As a survivor of child sex trafficking, if you asked me to name just one thing that made the most difference in my healing, I would tell you that it was prayer. In fact, I wouldn’t blink an eye while I told you that if it weren’t for prayer, I wouldn’t be alive today. But in the first several years of healing, I could not have prayed my way out of a cardboard box. So much had happened to me to undermine my ability to ever trust God or believe that He would help me. Not every girl who has lived this nightmare was as purposefully indoctrinated against trusting God as I was, but I do believe that trusting God’s goodness and His ability and willingness to set her free is a challenge to any survivor.
Survivors desperately need people who will pray for their healing with the conviction that, without their prayers, she may not make it. However, knowing that prayer is important is completely different from actually praying effectively for this issue.
I have said before (here) that I would rather have one friend who faithfully prayed for me day in and day out than any counselor with 10 degrees and a bunch of theories to help me. And this is exactly how my healing came about. I had seen at least 8 counselors before giving up on counseling. (Yes, I had to stop and count just now). Some were just pastoral counselors and some were degreed to the hilt. Every last one of them was a Christian, but none of them prayed. Well, maybe a prayer here or there, but certainly none of those counselors saw prayer as the answer to my healing.
And then there was my friend who I mentioned here. She prayed. She listened and encouraged me to talk and get the crap out of my head and did other things to encourage my healing, but mostly – she prayed. She was in my life only for a season, but I am convinced that her prayers in that critical season saved my life.
My goal today is to stop just telling you to pray for survivors of sex trafficking, and give you some actual, practical ways to pray.
1. Pray scripture. Prayer that is based in scripture doesn’t stand a chance of not being answered by the One who authored those words in the first place. Here are a few examples:
Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, arise Lord and set her in the safety for which she longs (Psalm 12:5)
Lead her by ways she has not known, guide her along unfamiliar paths and turn the darkness into light before her, and make the rough places smooth. Let her know that you will not forsake her. (Isa. 42:16)
God, as she cries out in her distress, ransom her unharmed from the battle waged against her, even though many oppose her. (Psalm 55:18)
God, stand at her right hand and save her life from those who would condemn her. (Psalm 109:31)
Many may say of her soul, “There is no deliverance for her in God.” But you, O Lord are a shield around her, her glory and the One who lifts her head. Answer her cries. (Psalm 3:2-3)
Lord, listen to her cry. Bring her up out of the pit of destruction and set her feet on a rock. Make her way firm and put a new song in her mouth. (Psalm 40:1-3)
Send your light and truth to lead her. (Psalm 43:3)
Let her cease striving and know that You are God. (Psalm 46:10)
Father, I pray that you would give her a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know You. (Eph 1:17)
I could go on forever, but you get the idea.
Please hear this: You do not have to pray any of this where she can hear it if she hates that. Let her hate your prayer, but keep praying, silently if necessary. If hearing you pray brings her comfort, then by all means pray aloud for her as much as possible.
2. Fight the spiritual battle for her in prayer. Read Nehemiah. No, really – read it! I am just starting to see what a perfect picture the book of Nehemiah is for the restoration of trafficking survivors, and have a feeling I will be writing more about this in the near future.
We need more Nehemiahs – those who weep and mourn and fast and pray for those who have survived captivity and are back in the land, but who are in “great trouble and disgrace, whose walls are broken down, and whose gates have been burned with fire.” This is such a picture for the battle we are in with sex trafficking. Many have been taken captive and their lives have been destroyed. And many Nehemiahs have risen up to go and help rebuild these “cities” – the lives of trafficking survivors. In Nehemiah, as the people started to rebuild, there were enemies who taunted them and threatened to attack them and destroy the repairs being made, so Nehemiah instructed that some would work, while others would stand guard with weapons in hand to defend those rebuilding the walls.
There are gaps in her wall that she is desperately trying to rebuild to keep from being taken captive again. She cannot stand and protect or defend herself spiritually, and desperately needs others to stand next to her with weapons in hand to fight off the attackers while she rebuilds. This is done in prayer.
3. Pray specifically for strongholds to be bound. I know. Scary spiritual warfare terminology. Please hear me, though. If there’s anyone who was ever wary of wacky spiritual practices, my name would be at the top of that list, because there was so much of that wound into my abuse. One advantage in this is that I will forever have a built-in radar that sends a blaring siren off in my head anytime I get anywhere near something that is not spiritually authentic. And by spiritually authentic, I mean rooted alone in Jesus Christ’s ability to deliver and heal. The freedom He offers is kind, gentle and patient, and is the only true freedom from the utter evil perpetrated against victims of sex trafficking. Everything else is insufficient.
I know I will probably offend someone if I say that if spiritual warfare scares you, then you might want to go find another pastime. The real truth is that there’s just no getting past the fact that survivors of utter evil are going to be affected spiritually. The enemy loves how abuse swings doors wide open to our hearts, inviting him in to places we would never have otherwise invited him.
Specifically, I have learned that it is effective to pray and bind a stronghold over her mind, asking God to shut out the lies and bring in the truth, giving her a chance to make the choice to shut those doors to the enemy herself. This would be an especially important tool to use against the strongholds of self-destruction.
I could never do this subject justice here on this blog. One book that I found to be extremely balanced is Prophetic Deliverance by Tim Mather. It’s a good place to start in trying to understand the need for this type of prayer.
4. When she is ready, teach her to ask God for one tiny piece of truth that she can believe from the Word. Show her to cling to that one truth, praying it for herself until God shows her another one. I have lived – (literally survived instead of dying) – with one tiny scripture that God gave me enough faith to hang onto – for months at a time. I always picture it like a set of monkey bars spanning a huge cavern between two mountains. You hang on to one for dear life until you have the strength to grab the next one.
It sounds like such a simplistic approach to healing. Obviously there are other components to healing, but writing and talking and all the stuff we do in therapy is like getting into a car without gas. It’s not really going to go anywhere. I may have said this before, but I always picture “talk therapy” like this:
I am bound to a chair with chains and a gag in my mouth. The chains are padlocked and I can’t get them off and neither can you. You can take the gag out of my mouth and give me back my voice by allowing me to talk to you about how I came to be bound to that chair. Just talking about it will bring some relief to my broken heart, and if you lovingly believe and affirm me, then my heart may heal just a bit. But I can sit there all day long describing to you how I came to be bound to that chair – all the details about who did that to me, and what it felt like, and even where I thought Jesus was while that was happening. But at the end of the day, I am still bound to the chair. You see, talking about my chains does not free me from them. The only thing that will free me from my prison in that chair is to find the key and unlock the padlocks on those chains. Prayer is the key. We pray and God does the work. In that sense, it truly is simple.
Please check here for updated lists of scripture based prayers for the physical deliverance of those still captive as well as for restoration for survivors.