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Healing Line

Healing Line

How I Discovered Inner Healing

by Judith MacNutt
Fall 1998

The silence in my office was broken only by the long deep sighs of my newly assigned patient, Elizabeth. She had been admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital after being rushed to the emergency room following a serious suicide attempt. She had spent months stashing away sleeping pills and then, in a clear, calculated way, wrote a farewell letter to her mother (who had never been able to show her the love she needed), drove down to the ocean, consumed a large quantity of pills and alcohol and then waited. Within a. few hours she was discovered and rushed to our facility for treatment.

My encouragement and human care failed to retrieve her from the pit into which she was slipping. Even to speak was too much effort for a woman so wearied by years of turmoil and pain. Instead of words, her sighs and silence spoke volumes. Her hopelessness filled every corner of the room, and slowly it relationships; and then, the final tragedy, her baby son had died.

I had always successfully managed to separate my spiritual life from my clinical profession. But now, after years of observing wasted lives, I realized nothing short of a miracle would make any difference. Something had to be done about Elizabeth and all of the countless others who were crushed and barely existing on the edge of life. "Lord what can I do?"

After waiting for what seemed like hours, a warm, loving presence entered my room, and I sensed God's love and deep concern for Elizabeth and all the others for whom I had been praying. Then came God's strong, steady, loving response. "Bring them to me ... pray for their healing ... ! will restore them." The Lord then directed me to read Isaiah 61 : 1 , "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted .... " (NIV).

Suddenly everything became so obvious; a veil had been lifted from my mind. It was not what I had to do, it was what God wanted to do. These broken, desperate people were God's children, God's creation, the ones for whom Jesus had died. Of course God wanted to heal and redeem them. I was being called upon to journey with them, and the Lord would gently, lovingly rebuild everything that had been destroyed. That night, I contacted several devoted Christian friends who committed to pray for Elizabeth.

Returning to the hospital the following morning after much prayer, I asked to see Elizabeth. She was markedly changed! Her depression had lessened considerably, and she wanted to talk! Although her speech was slow and halting, she began to reveal her innermost fears, disclosing much more than the factual list of traumas she had presented before. She said she felt differently and shared something she had experienced the preceding night. She described how she was awakened around 11 :00 p.m., precisely when I and my Christian friends were praying. She became aware of a light in her room, although all the lights were out, except for a hall light filtering through her open door. The light (which she recognized as coming from Jesus) enveloped her, spreading warmth and healing love throughout her body and spirit. For the first time in her life, she felt protected and loved. This presence remained with her all through the night, strengthening and ministering to her. Though her outward situation remained unchanged, her heart and deep mind were being healed. As her daily therapy progressed, the walls of pain and isolation slowly eroded. In time she relived each memory while the Lord's healing power transformed and released her. Everything the Lord had promised me was now becoming a reality.

Elizabeth was soon released to outpatient therapy where she continued in her newfound freedom. During the first week I started praying for them, several other patients displayed such marked improvement that I could only attribute their change to the power of God. What an exciting and life–changing discovery this was for me as a therapist! The implications were revolutionary. Therapy alone was not enough; healing prayer had to be included.

After many years of individual and group counseling with people who exhibit varying degrees of emotional health, I have come to believe that a deficiency in love is at the heart of most of our trouble. The greatest longing of our hearts is to be in union, to love and to be loved. God has created us in His divine image, and He desires union with us; therefore our hearts cannot be at rest until this desire for union with God is satisfied.

In some mysterious way, when I asked Jesus to heal the destructive aspects of my patients' past, it would happen. Sometimes he would even appear to the person. In other words, prayer really can change our lives. This method of prayer has been named inner healing, the healing of the heart, or the healing of memories. Through inner healing, God goes into those regions we cannot reach and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God can truly heal and transform our painful life experiences, allowing us to be free from the bondage of unexplored memories.

Things seemingly forgotten have the potential of becoming a great source of harm. These secrets of the soul dwell in the darkness of our shame. These crushing, painful memories can rise up to destroy us in body, mind, and spirit. We may be able to survive with broken bodies but not with broken spirits: "The human spirit will endure sickness; but a broken spirit who can bear?" (Proverbs 18:14, NRSV).

In the process of inner healing, our wounded memories become a source of healing. In order to bring about that change, we must uncover those root memories–something effectively achieved through traditional psychotherapy.

But what I discovered is that through prayer we can then drain those memories of their poison through the healing love of Jesus. Once we identify the pain and bring it into the light, Jesus can transform it and free us from its crippling effects. He doesn't erase the memory, but he does remove the devastating effect of the memory. After prayer we can still remember what happened, but the memory no longer has its old power over us.

For example, one woman I prayed with several years ago shared a secret about how she had been sexually abused. She felt deep shame in telling me how, as an eight–year old, climbing the dark stairwell in her apartment, she was molested by a neighbor. When he left her she began to weep, and (she) .. had been deeply fearful ever since. She had never shared this devastating experience with anyone until she trusted me. When we prayed, I invited Jesus to go back to that little girl sitting on the stairs weeping and to fill her with his healing love. At this point she was thrilled to see Jesus loving and holding her as a wounded, weeping little child. With our Lord's help she was able to forgive her assailant. After that she found herself free from the bondage of this shameful memory. Her self–hatred disappeared and she was able to relate to men without shuddering fear. A simple prayer, which took only a few minutes, accomplished more than months, or perhaps even years, of therapy.

As I recall this and many other marvelous examples of God's healing love in people's lives, I am filled with joy. Healing is real and forever!

This article is reprinted with permission from Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life (July/Aug. 1991),
Vol. VI No. 4, copyright 1991 by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.


Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is author, teacher, conference speaker and co–founder of CHM. Fall 1998 Issue