Burns Calls Out the Unclean

Burns_review_20200108Percy Burns.[1] 2020. Glorious Freedom: How to Experience Deliverance Through the Power and Authority of Jesus. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Many people recognize the work of God in their lives through their sensitivity to unexpected blessings. Spiritual warfare often works the same way, through unexpected afflictions usually timed to interfere with a spiritual breakthrough, like the little foxes that can destroy a vineyard in blossom, as King Solomon once wrote (Sol 2:15).

Introduction

In his book, Glorious Freedom, Percy Burns writes:

“I will teach you how you, too, can walk in the power and authority given you by Jesus Christ to be set free from demonic bondages and how to set others free. Glorious Freedom is for all who desire to recognize demonic strongholds in your own life or in your children’s lives, how to deal with those bondages, and how to protect yourself and your family from the strategies of our common enemy Satan.” (14)

The key word here is teach. This book assumes no prior knowledge of the subject matter and provides a fair amount of biblical background for those unacquainted. Frequently, Percy passes the pen to his wife, Sara Jo, when she offers an alternative perspective or interesting story.

Clues to Demonic Influence

While for many people spiritual warfare may appear like Solomon’s little foxes, others find themselves with ongoing demonic oppression. In introducing his chapter on recognizing demonic influence, Percy recounts the story of a man whose life and marriage was falling apart because of his own sexual sin. He knew he had a problem and had hit rock bottom. Wanting to reclaim his life, he approached Percy about deliverance ministry (33-35).

In general, Percy cites these clues to demonic oppression:

  • Extreme fearfulness
  • Consistent confusion
  • Sense of ongoing defeat
  • Sense of foreboding darkness
  • Excessive meanness
  • Overly controlling
  • Addictive personality
  • A drivenness (36)

He follows scripture in his observations and sees deliverance ministry perfectly compatible with Christian counseling, working with a mentor, and striving to improve personal discipline (35-38). Percy has occasionally worked with several psychiatrists in undertaking this ministry (27).

Background and Organization

Percy Burns is a retired Presbyterian pastor who came to deliverance ministry while serving a church next to the French Quarter in New Orleans, which he describes as the center of witchcraft in the United States at that time (29). He received his bachelor’s degree from Belhaven University and his masters of divinity at Austin Presbyterian Seminary. When I met and worked with him, he was a seminary chaplain in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Percy writes in eleven chapters:

  1. The Launching Pad
  2. Recognizing a Demonic Problem
  3. How Demons Gain Access
  4. Step-by-Step Guide to Ministering Deliverance
  5. Ministering Deliverance to Children
  6. Recognizing the Power and Authority of Jesus
  7. Personal Testimonies of Freedom
  8. Questions You May Have
  9. Called to Minister Deliverance?
  10. A Journey through the Scriptures
  11. From My Bookshelves: Insights from Trusted Sources (xi)

These chapters are preceded by a preface and Introduction, and followed by an epilogue and about section.

 Satan not Fair

The longest chapter recounts personal testimonies of people helped by deliverance. The stories represent a cross section of society, all ages and economic classes and they chronicle many different challenges. These stories have been written by those who experienced them, which is obvious from the different writing styles of the authors.

Perhaps the most striking was a story by a parent of a four-year boy, visited by a spirit that he describes as “gray man” who attempted to convince the boy to jump out a window and to dismiss his Sunday school lessons about Jesus (138-144). As a parent, this story really gripped me—we think of childhood as a time of innocence. Yet, as Percy repeatedly reminds his reader—Satan does not play fair.

Scriptural References

The second longest chapter is Percy’s review of biblical teaching about Satan, demons, and the practice of deliverance ministry. In particular, Percy draws attention to:

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead” (Deut 18:10-11 ESV; 180)

Dabbling with the occult is a common thread running through many of the accounts that Percy cites. The prevalence of films today focused on the occult suggests one reason why the need for deliverance ministry has grown in recent years.

Assessment

Key turning points in my seminary training were often accompanied with unexpected family challenges, which led me to introduce myself to Percy and to assist him with his ministry when an occasion would arise. This book, Glorious Freedom, provides an accurate picture of deliverance ministry, as Percy practices it.[2]This work led me to appreciate the power of Christ, strengthened my prayer life, and led to healing in my own life on several occasions. Experiencing spiritual oppression? Curious? Check it out.[3]

Footnotes

[1] https://www.GloriousFreedom.org.

[2] My own experience is chronicle in a chapter on authoritative prayer in my 2019 book, Simple Faith (Centreville, VA: T2Pneuma Publishers LLC).

