Upon the recommendation of a respected colleague in ministry, I am reading an excellent book right now called Seeing With New Eyes. It is a book about counseling written by David Powlison, an influential and well-known biblical counselor. I will be writing a full review of the book at a later time, but it is so full of insightful thoughts that I want to share some of them as I go. Here’s some wisdom about the human ingredient in counseling, and the difference between vague prayers and concrete ones:
Some practitioners of ‘biblical’ counseling wrongly attempt to expunge the human ingredient, as if ‘you’ interfered with the purity of the Word that needs to be presented to people. They try to reduce biblical counseling to Bible verses and formulas. How different from the Bible and all lively ministry! The attempt to expunge sinful human ingredients… is admirable. But if you expunge the human ingredient itself you actually interfere with how the Living Word uses both his Word and his servants. Faith, hope, and love are contagious, just as grumbling, anxiety, and contempt are contagious… You must bring your own gladness and fierce love into the situation, confident in your Lord.
If your faith lives, you will pray intelligent prayers that braid together the real God and the real person in the real life situation. If you are alert to both the Redeemer and the real needs of the needy… you won’t pray about truth in general and people in general. You won’t just pray for situations to go well – for health, success, a spouse, or children. You’ll pray for the person God is working in. Your prayers will be warmly personal, inclusive, and caring. Those you counsel will know that you intercede for them before the God who is here and on whom we learn to depend. Your prayers will be concrete and immediate.
David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003).