The  healing of memories is a term coined by Agnes  Sanford, and it is one of her great contributions to the area of Christian healing. The ministry has taken on many forms and techniques  as various  ministers  have found it an effective tool  for  helping others deal with the traumas of their past.

Those who exercise the ministry will adapt it to their own particular  gifts  and tend to find the unique expression that seems to match up with their particular understanding.  The language remains the same, but the practice tends to vary a  bit. Some use imaging in with an end to create something that has  not occurred to effect a manipulation of the psyche. Some pray  with a  very general intercession, some are specific in their  prayer. I  heard one person speak who saw "being saved and  forgiven"  as the healing of memories.

So it is that Healing of Memories has covered everything  in the gamut of inner healing. There are those who use imaging as a method  of creating fantasies in which healing is to take  place. There  are others who are opposed to imaging altogether; but  all of  them find as their intent the healing of the inner life of  a person's past to set that person free to live in the present.

Like  many  other aspects of Christian healing,  Healing  of Memories  has come in for its share of criticism, and even a  bit of  condemnation.  The critics seem concerned for  two  reasons. They  do  not  believe it is found in Holy  Scripture,  and  they believe the use of visualization, or imaging is a form of  incantation or sorcery.

If  we  are to commend the use of the ministry we  call  the Healing of Memories, we must deal with the questions they  raise, for  ourselves as much as in answer to the critics. Any time  we are faced with a sincere opposing voice, we must consider it lest we miss some messenger of God.


If  any method of healing is effective in "setting  captives free",  we  don't really need to explain what it  does.  On  the other hand it is good to have some idea of what we are trying  to do when we minister to others. What is the nature of the disease for  which we seek healing, and what seems to occur as we  minister?

The clearest conceptualization of the process of Healing of Memories that I know is grounded in some of the work done by  Dr. Wilder  Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon from McGill  University in Montreal. In working with galvanic probes of the human brain, he discovered that the entire history of every person is recorded in the memory system of that person.

It  is  recorded not only as the five senses of  the  person perceived it; the record includes the feelings of that person  at the time of the recording. Our entire life script is still  with us.  It is still assisting us with the task of  recognizing  and sorting out the people and things we encounter in life.

It would seem that in some sense we share the experience  of Pavlov's dogs. Our reactions to outside stimuli are in some  way conditioned by what has happened to us in the past. What we have recorded is a powerful force influencing our reactions to each of the  stinuli we encounter - whether it be in terms of  people  or things.  It  is this experiential base on which  our  wisdom  is being built.

It is this experiential context that gives stability to  our lives.  It is the ground of our prejudices - those  prejudgments that enable us to evaluate situations and make decisions. Out of these memories we seek to build our lives in such fashion as will yield the greatest self actualization.

This is true for Christian and non-Christian alike. All  of us seek that which we believe will best fulfill our lives. While the  Christian seeks to find freedom to live out God's will as  a means of finding fulfillment, the non-Christian seeks freedom  to seek  satisfaction through obedience to another god or  even  his own self will.

We  tend to build our own kingdom as we accumulate  memories and  experiences. It is our remembered perceptions of  our  past that give the quality to our lives and define us as persons.  We tend  to  interpret experience through them, even as  we  add  to their content. We will repress those which cause pain and  savor those which cause pleasure.

We will tend to believe what we want to believe and in those areas  of life that are critical to our kingdom, we  will  insist that  we are right and anyone who disagrees must be wrong.  What we perceive as truth is our reality.

As I was driving through the hills of Georgia one afternoon, I heard a talk-show host say, "Perception is reality." That  was in accord with what I knew about people. They believed what they perceived was reality - if not for the rest of the world, it  was for them.

The  host then followed with another statement,  "Perception is reality, but it is not actuality." That was what I needed  to complete the equation for me. I have always suspected that human beings hold the most complete view of reality they can know,  but they  do not yet have a complete view of God and the creation  of which they are a part.

We  meet the world daily with the data furnished by our  own unique memory content. We don't see things quite the same as the others; but for most of us, it is similar enough to  communicate. Our  view is not clear enough to set us free from the  trauma  we have recorded in our past.

