What is Prayer Therapy?

*Excerpt from the book PRAYER THERAPY STOP HURTING

Minnie Claiborne, Ph.D. LHD
Christian Counselor

A basic definition of the word therapy is the treatment of illness and disease.This applies to physical and mental illnesses. There are many common types of therapies or treatments as we know.Drug therapy, surgery, radiation chemical or chemotherapy are common types of therapies used to treat physical illnesses.

Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental or emotional disorders by psychological techniques such as counseling and other methods.

Prayer Therapy is the practice of using prayer therapeutically in a clinical, intensive treatment and learning session for the purpose of emotional and mental healing and wholeness.

Prayer Therapy engages the person’s SOUL (mind, will, and emotions) in a conscience process of TRANSFORMATION; rather than just praying for them to be healed.

LUKE 4:18 ROMANS 12: 2 II THESS.5:23

Prayer Therapy is NOT deliverance in the common usage of the word, although deliverance (freedom from demonic oppression and affliction will occur).It is our observation that ‘deliverance’ is relatively easy; but if the affliction is not healed and the mind renewed, the condition will often re-occur, in a relatively short time.

I can pray for God to take away the demonic oppression (deliverance) but I also need to pray for Him to heal your broken heart ( an open door for demonic oppression and mental torment) and I also need to teach you Scripturally based truths and techniques to help you to MAINTAIN, to continue to walk in emotional wholeness. This is the core essence of prayer therapy.

HOW I USED ‘PRAYER THERAPY’ TO HELPMOLLIE overcome years of molestation. Mollie thought she was okay. She had learned to live with her past pains and since they were hidden, no one could see them. She did not come to see me because of the molestation. She came to see me because she was in the process of making some important life decisions. She told me that she had problems saying no to sexual advances.

You may or may not be able to make a connection between being molested and not being able to say “NO” especially to sexual advances; but it is common among people who were molested during childhood. They often become promiscuous, for a number of reasons related to the molestation, one of these being they actually feel powerless to assert their will. A person may be 25 years old now, but they were violated at an age when their perpetrator was more powerful physically and mentally. When the perpetrator was a parent or other adult, the confusion is deeper, because by and large children are taught to obey their parents and other adult authority figures.

After several sessions in which we dealt with the molestation, Mollie received help for many other behavioral problems that were related to the molestations.

Unfortunately dangerous, ‘prescription drugs’ are being doled out by the millions.DRUGS ONLY ALLIEVIATE SYMPTOMS; OFTEN WITH DANGEROUS SIDE EFFECTS THAT ARE MORE SEVERE THAN THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT.

If drugs are ABSOLUTELY necessary in order to stabilize you, your emotions still need to be healed. Emotional wounds are just as real as physical wounds. Our emotional wounds, though not visible, need care and attention just the same. If they are not attended, they cause ‘infections of the soul’. PRAYER THERAPY can change that.

The soul has perhaps been the most neglected area of twenty-first century people. People have had MANY experiences, that caused them great emotional pain, and the pain still remains.

Traditional therapy can sometimes locate the point of pain. PRAYER THERAPY invites the ‘God who Heals’ into the process. You can do it alone or with someone who you trust. It does not have to be a professional.

*If you or someone you are helping are too ill, or are in crisis or an experience is too painful to handle alone, or is life-threatening, do not hesitate to go to a reputable hospital, Psychologist or Psychiatrist or call 911

You can still employ prayer therapy in the hospital if that’s what you have to do.

WHEN THE CHURCH ANATHAMATIZED PSYCHOLOGYWE THREW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER Many of the early “Fathers of Psychology” were students of Sigmund Freud and others who were atheistic in their interpretation and application of Psychology; so the Church in general, rejectedallaspects of Psychology. Our rejection of the pure scientific facts of Psychology have cost us.

The unbiased study of human Behavior, and the documentation of these observations is just pure science. There is nothing religious or non religious about the observation that a child who is deprived of love, affirmation and security often grows up with ‘rejection syndrome’. However it is in the application of treatment that the problems with traditional Psychology and the Church occurred. I agree with the Scriptures; but does that mean that we ignore the problem? The distress that millions of Christians are experiencing should NOT be ignored or DENIED.

God heals emotional hurts, no matter when they occurred. Jesus came to …”heal the brokenhearted…..Luke 4:18.This is good news, this too is the gospel.Let’s teach it, let’s preach it, and let’s apply it. When we pray for the sick, please include those who are suffering emotionally and mentally.

Comments from 8 Azusa Pacific University Students who used “PRAYER THERAPY” and My Book, “PRAYER THERAPY STOP HURTING”, as part of a Spiritual Formation class in 2009...

1.    During Prayer Therapy, I was instructed to reflect upon whether or not I had been hurt by something someone said. Yes!I had a situation with my employer that hurt me emotionally so just as always, God stepped in.I had thought about quitting because what had had happened hurt me to the core.But when I handed it over to God,I was emotionally back on track.I not only prayed about it, but also was able to confront my employer.It was done in love, and our relationship has been restored.Prayer Therapy can help others, especially those who are "babes in Christ" and those of us who, every now and again, seem to get off track with our prayer life.This also proves that you can spend a little time with God, but you will be strengthened in due time.