[3] I would like to thank Percy Burns for making a pre-release copy of Glorious Freedom available to me

Burns Calls Out the Unclea

Also see:

Cloud and Townsend Set Limits; Heal Relationships; Gain Control 

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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Prayer Against Dark Shadows

FPCA Avian-Spirit CrossBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for your love in creating us in your image,

confess that we are unworthy of this high honor, and

thank you for the faith that you have given us to endure suffering knowing that until you return in glory “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:3-4 ESV).

Knowing also that for those whose faith is weak you are ever-present and offer us dominion over every creeping thing (Gen 1:28),

we claim this promise in the strong name of Jesus Christ,

who died on the cross and was raised from the dead.

In Jesus’ name, we bind every dark shadow,

break the power of every curse, every abuse, every evil thought, and

cast every spirit of self-destruction and resignation into the fiery pit.

We raise up the cross and say: no more, be gone.

Fill every heart with your Holy Spirit, that life might echo your joy, your light,

and every child confess that Jesus is Lord until you return in glory.

In his holy name, Amen.

Prayer Against Dark Shadows

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Hebrew_Heart

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Prayer for the Co-Dependent

Frank and Gertrude Hiemstra, GraveBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father:

We praise you for the many blessings of this life: for family, good health, and your provisions.

For we know that they are gifts that are given to some and withheld from many.

We confess that we are unworthy of your generosity and do not always act like your children, harboring unclean thoughts and acting out of unsavory motivations.

Yet, we thank you for remembering us in our fallen state and raising us from death to life in Jesus Christ by the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for our freedom to live in the love of Christ.

Remember also those that are unable or unwilling to live in your light. Turn their hearts through the power of  your Holy Spirit and grant them the strength to accept your mercy. Let them not live in fear depending on the strength of others, but grant them legs to stand on that they might be whole again.

In the strong name of Jesus Christ who died on the cross and was raised from the dead, we come against any family curses and cast out any lingering spirits of fear, abuse, guilt, shame, addiction, condemnation, territory, or disease. We bind the spirit of the child and cast it at the feet of Jesus to remain forever bound. We ask the Holy Spirit to enter this person’s heart and bind them to Christ Jesus, now and always.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for the Co-Dependent

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

 

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A Place for Authoritative Prayer

Cover for Simple Faith“In that hour he [Jesus] healed many people
of diseases and plagues and evil spirits,
and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.”
(Luke 7:21 ESV)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Richard Foster (1992, 229) describes authoritative prayer with these words:

“In Authoritative Prayer we are calling forth the will of the Father upon the earth. Here we are not so much speaking to God as speaking for God. We are not asking God to do something; rather, we are using the authority of God to command something done.”

As practiced in the church today, authoritative prayer is also referred to as deliverance ministry and, more popularly, as exorcism. Foster’s term, authoritative prayer, is more descriptive of the actual practice and less likely to evoke the baggage that accompanies other terms.

A reluctance to practice authoritative prayer exists among many Christian leaders. I would like to argue here that this reluctance needs to be reassessed because the need for authoritative prayer has grown dramatically in our generation, because authoritative prayer has been unfairly stigmatized and misunderstood, and because authoritative prayer has a legitimate therapeutic place even when other forms of counseling are available.

Background

Jesus practiced authoritative prayer, as most authors recognize. E.P. Sanders (1993, 149), for example writes:

Exorcisms, which are a significant subcategory of healings, deserve fuller discussions. They were very important in Jesus’ culture and also in his own career.

Sanders then proceeds to list twelve scriptural citations where Jesus performs exorcisms[1] and also lists exorcisms performed by others in the New Testament (Sanders 1993, 15). Significantly, Jesus also commissioned the disciples to preach and cast out demons (e.g. Mark 3:14-15).

The early church took the need to cast out demons seriously because virtually all adult converts had previously worshiped pagan idols, which were believed to be demons. The church accordingly commissioned exorcists much the same as deacons and elders. The church has always recognized the need for authoritative prayer, even if some traditions have seldom openly practiced it.

Types of Healing Prayer

Interest in authoritative prayer in the modern period, outside the Pentecostal (charismatic) tradition, started with a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Francis MacNutt in the 1960s, who taught that authoritative prayer could be described as one of four types of healing needing prayer:

  1. Repentance of sin (spiritual healing).
  2. Emotional (or relational) healing.
  3. Physical healing. and
  4. Deliverance (healing from spiritual oppression) (MacNutt 2009, 130).

