From Burnout to New-Birth
Over twenty years ago I (Ed Smith) reached a point of frustration and burn out in my pastoral counseling ministry. The focus of my work at that time was on helping people –primarily women- who had reported having been sexually abused as children. Many came with additional issues such as eating disorders, sexual dysfunctions, panic disorders, anxiety, addictions and depression. I eventually burned out because I did not see any real lasting change in them even after years of working with them. They had become successful managers of their pain, but did not show signs of real freedom.
Emotional Pain Not Because of Abuse After many years of working with these women, I had come to realize that their present emotional pain was NOT because they had been abused, but rather because of what they came to believe in the context of their abuse. It was the belief that followed them into their present life and not the memory of the event that was at the root of their problem. It was not the memory of what had happened to them that caused them their current emotional pain, but rather the belief they had learned and still currently believed. The reason that their memories of the abuse still felt bad was not because they had been abused, but only because of what they still believed. Beliefs such as, “It was my fault,” “I should have stopped it,” “I am dirty and shameful,” “I am not in control,” “I am going to die,” “There is something wrong with me,” (and much more) was the root of their current emotional pain.
Current Belief is the Lens of Interpretation It was their current belief and not the memory that provided the “lenses” through which they viewed their past and also how they were interpreting their present. The emotional pain that they currently felt was not because of what had happened to them, but only because of what they currently still believed. In Transformation Prayer Ministry we refer to this form of belief as experiential lie-based core-belief. These women knew the truth logically and intellectually –“I am safe now,” “It was not my fault,” “I am not dirty or shameful,” “I am not out of control,” “I am not going to die,” etc. but their lie-based core-beliefs felt true. This was the problem.
If the past is the problem, then there is no present solution. If it were true that our past is the root of our current problem then there is no remedy, since the past cannot be changed. However, if our current trouble is rooted in what we currently believe -even though we learned it in an earlier life experience- the belief is changeable even though the past is not. However, changing this core belief is not possible by sheer willpower or self-determination. Nor can it be changed simply because someone –such as the counselor- provides the person with the truth. Only God through the Holy Spirit can bring about the change that is needed. Nonetheless, I tried to help these women to know the truth over and over. I did the obvious; I told them the truth, I had them memorize the truth (Bible), I had them journal the truth, and encouraged them to choose to deny the pain, believe the truth and stand on it, name it and claim it. Nevertheless, even though they did all the above and more if they looked at the memory, the pain was always still present.
I encouraged them over and again to “put their past behind them” only to discover that doing so was impossible for them to do. I now realize that our attempting to put the past behind us is nothing more than “spiritualized” suppression. Suppression is not a good thing and benefits nothing. It has never solved the pain problem and only creates new problems of its own. The truth is, their past was not their problem, but rather the belief that they brought forward and still believed currently. Even more importantly, their current lie-based belief –which they had learned in their childhood- was greatly impacting their present life in all manner of destructive ways.
Even though they knew the truth they were not free. What had me dumbfounded even more was that they knew the truth logically and rationally. They knew intellectually that the abuse they suffered was not their fault that they were not dirty or shameful, and they were safe now and no longer in danger. Nonetheless, when they visited the abuse memory they still “felt” trapped, dirty, out of control, shameful, small and helpless. Even though they knew the truth intellectually, the lie still felt true and “trumped” what they knew with their rational mind. In Transformation Prayer Ministry we often say the phrase, “We feel whatever we believe.” Whatever I believe at the experiential core level will produce what I feel in any given moment.
This is where life can become very frustrating. I can know intellectually that God is my provider and yet live in a constant state of worry and fear over my finances. My emotions are always a dead giveaway of what I believe even when I can quote the Bible verse that states otherwise. What was true –that they were safe, not being hurt, not dirty or shameful, etc. simply did not feel true. Even though they knew the truth logically, they continually felt the continual pangs of the lie and suffered daily because of the lies many ramifications. I honestly did not know what else to do. It was in this context in which Theophostic Prayer Ministry –now Transformation Prayer Ministry (TPM)- was born.
Breakthrough: “What does the Lord want you to know?” One day in a counseling session I asked one of the women if she would be willing to try something different. She agreed. I asked her to think about one of her abuse memories and tell me what she felt. She almost immediately began to cry and tremble as she described feeling shame, fear and guilt. I asked her why she felt that way. She told me her belief, “I know this is not true, but it feels like what happened was my fault and because of what happened, I am dirty and shameful.”
Here is where I would have typically told her the truth. Instead, I took a deep breath and prayed out loud, “Jesus, I do not know what to do. Is there something that you want her to know?” I honestly did not have any expectations about what might happen. I had simply run out of options. After a few moments, she stopped crying and calmed down. She sat up and opened her eyes and with a bewildered -yet very peaceful look, she said, “It’s gone.” I said, “What is gone?” She said, “The shame and guilt all lifted off of me.” I asked, “How is that?” She replied with a countenance of joy, “He said I am not there anymore and it was not my fault.” I responded, “I know, that is what I told you.” She said, “Yes, but, this time, HE told me.” I said with some hesitation, “Who?” She said, “The Lord told me that it was not my fault!”
This was the missing key. Since then –now over twenty years ago- and thousands of hours of applying this prayer model of ministry, a very clearly defined and systematic process has evolved and has been developed. It is very consistent and totally dependent upon the faithfulness of God and learning to work in harmony with what He has been doing all along. TPM is not something new or something I created. Rather it is simply a means by which we can intentionally cooperate with God in doing what He has been doing all along. It is the difference between knowing the truth with the logical mind and knowing it experientially with the heart. When the Lord supplies His perspective it moves beyond the intellect and becomes experiential.
