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Theophostic Prayer and Memory

Critic’s concern: Is Smith’s understanding of memory and especially the issue of dissociation too simplistic?


Ed Smith’s response: What I believe and teach about memory is simplistic and never intended to be an over all study encompassing the wealth of neurological thinking about the subject. Training in Theophostic Prayer Ministry is not a doctoral level class on neuroscience and memory but rather a simplistic means of dealing with practical ways to pray and help people find release of the emotional lie-based pain they carry.

Sometimes what I say about my experiences with people sounds over simplified and exaggerated. But the truth is, when I first began to witness the wonderful things that the Lord was doing in this ministry I became very excited. I did not overstate what I was seeing but I did say it in such a way that made it seem unquestionable. I was convinced that people were finding genuine release of deep traumatic pain. They came to me complaining of specific symptoms and painful issues and then reported and continue to report that the pain has been lifted. I witnessed person after person go to deep traumatic memories and find truth and lasting peace. I have followed the lives of many people and they report the fruit remains. The thousands of testimonies we receive state the fruit remains in others ministry settings outside of my personal arena. I am still as convinced as I was nearly 13 years ago with what I am seeing. People in over 130 countries are reporting that Jesus (the Holy Spirit) is releasing them of falsehoods that have crippled them for years. I cannot deny what I have seen and heard. Is this empirical? No. But then neither is the salvation you and I claim to possess. Apart from the “word of our testimony” and the fruit in our lives we have little else to “prove” we are indeed saved. It is based solely upon the “word of our testimony” and the lasting fruit of a changed life. I look forward to the day when we will have empirical scientific evidence (which is coming) but until then I cannot deny what I believe God is doing.


Personally, I know that the day I visited the memory of the death of my child, I felt great sorrow and grief. In that session I met the Lord (through the Holy Spirit) and He graciously walked me through that memory with His perspective. In the past, I had prayed about it, but this was on a whole new level. ALL the pain was lifted. Twelve years later it has never returned. I believed that a parent could never really get over the death of a child. This is simply not so. I and my wife no longer carry any pain concerning this. It was all lifted in those few sessions over a decade ago.

Not in defense but out of curiosity, I would want to know how others might report their experiences if they were having the same sort glorious things occurring with people with whom they ministered. How would they report it, describe it or explain it? All I know is what I have seen and heard. It appears to be life changing and genuine. If it was a “flash in the pan” or if people were later saying that the pain returned then I would stop doing what I am doing. However, this is simply not the case. After watching the Lord do this level of ministry the past 12 years I have learned not rush in too quickly with judgment about another person’s ministry that God just may be working in and through.I never speak out against anything anyone else is doing in the name of Christ lest I find my self in opposition with what God may be doing. This is not to say that I am not very open to people’s concerns. This is why I am taking the time to answer what is being asked in this document.


Critic’s concern: It is my understanding that TPM teaches that the memory doesn’t matter if the person believes it to be true. However, it seems to me that in TPM Jesus always treats them as if the memory was true. How suspicious is that?

Ed Smith’s response: This is not taught in TPM. You have a grave misrepresentation of what is taught in this ministry. Please study the Basic Manual. I have not taught that inaccuracies in a memory do not matter; only that it is not the memory itself producing the pain but what is believed in the memory. It is the belief that produces a person’s emotional pain not the accuracy of the memory. However, I have clearly taught that verifying memory content is valid and important in the proper context. When you say, “In TPM Jesus always treats them (memories) as if they were true,” this is not what is taught in TPM or even suggested. I am not sure how you came to this conclusion. I clearly teach that Jesus does not verify accuracy of memory. TPM is focused on the lie-based thinking in a memory not memory content.


Critic’s concern: Why should we believe that people can accurately distinguish between what actually (factually) happened and what they remember happening, given the reforming influences of their prior experience, later revisions, and biased interpretations?


Most every form of counseling that is being used today relies somewhat on memory. Memory is everything that is held in our minds. As I stated before the present only exists as it is happening. All else is recorded data in our memory banks. I am careful to say that memory is what it is and it is not a photo or video tape but what we remember. Nevertheless, it is not the event that is the focus of TPM but the lie-based thinking held in the memory “container.” I say this in the Basic Seminar Manual,

“Not everything we remember is accurate in every way; but, in general, the essence of a memory can be relied upon. If this were not the case, the legal justice system would be in big trouble when prosecutors call up their eyewitnesses to identify bank robbers and other accused criminals, since the identification is based on the reliability of memory.

Some misinformation or gaps in a memory do not invalidate the entire memory. Personally, I know for certain that I graduated from high school in 1971, but I do not remember what day of the week it was or who I sat next to in the auditorium or much else about the day. However, I know that I did graduate – to the surprise of many teachers and friends!

Some people contend that any memory that lacks verification is suspect and probably fabricated, but this could also apply to conscious memory. (How do I prove that I saw a bald eagle on my nature hike if I was the only one on the trail?) A memory should be considered invalid only if the particular event itself is proved to be false. Consequently, memory that lacks validation should be handled loosely until it is verified.

There is no question that as time passes we do tend to forget details, mix up information, and even remember inaccurately. However, for the most part, our memories still contain the essence of what has happened. Therefore, all memories (conscious or repressed) that a person reports during ministry sessions require careful consideration on the part of the facilitator. For example, while we may accept the fact of abuse, we should hold the details of the event loosely, including the abuser’s identity, unless and until details are verified. When possible, it is good to have corroboration by other witnesses. A person should be slow to assign guilt and confront the guilty, and should do so only under the direction of the Holy Spirit along with water-tight evidence. Actually, confrontation is the choice of the one hurt and not the facilitator. Confrontation should occur only after the wounded person has reached complete peace and a place of forgiveness and compassion. We will discuss this more later.

