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Connie and I found ourselves counseling others in prayer during the training program we ran because our program put people into unpredictable and stressful situations. During that time I wrote a Christian counselor and explained how we counseled people in prayer and the way God was so consistently answering.

I was surprised when the counselor wrote back and told me that we were not doing counseling, we were doing pastoral work. That response surprised me because I cannot see how we can separate prayer (and God) from counseling. In fact, helping people without God’s help sounded like an unworkable concept.

God on the Sidelines 

 No matter what approach we use in helping others, God must be either totally in or totally out of the process. (There is no such thing as a semi-Christian approach.)

There are certain assumptions that must be considered when we eliminate God’s help.

1. If God is merely a passive bystander then He is out of the process of counseling.

2. If God is not involved in the counseling process then all we can expect is a reactive approach to our problems and surface solutions to help us strive, cope and survive.

3. If God is not involved then counseling involves our sharing, receiving advice or clarification, or being stimulated toward solutions within ourselves or from other people.

4. If God is not involved then this implies that there is a standard for right and wrong apart from God ― or that the standard doesn’t matter, or that we can make our own standards.

5. If God is not involved then we are sufficient within ourselves to direct and control our destinies. (Very much the Star Trek theme!) This also implies that our reasoning powers are sufficient apart from God.

6.  If God is not involved then we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and through our determination and will.

God in the Game

If we include God in our helping of others then He must be fully involved. Using the term ‘Christian’ in counseling does not bring in God. If God really is present we can expect certain things:

1. If God is involved in our helping others then the counselor or prayer minister is actively and directly engaged in seeking solutions for us that are long lasting and deep, such as healing and renewing and destroying destructive patterns and forces.

2. If God is involved then he is an active participant, not a passive bystander or observer. (This also means that the participants should be very dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit.)

3. We have unique personalities and identities and God tends to work with us as we are.

There are some footnotes here: God gave us new natures and ability to make right decisions but He never intended for us to be independent of Him.

However, God does not normally impose (force) His will on us. He wants to work in partnership with us because He respects and values us, both as His creation and as His children.

4. Christ’s death and resurrection are essential but Jesus alone is not focal. The Heavenly Father is the main focus, with Christ as our Great High Priest and the Holy Spirit as our Guide and the Revealer. (If this sounds strange, read a Gospel and see how Jesus constantly refers to our going to the Father for our needs.)

5. God wants us to be conformed to Jesus Christ but that does not mean we are to be absorbed or disappear in Christ ― that’s Hinduism.

6. Our reason, belief system and feelings are not sufficient in themselves as reliable guides: we are dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  

7. Once we are redeemed, our primary relationship with God is as His children and He as our Father.

8. If God is involved in the counseling process then our primary method for involving God is through prayer.

9. If God is involved in an active way then such prayer is dynamic and life changing.

There is a movement today in some Christian circles to reject anything sounding like counseling. That is a mistake. Many approaches used in counseling and therapy are useful but no approach can substitute or replace God involvement.

For many years in my Christian walk I acted as if God was around but busy doing others things, in a far off corner somewhere. I have changed my thinking, not because of a clever argument or logic but because I have seen God work through prayer done on His terms.

What is different about Cross Ministries

Normally, Connie and I work with a person in an intensive fashion. For example, when J___ came she arrived by plane and stayed a week.  Each morning and afternoon we met together for 3-5 hours at a time. 

Connie and I worked as a team. (Ideally, the best ministry team consists of a man and a woman. The masculine and feminine traits, together, bring certain strengths and insights that create the best balance.) The believer and the issues involved determine which one of us is leading.

Once we decided on an issue we had J___ tell us what had happened and we asked questions and gave insights. This sharing time was not an end it itself but created the boundaries for the coming prayer time. We guided J___ in her prayer and explained why certain things needed to be included in her prayer. (For example, a specific request for spiritual cleansing is needed for a molestation victim ― that spiritual state of defilement is why a victim feels a compulsion to bathe but has no release from the sense of being dirty.) 

Our time with J___ involved a lot of explanation, teaching and discipleship, often a seemingly unwieldy package but necessary or J___ could not have been a full participant. We wanted God to answer her prayers, not primarily ours, since she was His daughter and He was her Heavenly Father!

At times we validated what J___ had to say but sometimes we disagreed with her perception of what she or others had done. Our job was to help J___ see things from God’s perspective and to present her prayers according to His standard and will.

Because J___ had been in a cult before becoming a Christian there was a lot of distortion about God, herself, Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit that J___ brought into her Christian life. Connie and I had to make her fully aware of what were truths and what were distortions.

We spent over 20 hours in intensive talk and prayer before we finished. We helped J___ forgive others and clearly confess her own sins. We guided her as she accepted truth and consciously rejected falsehoods. That is a much abbreviated version of what we do! 

-Richard D. Smith 1997

Chapter One – Five: Copyright © 1997; Chapter Six: Copyright 1998; Chapter Seven – Ten: Copyright 1999; Chapter Eleven & Twelve; Copyright 2002 by Richard D. Smith

Use of this material is encouraged but written permission must be secured from the author to make multiplacl copies of any “insights.”

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