g., 24K gold is heated and refined more times than 14K gold, which is heated and refined more times than 10K gold.
God sometimes uses a similar process when He wants to refine His children. He will allow things (hardship, adversity, unfair situations, personal conflicts, etc) into our life that serve as a fire to heat us up. The impurities begin rising to the top, because we act different under stress than we do when all is going well. Our faults and weaknesses rise to the top and are exposed. This is where God wants us to acknowledge these problem areas and invite Him to transform us. (That is allegorical to skimming the impurities off the top of the gold.)
God honors our freewill, and He often won't force us to deal with what He has exposed and submit to Him (against our will) for transformation. But if we don't deal with it (e.g., work with Him to be transformed in that area), then He'll begin exposing it over and over again and "turning up the heat" to get us motivated to deal with the issue He wants to deal with. In other words, the more you resist, the longer you will stay in the refiner's fire.
Sometimes people mistake God's refining fire as an attack of the enemy. They will begin resisting the devil instead of recognizing that God is using difficult circumstances to expose problematic areas of our nature and/or character that need to be changed. There are times when the devil attacks us and we need to resist. But there are also times when God refines us and we need to cooperate with Him.
At some point, God takes each of us through a major breaking point or He pushes us to our limits in some area. When He does, we will be horrified by the things we see in ourselves.
This pours into our prayer life as we learn to deal with the refinement in the way God desires. It typically involves crying out to God for help, feeling extreme distress over the situation, feeling horrified at some of what we see rising up in ourselves. And sometimes it even involves questioning God's goodness and faithfulness to us (e.g., asking questions like, "How could you let this happen to me, God?" or "Why aren't you helping me, God?") God puts us in a place where we have to look at the areas of weakness and deal with them. And we may also have to deal with our faith in God, because that also becomes challenged in the process. We have to make a conscious decision to trust God and we also have to make conscious decisions to think or act properly in these dire circumstances. During these times, our prayer life will center around discussing these issues with God. It will usually take some sort of inner struggle before we can submit to His will in these areas and allow Him to transform the things in us that are dysfunctional.
Let me share an example from my own life. My "big" refiner's fire came in the form of being falsely accused and mistreated and having my rights seriously violated by the pastor at a church I attended. The specific details aren't important. What was important was that I cried out to God to vindicate me, and all He would say was to trust Him and not defend myself against the false accusations. But the hard part was that God didn't seem to defend me either. I went through a lot of very ungodly emotions, such as anger and unforgiveness and truly wishing harm to those who were hurting me. My faith also got shaken because God didn't appear to come through for me. And at one point I remember thinking, "The world treats its own much better than the church does. Why am I putting up with all of this abuse? Maybe I should just go back to the world and drop out of church."
I was pushed to my limits. For a while, I even toyed with walking away from my relationship with God, but (thank God) I could never bring myself to do that! It took a while before I could pray sensibly (or before I even wanted to). I had trouble sleeping at night and I'd replay things over and over in my mind thinking of ways I could have defended myself from the false accusations or of things I should have done in response to being so mistreated.
One day God spoke to me and told me, "You know that eventually you are going to have to come to Me on this on My terms." Yes, I knew that, but it was a struggle for me. I knew that God's terms would require genuine forgiveness and letting it go without vindicating myself. I knew that some of what had risen up in me in response to how I was treated was ugly and ungodly. And I knew I'd have to repent and even change the way I thought and acted.
I wish I could say the process of working this out with God was instant, but it took me many months. God met me in prayer and we worked through this together. He helped me to forgive, He restored my trust in Him and He helped me have godly attitudes and actions. But it took months. I had to face a lot of problem areas inside of me I didn't want to admit were there. I had to acknowledge them and then turn to God for help in them, so He could transform me. Sometimes there were steps I had to take with God in the process, e.g., things He asked me to do. Other times all that was required was simply turning them over to God, but it took an act of great will to give them to Him.
The Lord showed me a picture during that process: A child's fist was tightly clenching a rock. I was hanging on to things like the child was clenching the rock. God said I had a choice. I could either open my fist and put the rock in His hand, or He would gently but firmly pry the fingers back one by one until I could not hold onto that rock anymore. Some of what He dealt with was simply too hard for me to open my fingers and give Him the rock. I remember praying about one of them, "Lord, I want to give this to you, but I just can't seem to open my hand. Would You please pry my fingers back and take it away?"
The prayer birthed out of the refiner's fire is deep and soul searching and it often touches on some very painful and sensitive areas, things that we wouldn't have been willing to deal with if God hadn't put us into those difficult circumstances. But when you come out the other side and see the transformation in your life and nature, you will actually be glad the Lord took you through that painful fire.
Just to finish my story, the Lord left me in that abusive church for a long time, teaching me to trust Him instead of protecting myself. He required me to remain submissive and act in a Godly fashion (my actions and my attitudes). After a year or so, He vindicated me. It became known that the charges against me were false and my true character/nature were recognized. Some time after that, He released me to go to another church.
That was truly the most difficult experience I have ever had to go through in my entire life. But much of my character, faith and strength were molded in it. And when I came out the other side, God gave me an increased anointing and deeper intimacy with Him. I was free from some inner issues that used to beset and oppress me. I didn't enjoy that "fire" experience at all, and I hope I don't have to go through another one that difficult. But I do see that it was a good thing and I like the changes God worked in me through that process.
One good thing about being pushed to our limit is that God doesn't do that very often. For most of us, that depth and intensity of the refiner's fire will be a one-time experience. He will probably push each of us to our limits at one point or another in our life, to work on those things that can be exposed and removed only by dire circumstances. But God's goal isn't to torture us, but to make us shine like pure gold. He's not going to leave us there; He's going to take us through it and out the other side into victory and anointing.
We get the "really big fire" only once or maybe twice. But He will take us in and out of the smaller refiner's fire as He needs to work on our character. I don't think we are ever fully "done" - we will need to continue to be transformed until we go to be with Jesus. The more we cooperate with Him, the faster we'll get out of the fire.