Every week we receive hundreds of emails, phone calls and texts from you, Stand Up for the Truth listeners, asking questions or making comments about the biblical issues we address on the program. I wish we had the time to respond to each one personally, but it is near impossible.
Today, we start a brand new regular segment where we share as many of your comments and questions as we can to hopefully help encourage and inform others with similar questions or concerns.
Our standard but important disclaimer: We will give the best advice and answers we can based on our understanding of God’s Word. But you must always rely on the Bible first, as the only source of eternal, inerrant, sufficient truth.
Thanks to listener questions, the subjects covered on today’s program are: church discipline, Andy Stanley’s series ‘Who Needs God,’ The Shack, apathy in the Christian church, United Church of God theology, IF Gathering led by Jennie Allen, Is Calvinism heresy, fundamental Christian truth vs liberal ‘feeling’ theology, moral relativism, examining the evidence proving the reliability of Scripture.
One of the things addressed on today’s program was Sozo prayer. The following is from GotQuestions.org:
Question: “What is Sozo prayer?”
Answer: Sozo prayer, or Sozo ministry (from the Greek for “save” or “deliver”), is defined as “a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry in which the main aim is to get to the root of those things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Sozo was created by a group of people from Bethel Church in Redding, California, and modeled after spiritual practices observed at revivals in Argentina. Sozo is strongly mystical in its approach and relies heavily on ideas about God and the Holy Spirit that are not based on biblical fact.
Sozo prayer requires the presence of a mediator or guide who is trained to walk participants through a time of prayer and reflection that is supposed to facilitate intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is definitely something to be sought; however, the method of attaining intimacy via a journey through the subconscious is questionable at best. Intimacy with God is achieved by Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and obedience, not by a mystical “journey” through our past. The Bible warns us to be discerning and wise, and not to be fooled (Hosea 14:9; Hebrews 5:14). The Bible and the Holy Spirit—not our subconscious thoughts or a fallible human being—are our connection to the counsel and the voice of God (John 17:17). Many types of ungodly mystical practices include the presence of a “spirit guide,” but the Bible tells us that our connection to the Father is a direct connection, mediated by Christ (1 Timothy 2:5) and guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). No other spirit guide is necessary.
The methods and practices of Sozo are of human invention and require human instruction, without reference to Scripture. In fact, Sozo is much closer to new age mysticism than to Christianity. Participants are encouraged into a mild trance state, while being “led” into a series of mental/emotional rooms or stages where, by connecting to their own deeper feelings and thoughts, they believe themselves to have a new experience with God. Whatever participants feel has happened to them, the Bible tells us it is dangerous to open ourselves up to something that has not been sanctioned by God (Ephesians 4:11–14). Preaching and teaching, evangelism, and the practice of anointing a person with oil or laying hands on him, for instance, are all shown in Scripture to be spiritually safe and useful. But Sozo prayer does not have that kind of backing. It’s like taking a drug that isn’t approved by the FDA. It might not damage you, but why take the risk?
According to the Bethel Sozo website, one of the goals of Sozo is to enable participants to “heal your relationship with God to enable you to fulfill your destiny.” But the Bible tells us that a Christian’s destiny is death to self and obedience to Christ through faith in His power and saving grace (Luke 9:23; Ephesians 2:8–9). The things that make us one with God are produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and a Christian does not need to be led on a mystical prayer journey to attain them. Every believer is conformed to Christ’s image by His power and has already been blessed with “every spiritual gift in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:3).
In summary, we do not believe that Sozo ministry/prayer is a godly practice or something that is needed or helpful for a believer’s fellowship with God. Sozo is much more closely related to mysticism and spiritism than to true intimacy with God. True intimacy with Him happens by illumination of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit and fellowship with Christ as we show love for the Father through obedience to and imitation of Him (Ephesians 5:1).