I received word today of the passing of Leanne Payne, founder of Pastoral Care Ministries (PCM) and a huge influence in my life and thought. She taught me how to practice the presence of God, especially in broken places needing healing. In addition, she helped lay out a biblical vision of how God can use guided imagery prayer to heal the soul.
Rather than a long post on aspects of her life and ministry, I wanted to share some key quotes that have been meaningful to me as I remember her writings. She made other authors like C.S. Lewis and Clyde Kilby accessible to me in ways I’ve not found elsewhere.
“Saints of all ages have made it their business to be present to God, and out of this has sprung their truest vocation. They become, therefore, the ones who blaze spiritual trials for others. Every generation of Christians must courageously face dark wildernesses, peculiar to the time in which they live. These “perilous woods” through which a path must be hewn are made up of the choking undergrowth and dark flowering of the sins and blindnesses of generations past, and they always stand as formidable roadblocks to the next generation of Christians. The saints who make it their full intention, therefore, to practice the Presence (however they term this) become the courageous pathfinders, whether for the many or the few. And in the doing of this, no matter how much they suffer, they are to be accounted doubly blessed, for they have discovered what they were born to do.” (The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul Through Union with Christ, 34).
“It is all too easy for us moderns to regard the supernatural world (e.g. the Holy Spirit, angels, demons) and activities as somehow less real than the world we behold with our senses. As twentieth-century Christians, we live in a materialistic age, one in which our systems of learning have long based their conclusions on scientific truth alone. The presuppositions of such systems have misled many generations of students, blinding them to the truths of God and the Unseen Real, whether more or spiritual. Because of these intellectual blocks, we moderns have more difficulty with invisible realities and perhaps a much greater need for the discipline of practicing the Presence than did our forefathers in the faith. In the very beginning of the Christian Era, however, St. Paul spoke of the practice by saying: “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18) The practice of the Presence then, is simply the discipline of calling to mind the truth that God is with us. When we consistently do this, the miracle of seeing by faith is given. We begin to see with the eyes of our hearts.” (Ibid., 26).
“If broken lives and souls are to be healed, I must begin with teaching the practice of the presence… To abide in the presence of the Lord is to begin to hear Him. To follow through on that hearing is to find healing, self-acceptance, and growth into psychological and spiritual balance and maturity.” (Listening Prayer, 131).
“The renunciation of self-hatred is a deliberate (volitional) step we take, and we keep our eyes on the Source of our salvation, not on our subjective feelings, which are unreliable and even ‘diseased’ due to the habitual attitudes we’ve formed. As we do this, God honors our transaction and showers His grace upon us. We then do battle with all the diseased and negative thoughts and imaginings, lifting them up to Him as they arise in our hearts and minds.” (Restoring the Christian Soul: Overcoming Barriers to Completion in Christ Through Healing Prayer, 21).