How Prayer Ministry Resolves Your Shame Pool. Understanding the true effects of shame and how to resolve them in prayer ministry is important for lasting freedom in your life.
Consider this example: Brian had a busy week of preparing for his tests in college. He knew he needed to study, yet the mere thought of it made him feel overwhelmed and want to shut down. This shut down feeling wasn’t something he’d really examined, he just knew that cracking open the books was more than he could bear. Shame is a core factor in most all of the issues people face. Prayer ministry can resolve shame when you understand how. Let’s start by defining shame.
What is shame? There’s the old saying, “Guilt says I did bad, shame says I am bad.” That’s a good start, but doesn’t capture the bigger picture of what shame really is. I’ve considered “alienation” lately as a good word. Cognitive Therapy divides shame into two categories: flawed and abandoned. Flawed includes thoughts like, “I’m worthless, less than,” or “I’m defective, dirty, deficient.” Abandoned covers feeling completely alone, powerless, unprotected, or cutoff. To me, all of these communicate a sense of alienation. Whether I’m not feeling accepted in a group or powerless to get a task done, there’s a sense of being cut off, alienated.
Everyone struggles with these types of thoughts sometimes. Basil Pennington says growing closer to God involves facing and coming to terms with our sense of alienation from God, others, and even our own selves. This may be one reason people find it difficult to have a consistent prayer time and develop a deeper relationship with God and other people. The sense of alienation is painful and they don’t know what to do about it.
Many prayer ministry and counseling models don’t effectively deal with our shame pool. They cover forgiveness or breaking off a stronghold, or they deal more with fruit instead of root–like not striving or performing, setting better boundaries. All of these are, of course, helpful unless there is an undealt with underlying root of shame that says, “I’m less than,” or “I’m helpless.”
I worked with Brian to connect with what was happening in his heart in regards to studying. He felt it was overwhelming, too big to handle, and that he was powerless to tackle it. This led him to think about an experience in grade school where a teacher had put unreasonable demands on him. As he examined this event, he realized his teacher had been struggling with managing the class in a healthy way. He realized it wasn’t about him, that there was nothing “flawed” about him and he was able to forgive his teacher. As he now considered his college studies, he felt a new empowerment to dive in. He had drained off more of his shame pool.
Understanding how shame works puts a huge tool for freedom in our hands. The more we face our alienation – any time we feel cut off from others, or powerless to speak up to others, or helpless to resolve an issue – the more we grow in confidence as sons and daughters of God. Confidence in sonship means we can hold our hearts open to loving others with a covering love. We are able to bear the infirmities of the weak rather than feel threatened by them. We have the maturity to tackle responsibilities rather than shrink back from them. Each day we can hold our heart open in God’s presence. If you feel like you want to learn more about this “shame pool,” please check out our Road Map to Maturity CD series.