What have you done with the painful things you’ve experienced in your past? How might they be influencing you today?
We may try to forget painful memories and move on but in that case the problem lives on deep inside us, affecting how we relate to God, others, and ourselves in ways that we may not realize. Anxiety, depression, addiction, and chronic relationship problems usually have roots in a history of being rejected, abused, or growing up in a dysfunctional family.
Common problems like insecurity, anxiety, self-condemnation, or chronic tiredness may also be related to wounds or conflicts of the past that we haven’t healed from. Even physical problems ranging from serious illnesses to common headaches may be caused in part by internalized stress and repressed emotion. How we respond to the painful situations of life is a BIG deal.
Inner Healing Prayer
Inner Healing Prayer is a way to invite the Spirit of Christ to minister to the inner parts of our person that have been damaged. Sometimes this is called “Healing of Memory Prayer,” but usually the problem is less about the memory and more about the wounded or conflicted personality. (What makes the memory especially important is that it gives us access to the inner wound or conflict and how our personality may have been malformed.)
Typically inner healing prayer is done in conversation with a counselor or other prayer minister who offers God’s compassion and discernment under the leading of the Holy Spirit. The key to benefiting from this process is opening your mind and heart to Jesus to allow him to enter into the memory or hurt place to minister his grace and truth. Many people experience significant breakthroughs into personal freedom or healing by connecting profoundly with Jesus through this kind of inner healing prayer.
(Here are some more Soul Shepherding articles on “Healing Prayer.”)
Another way that we have invited Jesus to heal our hearts and the hearts of people we minister to is through praying a Scripture passage contemplatively while remembering the painful event from the past. To pray contemplatively is to Be Still in God’s presence as you marinate yourself in the Word.
Drinking From the Psalm 46 “River That Makes Glad”
Psalm 46 is a wonderful tool for inner healing prayer. It is such a gift to us! It has some famous lines that are well-known by most earnest followers of Christ. But the real benefit comes when we meditate on the whole psalm, especially if we memorize it because that helps us to meditate further on it and makes it more profoundly available to us for personal prayer. If we take the words, insights, structure, and rhythms of Psalm 46 into our bodies and minds and then we open up our heart to God in a special time of prayer it is truly remarkable how God can use this psalm to bring us his healing!
1st Meditation: Listen for a Word
“There is a river that makes glad the city of God.” And it is here in Psalm 46!
Pray Psalm 46 s-l-o-w-l-y to help you drink from God’s living waters. As you do this, notice that there are three sections, each ending with a “Selah.” Selah means pause quietly to reflect and pray. Selah helps you to drink from the still waters of God’s love by hearing his Word to you. Selah helps you to be still and enjoy God’s presence.
As you read Psalm 46 now what word or phrase from Psalm 46 does the Holy Spirit especially impress upon your heart? Let this word come to life inside you…
2nd Meditation: Imagine the Scenes
Read and pray Psalm 46 again. This time use your imagination to picture the images and scenes of the Psalm. Notice the sharp contrasts between the distressing physical circumstances and the encouraging spiritual realities. Observe the differences between the government of people and that of God.
In Psalm 46 we see and feel frightening images of an earthquake, tidal wave, uproar amongst the nations, and war. Maybe you have been through fearful things in your past? Maybe you are experiencing conflict or great stress now?
As we already said, Psalm 46 offers us the river that makes glad the city of God. This is part of the Kingdom of God, the ultimate and eternal refuge and fortress for all who call on the Lord. Indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
But when we go through suffering it may feel like God hasn’t been our refuge. When do we experience God’s help? We find that indeed God is our refuge when we look beyond our circumstances into spiritual reality and submit to his kingdom rule. What blessed peace is ours when we see and trust the invisible Kingdom of God in the midst of our visible world at war! Indeed, our personal anxieties and hurts can give way to God’s word of peace: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Try imagining the scenes of Psalm 46, especially the Kingdom of God, as you re-read it now…
To help you enter more deeply into the Selah rest of Psalm 46 contemplate just these three key verses that minister God’s presence and kingdom to us:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble… Selah…
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God… Selah…
Be still and know that I am God… Selah…
Now it’s time to recall a painful memory or struggle and invite Jesus to minister God’s healing power to you. Ask God to help you…
Imagine what happened. See yourself as a child or vulnerable person in that situation and deep inside of you today. (The child of your history may be the child in your heart today.) Feel your emotions and needs…
Consider that during that painful situation the risen Christ was present with you in Spirit, but probably this was in ways that you didn’t notice or appreciate. At that time you weren’t able or didn’t know how to put your confidence fully in the Lord and enter into the spiritual reality that God’s kingdom truly is your refuge. God is in the eternal now, where past, present, and future are one, so ask the Lord Jesus to come to you in this memory and show you how he was and is present for you…
Take as much time as you need to be quiet and still before the Lord. You’re offering your painful memory to God as if it were a movie screen. Look and listen for Jesus, paying attention to any images, thoughts, or sensations that he may bring into your awareness…
It may help you to calm your thoughts and keep your mind and heart open to God if you return to contemplating on one of the lines the from Psalm 46 (e.g., “God is our refuge… There is a river… Be still…”)…
Continue in God’s Healing
Inner healing prayer for a particular memory, wound, or conflict is an ongoing process that deepens with time. So it’s helpful to repeat this Psalm 46 meditation. Furthermore, to fully absorb and integrate into your personality God’s blessing you need to appreciate it. So make sure to give thanks to God for any ways that your Psalm 46 meditation has helped you to experience him as your “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
The other way to further your healing from Christ through this Psalm 46 meditation and prayer is to talk to someone you trust about your experience.