2.    I thought one of the most interesting parts about Prayer Therapy was the prompt of "hurtful" areas of life.I am a pretty positive person, so I do not spend a lot of time thinking about the areas of my life that I have been hurt in.However, this process and therapy was an interesting and revealing way for me to take some serious time to think about areas of my life that I have been hurt.I had a great time with this process, even in thinking about "hurts."I was encouraged and challenged myself on how I could fix these areas, or I prayed for the Lord to move through me to fix these areas.Overall it was a great challenge to get me out of my comfort zone and out of my routine to think about parts of my life that I do not necessarily think about a lot.

3.    My favorite part was the 5th day. It felt good to share honestly with God the areas in which I was upset or felt let down by Him. I don't think we often speak candidly with God (at least I don't). We often approach Him with such reverence (which is appropriate) that we don't feel it's also appropriate to share honestly our anger or disappointment. David spoke openly with God in the Psalms.
I think we should as well.Through the process, I felt a breakthrough in an area of ministry that I've been praying about for quite some time. I now have a clearer vision for this ministry.

4.    I was able to engage in the Prayer Therapy. It was helpful to me to be able to go to the Lord with specific situations.I have become so used to leaving myself and my issues as thelastthings to pray about.However, through Prayer Therapy I was able to regroup and target important family issues.And I hadn't realized how important it is to go to the Lord with things people say!This kind of Prayer Therapy would be extremely helpful to many, especially, if they find prayer time difficult because they don’t have a format or a guide.

5.    The 7-day Prayer Therapy exercise was kind of a healing period for me.I had to write down three experiences ofhurt that I had experienced and to present them to God (even though there are more than three).The whole prayer really worked for me.It opened up another avenue in my life to know God better and to have faith in the powerof His Name.Reading Palms 139 again reminded me that God knows all my thoughts and words even before they are spoken (omniscience).I know one thing though, I cannot hide fromHim;wherever I go, He's there with me; He sees me(omnipresence).And, He can do all things, including forming me in my mother's womb(omnipotent).You know, sometimes we tend to think that we can trick God because we know better than He knows, but we are just kidding ourselves.Anyway, I believe that this Prayer Therapy can help others grow in the Lord.

6.    I participated in the 7 day prayer exercise and I am encouraged to continue doing it.During this time, I reflected in ways I feel that God has disappointed me. As I expressed this frustration and disappointment to God, I experienced God's grace and love in my life.I could sense him embracing me and telling me, "I love you".This was a wonderful feeling, and I want to experience it more often.

7.    Honestly the first day was very special to me.I was not aware of the extent in which I was wounded and in need of His healing. This had to do with a significant relationship in my life.I have been amazed at how God has seemed to cut away this hurt that had attached itself to my heart.Though the issue may come up again in this relationship, I feel different.My response is different... I think the best way to describe what I experienced is to say my heart is slowlyhealing by God's grace, and I am very grateful.

8.    The 7-day Prayer Therapy works!I asked mywife to accompany me on this journey and I tell you, I saw the power of God! After being in the presence of God, I saw His power evident even during our morning worship.I have been in church all my life I had never heard of Prayer Therapy! I will continue to use this as a part of my walk with God, especially during those times when I feel that I need the refreshing power of God.

A review by Nahomie Moїse, MS, LMFT - Prayer Therapy: What is it?...