New Training Proves to be Far Superior to the Older Versions Since the founding of TPM over two decades ago, Theophostic Prayer Ministry –now Transformation Prayer Ministry (TPM)- has been in the processes of refinement and continues to be refined. Although the foundation principles and concepts have remained relatively intact, the application and teaching of these principles has greatly improved over time and is improving.
Name Change Needed
Even the name Theophostic needed to be changed because it did not clearly define what this ministry was about. The name Theophostic was derived from two New Testament Greek words, “Theos” that means God and “Phos” that means light. Without a doubt I believed that God was shining His light of truth into people’s hearts, but it was the transformation that resulted because of this light that rightly and more fully defined this ministry. I personally loved the name Theophostic and was sad to let it go. Nevertheless, the exchange has proven beneficial.
F.E.T. Brought Exposure We had Not Expected
The primary reason for the most recent revisions of the training was an outcome of the “Facilitator Evaluation Training (FET)” that my son and I provided in 2014-15. This training was an effort to “take a pulse” of the TPM community and see first-hand what the training at that time was producing. We spent those two years observing over hundred and fifty facilitators from around the world applying TPM in live ministry sessions in real time. We were surprised at much of what we witnessed. Nonetheless, there was no denying that what was being done under the TPM banner was a product of the former training.
This experience proved to be both informative and encouraging because we came away knowing what needed to happen. Following this evaluation period, we invested literally thousands of hours reworking, reformatting, and reconstructing the entire TPM training process from the ground up. What we have today is not only quicker, more focused, and easier to understand, but it addresses the many concerns that the older version missed. And most importantly, this new revision will be much easier to translate and evaluate.
Is the new training final and complete? Not by a long shot. I assume that the Lord will continue to refine this process as we continue to apply it and learn from Him. But it is a far cry from where it was with the former 2007 edition of the training. Those who have been exposed to the new training have overwhelmingly declared that it is much easier to comprehend, apply and evaluate. With this new training going online, it will always be current and improving. People will be able to access it in real-time and receive any new change as it is being made. In the old training, a common problem was the facilitator not knowing where he was in the session and therefore not knowing what question to ask.
In the new up-to-date training, people learn how to keep track of where they are in the ministry session and know exactly what questions to ask at any point along the way. (No more guessing what question to ask or getting lost in the session) The up-to-date training also eliminates the need for the facilitator to come up with or invent new questions in order to get the session moving after encountering a perceived hindrance or “stalling-out.”
A Shift in Focus Another major refinement to TPM has been the fundamental shift in focus from “building effective facilitators” to “equipping the Body of Christ.” Up until this point, the primary goal of the training was to train people to be effective facilitators. And although this is still an outcome, the primary goal of the training is to equip every single member of the Body of Christ with the understanding necessary to cooperate with God in His refining work in our lives. (Whether he or she goes on to become a TPM facilitator or not.) No one is excluded. Everyone can benefit.
Why Change from For-Profit to Non-profit Organization Transformation Prayer Ministry (formerly known as Theophostic Prayer) was established in 1996 under the banner of New Creation Publishing Inc. (NCPI) It was identified as a “tool” for ministry and offered through NCPI as a product among other products. It was sold along with other books and video products designed to equip people for ministry. As a for-profit organization, donations were not solicited or expected. From the beginning, Theophostic Prayer Ministry was a for-profit organization and so we never asked for support or donations from outside sources. We simply charged what we believed was a fair market price for the “goods and services” provided. Up until now, we believe that being a for-profit organization was God’s will for us. Today we see with hindsight, more clearly how being a non-profit organization was indeed His will and served an important purpose in giving direction and guidance along the way.
The primary outcome of being a for-profit organization was that it kept us financially restrained and limited in what we were able to do. Just because you are a for-profit organization does not mean that you are making a profit. There were many very lean years along the way. Nonetheless, we were able to pay the operational cost and salaries of the staff, there was never enough money to go too far beyond that –just paying bills and salaries. Had we been a non-profit organization all along, I am certain that there would have been an abundant funding from TPM supporters. As a consequence, I believe that we would have surely run ahead of God. There would today be many translations completed that would now be obsolete and out of date. Not having an abundance of funding put financial limitations in front of us that kept us from doing much more than just staying afloat and continually revising the training.
It is without a doubt had we had the funding we would have endeavored to do many other things such as translating the training into many different languages. There is no question had we asked for financial support, people would have freely given and we would have spent it on furthering the work. However, because of limited finances, we were only able to translate the training into a few select languages. As strange as it may sound, I believe that our not translating the old training was a good thing. I am very glad that we do not have many translations completed of the older versions of this ministry process. We can now start fresh and new as we take this ministry to the world, as opposed to having to “un-train” those who might have learned the older version of TPM. It has taken twenty years to refine the ministry to the place where it is today. The current revision is FAR superior to the last revision in 2007. I am pleased and excited that today we are now, for the first time in twenty years, ready to take TPM to the world. Today I am inviting you to consider joining with us in making this happen.
I believe that God has used this ministry tool to touch many people in transforming ways and He will touch those whom He has chosen to support this effort. I have purposed to simply make the needs known as they arise and leave the prompting to God. If the Holy Spirit prompts you to give, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).