Distinguishing the different types of healing needs is important because many practitioners lump all healing needs into authoritative prayer and fail to distinguish spiritual oppression (common) from outright possession (rare).[2]

The Postmodern Need for Authoritative Prayer

In the modern period, the influence of rationalism in Christian thought led many to question the reliability of scriptural references to exorcism and other recorded miracles. This over-emphasis on rationalism and personal autonomy seems increasingly out of place in the postmodern period that we live in.

Limits to Autonomy

In my own hospital experience, for example, I noted that about half the patients that I visited with as a chaplain intern working in the emergency department were admitted for reasons that could be classified as preventable, problems arising out of poor lifestyle choices, and other self-destructive behavior. In visiting later with the senior surgeon, I was corrected. He reported that the actual proportion of patients so classified was closer to three-quarters. Consequently, if in the concrete reality of medicine, we are incapable of maintaining our physical health in view of rational information to inform us as to how to accomplish this objective, then how much more incapable are we of maintaining our own spiritual health?

Growth of Suicide Problem

Outside of personal observation, we know from recent reports that the United States is currently experiencing a thirty-year peak in suicides, with the largest increase among men aged 45-64 (Tavernise, 2016). I personally know of two men within that demographic who killed themselves within the past year. If people are killing themselves in record numbers, it is safe to say that spiritual oppression is part of the picture, especially when drug abuse and deviant sexual activity are not indicated, because poverty, depression, and despair do not have to lead to suicide.

New Challenges

Outside of the medical and psychiatric fields, three factors suggest a need for authoritative prayer that could be classified as something new. First, the growth of interest in pagan religions and immigration from countries where animistic religions are commonly practiced show spiritual influences previously absent in the West. Second, the mainstreaming of alternative sexual practices and drug use (and the abuse that often goes with them) has the potential to increase the number of individuals susceptible to spiritual oppression. Third, the discrimination of secular institutions practiced against Christians reduces the number of individuals who are nominally influenced by the church and thereby able to resist other spiritual influences.

The Practice of Authoritative Prayer

A number of approaches have been taken in authoritative prayer. Here I will speak only of my personal experience in assisting a seasoned practitioner who is an ordained Presbyterian pastor in Charlotte, NC.

Setup

A typical session involves someone who has come to the pastor with a request for authoritative prayer. No attempt is made to compel anyone to participate or to accept anyone referred against their will. The session takes place in a private setting, usually a church or living room, and normally the pastor has an assistant, such as myself, who takes notes so that he can focus on the prayer.[3] Parents and other loved ones are invited to join in only if the person feels comfortable with them being there. The person receiving prayer does not need to disclose anything. After introductory conversation, the pastor starts by explaining the purposes of prayer and the scriptural authority being evoked in authoritative prayer.

Object of Prayer

The prayer itself starts with praise of God and the person being prayed over. As Christians, we believe that God is sovereign over all of creation, he is good, and he cares for us. This praise is important because God already knows what is on our minds and has promised to answer the prayers of his people. Our tiniest request from an infinite God provides more power than any spiritual being can resist. Most of the remainder of the prayer is for the benefit of the person being prayed over.

Triage

The prayer then proceeds to triage the spiritual issues that the person being prayed over may be suffering. Perhaps, the spiritual problem has been passed down through family or started with harsh words from someone important to the person. Perhaps, the person has experienced great shame or guilt due to sinful behavior, especially sexual or drug experimentation. Perhaps, the person has been overwhelmed with grief or pain. Perhaps, the person has refused to grow up in some important way or fallen in with bad company or hurt someone close to them or suffered some terrible tragedy.

Response

As this prayer unfolds, the pastor prays with eyes open to observe the person’s reaction and the reactions determine how long particular issues are addressed. This triage process is important because many of the deepest spiritual problems that we face may have been repressed over years and the person may not even be aware of their emotional impact.[4] Because the person need not disclose anything going into prayer or coming out of it, their own awareness and willingness to confess their issues is not in view.[5] As such, authoritative prayer is not a substitute for counseling. In fact, it may be a prelude to counseling because the person may realize their issues need more attention.

Concepts Supporting Authoritative Prayer

A couple of theological concepts inform this method, but are not necessarily required.

Identity in Christ

First, our souls are composed of our will, our mind, our memory, and our social environment. A modern word for soul might be our identity. The idea that our identity is socially held[6] means that when we make Christ the cornerstone of our identity, we are not easily shaken the way that we might be if some other cornerstone were chosen. Treating Christ as a secondary part of our identity does not provide nearly the stability required to resist temptation and evil. As temptation and evil become more prevalent in the postmodern period, the need for this stability is greater than ever.

