AL writes: “What is Sozo prayer and is it okay for Catholics to use it?”
Sozo prayer is not okay, and is not something Christians should be involved in. This form of “prayer” is not only unbiblical, it’s also dangerous.
Sozo (from the Greek “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.”
Although this might sound good, its methods are far from it. In fact, Sozo is much closer to new age mysticism than to Christianity because it focuses on attaining intimacy with God via a journey through the subconscious rather than through prayer and Scripture.
Sozo prayer is the invention of Bill and Brenda “Beni” Johnson who serve as Senior Pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, California. They are very much associated with questionable revivalists such as Rodney Howard Brown and Randy Clark (best known for their involvement with Holy Laughter)
Sozo prayer came about in 1992 when Pastor Randy Clark, a healing evangelist, began to hold meetings at Bethel Church. He introduced them to a model of “deliverance” from Argentina known as The Four Doors and began training members in this method. One of those trainees was Dawna DeSilva, the founder of the Sozo Ministry, who claims she began to use the method and saw a “miraculous difference” in people’s “level of freedom.”
This is how Sozo was born.
According to this excellent blog, Closingstages.com, by a pastor who has had first-hand experience with the Sozo ministry, it makes false promises of miraculous psychological cures by pretending to be based upon a combination of Christian teaching and psychological science. But in reality, it’s theories and practices are a “travesty of both.”
A typical Sozo session is described here and involves encouraging the Sozee into a mild trance while being “led” into a series of mental / emotional rooms or stages where the person connects to their deeper feelings and thoughts and comes to have a new experience with God.
These sessions involve the use of tools such as the Father Ladder which allegedly helps the Sozoee understand how the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity correlate (knowingly or unknowingly) to their experiences with parents and friends.
The Five Doors reveal how sin enters lives: through hatred, sexual sin, occult, thievery and fear. “These doors have generational roots, cultural expressions and/or may be temptations the Sozoee has yielded to in varying degrees.” By forgiving anyone who contributed to the open door, the door is closed and sealed with the blood of Christ.
During a session, a guide or mediator helps the person to take down a Wall – a defense mechanism – by closing a door, something that is accompanied by a loud clap of the hands. “Japanese Christian brain scientist Aiko Horman discovered that the sound of a clap breaks the arch of brain wave connection between spirit and mind, thus disengaging a lie.”
The most dangerous aspect of Sozo is that some of the psychotherapies practiced (by untrained individuals) are so called “memory healing” or “regressive” therapies that “probe the unconscious for buried memories to be uncovered and healed,” Closingstages warns.
Repressed memory therapy is extremely dangers and has wreaked havoc on people’s lives.
This testimony, published on Closingstages, documents the horror experienced by a man whose daughter attended a Sozo session at Bethel eight years ago and experienced a so-called “Recovered Memory” that he had molested her from the age of three to thirteen – none of which was true.
” I contacted two attorneys with ‘false recovered memory’ experience. Both were shocked that regressive therapy was being practiced at all. Both attorneys told me that the whole recovered memory issue died out in the 1990s when it was exposed for the hoax that it is. After a few therapists were sued for big dollars the practice stopped—until Theophostic and Sozo started it up again. Both Theophostic and Sozo therapy includes regressive therapy techniques.”
This article gives more information about Sozo, along with good references, and is a must read for anyone who is interested in pursuing this kind of “prayer” therapy.
My advice is to stay away from it.
First, because the premise for this prayer is not Biblical. Where does the Bible teach us we need to root through our subconscious through the help of a Sozo minister in order to connect with God? Rather, we’re told that anyone who wants to come to the Father can do so through the mediation of His Son (Timothy 2:5). If we want to connect with God, the Person you want to see is Jesus, not a Sozo minister.
Second, because these people are not trained to handle the kind of potentially serious psychological issues that may arise during a typical session.