Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Currently Reading: Help For The Fractured Soul

Drawing on fifteen years of experience as a prayer minister, Dr. Candyce Roberts shares her insights on working with highly traumatized people in her book Help For The Fractured Soul.  This book is a guide for laity who are working with abuse victims, specifically in the realm of prayer ministry.

Throughout the book, Dr. Roberts shares many stories from her personal experiences working with victims.  These stories, although very sobering, help to give a real-world context to the advice she is giving.  Roberts is not afraid to include stories that ended with a less than favorable outcome (e.g. clients who accused her of trying to do more harm and left without finishing counseling).  This is a reminder that prayer ministry is not always easy nor does it always end perfectly.  She reminds readers multiple times that we cannot change people and that we must get frustrated with their   choices - we can encourage healing, but we cannot force someone to heal if they refuse to.

I appreciated that Roberts emphasizes in several places that we must only work within our scope of expertise.  She stresses that prayer ministers should never try to diagnose, or take the place of a licensed medical professional/psychologist.  Rather we must focus on what we are qualified to do (lead people before the throne of God) and be willing to refer them to a professional if needed.

Roberts reminds readers that before leading a prayer ministry, they must first be healthy themselves and be personally committed to inner-healing in their own lives.  Later she gives guidelines for setting boundaries with clients.  This is an important reminder to be fully investing in the lives of those to whom you are ministering, but to still value your own life and your own personal health.

While the book is directed at those working with the highly traumatized, I found many truths that could apply to any Christian.  I greatly appreciated her words on denial when she said that we will not know the truth if we are living in denial in any area of life.  The chapter on forgiveness was also poignant who anyone who has ever been hurt.

Dr. Roberts has clearly worked in this field for many years and has gleaned wisdom from her time as a prayer minister.  This book would be a great starting point for anyone interested in prayer ministry or simply for the individual trying to understand and aid a friend who is highly traumatized.   However, I will note that this book is clearly for the lay minister.  Prayer ministry can be extremely effective, but I don't believe it should replace a qualified counselor or psychologist.  Rather the two should be conflated.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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