Sozo Prayer (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 regarded as the invention of Bill and Brenda “Beni” Johnson who serve as Senior Pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, California as at 2015.
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.
Sozo prayer utilizes a mediator or guide to help participants delve deep within themselves to discover any deterrent to drawing close to God. While drawing close to God should be a goal of every Christian, Christians don’t need a mediator or a guided journey through their subconscious to do so. Sozo also draws much of its practice from new age mysticism, including entering into a mild trance state and exploring internal rooms or stages of the mind. This is not biblical.
Prayer, God’s Word, the Spirit(breathe of God), and fellowship with other believers connect us to God, and Christians should cultivate these spiritual practices, or disciplines, to draw closer to God as the truth of the Word of God (Jesus) changes the way we think and act. It is Truth that sets us free and not man.
Jesus tells us to rely on the Spirit (breathe of God): “But when that should come, the Breath of Truth, it will lead you into all the truth, for it will not speak from self, but will speak whatever it hears, and it will inform you [about] what is coming. 14 That will glorify Me because it will receive out from Me and will relay-message to you. 15 Everything, whatever the Father has, is Mine. Therefore I said [that] it will receive out from Me and will relay-message to you.” (John 16:13– 15 LGV).
While we do not need a mediator to help connect us to God, it is true that other people can be helpful in our relationship with God.
Hebrews 10:24–25 LGV says, “And we should watch out for one another to stimulate love and virtuous deeds, not according to the habit of some – abandoning the assembling together of themselves – but calling [them] back [to the assembly], and more urgently as you observe ‘the Day’ nearing..”
This is one reason regular church attendance is important. Additionally, God has specifically equipped His people with various ministries that are helpful to others.
1 Corinthians 12:7 LGV says, “Yet the manifestation of the Breath is given to each person for the united benefit..”
In Ephesians 4:11–14 LGV, Paul writes, “11 And He indeed gave the emissaries, also the prophets, also the evangelists, also the shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints for the performance of service, for building the Body of the Anointed, 13 until we might all attain to the unity of the Faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of maturity of the fullness of the Anointed; 14 so that we may no longer remain children, tossed about and carried off with every wind of teaching by the slight of men through cunning craftiness into the deception of heresy.”
Our need for spiritual enlightenment or opportunity for relationship is fully met by the Holy Spirit and our study of God’s Word under His guidance. The following passage from the first chapter of 2 Peter is long, but shows us how God has provided for us and what we are to do to build on our faith.
2 Peter 1:3-9 LGV “Thus has been given to us all of His divine power – that which leads to life and devotedness – through the full-knowledge of One who invited us through glory and virtue, 4 through which have been given to us the great and valuable promises,8 so that through these you may become participants of the divine nature,9 having fled from the corruption in the world in lust. 5 Yet for this same thing also, using all diligence, in your trust supply virtue, and in virtue [supply] knowledge, 6 and in knowledge [supply] self-control, and in self-control [supply] endurance, and in endurance [supply] devoutness, 7 and in devoutness [supply] brotherly affection, and in brotherly affection [supply] love. 8 For in your owning of these things and increasing, they cause you not to be stalled or unfruitful unto the full-knowledge of our Master, Jesus Anointed. 9 For the one in whom these things are not present is blind, closing his eyes, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins.”
According to this 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 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.
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. This broke up the family.
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.”
In Sozo Prayer the premise for 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. If we want to connect with God, the Person you want to see is Jesus, not a Sozo minister.
Furthermore Sozo therapists are not trained to handle the kind of potentially serious psychological issues that may arise during a typical session.
Sozo prayer is not a biblically-based practice and is not something that is necessary or likely beneficial for Christians in seeking to draw closer to God. Intimacy with God is a product of fellowship with Him through the work of Jesus, the light of His Word through the Holy Spirit, and continually seeking to lead a life that brings Him honour and glory as we submit to His work of transformation in us. It takes time and as we renew our minds to what God says about us how we view ourselves changes. The love of God as our Father changes everything.
“9 And thus I pray so that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and all perception, 10 for you to distinguish the substantial things, so that you may be genuine and faultless unto the Day of the Anointed, 11 having been filled with the fruits of justice, which is through Jesus Anointed unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) LGV.
Special thanks to Susan Brinkmann for her work on this important subject.
I recommend the following blog posts by closingstages.net