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Lesson 4 - Inner Healing - Healing Spiritual Wounds and Damaged Emotions

We have already seen that Salvation has a broader dimension that just saving from sin. Wholeness and restoration is found in the completed work of Jesus and is for the spirit, soul and body of people.

"Inner healing or deep-level healing is a ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit aimed at bringing healing to the whole person. Since the majority of human ailments are closely tied to damage in the emotional and spiritual area, inner healing focuses there. It seeks to bring the healing power of Christ to bear on the roots from where the damage springs. Since these are often in the memories carried unconsciously by those who come for help, inner healing involves a special focus on what is sometimes called 'the healing of the memories.' Specific problems often encountered are unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, rejections, low self-esteem, fear, worry, and sexual issues." (Charles Kraft, Defeating Dark Angels, p141)

Inner healing is the healing of the inner [person]: the mind, the emotions, the painful memories, the dreams. It is the process whereby we are set free from feelings of resentment, rejection, self-pity, depression, guilt, fear, sorrow, hatred, inferiority, condemnation, or worthlessness, etc. Romans 12:2. Inner healing is the renewing of your mind. (Betty Tapscott, Inner healing through healing of memories, p.13)

We will teach on healing of the spirit, the soul - emotions, will and mind, and body.

Man is unique, made in the image of God with spirit, soul and body. (Genesis 1:26; 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.) Our whole being (spirit, soul and body) is so closely inter-related, that any damage experienced by one part affects every other part. Inner healing is sometimes called healing of the memories. Every experience is recorded in our memory even if we are unable to recall it. Without Holy Spirit discernment we would be unable to bring truth to those forgotten memories.

God is the Eternal One, not limited by time or space which are part of his creation. "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time," (2 Timothy 1:9b). With him, through prayer, we can access the events of the past and receive his healing for our pain. Leanne Payne says:

The power of the memory to make the past present to us is extraordinary. The reason for this is that Jesus, the infinite One who is outside time and to whom all times are present, enters into what to us is a past experience. (The healing presence).

The experience itself does not change but we are enabled to see it differently, in the light of Jesus' presence, and through forgiveness of the perpetrator and the comfort of Jesus for the hurt, the pain of the memory is released to Jesus and healing comes.

Betty Tapscott explains it this way:

This inner-healing process is asking Jesus to walk hand-in-hand back through every second of your life, healing every hurt. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (See Hebrews 13:5), and time and space mean nothing to Him, He can go back and heal those hurts. Healing of memories is not digging up garbage; it is throwing away the garbage that is there (Set free through inner healing, p. 16).

Inner healing occurs, not only in specific ministry times with others, but continuously as we take hold of the truth to replace lies. When we exercise our will and reckon ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11), and bring to death at the cross any area of our past or present where sinful structures or responses still have control. We invite Jesus to strengthen us and bring to those areas the power of his resurrection to bring new life. Sometimes we become so self-focussed we stop living, trapped in the effect of the past. God wants to use us while on our journey of sanctification and transformation. Therefore, navel-gazing and digging for hurts that need healing is to be discouraged. Rather, be open and allow the Holy Spirit to bring to the surface those things still hidden.

The Human Spirit

The human spirit is where we relate to God. Its function is to receive new birth, to communicate with God and bring His life to our body and soul. (Proverbs 20:27; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The spiritual nature of humans has often been neglected in the western world, and failure to recognise the needs of the spirit results in many people functioning in their everyday lives with starving spirits. Christians are not immune from this.

Much of the wounding to the spirit of a person occurs in-utero or to the very young child. The spirit of a child is nurtured most naturally as God intended by the love of father and mother. When this is lacking for whatever reason there will be damage.

Our spirit can be wounded or crushed - resulting in a pattern of wrong core beliefs and a confused sense of identity. (Proverbs 15:13; 17:22; 18:14)

It is possible to be both spiritually blind to God's truth and yet spiritually open to Satan's lies.

The Human Soul

  1. The Will - God has created us with free will and given us the ability to choose. When our will is damaged we can become either too passive or overly stubborn.

  2. The Mind - Our mind receives ideas from all it takes in throughout the course of our life. The enemy uses it to distort our thinking, to introduce wrong beliefs and to plant deception.

  3. The Emotions - We have been created with God-given emotions, emotions as expressed by Jesus. Unhealthy and irrational emotions usually originate from deep hurts. They obstruct intimacy and are the cause of most relationship breakdowns.