Our problem then is how to change the stored memories to set us  free from the trauma without changing history. We cannot  go back and change the outcome of the events we have recorded in our memories,  but we can go back and change our perception of  those events. We cannot go back and change what the senses  perceived, but we can go back and change the emotional content of the record we hold of our past.

To  use  my own experience as an example, we  begin  with  a small boy who was shifted from one household to another until  he reached  the age of fourteen. The record was one in which  there was a great deal of anxiety and insecurity.

Since the mind has the capacity to drop emotional pain  into the unconscious level of the mind, the young man was not aware of the  pain recorded in the memories of his childhood. If  someone asked me how my childhood was, I was quick to say it was as happy as  I could imagine. In fact it was happy because I imagined  it to be happy. My childhood was edited to leave the happy memories at  the  conscious level while the pain was in  the  unconscious. Perhaps that is the source of the "good old days."

This arrangement enabled me to cope with the world in  which I  lived - through school and in a variety of situations after  I had completed school. It was not until I had been ordained  that I  was brought into an environment in which those  deep  memories were stimulated and brought close to the surface.

I have always used my family images to deal with the church. I see it as being the family of God, and hence MY family. When I attended my first Diocesan Convention (our name for a convocation or a synod), I was very excited. It was a thrilling thing for me to participate in the decision-making actions of the family.

That  feeling  held  until the aruguments  that  plague  all church  conferences began to rise to the floor. At that point  I became  physically ill. That illness pursued me from  convention to  convention. I used to get sick about a month before we  met, and I would remain sick until well after the convention.

While my friends were able to pray my illness down to a week before convention and a few days following, it came to expression at a special convention where two of the clergy began to argue in an exclusive fashion, "If you don't agree with me, you are not  a Christian."

I  remember  feeling that my world was coming apart  at  the seams. I stood up to speak, but I was incoherent. I sobbed like a small boy whose family was being torn apart. I embarrassed all of  the people on the floor of that convention, but I managed  to communicate my concern and involvement.

It was later that I was able to talk and pray with a  friend who  helped  me  find the source of the pain that  needed  to  be healed. As we prayed and talked it was revealed to me that I had grown  up in a number of households that had dominant  women  and recessive  males. The males were frequently alcoholic.  It  was the  little  boy from that past whose feelings I  shared  on  the floor of the convention.

When I got back to my parish, I asked one of the ladies  who had  learned to pray for Healing of Memories to pray for me as  a little boy in such an environment. I had been prayed for  before but I had not known the situation where the prayer was needed and it had done little to set me free.

When  she prayed, "Jesus, will you please go to  the  little boy  who  cannot stop the arguments," my memories gave  up  their images.  I saw on my mind's TV screen, the little boy  lying  on his side, holding his stomach, feeling just as I did on the floor of that convention.

I saw Jesus walk into the picture from the right side of the screen. When He got to the center, the little boy looked up  and saw  Him, and he asked, "Jesus, where were you? I  couldn't  see you." The truth is that I had no idea that Jesus was on earth at that time in my life. I was told that He was up in heaven.

Jesus  said nothing at all. He simply walked over  and  put His hand on the little boy's head. When He did, the peace of God flowed into the little boy. I could see the change in the little one,  and I could feel the change in me. Jesus had supplied  the memory  with His presence. In His presence, the pain  no  longer had room. There was in its place a peace that was able to  carry me through the next convention without any illness at all.

There is one other aspect of that picture that I believe  is worth noting. In that same picture, I saw two adults arguing  as the little boy lay on the floor. Even with the entrance of Jesus they  continued to argue. God did not change the situation.  He did change my perception of it.

Jesus  redeemed that time of pain in my memory, and He  used the experience of healing to show me something about what happens as we use the ministry. It was not a fantasy, it was a  reality. I could not swear that I remember the exact time of the argument, but it seems very much like the night my father and mother yelled at each other just before their divorce.


