sorts to devices which psychologists call defence mechanisms, such as compen sation, withdrawal, regression, repres sions, sublimation, blame, and many others. Many of these are healthy and proper, when wisely controlled and implemented. As believers, may I say that we live in the same world; we are subject to the same pressures, the same difficul ties. As a result, even among believers today, there is an alarming amount of emotional disorder and instability -— so much so, that it is frightening to many pastors who find their counsel ing demands almost more than they can handle. Now while it is true that we are indeed subject to the same emotional stresses and frustrations, God has won derfully made abundant supply for these things. I found that God has ade quately dealt with every situation which we are told creates anxieties. We could spend a great deal of time discussing what the Word of God says about hostilities, worry, disappoint ments, environmental problems, the drive for affection, approval, security, neededness, the problem of fear, and many more. Lately, however, I have been particularly impressed with the unique part that PRAYER plays in every one of these situations. As the Lord leads and gives us un derstanding, we want to discuss many of these problems and their specific re lation to PRAYER in the life of the believer. Doubtless, many of the emotional problems diagnosed by the physicians and psychologists as emotional disor ders, in the lives of Christians, are in reality the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit and problems arising from genuine guilt. The Lord has promised to be “in us the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). He has promised life “more abundantly” (John 10:10). He has said that He would be in us “a river of water springing up into life eternal” (John 4:14), that He would give unto us the “peace of God that passeth understanding” to guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-8).
God has promised, for the believer, all the resources necessary for a complete ly satisfying and emotionally stable life, in spite of adverse physical cir cumstances or environment and in spite of the limitations of physical illness or disease which are often offered as ex cuses for our emotionally infantile be havior. Let us look now, at the problem of guilt. What effect does our prayer ex perience have on this very perplexing problem? We are told by clinicians in the field of psychology that a feeling of guilt is one of the major factors in emotional disorder and mental illness, and that serious guilt complexes may result in such things as simple insomnia, or more serious mental aberrations such as split personality, or melancholia. Let me point out first that there are many Biblical passages that relate prayer to the removal of guilt and guilt feelings. Many of the great Psalms are built upon this very thing. For instance, in the 25th Psalm Dav id prays, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions, accord ing to thy mercy . . . ’ (vs. 7). He devotes the entire 51st Psalm to telling the story of his guilt and the cleansing ex perience of knowing the Lord’s for giveness. In the 32nd Psalm he lifts a great anthem of praise to God for the blessedness of feeling the cleansing of God (32:1, 2). But before we can thoroughly un derstand this problem, we need to take a broader look at what guilt actually is. Dr. Paul Tournier, a physician and practicing psychiatrist for more than 28 years in Geneva, Switzerland, em phasizes the universal nature of guilt when he says that “All upbringing is a cultivation of a sense of guilt.” This is perfectly in order, when thoughtfully and properly done. In Ephesians 6:1 we read “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right.” But many times parents abuse this sacred trust and do not take into consideration the further admonition (Continued on Next Page) 15
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