The Human Body

To a large extent the body has been created with the ability to heal itself. Healing may be impeded if the body is reacting to some unhealed inner wounding to our human spirit or soul.

The Need for Inner Healing

God created a perfect world (Genesis 1:31; 1 Timothy 4:4) with the intention that we be accepted, loved and nurtured (Ephesians 1:6 AV; Hosea 11:1-3). In our imperfect world all will suffer in varying degrees from a lack of, or perceived lack of, nurture. This lack adversely affects our identity, our value and self worth.

  1. Ingredients of Nurture:

    Encouragement, Affirmation, Hope and Purpose, Love, Value, Worth, Protection, Truth, Discipline, Touch

  2. Causes of Inner Damage:

    Rejection, Criticism, Words, Expectations, Abuse, Ridicule, Neglect, Sickness, Loss, Grief, Abandonment, Trauma, Accident, Near Death Experience, Pre-birth, Birth

  3. Reactions and Symptoms:

    Our reactions are usually the main problem, and yet many of our reactions are really symptoms of earlier inner damage. Jesus will both heal the inner damage and renew our attitudes. See also Resource Sheet 7 - Understanding Childhood Wounds.

    Anger, Shame, Guilt, Hatred, Health Problems, Death Wish, Bitter Root Judgments, Fear, Dissociation, Hopelessness, Sexual Problems, Unreality, Fantasy

Ministry to a Wounded Spirit

The importance of the father/child relationship has already been mentioned. The basic question will be "What was your father like?". It is sometimes helpful to complete the following statements:

  1. If I had a perfect father he would never ...

  2. If I had a perfect father he would sometimes ...

  3. If I had a perfect father he would always ...

How these statements are completed is very revealing of the wounds the child in the adult coming for ministry has received.

The Slumbering Spirit and the Imprisoned Spirit

Usually when a child is born its spirit is awake, unless something happens in the womb to send it to sleep. Without proper nurture, especially by its father, and given the pressures of our materialistic society, and even the lack of awareness of spiritual reality in the church, the child's spirit may go to sleep. This is another way of saying that the spirit is alive (otherwise the body would die) but it is not carrying out all of its functions. Just as without exercise muscles atrophy, so too do spirits. While still in the womb, trauma to the mother or to the foetus, being unwanted, a failed abortion attempt, the death in the womb of a twin, illness, and many other things can result in the child withdrawing from life. After birth the lack of nurture, affectionate trust and parental guidance also hinders the development of a slumbering spirit. The child needs to be given appropriate boundaries within which it is safe to explore the world, to build strength of character, and to train the personal spirit's conscience.

Even an adult Christian baptised in the Holy Spirit may have a slumbering spirit. The churches are full of them. When you talk to them about coming into God's presence, they do not understand what you mean. Worship is a ritual or a duty. Isaiah 52:1-2; Isaiah 56:10; Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 and Revelation 3:3; 16:15 provide evidence of slumbering spirits in Scripture.

Another spirit problem, which can occur in childhood, is an imprisoned or captive spirit. Here the spirit is awake, but unable to function in one or more areas. It may happen when a child, before or after birth, flees or turns away from life because of some early wounding. This is a rejection of God's gift of life and a rebellion against God's intention for that child to live. An older child has ways of coping with trauma without detaching from life, but an infant can only react to trauma, whether through accident or deliberate sin, by refusing to bond, or 'disconnecting'. It results in the spirit not functioning and being locked in a fleshly stronghold. Demons may also take advantage of this situation and make it worse (John 10:10).

Many of the symptoms are similar to those for a slumbering spirit, but in addition the person will know they have abilities and gifts locked inside of them which they can not bring to fruit. In some cases the spirit also goes to sleep and so is unaware of its difficult position. If awake they can be tormented, frustrated and raging inside. They will have a desire to know God, and to enter into worship, but will find it nearly impossible. See page 2 of Resource Sheet 8 - Identification of in Utero Wounds for clues to discerning a slumbering or imprisoned spirit.