Where there is uncertainty and vagueness in detail (as in the identities of people in a memory), facilitators must never supply their opinions or beliefs, no matter how certain they may be. They must allow people to come to their own conclusions in their own time. Rushing in with personal opinions in hopes of helping the person to find freedom does not work and is not Theophostic Prayer Ministry.

As we seek to help people through the ministry process, we must bear these thoughts in mind. Our purpose is to help them discover what is false (lie-based thinking), not what is accurate, in a memory container. Their emotional pain is being caused primarily by the lies they believe, not so much by the truth of what they endured. The interpretations stored in the memory are the root cause of their problems.

For example, a man may have a memory of his mother leaving him with a relative and never returning. He may believe that the reason she left him was because she did not love or want him, but the truth may be just the opposite. It may have broken the mother’s heart to have given up the child for whom she felt incapable of caring. Nevertheless, if the man believes that he was hated and unwanted and consequently questions his personal value, then his thinking about his value as a person needs to be renewed with truth.

This memory may contain fundamentally false information; however, what causes the emotional pain is not the data in the memory itself, but rather the person’s interpretation of that data. That man may later discover that his mother actually loved him dearly and her choice to leave him was intended to be in his best interest.” This is not to say that verification of the accuracy of memory is not important for indeed it is. However, the process of verifying memory is not Theophostic Prayer but something else and should be done in its appropriate time and setting. If you decide to stop a ministry session and go out to find corroborating evidence then this is fine to do but it is not Theophostic Prayer Ministry.

Critic’s concern: Smith says, “What we remember is our reality, and it is in this reality that healing must occur. However, while we may have mis-recorded some of the finer details in a memory, the substance and essence of what happened is usually highly accurate” (Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts, p. 150). Is this statement consistent with research? Can we ever be certain that people’s memory is accurate? 


Ed Smith’s response: I believe that most people would agree that for the most part they have accurate memory of the essence of what has happened to them throughout their lives.  The key word here is essence not details. I have a pretty clear memory of most all my childhood (that is, what I can consciously recall) but I do not have all the fine details but the essence of what I remember can be verified by records and other people’s testimony.  This is probably true for most of us.  I am also sure that some of what I remember is not completely accurate and contains misinformation. However, I believe the essence of what I remember is highly accurate. When I say essence I am referring to the primary information that each memory contains. For example, I know the names of all of the schools I attended as a child (six in all). I remember the day of my high school graduation and that it was hot in the room but I do not recall who sat next to me or what day of the week it was. I remember going on a family vacation to see the redwood trees out west but I do not recall which park they were in. I remember being baptized at eight years old. However, I do not recall in what month of the year it occurred, who all was there, or what song they sang afterwards. The essence is clear and I believe very accurate but much of the details are faded and possibly even distorted. When people surface memories I feel confident that for the most part the essence is accurate. Nevertheless it is not my place in that moment to say or judge. Nor is the accuracy of the memory what needs to be renewed with truth.

 I say this in the Basic Manual, “Typically, people seek counseling and/or ministry because something is obviously wrong in their lives and causing emotional pain. It is not surprising that memories surface as people embrace and follow the pain they feel. If some memories are inaccurate, they should be able to discover this for themselves with careful support from the minister. Facilitators should never make any insinuations or ask questions that could provide bogus memory content for the person. They must not fill in the blanks, offer visual imagery or provide insight, no matter how convinced they are that they are on target.

Facilitators are to avoid statements that begin with phrases such as: “What I think is ...,” “I wonder if ...,” “Could it be that ...,” “Do you think that ...,” “Probably what happened was ...,” “It looks to me as though ...,” “You have all the signs of ...,” etc. They must let what surfaces in the memories be the person’s own discoveries in their own time because to do otherwise is not TPM and invites criticism.

In the rare case of a person surfacing an inaccurate recollection that indicts another person, such as a family member, much harm can result. False accusations can break relationships and wreck reputations. Ministry facilitators or Prayer Group Leaders should keep this in mind as they help people navigate the murky waters of memory. Confronting a suspected abuser in anger, revenge or resentment will not accomplish God’s purposes and indicates a lack of complete mind renewal. It is crucial that the wounded person avoids acting on painful emotion by first finding true release and peace.”

Critic’s concern: Smith claims “We can change data with data, but it requires experience to change experience” (Ibid, p. 85).This seems simplistic to me. Acquiring data can be an “experience” too, and experience without data attached has little or no relevance. Suppose someone tells you that your house burned down while you were at work today. How is that “data” not also an experience? And suppose that while you are sleeping tonight a black widow spider crawls across your chest. How is that a meaningful experience without awareness of the data? And imagine that you are returning from the store and witness a car accident that appears to involve your son. From all appearances the collision has to be fatal. The experience is devastating until you learn he was ejected from the car and sustained relatively minor injuries. Now new data has changed your experience because it has changed the meaning of the experience for you. Smith’s assertions need much more explication.


Ed Smith’s response: There is nothing here with which I do not agree. I was making a very simple point in the context of where I say this and never intended it to be an overriding governing principle. You have clarified well.





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