Inner healing prayer < prayerful Christian desensitization of fear

© 2010 George Hartwell, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.  George Hartwell M.Sc. is a Christian counselor with a masters degree from the University of Calgary, 40 years experience and who integrates prayer therapy into his professional counseling practice.

www.HealMyLife.comChristian counselor  

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What is Inner Healing  Prayer?

Inner healing is the practice of healing prayer to heal traumatic memories, change habit patterns and even shift personality patterns so that one can live out their full potential of freedom and abundant life in Jesus Christ.

What is desensitization of fear?

Desensitization is a method used within psychology to remove fear.  It can be used to reduce social anxiety which is anxiety stimuated by the presence of other people. I have used it in a groupl treatment to reduce test anxiety.  The method is applicable to any fear.  .

The theoretical underpinning is learning theory - classical conditioning.  The original method has been modified by the school of cognitive behavioural therapy.  I show here how it can be modified to include prayer and godly imagery.

How does prayerful Christian desensitization of fear work?

1. The method of desenitization of fear uses some form of relaxation responses to overcome anxiety responses.  From the point of view of classical conditioning any strong conditioned response can be used to desensitize a weaker one. 

2. The method normally involves arranging a large set of situations and triggers of the fear in increasing order of the anxiety they produce.  What is produced is a ladder of increasingly anxious situations involving fear or anxiety.

3. The therapist must train the client in methods of relaxing and these are practiced until they work well. One can use the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups, deep breathing, a relaxing image, Thought Stopping and peace inducing thoughts. 

4.  The prayerful application of desensitization use relaxing images involving God, nature, Jesus to desensitize fearful situations. 

5.  Beginning with the least anxiety provoking situations the client thinks about and imagines the situation briefly (10 to 20 seconds) and then switches to relaxing for 30 to 45 seconds. When desensitization occurs when one level of situations no longer triggers anxiety. The therapy moves progressively forward through the more anxiety provoking situations until each is desensitized.

6.  In the prayerful version prayer is part of the process.  Helpful Biblical verses can be used for Thought Stopping.  Relaxing scenes that involve Jesus can be used for the relaxing image.


10.  Listening Prayer Therapy

In therapy I have had clients who knew that their mother did not have the resources to provide emotional welcome for them. Mother may be dealing with death of her mother. The family resources may be strained. Timing may be wrong. Perhaps mother is not married. Perhaps the couple relationship has fallen apart and father / husband has left.

In Listening Prayer Therapy the client is brought to Jesus. In prayer the situation as we understand it is laid out before God. The client imagines and experiences the event or that time of life. We may discover more clearly what went on, what the child experienced, felt, believed. We ask Jesus for His healing, His truth, and His life.

One client experienced Jesus having a welcome party for them. They described who was invited and what happened and how they began to feel. God had supplied what therapists describe as a "corrective experience." God arranged for the child to experience and feel that welcome that God intended for them.

Listening Prayer Therapy is based on the experience and conviction that an encounter with God is healing. In this case God's welcome party brought an experience of welcome that was missing in this person's life. Neither the client of the therapist arranged this. We allowed God to move and this is what He did. The God of surprises threw a welcome party.

When a child needs to hear from God, when the memory involves early childhood, often God's truth is dramatically portrayed like this rather than being put into words. The story conveys the meaning to the child better than words.

Listening Prayer Therapy does not try to correct every habit, feeling or thought pattern by working with the adult. We go back to the events in our imagination and reenter the experience. We prayerfully ask God to bring to recall whatever is necessary so that the person can learn whatever is needed about this event.

In an event it may be important to face decisions that were made, beliefs we formed and feelings that are lodged in the memory. Once these are in the open we invite Jesus to deal with them. And He does.

His truths deal with the child's unhappy beliefs. He can show a new way where an unhelpful habit pattern was established. And if there is some bad feelings slinging to this memory we invite Jesus to remove these feelings and replace them with His life. And He does.

By using the presence of Jesus in the therapy an important trust is established. In dealing with the grief, Jesus can be the comfort figure. After discussing the grief, I will pray that God will provide comfort for the person. I ask them to picture telling Jesus about their pain and grief. I say that Jesus is a good listener. Sometimes listening is all that Jesus does. I ask afterward how they feel and they will feel peaceful. Sometimes this peace has been missing for a long time and the person is greatly helped by experiencing this peace. As they learn to be comfortable with Jesus a secure relationship can form. ?  Top

By George Hartwell M.Sc. - Professional prayer therapist

To learn all About George or his professional practice see: George's Professional web site, Christian marriage counselling, Christian phone therapy, and Christian Marriage Retreats.  To e-mail George click on:

For testimonies on my teaching mission to Scotland see: testimonies of Listening Prayer Therapy.
For testimonies of my marriage and individual therapy using listening prayer therapy.
For testimonies by professionals who have observed prayer therapy with a couple over several days.

Do you need help to discern a wolf in sheep clothing? See: Heal My Life Blog on Ralph Rutledge, Demons in the Sanctuary