The "Steps to Freedom" prayer counselling ministry is the prayer component of the overall Freedom in Christ approach. It is a prayer/repentance or "truth encounter" model rather than a "power encounter".
The person going through the Steps (whom we will call "the freedom seeker") is taking responsibility for their life and growth by asking the Lord to show them any area in their life where an issue needs to be resolved. They then choose to repent of everything the Lord shows them thus removing any grounds the enemy may have had in their life. It is based on James 4:7, "submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Very simple and gentle - but amazingly effective!
Each step starts with a scripturally-based prayer of repentance which the freedom seeker prays as a general preliminary, asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the specific areas that apply to them. Then there are particular instances listed (usually with tick boxes) and a short written prayer of renunciation which the freedom seeker will use to deal with specific areas they want to renounce. Some sections also include doctrinal affirmations which are declarations of the freedom seeker's choice and acceptance of primary scriptural truth set out in a very straightforward way.
Step 1 Counterfeit versus Real
Cult and occult involvement, idols.
Step 2 Deception versus Truth
Not just deceiving spirits but also common areas of self-deception and ingrained defence mechanisms that have become deception.
Step 3 Bitterness versus Forgiveness
Forgiveness as a choice of the will, not dependent on feelings. The freedom seeker writes their own list of people to forgive.
Step 4 Rebellion versus Submission
Common areas include family, church leaders, work and God Himself.
Step 5 Pride versus Humility
A number of specific examples given to choose from, not all obvious.
Step 6 Bondage versus Freedom
Habitual sins and attitudes. Sexual sins are included in this section, also specific prayer for specific problems - the Personal Inventory will often give some prior indication of what the freedom seeker will identify with.
Step 7 Curses versus Blessings
An opportunity to cut off the effects of generational sin and curses.
The process is contained in a booklet published by Monarch and there is also a DVD presented by Steve Goss.
We cannot stress enough that this process is something that every Christian will benefit from - not just 'hard cases'. Although we delight to see victims of ritual abuse, chronic anorectics and other very disturbed people find their freedom, what excites us most is to see what happens to 'ordinary' Christians who suddenly find that they are able to connect with the truth of God's Word in a much more powerful way than ever before. We believe that churches who concentrate on helping their people find true freedom and maintain that freedom will be the ones who are ready for revival - and that's what's really on our hearts.
It is possible for people to go through the process either in the context of a group 'Away Day' (more details in the Discipleship Course section) or in an individual 'freedom appointment' in the context of their local church.
How does an individual Freedom Appointment work?
The process is generally conducted by laypeople which means that, once it is up and running, church leaders will find it a significant help in easing the pastoral burden placed upon them. These lay people will benefit from basic training but, because they are really only facilitating a process between the freedom seeker and God, they do not need to be experts.
The freedom seeker needs to have some awareness of who they are in Christ and the power of their own repentance and renunciations as well as their ability in Christ to stand in truth. If they do not, they are unlikely to be able to stand in the freedom that their appointment will bring and will spiral back down into wrong ways of thinking. Except in rare cases (where people's spiritual issues are so bad that they simply cannot process the teaching before their appointment) we recommend strongly that you do not take people through the Steps To Freedom process until they have got hold of the basic discipleship teaching. There is a danger that some will want the ministry as a 'quick fix' and will not want to complete the teaching. It is imperative that the freedom seeker is made aware that they are not coming to someone else to be "fixed" but are taking control themselves and, therefore, must know how to identify and combat deception and wrong ways of thinking so that they can 'stand firm' after their appointment.
Generally people will have been asked to complete in advance a confidential Personal Inventory form. This helps them (as well as the facilitator of the session) to identify the main issues, and areas in background and family etc that have a bearing on their freedom.
There is also a simple disclaimer that they will be asked sign, which explains that the facilitator and prayer partner are not professional counsellors. It also covers the question of information which may by law have to be disclosed, e.g. child abuse or other serious crime.
The session takes place in privacy and strict confidentiality rules apply. The Inventory and any notes taken during the session are returned to the freedom seeker.
Who is involved?
There are usually three people - the freedom seeker, the encourager who leads the session and a prayer partner. Sometimes it can be advantageous to use a second prayer partner.
The encourager will have been through exactly the same Steps to Freedom and will know the material well so that a certain amount of 'coaching' can be incorporated if needed. Prayer partners are often potential facilitators who are gaining experience.
The encourager will know how to help the freedom seeker work through the checklists and options in the Steps To Freedom booklet and identify what is relevant to them. They will know to avoid any tendency to 'put things' on people or be at all manipulative. It is the freedom seeker who makes the running, helped by the encourager who facilitates - not counsels.
The prayer partner plays a less prominent but not less important part. They will keep every element of the session spiritually covered and maintain God's peace over the freedom seeker. It is not uncommon in the context of the session for God to bring additional insights, especially to the prayer partner, but these are shared through the encourager at appropriate times to avoid any tendency to disruption. Such sharing will be done in a way which gives the freedom seeker complete freedom as to how they respond to the insight and will always be presented as tentative. In general, the prayer partner's role is more concentrated on enabling the freedom seeker to be free of confusion and able to respond to the Spirit's prompting for themselves, helped by the encourager.
It typically takes between 3 and 5 hours to complete but can be longer for people who have a lot to work through. Breaks are arranged to keep everyone fresh and allow some let-up from what can become a little intense and tiring even if it is not difficult. The freedom seeker is encouraged to say how they are feeling and ask for a break whenever they like.
The freedom seeker keeps the booklet in which they have ticked various boxes for areas they identify with under the guidance of the Spirit in the session. They are encouraged to use this during their own quiet time and to work with it further as required. They can go back to it at any time in the future to deal with anything that has reoccurred.