Parasitic Spirits

Second, the image of an evil spirit being confronted in authoritative prayer is that of a parasite. An evil spirit is parasitic in the sense that it cannot exist independent of its host for very long, much like tick would starve in the absence of blood host. Driving it out therefore risks that the parasite will seek another local host and the prayer must account for this behavior.

Permission Denied

Third, evil spirits are driven out, not by shouting or employing incantations or any special form for prayer, but by denying that they have permission to inhabit the person being prayed over and appealing to the power and authority of God. Evil spirits act like bad lawyers arguing for their rights to oppress a person. Thus, it is important to have the person’s permission to pray because it implies that the demons do not have permission to continue their oppression.

Return to Biblical Authority

The primary reason that many people question the existence of evil spirits is that the spiritual world is itself thought not to exist, a result of an animistic tradition debunked by rational thinking. But if rational thinking is only part of our own thinking, why would it preclude the existence of a spiritual being who is divorcing itself from God? Furthermore, why, if you believe in God, would you then question the existence of other unseen spiritual beings? The Bible treats angels and demons as heralds of Christ himself (e.g. Mark 5:7). Denying their existence is tantamount to denying Christ’s divinity, because Christ treated exorcism as important in his ministry.

References

Foster, Richard J. 1992. Prayer: Find the Heart’s True Home. New York: HaperOne.

Francis MacNutt. 2009. Healing (Orig Pub 1974). Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.

Jung, C.G. 1955. Modern Man in Search of a Soul (Orig Pub 1933). New York: A Harvest Book.

Sanders, E.P. 1993. The Historical Figure of Jesus. New York: Penguin Books.

Tavernise, Sabrina. 2016. “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High” New York Times. April 22. Online: https://nyti.ms/2k9vzFZ, Accessed: 13 March 2017.

[1] Mark 1:23-8/Luke 4:31-37, Mark 1:32-34/Matt 8:16/Luke 4:41, Mark 1:19, Mark 3:11/Luke 6:18,
Mark 3:20-30/Matt 12:22-37/ Luke 11:14-23, Mark 5:1-20/Matt 8:28-34/Luke 8:26-39, Mark 7:24-30/Matt 15:21-28, Mark 9:25/Matt 17:18/Luke 9:42, Matt 4:24, Matt 9:32-34, Luke 8:2, and Luke 8:2. (Sanders 1993, 149-150).

[2] MacNutt (2009, 167) distinguishes deliverance ministry (relief from spiritual oppression) from exorcism (relief from possession).

[3] These notes are taken to allow the pastor to return to issues undercovered at the end of the session and are given to the one being prayed for at the end of the session. No record is retained by the pastor or the assistant.

[4] Jung (1955, 1, 33) saw the unconscious as playing a leading role in neuroses and viewed the unconscious secret as more harmful than one that is conscious.

[5] Jung (1955, 30-31) viewed psychoanalysis as a modern form of confession.

[6] The Alzheimer’s patient is an example of someone whose identity is only held by their loved ones and care givers. When we die, our identity will likewise be held primarily by God.

A Place for Authoritative Prayer

Also see:

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

 

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Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance

Red Roses

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

God Almighty, Great Physician, Holy Spirit:

We praise you for your goodness in granting us life,

which we often take for granted, living as if tomorrow was always promised,

but knowing that this is not true.

Break the power of sin over our lives—forgive us for our presumptions, for our neglect of giving thanks, and for living selfishly for ourselves, though we are unworthy.

Thank you for your eternal presence, your healing touch, and sending others to comfort us in our hour of need.

Break our bondage to worthless idols—heal our broken bodies, our troubled spirits, and our damaged relationships, for your name’s sake.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, send us doctors to offer your healing touch and nurses to offer your comfort in lonely hours.

Grant us strength for the day; grace for those we meet; and peace in a troubled world that we might rest only with you, this day and every day.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Healing, Comfort, and Deliverance

Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

 

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1. Prayers of a Life in Tension by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Prayers_of_a_Life_in_Tension_web

Holy Spirit,

I believe in Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead.
Come into my life, help me to renounce and grieve the sin in my life that separates me from God.
Cleanse me of this sin, renew your spirit within me so that I will not sin any further.
Break any chains that bind me to the past—be they pains or sorrows or grievous temptations, that I might freely welcome God, the father, into my life, who through Christ Jesus can bridge any gap and heal any affliction, now and always.
In Jesus’ previous name, Amen.

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