Conception and Birth Experience

God can deal with pre-birth experiences that provide roots for our present problems. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5 " For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb ... My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of, your eyes saw my unformed body." (Psalm 139:13,15,16a)

Wounding in the Womb

  1. In the womb the spirit of the child inherits the sum total of all their ancestors, good and bad. They are like sponges absorbing everything without being able to evaluate or protect themselves. The unborn child "feels" in the womb. There is spiritual perception. They receive emotional damage even though they may have no understanding at this time, and memories may be deeply embedded from pre-birth experiences. The mother communicates both grief, fear, guilt, shame, rejection, and anger, as well as joy, peace, love and acceptance.

  2. From their perceptions of how life will be through what they have "felt" has been communicated to them in the womb, the unborn child will already have reacted in their spirit. Resentment; anger; withdrawal; fear, or rebellion against life; self-doubt and identity; independence, as well as optimism; self-acceptance; confidence can be responses present by the time the child is born. Dr. Thomas Verny in "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child: How You Can Prepare Your Baby for a Happy, Healthy Life" says, "The womb is the child's first world. How he experiences it - as free or hostile - does create personality and character dispositions. The womb in a very real sense, established the child's expectations. If it has been a warm loving environment, the child is likely to expect the outside world to be the same."

  3. It has been well said, "It is not so much what happens to us as how we respond to what happens." The illustrations of John and Paula Sandford of their six children's responses to in the womb and birth experiences are helpful. (Healing the Wounded Spirit, pages 42-46.)

Ministering to the Child in the Womb

  1. The ministry must be initiated and led by the Holy Spirit and great sensitivity used.

  2. You are praying for the innermost being of the tiny child and asking Jesus to meet the person for whom you are praying at the point at which wounding began.

  3. Take authority in Jesus' name, over ancestry and the affects of generational sin. Bless all Godly inheritance. (1 Peter 1:18,19)

  4. Do this for the time of conception and go through the months up to and through the birth experience. Bless each month with God's peace and welcome, checking for any adverse reactions.

  5. Let Jesus take you back to the womb, bless the conception, forgive those whose motives at the time of conception were unloving or unGodly.

  6. Pray into the spirit of the child assuring them that they are not a mistake but are chosen by God. "For he chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world." (Ephesians 1:4)

  7. Unborn children are likely to pick up any rejection, anger, fear, or resentment that the mother is carrying.

  8. Even in the womb the child may fear life, sense not being wanted, believe they will continually have to prove their right to exist.

  9. Ask the Lord Jesus to destroy any lies upon which the person's life has been built because of the wounding, and to bring to death at the cross everything that has resulted in attitudes, expectations or personality which are contrary to the good things God had prepared for them.

  10. Lead the child, by faith, to forgive parents, renounce inner vows and death wishes or judgments made.

  11. Any generational sin or wounding should be included here and the cross of Christ placed between the person and their parents and preceding generations.

  12. Cut off any negative emotions - demonic footholds - cancel the rights of any family spirits. 13. Deal with any demonic entity that is revealed.

  13. Ask the Holy Spirit to give words of creative life that will minister truth into the deepest foundations of the person.

  14. After the birth, cut the umbilical cord and break any unGodly soul ties.

  15. Allow Jesus to speak His love and welcome to the baby.

  16. In the case of a slumbering spirit ask the Lord to pour in his life and call forth the spirit to embrace life and function as God intended.

  17. There will be a need to repent of death wishes or other responses to the wounding and to choose life.

  18. In the case of an imprisoned spirit, once the Lord has given confirmation of this, the person will first need to repent of their sinful responses to the wounding, to forgive and be forgiven.

  19. Ask the following questions: a) Do you choose life? (Deuteronomy 30:11-20). b) Are you willing to trust God to protect you, and risk life every day, knowing there is pain and vulnerability in this?

  20. Pray as the Lord leads, e.g. point 9 above, and stand against all works of the enemy that have brought the person into captivity.

  21. Ask Jesus to set the person free, continuing in pray until the person experiences this freedom. The Lord sometimes gives an indication (perhaps by a picture of the prison walls or cage bars being destroyed, for example) of the person's spirit being released.

The on going loving support of the body of Christ will be needed to help the person come to maturity and live in freedom.

Childhood Experiences

Traumatic or negative experiences with parents or significant others (eg. school experiences), in early childhood will cause ongoing damage and confusion to the adult of the child. Resource Sheet 7 - Understanding Childhood Wounds, expands on this.

Jesus will take us back to a memory in order to heal and free us. He will replace the destructive lies we have believed with His truth, but He does not change history.