When  ministry works to bring me into a closer  relationship to God, I feel that it must be of Him. When I approached Him  to ask where this was found in Scripture, He pointed out two things. The first was that He had come to heal the broken hearted. Lk  4: That is what occurs.

When our memory banks are cluttered with fear, resentment or some other disease, the heart, where our experience and our  mind meet,  does  not function properly. To the extent  that  we  ask Jesus  into our memories so we may perceive His presence  we  are healed. To the extent that we receive such healing, our heart is healthy.

The  particular passage of Scripture that He pointed out  to me  is  in Ephesians 5 where it is written, "Be careful  how  you walk,  not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time because  the days are evil." The new translations that I use read "making the most of the time" or "like intelligent and not senseless people."
How  do we walk as wise, redeeming the time? Redemption  is not  something that I can do. It is something that God has  done as He sent Jesus into the world to die for me. The work God  has done  FOR me is complete. He has opened the way for me to  enter into a Kingdom that is His. It is not something that I  deserve; it is something He wills for me to enjoy with Him.

He  has not completed the work that He intends to do IN  me. It remains for me to be brought to the image and likeness of  His Son, Jesus, that I might live as one of His sons. God brings  my life  into  that redemptive realm as I invite Jesus to  enter  my life and make the changes He desires in me.

Redeemed time is that time in which I am aware of His  being with me. He is always with me, but I am not always aware of  His presence,  and so I record the time as if He were not. That  was the cause of disease in the little boy whom Jesus visited to heal the emotional hurts. He had recorded the time without Jesus, and he recorded the insecurity that went with his false perception.

When Jesus revealed Himself to the little one in that crisis of life, the time was redeemed. The little boy recorded the time as though Jesus was there, and the insecurity which was  recorded without Jesus, could not stand in His presence.

There is no other way I can interpret the intent of that bit of  Scripture. It means inviting Jesus into every waking  moment of our lives so we can know He is with us. It means  rerecording our  memories so they include His presence, because where He  is, there  is both peace and love. There is no room for  disease  to abide.

If  we are to embrace this truth and use it as a  basis  for our ministry, we must make a decision about what we believe.  Do you believe that Jesus has been present with you since the moment of  your conception? Certainly the Psalmist declares this  faith in the 139th Psalm.

Do  you believe that Jesus is bound in the same finitude  of time and space that binds us? or can He go back in time? Can He go  back to those of us who have recorded the memory without  Him and  make Himself known to redeem that time? That is  my  belief because it is my experience, and it is in accord with the witness of the Scriptures as they reveal the intent of God.


The problem of using imagery in the healing ministry is  one of discerning God's will. If we use imagery to manifest our  own will and not God's, then certainly we are practicing sorcery.  If we are using our imagery to affirm God's will, we are using it as a means, not to change His will, but to see His will manifest  in us or another of His children.

If it is true that Jesus was with us from conception to now, then many of us lived out the psychosis that led us to believe He was not with us. When we desire to enter into the redemption  of our past, we invite Jesus into some experience where we had  been ignorant of His presence. We image His coming into that place to change our perception and, hence, our record of it.

When we use imaging in this way, we neither conjure nor  use incantation. We discard a psychotic (erroneous view of reality), and we replace it with Truth. We trade what we had perceived  as reality  for God's actuality. We become rooted and grounded  in Him.

It may not have been necessary for Jesus to let me watch  as He revealed Himself to me as a little boy, but it was a comfort I value very highly as a gift from God. I saw Him enter that  time to bring healing to the memory of the past in a new dimension. I felt Him bring healing to me in the present.

I recall one person for whom I prayed who did not believe in Jesus  as Risen Lord. He was willing to try anything to get  rid of some of the problems that plagued him from his childhood.  It was when he saw Jesus go to the little one that he had been, that he was able to embrace Jesus as a reality and not a nursery rhyme character.

Jesus taught us to pray, "believing we are receiving."  How better  can we pray believing than to see Him redeeming the  time that was so painful without Him. When we pray using imagery, ask Him to supply the image He wants you to use. Trust Him to  bring the one that is suitable for you in a particular situation.

