Interview with Leanne Payne
CBD: Could you tell us about your background and interests?
Since I am a great-grandmother at this time, there's quite a lot of background! My University education is in literature and in theology, but I also loved history, philosophy, and art as well. I've had a great intellectual and spiritual hunger from childhood, largely due to the godly, godly mother I had, for which I have never quit giving thanks! She was one who always pointed to truth. So those would be, I suppose, my main interests and they all impact the ministry of Pastoral Care, the schools that we give overseas and here.
Could you describe what the schools of Pastoral Care Ministries are like and what takes place there?
Well...they are so exciting! We just got back from Oxford, England where we had a full school (five days) at Christ Church University. Our meetings were actually held in the city auditorium and it was filled with the usual mix of ministers, lay leaders, educators, doctors and others in the health and healing professions, as well as those seeking healing. I take a team, some of the members of which have written really fine books in the area of pastoral care. We then teach the type of material that is in our books, and follow it up with healing prayer. It is really awesome to collaborate with the Lord in this way, and to see what He does in the lives of all that are there. We've been privileged to do this for over 30 years!
How did you arrive at your current understanding of healing prayer?
Leanne Payne: As I share in Listening Prayer
and in some of the others books too, due to a misunderstanding as a teenager, I left the path that the Lord had for me. I was always trying to feel God's presence. I was into what I've come to call an "experience orientation". I had an incredible experience with the Lord as a child. But it had a downside due to a childish misunderstanding that left me thinking that when I didn't "feel" God in some way, He wasn't there. So I got into a striving mode- one where I was always striving to feel His presence. I find so many moderns also do this. After several years of this I gave up all striving. When I finally I came back to the Lord at about age 26 or 27, I prayed, "Lord if I never sense your presence again, I am still going to obey you!" Not long after that I found Brother Lawrence's classic little book
Practicing the Presence of God as well as Frank C. Laubach's wonderful teaching on it, I began practicing His presence. It changed my life!
Listening to God is an important part of the
practice of the presence. In Revelation 3:20 we read, "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens up the door, I will come into Him and will sup with him and he with me."
I was healed through affirming His presence and learning to listen to Him. It was wonderful simply to trust and call often to mind that even though I do not "feel" the Lord, He is always with me. I
had so much to learn--one lesson after another-- but the Lord simply healed me through all this. After all, this is "mere Christianity"; what faith is all about, isn't it?
CBD: In your writings, particularly Healing Presence, you speak about true
imagination. Is imagination related to healing?
Leanne Payne: First of all, I knew that if He could heal me, He could heal anybody! I knew that if I could practice His presence and learn to listen to Him, then
anybody could learn! As I teach and write about it in all my books but most especially in The Healing Presence and in Real Presence
(my book about the Holy Spirit and incarnational reality in the works of C. S. Lewis), the true imagination is important not only to healing, but it is important to faith. To be fallen is to be receiving the words and images that come from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Until we start listening to God and receiving the words and the images of Glory that are in and of Him, we are sick. I saw that throughout the scriptures, throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, those who love God are expected to hear God and see Him! I saw in the scriptures where Paul prayed that the Father "might give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you might know Him better." He also prayed that "the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that we might know the hope to which the Lord has called us."
Later I began to realize that moderns, chiefly through the influence of Descartes and the philosophies that followed in his wake, had reduced the soul to simply its power to think or to rationalize.
I saw that Christians along with all moderns had taken this in and become so materialistic that they had, in effect, lost three quarters of the capacities of their souls. They had lost or denied that part
of the soul capable of seeing God. I saw that due to this, Christians, just as their unbelieving neighbors, suffered an awful rift between head and heart; between head knowledge and heart knowledge.
It is with the heart that we see God. The true imagination is, as I write about it, the power the heart has to "see" and communicate with God. To be cut off from the soul's capacity to intuit the unseen
real is to be cut off from the way we as mortals—as creatures of God made in His image, see and hear God, the inaudible, the invisible. If we are cut off from the true imagination, then we are unable to
really receive from the Lord, and from all else that He has made and that He calls good. Until we start listening to God and receiving the words and the images that come from Him, then we are sick.
That failure is what makes us sick!
Could you give an example of this from the scriptures?
Just this morning, in the readings for the day from the Book of Common Prayer, the scripture lesson was from II Kings 6. This is the story where Elisha traps the Arameans. A certain king had sent all his horses and chariots (a strong force) to take Elisha. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of Elisha got up early the next morning, an army of horses and chariots had surrounded the city. He said "Oh my Lord, what shall we do?" Elisha said, "Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them!" Elisha prayed, "Oh Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
So, the heart that has received Christ and is receiving from Him has the power to look up and receive from God. It would be wrong to be attempting to receive pictures. However, if we learn how
to listen to Him, and we look up and ask Him, as C.S. Lewis has said so wonderfully, "God sends us images, pictures, symbols, as well as words." In much of the healing that we are involved with in
Pastoral Care Ministries (i.e. homosexual neurosis), we start by dealing with diseased and/or nonexistent images in the mind.