Reactions in Puberty and Adulthood

Jesus comes into all our life's events, regardless of our age, whenever we invite Him. More often than not we do not want to acknowledge our teenage or adult parts, and can have difficulty in loving and accepting them. We may even be too afraid or ashamed to invite Jesus into a particular situation.

Some situations hich may need consideration are: Home Problems, Career Experiences, Relationships, Marriage Difficulties, Sexual Encounters, Betrayals.

Emotional Wounding

Because God has created us emotional beings we know that feelings are a valid part of us. Difficulties arise when, rather than our spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit controlling us, our feelings control our lives. We need to learn to acknowledge our feelings as they are messages that reveal the condition of our heart. How do our feelings "get hurt"?

  1. Our spirit has been affected

    Whatever we have experienced in our conscious, sub-conscious or unconscious life will affect our personal spirit, for good or ill. All healing must begin here and we will consider this is detail later.

  2. Our inheritance

    As well as our mother's eyes and our father's build we may inherit their fears or temper. Pain and sin undealt with is passed on from generation to generation.

  3. Our acquired hurts

    Our temperament predisposes us to respond in different ways to the circumstances of life. The four responses are expanded in Resource Sheet 7 - Understanding childhood wounds. We hurt ourselves by holding on to our reactions, resentments and unforgiveness.

  4. Our childhood experiences

    Parents and parent-figures are part of the fallen, imperfect world. As such they made mistakes which deeply affected us as children. Understanding this enables us to receive the Lord's healing. We are not being critical and attributing blame to those responsible. Circumstances over which we have no control: illness, death and loss, family-breakdown, violence, war, deprivation, all affect us greatly and usually have long-term effects.

  5. Demonic or Satanic attack

    Generally our reactions and the hurtful events we have experienced give foothold to demonic bondage. The strength of the demonic hold is in relation to the amount of rubbish and/or kind of rubbish (unresolved inner mess) in our lives. Demons are likened to rats that feed on rubbish. Satan uses whatever area he can to obtain a foothold in our life. Patterns established early in life become tools he can use to manipulate us to get us into trouble until we ask Jesus to break his hold.

    1. Through inner healing, Jesus comes with awesome power to remove the rubbish and cleanse us of its source.

    2. Through deliverance, in Jesus' name, we merely command the rats to go.

Discovering Unresloved Hurts

The checklist from Rita Bennett's book, Emotionally free (see Resource Sheet 9 - Checklist for Emotional Healing) gives many of life's experiences which wound our emotions. Hidden hurts remain like dynamite waiting to explode when the "blue touch-paper" is lit. Those nearest and dearest to us are the ones usually damaged by the explosion. We therefore need to work with the Lord to allow him to expose the roots that are growing the fruit which causes such bitterness.

  1. Our reactions - or over-reaction. Any inappropriate response to a problem should be examined.

  2. Any cover-up, defensive behaviour, mask, denial or passivity usually reveals hidden wounds.

  3. Our feelings of Helplessness, Hurt, Anger and Fear are the means God uses to indicate something is wrong.

  4. Our re-active behaviour of Despair, Depression, Aggression and Withdrawal signal to us there are wounds still affecting us.

It is then the Ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal the source of those wounds and which part(s) of our being need the healing. Because we are interconnected the same fruit can come from wounding to soul or spirit.

Ministering to Bring Healing

  1. When others come to us for prayer, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is essential.

  2. Because God knows us and all the details of our lives he is able to go to the root, reveal the hurt and through repentance and forgiveness healing is instant and complete.

  3. However, we need to be willing for him to do this. Often we have made vows or decisions which we have forgotten but which still have power to affect us. We may not be willing to face the truth. At the beginning it is good to pray along these lines, "Lord, I choose to be free and am willing for you to reveal anything that may be stopping your work of healing in my life. I give you permission to work in whatever way you know is right. I surrender my agenda and my knowledge to you and commit my will to obey you, whatever you say. Please expose any lies and bring the truth. I ask you to remind me of any hidden memory which needs to be healed."

  4. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind an event in childhood that the Lord wants to heal.

  5. Often the ministry begins at a surface point because that is all we are ready to face. Where there has been much deep pain people often cannot face the pain and fear, and God graciously allows it to be surfaced gradually so that the person is not overwhelmed. The analogy of the layers of an onion is sometimes used. Another picture is that of a winding river getting deeper as it wends its way to the fullness of the sea. A circumstance which left pain may be prayed for and healing effected at one level. Later the river will wind back and the Lord will bring healing of the same circumstance at a deeper level. You always check with the Lord even if a person says, "I've had prayer for that." If there is fruit look for the root.

