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Why it May Work

Explanation for why TPM may work (other than God involvement.)
 

Critic’s concern:  Is it possible that the reason that  Theophostic Prayer may seem to work is because it is based upon traditional practices being involved and maybe nothing more? When people anticipate that something good will happen, it often seems to—at least from their perspective.


Ed Smith’s response:  What you are suggesting is people's experiences with this ministry are self achieved and mind induced and not a result of God doing something.  I suppose you could take the same reasoning and explain salvation and any other experience a person may have to which they attach spiritual meaning or significance.  However, the test of authenticity is not what happens directly in the session but what long-term changes result from what happened in the session.  It all boils down to fruit. This is the same test that has to be applied to the counseling that you or any one else does.  People may come expecting that what you are going to do will be beneficial. Their positive thinking about this may cause them to have a “good feeling” experience with you.  However, a good feeling experience will only carry them out the door.  An experience with Christ should be life changing. TPM does not assume something happened simply by what is witnessed in the actual session. There are other more important “tests” that are applied. In summary several of these “tests” include:  

1) The perfect peace of Christ will be in the memory where there had previously been pain. If the Lord’s peace is not present, then renewing has either not happened or it is not complete.  I never witnessed a person move from deep pain to peace in my earlier counseling.  I almost always do now.  

2) The truth people receive will be consistent with the Bible. If they receive some message that is contrary to or in addition to the Bible, it is false.  

3) Genuine freedom will result in true compassion and forgiveness towards the one who caused that particular hurt in that specific memory.  I have watched many people who carried bitterness and anger into a session let it all go as they find peace in the former places of pain where others had hurt them. Compassion is a common response following freedom.  

4) Permanent change will result in the area where the lie-based thinking is resolved with truth. When truth is received in a person’s mind it will always be translated into life transformation.  If a person is not changed after connecting with Christ and receiving truth then something is wrong.  People can gain more knowledge and not experience transformation.  However, when people have an encounter with Christ change should follow.  

These tests are not exclusive for TPM but can be applied to all forms of counseling and ministry.  

 

 

Critic’s Concern: Another traditional application that may explain why TPM seems to work might be hope.  TPM confidently promises hope, which can result in “miraculous” cures because of its power to marshal inner resources in service to anticipated outcomes.

  

Ed Smith’s response: If indeed genuine transformation and change has occurred because people hoped that God would do something and He in fact He did then this is a good thing.   However, hope that produces only a self induced “cure” will not last and will eventually fail.  The fruit will not remain.  Of the host of personal sessions I have experienced myself every experience is still producing fruit in my life.  The fruit is holding.  Because I am seeing lasting change I have hope.  Hope is made sure because there is a substantial reason behind it.  I hope for an eternal existence with God because He has given me a "pledge" called the Holy Spirit.   Because I have His Spirit I am hopeful for what is to come.

 

 

Critic’s Concern: Another traditional application that may explain why TPM seems to work might be personal insight. The TPM process does provide opportunity for the acquisition of meaningful personal insight. Such insight is always helpful for growing, and is sometimes essential.  


Ed Smith’s response: Here again if the change is genuine and lasting then it is a good thing.   If the truth the person is receiving is coming from his own personal insight and it results in lasting change then I say “thank you Lord.” 

 

   

Critic’s Concern: Another traditional application that may explain why TPM seems to work might be catharsis.  The TPM process can provide much opportunity for necessary, and healing, catharsis.  A supportive context where crying and emotive expression is encouraged, respected, and enabled can be powerfully therapeutic.

Ed Smith’s response: The difference is that in TPM the catharsis is not the goal nor is change noted in a session just because pent up emotion is released. The only time I have witnessed the release of the pain and the peace of Christ flow in is when the person comes into the truth.  I used to encourage catharsis in my counseling before TPM and got the results that I got.  People had some relief but it was not life changing or lasting.  Catharsis without change is just an expression of emotion.  I am not interested in people being able to vent pent up emotion.  However, when people connect with the deep pain they have pent up and are able to identify the lies at the root of this pain, good things can happen as they find His truth through connecting with the Lord.

 

 

 

Critic’s Concern: Another traditional application that may explain why TPM seems to work might be Truth-Telling. TPM is not devoid of teaching some truth, even if indirect.  Anyone can benefit from the truth, regardless of the context, and truth has a powerful ability to set people free from what ails them.  In TPM self-concept issues are often addressed, improving self-esteem and self-confidence.  


Ed Smith’s response: In a TPM session facilitator should refrain from telling the person the truth during the session. He should not be quoting the scripture or telling the person what he or she may think the person needs to know. (Though doing this may be the right thing to do in a different context.)The person is encouraged to figure out what the lies are and then look to the Lord for truth. There are moments where the facilitator may stop doing TPM and put on his teacher hat and instruct in some biblical principle. This is not to replace the lie-based thinking but only to bring clarification.  For example, if a person is confused about demons and their power the facilitator might look at some of the post-resurrection Scriptures to explain how Satan was rendered powerless.  However, this would be discipleship and not TPM.  You said that in a ministry session "self-concept issues are often addressed, improving self-esteem and self-confidence."  This is not so.     A facilitator should not be telling the person the truth about anything but rather asking questions that are only reflective of what the person has surfaced.  It is the role of the facilitator to help the person identify the lie-based belief not give the person truth.  The facilitator will allow the person to find truth as he or she connects with Christ's presence.
    

