Theophostic prayer is praying for people to receive healing from the emotional hurts of the past. Edward Smith, author of Healing life’s hurts through Theophostic prayer, (New Creation Publishing, 2005) presents the material in a way that suggests you need a lot of training to pray this way. Smith’s reasoning is probably that he doesn’t want Christians thinking they can read one book and be able to help people with deep emotional hurts. If this is his reason, it is actually a very good one. Christians usually don’t know when they start praying for someone exactly what the cause of their pain is and sometimes the person being prayed for doesn’t know either. So if the person suddenly remembers a deeply painful event from their past then the person praying for them has to know how to handle the grief the person is experiencing. Alternatively during prayer nothing may happen and the person praying needs to know why prayer doesn’t seem to be helping the person in emotional pain.
The thinking behind Theophostic prayer is that when we go through a painful situation the devil uses it as an opportunity to plant lies in our mind, such as, “God doesn’t love you that’s why bad things happen to you”; “You’re too far gone into sin for God to be able to rescue you”; “You’ll never amount to anything” etc. Mature Christians can recognize these lies fairly quickly but children cannot and it is often when we are children that the devil implants these sorts of lies into our minds. Theophostic prayer ministry asks God to not only reveal the lie but also the situation that created the environment for the lie to be accepted as truth. This way the person can repent of believing the lie and receive healing for the painful situation that occurred.
I found this book a very helpful way of thinking about people’s emotional hurts. In some ways it seemed like just another way of praying for people but I understand Smith’s concern that he doesn’t want hurting people hurt even more by well-intentioned but unskilled Christian counsellors.