The imagination is a capacity we can use for good or evil in our lives. To neglect it is to neglect a gift of God and deprive ourselves  of one aspect of God's love. It is a gift to be  used prayerfully  as  we offer it to Him to use in our  lives  to  His glory. We are to use Holy Imagination, giving thanks to God  for the gift and for the direction for its use in our prayers.





When we begin to pray for the Healing of Memories, we  begin by thanking Jesus for being there with us. We thank Him that  He is able and willing to go back into the past to redeem the person for whom we are praying. When I pray, I ask Him first to go into the deep mind and let His light shine into the dark corners where the little ones are hiding because of their rejection or shame or anger.  I  ask that He let them come out into the light  of  His love  where He might wash away the negatives and let them  recall His presence, and the comfort of His love and joy and peace.

There  are  some  things that are constant in  all  of  us. Conception  is part of the experience of every person on   earth. Since that is where our memory begins, that is where we begin our prayer.

There  are few who were conceived in pure love. Some of  us were  conceived in a measure of lust and resentment.  Some  were the product of the back seat of a car or some party where passion got out of hand. The prayer begins with asking Jesus to go  back to  redeem the seed from whence the person has come, and to wrap that newly conceived little one in His love and joy and peace.

Perhaps the most crucial part of the gestation period is the time when the mother finds out she is pregnant. If the mother is looking forward to pregnancy, there may be little trauma. If the mother has no desire to be pregnant, the reaction is usually more negative. The reaction of the mother is transferred to the baby. Rejection is recorded then and there, and it remains until it  is redeemed.

I recall my wife praying with an elderly woman who had  felt rejected all of her life. When Julia began to pray through  that period  of gestation when her mother became aware that  she  was pregnant,  the  lady began to say, "Oh no. Oh no.  Not  again." She  stopped  short and said, "That was my mother's  voice.  She didn't  want me. My parents were poor and could not  afford  any more children."

The source of the rejection was revealed; it remained for it to  be healed. The prayer was simple, "Jesus, will you  go  back into  the womb to the little one who feels rejection  and  anger, and let her know that you are there. Speak to the little one  in embryo to let her know that she is exactly who you want her to be and where you want her to be and what you want her to be.  Wrap the  little one in you love and your joy and your peace that  she might remember only your presence and your love."

There  are children who are born feeling guilt  for  causing mother to become ill during pregnancy. The conversation goes  on outside  that mother is sick because she is pregnant. The  child translates  that,  "I  made my mother sick." The  prayer  is  to invite Jesus into the womb to forgive and love the little one  to remove the guilt.

Birth  is a time of trauma. There is pain as we  fight  our way  out through the birth canal. There is rejection as we  find ourselves cast out of a warm womb into a cold world. There is  a measure  of fear as we find ourselves separated from the  one  in whom we have always found our identity, and there is anger  where our will is not being considered by those who handle us.

Soft  birth  may lessen the impact of being held up  by  the feet and whacked on the fanny, but even soft birth holds the same experiences  at a lesser level. The healing of the birth  trauma begins as we ask Jesus to be there to receive the child into  the warmth of His love - to screen out the pain and rejection and put in its place the memory of being received into love.

When I pray for people, I ask them to visualize Jesus as the one who receives the baby at birth. Lest some be offended by  an imaging  of something that seems a fantasy, let me add  that  all who  are born into love are received by hands that may belong  to another, but it is Jesus who does the receiving through one of us in flesh.

There is a point of trauma people rarely consider. When the parents  find out the sex of the child, there is often  rejection of  the baby because it was not the "right" sex. If the  parents had wanted a boy, and the baby turns out to be a girl, the  baby interprets being the wrong sex as a failure.

How many little girls have grown up trying to be the boy the father wanted? How many boys have grown up feeling they have not made  the grade because they were not a girl? How many  children have  grown up with names that were more suitable for  the  other sex because parents did not really accept them for what they were at birth?