  6. Let Jesus show them the child in the situation, revealing the body language and feelings of the child.

  7. Sometimes we can operate only by faith because we have no knowledge or memory. This is particularly true with conception and birth experiences.

  8. It is important that the adult of the child connects with and comforts the inner child. This enables us to face what happened, who we were and who we are, and to accept both our good and bad parts.

    "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36).

  9. Invite Jesus into the situation. Help the child to forgive the person(s) who caused the hurt.

  10. Once the Holy Spirit has highlighted a painful memory there will need to be acknowledgement of their reactive sins; and repentance for them, on behalf of the person seeking healing; forgiveness received for their sins and forgiveness given for Jesus' sake to those who they need to forgive. The importance of confession of sin in the presence of others to effect healing is given in James 3:16a. Hearing a fellow Christian pronounce forgiveness and acceptance can be a powerful tool for healing. It begins to tell the heart that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ and plants hope.

  11. Jesus was present at the time of the event. To ask him to reveal himself to the person at the age they were when they were hurt is not conjuring or false imagery. It is part of allowing the Holy Spirit to bring the truth to the situation.

  12. If the person has come to faith is Christ in later life, the child did not know that Jesus wanted to be their friend. It is the wounded part of the person who needs to meet Jesus and sometimes deep healing occurs through salvation being received at this age. The Lord Jesus is the burden bearer and healer and his presence in the situation of hurt transforms it, so that the pain goes.

  13. The adult may sometimes need to forgive their inner child for the reactive sins made earlier in life by the child, and seek forgiveness for the unforgiveness and judgment they have placed upon the child.

  14. If the emotional pain of a situation has been denied when it happened, there can often be intense emotions experienced during the healing time as the hurt and all the attendant emotions are acknowledged and offered to Jesus for comfort and healing.

  15. Allow Jesus time, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring healing to the child. N.B. (This is not a time of praying or of speaking out what you see, but a time for the person to meet with Jesus.)

  16. Praying in tongues, if the person is agreeable, can be very powerful ministry to the areas of the spirit and soul which are wounded.

  17. The Holy Spirit will often allow burden-bearers who are part of the ministry or intercession teams to help carry the burden at this time.

  18. Keep open to the word of God which is truth, as this needs to be received in the inward parts. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those images and scriptures which will establish the ministry on the unchanging truth of God's word. After the ministry this will be a rich source of help to renew the mind so it will be possible to walk in newness of life.

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:17,18.)

Bibliography and Suggested Reading

  • Bennett, Rita, Emotionally free. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1982.
  • Dearing, Norma, The healing touch: a guide to healing prayer for yourself and those you love. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2002.
  • Kraft, Charles, Deep wounds, deep healing: discovering the vital link between spiritual warfare and inner healing. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993.
  • Kraft, Charles, Defeating dark angels: breaking demonic oppression in the believer's life. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993.
  • Marshall, Tom, Living in the freedom of the Spirit: becoming the person God intended you to be. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 2002. [Was Free Indeed!. Sovereign World, 1983.]
  • Payne, Leanne, The healing presence. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1989.
  • Powell, John, Why am I afraid to love? Allen, TX: Argus Communications, 1972
  • Sandford, John and Paula, Healing the wounded spirit. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1985.
  • Sandford, John and Paula, and Bowman, Norm, Waking the slumbering spirit. Post Falls, Idaho: Elijah House, 1993.
  • Sandford, Paula, Healing women's emotions. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1992.
  • Seamands, David A., Healing for damaged emotions. Scripture Press, 1981.
  • Seamands, David A., Healing grace. Victor Books, 1988.
  • Seamands, David A., Healing of memories. Victor Books, 1985.
  • Seamands, David A., Putting away childish things. Victor Books, 1982.
  • Tapscott, Betty, Inner healing through healing of memories. Kingwood, TX:Hunter Books, 1975.
  • Tapscott, Betty, Set free through inner healing. Kingwood, TX:Hunter Books, 1978.
  • Urquhart, Colin, The truth that sets you free. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993.
  • Verny, Thomas,The Secret Life of the Unborn Child: How You Can Prepare Your Baby for a Happy, Healthy Life. Dell, 1982