 

Critic’s Concern: Another traditional application that may explain why TPM seems to work has to do with the person receiving answers and direction from the facilitator.  People generally like “answers” and “direction.”  TPM, directly or indirectly provides both.  Armed with such information, problems and pains are more easily and successfully confronted, even when the information is flawed.  


Ed Smith’s response:  You do not have an accurate understanding of what is taught in TPM.  This is not what TPM teaches at all.  You have misinformation here.  If a facilitator is providing answers and giving direction then he is not doing TPM.  You say, “TPM, directly or indirectly provides both.”   Anytime a facilitator provides direction or answers he is no longer doing TPM.

 

Critic’s concern: Another traditional approach that be a reason that TPM seems to work would be openness to the Holy Spirit. 

   

Ed Smith’s response:  You are correct in this point.  TPM is very dependent upon the Holy Spirit doing something.   If the person does not connect with the Holy Spirit then nothing significant will probably happen. 

 

   

 

Critic’s concern: Another traditional approach that may be a reason that TPM seems to work would be reframing.  Many counseling models employ the skill of “reframing,” whereby an event is reinterpreted to more satisfying ends.  TPM is not an exception; it employs this strategy intentionally, and probably effectively.  


Ed Smith’s response:  Here again you are making claims about what TPM is supposedly doing yet, to do so would be a direct violation of what is taught. A facilitator should NEVER reframe anything in the session.  If a facilitator ever told the person the truth, redefined what occurred in the memory, put a positive twist on things, etc. he is no longer doing TPM. When a person connects with Christ and receives a new truth perspective “reframing” does occur. What was formerly believed (the lie) is discarded and replaced with truth. However, this is not the work of the facilitator but the Holy Spirit.

 

   

Critic’s concern: Another traditional approach that may be a reason that TPM seems to work would be guided imagery and visualization.  TPM uses visualization and guided imagery to facilitate remembering, feeling and thinking analysis, and reframing.  Such techniques are often used in other fields, such as sports, to help conceptualize a more ideal way to be--with powerful effects.

   

Ed Smith’s response:  The last several statements have shown that you have a misunderstanding about how TPM is applied and what TPM is about.  Facilitator guided imagery is NEVER used in this process.  The use of guided imagery and visualization are ABSOLUTE forbidden practices in TPM. Your stating this shows a major lack of understanding of this process. This is a major taboo and a clear sign that TPM is not being applied.  A cursory look at the Ministry Session Guidelines will reveal this without even reading the training manuals. Please avail yourself of the primary sources.


 

 

Critic’s concern: Another traditional approach that may be a reason that TPM seems to work would be closure. The promise of closure to problems is a compelling incentive to change.  Undoubtedly, TPM inspires such anticipation, likely with effective results. 

 

 

Ed Smith’s response: A facilitator would never suggest to the person what the end result may be.  However, there has been so much good reported that most people seek out a TPM facilitator because someone they know has had a good experience. This is causing people to have hope that God may do the same for them.

Here is what I believe about why TPM is working so well.  First, people are choosing to own the lie-based pain in their lives, are choosing to look and identify where they learned it and then are willing to hold it up to the Lord for truth and God in response is granting them wisdom “generously and without reproach?” (James 1)

I am not above error or misunderstanding but I am a very conservative Southern Baptist-trained minister who has worked within the community of faith for over 30 years.  I have watched the Lord do wonders in people’s lives all along the way. The last decade I have seen what looks to me to be a work of the Holy Spirit.  It is very tender, loving and filled with mercy.  People are reporting that they are growing closer to God as an outcome of what is happening.  150 pastors who were using TPM were surveyed.  About 98% reported they personally benefited from it, 96% found highly effective outcomes, 90% reported life transformation in the people who had received ministry.  In a different survey of over 2800 people,  99% believed their ministry experience deepened their relationship with God.  I have always been amazed how people who criticize this ministry are willing to take one person’s opinion or article they have written or testimony against TPM and hold it up as “proof” that TPM is invalid, but when over 99% of the 2800 people who had received the ministry personally say it deepened their relationship to God, it is devalued and said to be anecdotal and not authoritative. Somehow this just does not make sense. How does the voice and opinion of one person lacking any experience with the process outweigh the voice of 2000 others who have experienced it personally?

   

 

Jesus Himself gave us a clear standard for evaluating men, movements and ministries. In Matthew 7:17-18 He tells us to judge a tree by its fruit. The fruit is there.  It surely seems that God is using TPM to transform lives. Based upon the testimonies of thousands of people the fruit remains.  I challenge any critic to use the same criteria of judgment that is being used for me and this ministry to point to the same fruit in their own lives and ministry. How is the ministry form they are using transforming marriages, healing broken people, restoring damaged relationships, removing phobias, bringing repentance, deepening relationships, encouraging spiritual growth, and freeing people from addictions? And how is the fruit of their labor being verified?  I would ask you personally, how can I know that the fruit of your counseling practice is good?  If I cannot look at the people’s lives, accept the word of their testimony or any other fruit then how can I know?