Dr. Claiborne’s Model of Prayer Therapy I first heard of prayer therapy through a friend who went through Dr. Minnie Claiborne’s lay counselor training. I had never heard of prayer therapy and thought that it was probably another Christianize fancy word for a secular model of treatment. But once, I started the prayer therapy training with Dr. Claiborne and her assistant Evy, I realized this was not just another inner healing model, plain prayer, or another Christian model of counseling, but something different and very powerful, and anointed.
What exactly is prayer therapy and where does it originate? Prayer as a form of healing is nothing new to the modern or the ancient world. It is something that people, knowingly and unknowingly, have been practicing for the relief of stress and distress for centuries among all people groups. The Bible, especially the book of Psalms, has numerous records of people petitioning God for things and crying out to Him in time of distress. God, Himself, commanded us to pray for healing for ourselves and our land (2 Chronicle 7:14). In the New Testaments, we see Jesus using prayer as part of his healing ministry; and the Apostle Peter stated, “If anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…” (1 Peter 5:13-15).
Prayer therapy as a specific therapy model and technique utilized in the clinical therapeutic setting did not evolve until around 1960s and early 1970s. Prayer therapy was studied and founded by Dr. William Parker from the University of Redlands, and later one of his students, Dr. Doyle Edson, joined him in his work. The original prayer therapy model that developed at the University of Redlands is still in practice this day by Dr. Doyle Edson, in Newport Beach, CA. (Prayertherapy.com, 2010).Dr Parker’s model and other prayer therapy models practice in the Clinical setting (or ministry setting), “seeks to target the spirit, primarily, to ensure spiritual well being that establishes greater potential for a healthy body and mind.” (wisegeek.com, 2010).
The prayer therapy model practiced by Dr. Claiborne differs from the other general models of prayer therapy.The main difference is that this model does not just seek to ensure spiritual well-being, but it is “for the purpose of emotional and mental healing and wholeness” and “engages the person’s soul (mind, will and emotions) in a conscience process of transformation, rather than just praying to be healed” (Claiborne, M., 2010). Dr. Claiborne teaches that the spirit does not need healing and is free, but the soul is the seat of wounds and pain, and prayer therapy is used to bring about healing in the soul. This model seeks to work with roots of problems and not just symptoms; and include the 7 secrets which help the individuals gain a better understanding of the root of their problem. Understanding the root of the problem through the 7 secrets serves as a map for the client and for the therapist on the focus of each session.
Prayer is used, not just to engage the client, pray for, teach them how to pray, or guide them in prayer, but it is used as an instrument, a tool for exploring the heart’s (soul) past, present or future distress and stress to bring about healing. The therapist (Clinician) serves as a facilitator or a coach in helping the client utilize prayer as a tool of understanding the self, exploring feelings, and releasing those feelings. The therapist neither tells the person how to prayer or manipulate the prayer to bring about an intended result. Rather, the therapist creates the context and the invitation for the Holy Spirit to come in as He will, through prayer as an instrument, to help the person explore and solve their problem. In this model, most of the talking is between the client and God, and the therapist is the facilitator.
Dr. Claiborne teaches that there are 3 types of prayer that can be utilized in the therapy context, depending on the issue or where the person is at. The first type is passive or General prayer – this is when the therapist prays for or with the person for strength or for the person to be comforted. The second type is Partial Therapeutic Prayer – this type of prayer utilizes a prayer or scripture to provide logical insight to a situation, but it does not analyze, bring healing, or relief to the emotions. The third type is Holistic Therapeutic Prayer – this type of prayer is concern with all factors of human make-up (spirit, soul, body) and gives vent, voice and prayer to the silent, often subconscious thoughts, feelings, emotions, and arguments that often sabotages one’s faith and life (Claiborne, M., 2010). This model comprise of 4 steps that the person has to go through, in the order given and thoroughly, and is known is CARRY: Cry out, Ask, Receive, Release, and Yield. This is a very simple and yet effective and powerful model. Once the client learn the model, he or she can practice it on his/her own.
Prior to using this model with a client, the Clinician should experience for his/herself the model, how it works and its effect. I had the opportunity of doing the model with Dr. Claiborne and experiencing it gave me a different perspective than when I previously heard about it. By experiencing it for myself, I was able to see how simple the steps are as well as how hard it can be to actually use prayer as a tool of self-exploration, identification of an expression of feelings. It helped me experience some of the barriers and difficulty a client might face in expressing their feelings to God.
It also helped me see the power of inviting the Holy Spirit to do His job with the person, rather than the Clinician trying to bring about words or saying things that he or she thinks might be helpful. During the CARRY technique, I received revelation about myself and light was shed on things that I was not aware of before, and on things that I was aware of and didn’t realize how deep or how impacting they were. I also received revelation that only God Himself could have revealed to me, and if Dr. Claiborne had voiced them to me (as you would in a normal therapy session) or prayed them for and over me, I would not have received it as well nor would it have been as powerful. This technique is powerful because it is not just about praying to God or an unknown higher power, but it is an invitation to the God head to come and heal. In this model the Christian therapist’s job is truly pointing people to the Wonderful Counselor (Jesus) and the rest is up to the person and God.
This model differs from other Christian model of treatment and secular model of treatment in that it intentionally invites God to come in and shine light on the situation. Compare to other therapeutic models, this model is much simpler and the basic theory of understand the problem is very simple. What would have taken a Clinician using secular techniques multiple sessions (even months) to discover, took only a matter of minutes. This model requires work and willingness from the client to engage in and reach out for their healing. It is not about the Clinician being the expert but about the client doing the work. But mostly, this model looks at mankind as a whole and gives in opportunity for the healing of the whole person.
This model is simple, yet effective. I look forward to utilizing it in my practice. I plan to offer to offer prayer therapy as solely, as separate method of treatment for those who want it, as well as incorporate it in other form of treatment method. Thank you, Dr. Claiborne, for being attentive to the Holy Spirit in creating this model that will bring hope and healing to so many.

Review References:
·Latimes.com (1993). “Obituaries William R. Parker; Prayer Therapy Advocate”. Retrieved on November 17, 2010 from URLhttp://articles.latimes.com/19...
·Prayertherapy.com (2010). “W. Doyle Edson, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. Prayer Therapy Director”. Retrieved on November 17, 2010 from URL http://www.prayertherapy.com/i...
·Warren, D. A. (2003). “Prayer as Therapy”. Retrieved on November 17, 2010 from URL http://ficotw.org/prayerasther...
·Wisegeek.com. (2010). “Prayer Therapy”. Retrieved on November 17, 2010 from URLhttp://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-prayer-therapy.htm