This is for friends who are having trouble understanding the information on the Immanuel process that is available online. I hope this helps. Please post comments.
Karl Lehman and his wife Charlotte developed the Immanuel method and have written extensively about it. They have over 100 pages of essays online at their website: KCLehman. com. And Karl has recently published a book, Outsmarting Yourself, which I highly recommend. Lehman did Theophostic Prayer Ministry for about eight years and then developed the Immanuel method to help those with low capacity who got stuck during TPM. The Immanuel method has a clear advantage over doing TPM in that you can do it in groups, which is especially handy overseas where trained prayer ministers are greatly outnumbered by those in need.
I recently attended a Share Immanuel conference where we learned how to do the method and I came away impressed. This does not take away the need for a team that can do TPM, it just makes this kind of healing more available since it can be taught in a weekend and can be done with groups. Theophostic Prayer Ministry is done one on one or two on one which means a team on a short-term mission trip cannot minister to very many people.
I have described it as “doing Theophostic backwards” because you connect with God first instead of at the end, but the basic principles are very similar. There is a brochure written by Jim Wilder and Chris Coursey at LifeModel.org (http://www.lifemodel.org/product.php?type=book&rn=86) that describes the method, but I have to honestly say that I did not understand the brochure (even after several attempts) until I had experienced the method at the conference. I am very interested to know if what I have written is clear enough. Can those who have not already experienced Immanuel can do a successful session following these instructions? Successful (to me!) means you were able to connect with God and were aware of his presence.
Here is my attempt at a clear explanation of how you connect with God using the Immanuel method.
- You can start one of two ways: either by remembering a time when you sensed a strong connection (a five bar connection) with God or by thinking of something that you appreciate. Let me break these down a bit.
If you have a clear memory of a time when you felt a strong connection to God—-at a retreat, during worship, while praying, or any time when you knew he was there—you can reconnect to Him by going to that memory and remembering that time. Jim Wilder calls this approach the “interactive seat” because you are interacting with God.
The second approach is to connect with God by thinking of something you appreciate. This can be as simple as mangos the delicious fruit that makes Jim Wilder smile, or anything that you are thankful for. I’ve focused on the beauty of springtime, flowers, my dog Darby, my little friend Jayden—it can be anything but it is best if it is not something or someone you feel conflicted about and it must be real and true—not a fantasy. To connect with God by this avenue, simply think about the thing or person you appreciate and invite the Holy Spirit to come. Jim Wilder calls this the “appreciation seat.” The more detail you give the better. I pictured spring as it came to each flowering plant in my yard—daffodils, phlox, irises, azaleas, rhododendron, hydrangea . . . Soon my body felt lighter, my chest was relaxed and I was smiling. You can also go to a memory where you were filled with gratitude. I often use mental picture where I had a mental picture of my parents playing tennis with Jesus in heaven.
Try to stay in your interactive or appreciate seat for at least three minutes. You can shift memories or appreciation topics if you like to fill the full three minutes. According to Wilder this makes you brain more plastic.
If you are leading a group in an Immanuel exercise, make sure everyone in the room is connected. Instruct them to raise their hand if they get stuck. In a group of ten or so, you can minister to individuals who get stuck quietly. If they get stuck on the first step, trying to connect with God, use TPM to help them. I have used this successfully with non-believers. It seems that many people have a memory of a time when they felt God was near.
When I was in Uganda, one of the recipients got stuck part way through his connection exercise. He had gone back to a memory of a time when he was deeply connected to the Lord at the headwaters of the Nile where water pours out from between two rocks. He saw the Lord beckoning him so join him in deep water, he waded out, got knee deep and hesitated. I could tell he was stuck by his wrinkled forehead, and when I asked he said that he could not go deeper. I then used TPM to process his fears and he was able to go to the Lord and enjoy being with him in the water.
- Before you use Immanuel to help people process trauma or pain, it is best to let the connection with God get strong. There are many ways to do this. One is to let people connect to the Lord for about three minutes, then ask questions that help the person perceive the Lord’s love and goodness toward them such as:
Lord, would you show __Name_________ how you feel about them?
Lord, do you have a pet name for name ?
Or instruct them to ask the Lord, Lord, how do you feel about me?
Once they are having a deep connection with the Lord, you can consider processing pain. This can happen over several sessions, if time allows. If you have a large group, put people in groups of three and have the prayer ministry team stand in back of the group and watch for raised hands that indicate that someone in the group of three needs help.
Start by asking each person to go back to the place of connection—using either the interactive or the appreciation seat.
Have each person share with their group of three what they focused on for a minute or two, and what they experienced with God. Give that experience a one to two word name such as spring, mangos, Great Falls or God’s presence.
Now one person at a time, have someone in the group of three go to back to their connection place and reconnect with God, then have them ask the Lord, Is there somewhere you want to take me where I do not perceive Your presence? Remember that God is always with us but we don’t always perceive His presence. The other two members of the group can watch and intercede silently. Pay attention to the recipients facial expressions and body language.
If the person becomes overwhelmed:
- Remind them of the name they gave their connection place: for example, spring, mangos, Great Falls or God’s presence. Hearing another person say that word should help them return to that place.
- Once they are safely back in the place of connection with God, ask them to look at the difficult situation as if through a ship’s porthole. In other words, they should picture standing in the place of connection and looking at the painful situation as if through a small opening.
- Another option is to ask the Lord to show them the big picture. People often report seeing the situation zoom out as their perspective on the painful memory shifts. This enables them to see their trauma in a new light. I’ve heard people report, for example, “I saw that I was being beaten, but it did not last long.”
- Have the person share what changed when Jesus showed up with the other two members of the group. It is best not to share a lot of detail about the pain, instead focus on the Light. This can be hard because we have focused on the pain for years but now we see the situation with new eyes. We want to use care to not burden the others in our group with the story of our pain. Jim Wilder calls this taking the thorns out of our story.
- When one person is done processing, you can move to another person in the group until everyone has had a turn.
While working in my group of three at the conference we did have one time where one of the people in my group got overwhelmed and began to cry. I asked if they could go back to the peaceful place of connection and mentioned the word they had given that experience but they shook their head and cried harder . . . so I did Theophostic, asked them to focus on the pain, name it and see what they were believing that made them feel that way. Then when we had the core lie, we asked the Lord to speak. It was very powerful. I was helping her using TPM but from within an Immanuel intervention.
If you get stuck, you can ask the Lord directly, Lord what do you want me to know here? or What should we do now? If you get really stuck it is best to “park it”—in other words to park your memory, your pain, and put it aside for another time. Because these aren’t individual session, you might not get every situation resolved. It is best if you explain this before you start.
As with any method like this, start with yourself. You can do this easily alone, then try it with one friend, then a small group. Try to have enough people on hand to help those who get stuck. If you work with a group repeatedly, everyone will build capacity and soon that group will be able to help others.
I would love to hear from anyone who tries this both with his or herself and with others.