The problem may be compounded, if shortly after the birth of a  girl whose parents wanted a boy, a boy is born and the  little girl is cast aside while the focus of family love is directed  to the boy. There is no way to conduct a study on such things,  but I wonder if some homosexuality does not find its genesis here.

The  prayer is to ask Jesus to go back to the newborn  child and pick it up and speak His love to it. By this time we know if the  child is boy or girl so we pray in that knowledge.  "Jesus, will  you go back to the little girl and let her know that it  is all  right for her to be a little girl, that she is exactly  what you  intended her to be, and you love her very much.  Lord,  let her  know  that she does not have to be a little boy. She  is  a delight to you as a little girl."

That is only one of the crucial places where healing may  be necessary.  If  it was not all right to be a girl,  then  it  is worse  to  become a woman. So it is that we pray for  the  young lady when she has reached puberty and the changes in her body are the source of anxiety and shame.

We pray "Jesus will you go to the young girl who is becoming a  woman and let her know that is all right for her to  become  a woman. She is just exactly what you want her to be, and that you rejoice in her transformation."

If either the baby or mother had some problem that caused  a separation  that prevented bonding, it may help to ask  Jesus  to bring His mother to nurture the baby. This would always be  true for a baby that was given up at birth for adoption. The  feeling of  abandonment that the baby records on such separation  may  be healed very simply.

It is also helpful at times to ask Jesus to bring His mother to touch with the adolescent girl who is becoming a woman.  Very few  girls  receive adequate nurture from their mothers  at  this point in their life.

The prayer asking Jesus to bring His mother is one I was led to pray when when praying for a woman who could not relate to her own  mother. We were praying for the healing of the woman  as  a young child. When she imagined herself in a situation where  her mother  was  unable to relate to her, I was led to ask  Jesus  to bring  His mother. He did bring her to the little girl, and  she was  able  to relate to her own mother so  they  were  reconciled before her mother died.

This practice is a bit difficult for some who have not found a  relationship to Mary. When I asked for some indication  about where I could find Scriptural support, I was led to John's  story of  the crucifixion of Jesus. At the foot of the cross  we  find Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Most people make the translation of the disciple whom  Jesus loved as John, but the text does not require that. When  praying about  it,  it seemed to me that I heard, "You are  the  disciple whom I love. Everyone who elects to accept my love is a disciple whom I love, and I share with them my mother.

This interpretation is in accord with the saying of Jesus in the  Gospels, "Who are my mother and my brothers and my  sisters? These who hear the word of God and do it."

This would seem to be the creation of a new family with  God our Father and Mary, our mother. We are found then in the  blood line  of Jesus Christ. As His brothers and sisters we share  His parents.  This was the last act of Jesus before He said, "It  is finished."

If anyone is uncomfortable with this idea, then do not  pray in that fashion. Healing is not a matter of our arguing with any person for whom we pray. It is a matter of reconciling to Jesus, the people for whom He died. When they are reconciled, He can do the revealing and teaching. I have found some things  impossible for  people  to accept from me are easy for them to  accept  from Jesus.

While  there are other places in our lives where we share  a common set of crises, we will simply list some of them here. One of  the places where prayer is important especially  where  there was an overdue birth, is just prior to birth. We ask Jesus to go back to that time and give the baby permission to be born.  Some of  us  do  not have the permission, and spend a  great  deal  of energy in life justifying our presence in the world.

The day a child begins school leaves a sense of abandonment, when the significant adults leave a child in the midst of  people they do not know. Ask Jesus to go take the hand of the child and give her the assurance that shr is not abandoned.

Forgiveness is an element that may be needed in every memory within a child. Where there has been rejection at the time  when mother finds out she is pregnant, the baby must forgive both  the mother and itself. When a baby is born a girl when parents  were expecting a boy, the baby must forgive both parents and herself.

The  procedure I have been led to use is to ask  the  person for whom healing is sought to image that place in their life, and speak forth the forgiveness, "Mother I forgive you, and Daddy,  I forgive  you, and (we will call her Jane) Jane, I  forgive  you." Following  that I pray, "Jesus will you go to the little one  and enable her to release that forgiveness toward her parents and her own self."