CBD: Distorted images of sexuality and the like?
Yes, but not only those. Rather, with all the distorted symbols we have of God, of others, of ourselves as well as diseased or perverted sexual images. We start by yielding up those diseased images to God. Then, just as importantly, we ask, "Lord, what is that true image, that symbol that You would replace the diseased (or fearful, perverted) image with?"
The true imagination is all-important. Oswald Chambers calls imagination the greatest gift we have. But you have to understand what he means when he says that. A lot of people have a
wrong understanding of what the true imagination is.
CBD: Why is there a crisis of masculinity among men today?
Absent fathers, or fathers unable to affirm. From the industrial age on, men have been removed from their homes and families. With fathers called out of the homes and from the farms, sons no longer worked alongside them. For that reason and others, sons found fewer and fewer opportunities to bond with their fathers. Men need their father's affirmation not only in order to feel good about themselves as men, but also in order to help them separate their gender identity from mother.
I am writing an autobiography in order to show the cultural trends and the way the church was impacted. For example, I saw how men came back after WWII and quickly adopted the Hemingway view of
man. You know, the man who could drink the most, fornicate the most, and shoot the most wild game. That was the symbol of manhood held up for young men. Then I watched women, in order to try to keep
their husbands and save their homes, try to become that Marilyn Monroe sex symbol that their men seemed drawn to. Homes everywhere were beginning to break up. For the first time, divorce became
prevalent. I watched, sickened, as all this happened. But women were still bonding with their mothers.
Since then, however, increasing numbers of women have left the home, have even forgotten how to
nurture, so that now more and more women are severely cut off from their true feminine. I am only barely touching on this subject here, but of course you can see how important all this in dealing with
not only the homosexual and lesbian neuroses, but also with the identity problems that people are having everywhere.
To minister into this whole area of gender identity is to minister directly into
where modern men and women are wounded and hurting. A man who is unaffirmed is unaffirmed as a person. A man out of touch with the true feminine, with woman or within himself, is a man in need
of healing. So it is with a woman. Unaffirmed in her true feminine, she is unaffirmed as a woman. Out of touch with the true masculine, she is in need of healing. Man and woman cannot
mature in their Christian walk until they get these matters sorted out. Until then, they simply live out of the wounded little girl or little boy. They live as unaffirmed men and women and cannot come into
their freedom and authority in the Lord. It is most rewarding to minister into this area. We see miracles here, utterly transformed lives.
When I first started praying for these needs, I was
overwhelmed and felt utterly alone in the ministry. Now there are people trained throughout the world to pray for these needs and see these persons healed and go on to maturity in Christ. Of course, there
is still a lot more training to do.
Do people made in God's image who embrace a materialistic worldview begin to reflect that which is ultimately not human?
Leanne Payne: Exactly! That is what C. S. Lewis' novel That Hideous Strength
depicts. It captures where we are right now! By the way, in telling about my background, I left out the experience I had as an assistant to Professor Clyde Kilby during my undergraduate and graduate school studies. He was the founder of the important C. S. Lewis Center (the Wade Collection) at Wheaton College. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to work with him and in that collection. I had the incredible privilege of cataloging the unpublished letters of C. S. Lewis.
Real Presence, my first book, is on C. S. Lewis.
CBD: What a great privilege!
Oh! I can't tell you what a great heart and mind he is. Lewis and Alexander Solzhenitsyn are the two great prophets of this age. They both cry out, "Between good and evil there is an impassible crevasse." We live in a time that attempts to reconcile good and evil; a time that is busy resymbolizing evil as good, and good as evil. But they will have none of that. Nor will I.
What would you say to a person seeking wholeness and healing in their being at this time?
Leanne Payne: I would say that in Christ there is healing, and that they should persevere in prayer as they search for it. Earlier I stated that if God could heal me
, He could heal anybody. I have always known that. Anyone who abides in the Lord (who practices His Presence and listens to Him) succeeds in dying to the old man and rising in the new. That new
man or woman, as he perseveres in obedience, never stops becoming. He or she becomes the person God created him to be. This is for everyone. It never fails. Some folks have more to overcome than
others in terms of the need of psychological healing. But as they persevere with the Lord and continue to seek His face, healing ensues. Whether it's a failure to come to a secure sense of being, or there's
gender confusion or separation anxiety, there is not only healing to be found, but we find that the Lord then turns what was our woundedness into healing power for others.
That is wonderful. Leanne, is there a final comment that you would like to share with us?
I have walked with the Lord now a long time and found all His promises are true. He is faithful! I would say that as twentieth century persons, we have experienced a blackout of the intellectual good as well as the spiritual good but that God can restore all that to us if we but come to Him as the broken creatures we are and learn to listen. He never fails to lead us in the path He has ordained. Praise be to God!