Healing Prayer and Spiritual Direction: A Match Made in Heaven?

Inner healing is foundational to spiritual formation. Whether healing comes as we open ourselves to God through spiritual disciplines or while meeting with a trained prayer practitioner, is irrelevant. It only matters that it comes. And in my experience, it comes frequently during times of spiritual direction.

And why shouldn’t it? Listening prayer and attunement lie at the heart of both.

In fact, I have a growing conviction that spiritual direction and inner healing are a natural fit. However, because we are unfamiliar with the process, we’re hesitant to pray for healing from past hurts — for others and for ourselves.

The truth is we all carry past hurts. Until we address the root issues and experience healing from past pain and trauma, our spiritual formation is hindered, and in many cases, arrested.

As spiritual directors, companions, and leaders, we play an important role in the healing process. Consider being intentional about facilitating inner healing in the lives of your directees by praying for them or referring them to a professional for life-controlling issues.

Consider these tips to help you get started:

  • Learn all you can about listening and inner healing prayer. There are more resources available today than ever. You might start with these two excellent books: A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places by Rusty Rustenbach andRestoring the Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing Ministry by Chester and Betsy Kylstra. If you are interested in going deeper, Dr. Terry Wardle, a seminary educator and leader in healing prayer, offers seminars and training in healing care and formational prayer.
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide the process. While prayer models for healing prayer can be helpful, it is more important that you rely on the Holy Spirit to guide the prayer process. I’ve prayed for people for years and read extensively on the topic. However, I’ve found that the Holy Spirit knows exactly what the person receiving prayer needs at any given moment. And as I have danced with the Spirit during times of healing prayer, I have seen many remarkable healings.
  • Know when to refer individuals to professionals. While in some cases, an individual can walk the path of healing with Christ alone or with the help of a spiritual director, I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting professional help in the healing process when dealing with such complex issues as addictions, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual abuse.

When we rely on the Holy Spirit and the revelation He brings to guide the healing prayer process, we can rest in the knowledge that our times of prayer will bear fruit, both now and in eternity.

Join the Conversation

Do you agree or disagree that inner healing is foundational to spiritual formation?

What are your concerns about offering healing prayer for others?

What past hurts or traumas continue to impact your life today? What next steps do you need to take on your journey toward wholeness?

Mary Yerkes:
  Mary Yerkes an author, speaker, seasoned mentor, spiritual companion, and Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC). She helps people live and lead from the inside out.
    • Marjorie

      Do you agree that inner healing seems more possible than physical healing, and, if so, why do you think it is so? (This is not meant to be a challenge–Jesus seems to say to the bed-ridden man that it is better to heal the psyche than the body, but chooses to do what is observable for the sake of our faith, as a SIGN of the inner healing. What are reasonable expectations as a believer?)

      • Marjorie,

        Thank you for your comment. You raise some good questions, which I will attempt to answer below. However, let me preface my response by saying while God reveals much about healing through His Word and Spirit, much remains a mystery.

        You ask, “Do you agree that inner healing seems more possible than physical healing; and if so, why do you think it is so?” Speaking from a biblical perspective, I do not believe inner healing is “more possible” than physical healing or vice versa. We see clear examples in Scripture of both; historically, we see the same.

        Regardless of how much physical healing we experience in our lifetime, our earthy bodies will one day give out. However, our inner man lives on, which is why Jesus places such great worth on the soul.

        That said, we can reasonably expect God’s Holy Spirit lead us in an ongoing work of spiritual and personal transformation — that includes inner healing — during all of our days on earth. However, our spiritual formation and inner healing always requires our active participation and continual opening ourselves to God through such spiritual practices as listening prayer, silence and solitude, and Sabbath rest.

        As someone who has sat on both sides of the inner healing equation, I can tell you with certainty that the journey toward wholeness will take a lifetime. And along the way, you can expect to experience the riches of kingdom living in very tangible ways.