Wherever  there is a remembered situation where  forgiveness is  needed, I will follow the same pattern until we have  covered all that the Lord has brought to the conscious level for healing. If and when He brings more, then we will pray for the healing  of those also.

A  common event in the life of most children is losing  some significant person through death. This may also be a problem  if we  lose  someone later in life either through  death,  or  often today, through divorce.

I  ask that they visualize themselves at the funeral of  the loved  one. I ask them to forgive the person who died  and  left them alone, and to forgive themselves. Often children will blame anything  that goes wrong on themselves. Then I ask Jesus to  go to  that one who suffers the loss and enable her to  forgive  and relenquish  the  person to Him. Where people are able  to  image Jesus'  presence with them, they do well with the release of  the loss  in  the past, so they can get on with their  lives  in  the present.

I will also ask Jesus to allow them to see the departed  one with Him so they will know he or she is in good hands. There may be some who will object to this prayer on the basis of the belief that  we  don't  know where the particular  departed  person  was consigned. We do know, as we have said before, that the Psalmist believed that God was there; and unless He changed His mind about them,  He loves them. The effect of the prayer is to enable  the people to leave their departed loved ones in the hands of God for His judgment rather than ours.

Divorce  is very similar since it too is a breach of one  of our  close relationships. Since two are made one flesh  in  Holy Matrimony, a divorce is much like a death in which a part of each person  dies.  

In the event of a divorce I ask the person to visualize  the time  when the decree is final. At that point the death  of  the marriage is complete, and the person needs healing. In the  event Jane  and Sam are divorced and I am praying for Jane, I ask  her to  say, "Sam, I forgive you, and Jane, I forgive you."  I  then ask Jesus to go to that one who has been hurt to comfort her, and enable her to forgive so she might get on with her life.

Another of the phenomena of the inner life is the inner vow. We  make them as emphatic statements about what we will or  won't do, and our memory promptly records them and seeks to use them as limits which are very difficult for us to pass. There are few of us who have not said at one time or another, "I'll never do  that again," or "I will never forgive the one who hurts me."

I once had a woman in my parish whose husband had died. She later  began courting another man. It appeared to me  that  they were  headed for matrimony, and so I took the liberty  of  asking when they planned to get married.

Her answer was, "I don't know. Every time we talk about our getting married, I feel like you all are going to kill me."

Knowing her well, I could ask the next question. "What  did you say when your husband died?"

Her reply was, "I said I'd die before I got married  again." That gave us the connection. She was willing to renounce the vow then and there. With very little trouble we asked Jesus to go to the  one who had made the vow and release her from it.  He  did. The couple is now happily married.

Inner vows are not always so easy to find. Somewhere in  my own unconscious there is a vow that I would never let anyone  see me cry again. As a result I find crying openly a very  difficult thing  to do. It has been prayed over, and is  somewhat  better, but I still pray that one day God will enable me to locate it and renounce  it, that I might be set free to release the tears  that come to the backs of my eyeballs and stop there.

When you have prayed over the areas God has revealed to need healing, the closing prayer is one that I find important.  Since I have never seen anyone healed completely in one prayer session, I always pray for God to continue the work He has begun.

I will pray something like, "Lord I ask that you go into the unconscious  areas of this child and heal all in the  unconscious that is open to your touch and let it fall away. If there is any memory  that needs to be brought to the conscious  level,  please bring it gently so that he might not be overwhelmed, but might be able to offer it to you for the healing you desire in him."

As  the healing begins to manifest in a person, he may  also find  that other memories come up to be healed. That should  not be  surprising since we are aware that much of our memory  is  at the  unconscious level. When the memories we can easily  access are healed, we are able to access those hidden at a deeper level.

The way to healing is opened when we begin to pray. It does not  happen just because we have read the material.  Healing  of Memories is a gentle ministry, and one we will learn by doing. I commend  to any of you finding a group of people who are  willing to submit one to another with respect to Christ, and try it out.

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