Theophostic Prayer: founded in 1996 by Ed Smith, a Southern Baptist pastor in Campbellsville, KY, who had to adjust his inner healing ideas and pull his suspect training manuals off the market (although he formerly claimed they were revealed by God). This was due to the theological and legal challenges he faced when False Memory Syndrome (FMS) was occurring with clients. Yet, the original hypnotically suggestive approach used in Theophostics is now resurfacing in many evangelical churches and organizations disguised as “Sozo Prayer.”
Sozo: the Greek word for save, heal or deliver
It’s a crucial time for God’s people when theological thoughts are being distorted by Theophostic thoughts, where a victim mentality is fostered by emphasizing a need for inner healing of memories and self-esteem boosting rather than the need to be humbled under the mighty hand of God, leave the past behind, take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. But in an attempt to Christianize a man-made system based on false psycho-therapeutic theories of memory, Theophostic thought is invading Christendom under the guise of “Sozo Prayer.” Like all other occult practices, sozo sessions require mental passivity in order to seek truth experientially through guided imagery, visualization and spirit encounters, which is why “Soaking Prayer” (last month’s topic) is commonly used in preparation for sozo sessions. Human mediators are also required, who facilitate “visions of Jesus” so He can supposedly “speak into the pain” to help people forgive the past. But in reality this is where “experiential truth” subtly begins to replace gospel truth and the authority of Scripture.
Ironically, by trying to put God in a Theophostic box, many are going “off the map,” for Scripture never gives us a pattern for a sozo session and when it comes to forgiving and overcoming the past it only gives us reminders of the gospel (e.g. Col 3:13). For by remembering that although we have sinned against God and deserve hell, He loves us so much, He made a way for reconciliation by sending His Son to shed His blood on our behalf, which is sufficient to humble us into forgiving others. But instead of explaining this simple truth and our need to be granted faith and repentance, sozo sessions put emotional needs above spiritual needs with the help of a different spirit, a different Jesus and a psycho-mystical gospel. For by trying to manipulate Jesus in falsely assuming He will cooperate with an unbiblical process outside of God’s sanction and protection, puts sozo participants into direct contact with occult “spirit guides,” demonic imposters who often pose as Jesus in order to confirm lies that have been implanted through the hypnotically suggestive approach used in sozo sessions.
This is where discernment is crucial for recognizing the difference between man-initiated encounters and the biblical pattern that confirms; true encounters with God are always initiated and facilitated by Him alone. In fact, the only scriptural references for man-initiated encounters are instances of divination, which is a severe offence and abomination to the Lord, (Lev.20:6, Deut.18:9-14, Jer.14:14, Acts 16:16, etc.). And Ezekiel 13:6-8 perfectly describes sozo sessions, where God condemns conjuring up vain visions of lying divinations while claiming they are from Him and causing people to hope in false confirmation. Colossians 2:18 also speaks against intruding into things not seen and being vainly puffed up by the fleshly mind. For although our God-given imagination can be used to express worship and petition to God, it is never to be used as a way to hear from God, which leads to rank superstition and creates an idol in the mind.
Jesus, the only mediator between God and man (1Ti.2:5), has not left us to occult devices in times of suffering, for He ever lives to intercede for all who come to God by Him and saves them to the uttermost (Heb.7:25), which exposes the inner healing lie that suggests there are still parts of us that need to be saved by a sozo encounter. For God’s people already have access to pure rivers of living water that flow unto salvation so that they need not drown in a polluted river of “recovered memories,” where undercurrents of spiritual bondage lead to FMS, broken families, fear, depression and a shipwrecked faith. Sadly, damages are so severe that many sozo advocates are now having participants to sign a disclaimer so they will not be held legally liable. So dear friend, due to the fact that Sozo Prayer has made its way to our local area, pray God will grant you a love for the truth (2Thess.2:10), so you will not be deceived and may He grant you the grace, discernment, wisdom and courage needed to walk in Jesus’ steps in becoming an advocate for those who are spiritually abused.
Sis. Lee Anne