Blog Post

Stay Away from Sozo Prayer!

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 article appearing in the Christian Post, 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."

Typical Sozo 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 Four Doors reveal how sin enters lives: through hatred, sexual sin, occult, and fear. As the article explains, "During a Sozo prayer, the leader tries to identify which of the four sins may have opened up a spiritual 'door' to demonic possession or oppression . . . . Although the tool encourages confession and renunciation of sin, which is encouraged in the Bible, its specificity of just the fours sins (hatred, fear, occult, and sexual sin) is often criticized because they are not the only sins spoken of in Scripture that can “invite the demonic” into their lives.

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. Repressed memory therapy is extremely dangerous and has wreaked havoc on people's lives.

For example, the Christian Post article includes this heartbreaking experience from the father of a woman who attended a Sozo session.

“My daughter attended a Sozo session at Bethel eight years ago. While in that session she experienced a so called ‘Recovered Memory' that I had molested her from the age of three to thirteen. That was the end of our relationship and almost the end of my life. Her mother and siblings know and have testified that it is completely false, but the damage is done. None of us in our family will ever be the same. When I found out about this I tried to contact Bill Johnson for help. Apparently, being falsely accused of a crime that can carry a life sentence (and that resulting from one of Bethels’ ministries) is not quite enough to get his attention. I could not get past the ‘counseling center.’ When I related what had happened, they expressed how sorry they were at my experience and actually tried to get me to set up a counseling session.”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.

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