 

 

Critic’s concern: What benefits are derived from TPM that could not be attained through forms of help that involve more client effort toward long-term personality change? Consider Saul in 1 Sam. 10:6-11—He didn’t work for, or retain, the changes God made in him.

 

 

Ed Smith’s response: I have had many people come up to me when I am doing seminars, etc. and say, Theophostic Prayer is nothing new. This happened to me years ago during one of my prayer times, during worship, when I was in a crisis, etc. I have often said that TPM is not new but something that God has been doing all along.  All the training does is systemize a process by which the person can intentionally cooperate with what God is doing. Your questioning seems to want to make me say that TPM is all there is and nothing else has value. I do not believe that. TPM is a means by which some people are moving into freedom. God can do anything He wants. He is certainly not limited to any one system or form of ministry. I have also addressed this already in other sections above.

 
 

Critic’s response: It appears to me that Smith may have borrowed some of David A. Seamand’s work? Seamands, an early, leading inner healing advocate, lived and ministered in the same part of Kentucky as Ed Smith. When reading Seamands’ book, Healing for Damaged Emotions, parts sounded very much in theory like Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts by Smith. Even the titles are similar.


 

 

Ed Smith’s response: I do not know nor have I ever met David Seamands nor have I studied his work.  I was given a copy of his book way back in the early 80’s but I do not remember if I even read it. That was a long time before I ever even thought about doing anything like I am today.  At that time in my life I was strictly a cognitive biblical pastoral counselor.  Any similarities in the two would be coincidental or subconscious.  I know that I was not deliberately referring to him in the writing.  However, I am well read in many fields and anything that I produce will be influenced to some degree by the sum total of all that is in my brain as it would be for anyone.  However, there has been no intentional connection between what I have taught and what David Seamands has written. 
 
 

 

Critic’s concern: Aren’t memories, even if accompanied by uncomfortable feelings (if not disabling) a defense gift from God that helps us proactively protect ourselves in the future?

 

   

Ed Smith’s response:  I agree with your thinking here. The same mechanism that God has created that works against us when we believe lies works for us with truth.  For example, if I put my hand on a hot stove I learn (from the pain) that is not a good idea. The pain reaction is not lie based but truth based. However, if I embrace a belief that says “I am stupid” because I touched the hot pan any pain that follows this belief is a falsehood and can be detrimental for my future.

 

 

Critic’s concern: If people believe in TPM because “it works,” how far will they take pragmatism as a basis for truth?


 

Ed Smith’s response: Because “it works” is not the sole basis for authenticity, though it is important.  If TPM did not work no one would be doing it.  However, because it seems to be working it has by reputation or word of mouth, found its way into over 140 countries worldwide.  However, in a similar vein, if the Gospel did not work would you believe it. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” ( Rom. 1:16).  Because the Gospel changes lives Paul was willing to stand unashamed of preaching it.  If the Gospel was not impacting people I am not sure what the Apostle would have done.  If there was no fruit we would question TPM’s validity.  However, it is because of the fruit that we can say that the tree is either good or bad. Nevertheless, TPM is validated for more reasons than “because it works.”  People are reporting freedom from lies and life long pain, they are reporting a closer walk with God, glorifying the Lord, growing in desire to learn more about God in study, walk in more consistent holiness and more.  All of these traits would be considered of merit in determining whether a thing had godly value in any other Christian context.  I also address this issue in the Basic Manual on the evidences of genuine ministry.

 

 

 

 

Critic’s concern: Smith states in his book Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts, “We must come to know God both ‘cranially’ and experientially.”  I fail to see how TPM, fosters an experience with God any more than any other Christian discipline that involves prayer or openness to God’s Holy Spirit.  

 

 

 

Ed Smith’s response:  (In reference to you earlier concern, please note that you have quoted me saying that both experiential and logical knowledge of God is important.) Actually TPM does not claim to foster an experience with Christ (Holy Spirit) any more than any other discipline that involves prayer or openness to God’s Holy Spirit.  As I have stated earlier TPM is not new.  In the manual I say, “Theophostic Prayer Ministry is not something new from God – He has been revealing truth to the hearts and minds of His people in a similar fashion throughout the ages. The only new thing is the system of prayer. I formulated this process based on a series of principles through which God seems pleased to communicate His truth and grace to people during a ministry session. This procedure is based on biblical truths and neurological principles, both of which I believe God is the Creator.”  I did not create what the mind does; I only observed it happening and developed a transferable way to train others to do what I was doing in ministry. What is happening in a session is God’s Spirit communicating a personal message of love and acceptance to the recipient’s heart. He does this all the time with people who are attuned to Him. This is what is supposed to occur when we seek Him with all our heart.  
   



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