Roughly half of all women enter their marriage bed having given away the gift of their virginity. And at a growing rate, many of them have had multiple partners—sometimes as many as 12-24. As I explain in detail within the pages of What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex, the deep limbic system of the brain can’t physiologically handle that without a woman feeling depression. (In her teens this results in non-virgins being 12x more likely to attempt suicide than their virgin peers.) This can show up as an inability to be close to a fiancé or husband, a sexual repression, a sexual addiction, or the never-ending-daily-obsession to ask one-more-time for God to forgive a sexual sin long ago past. (If you have to keep asking, you should know you’re forgiven but you’re not healed.)
The good news is that God has not left us without hope for healing. After twelve years of walking with hundreds of women through the sexual healing process, I have finally found what I believe to be the most effective method of healing. I want you to know about it for your own life, and for the women you mentor. So here it is.
I have finally written about this healing method in the pages of What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex. It is really a planned process of prayer that has been evolving as my team learns from the scriptures and experience exactly what needs to take place for full freedom. I knew when I wrote about it that it worked. What I wondered was this: “Will it work with women out there who aren’t trained?” I’m thrilled to say that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Listen to what is happening with college-aged women who read the book in its first month and found others to help with their prayer process.
“… I NEVER EVER thought a thing about sex. I had so many sex partners! And then I was living with a guy when I found What Are You Waiting For! How this book made my past make sense. I could connect the dots from my depression to my sin. … I am not living with that guy anymore and … I have been through the inner healing prayer with two women as you instructed. My faith has been re-birthed …" -college student
“I read your book in 24 hrs and loaned it to another broken girl. …[Then, she and] I … started to read the book a 2nd time and do the questions. We were joined by a third girl on the second day and they keep filtering in. We now have a group of 6 going through it and more are coming. It has been a huge healing experience!!!” -college student
Even older women who are reading it to help young women in their lives are discovering the power of this prayer plan.
“I got your book … Friday night. I had devoured it by Saturday evening. … my husband, had an “aha” moment hearing about yada, [the Hebrew word traced through the book]. We have been talking about yada ever since and realizing the power of it. …We followed the plan of prayer and my husband asked me for forgiveness for having premarital sex with me. Healing…after all these years!!!” -60 years old
I never want to charge someone for the Lord’s truth. I’m thankful that God uses book royalties to help this ministry exist, but I want to make sure that this powerful method of prayer is free to you if you need healing. So, I’ve posted the chapter on inner healing right here for you to use. While I believe it probably makes more sense in the context of the whole book, here it is. I am happy to pass on the healing God has given to me. (Make sure you get to the last part entitled "How To Facilitate Sexual Healing Prayer." It is the method of prayer that I wrote about above. The rest of this chapter just sets you up for this powerful experience.)
This is a full excerpt of chapter 13 in What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex by Dannah Gresh. It is printed by permission and may not be used in part without credit to the original source. The chapter has been providing tremendous break-thru for women in bondage to sexual pain, addiction and sin. It is more powerful in context of the full book. To learn more go to purefreedom.org, or search for the book at your favorite place to buy books!
My husband may have thought he’d married the driven snow. Our dating relationship, chronicled in And the Bride Wore White, was a truly beautiful experience. Though there was sexual tension, there was our mutual commitment to purity in both of us that kept us exploring one another’s hearts rather than being distracted by our bodies. The beauty of it magnified my secret.
I tried to tell him when we looked at engagement rings together.
I tried to tell him after he proposed.
I tried to tell him when we were planning the wedding.
I tried to tell him when we got back from the honeymoon.
The thought of actually verbalizing my secret shoved me into such emotional isolation that I slept in the extra bedroom as many nights as not in the first year of our marriage. He couldn’t figure me out.
I thought maybe my secret doomedme to live in a marriage blocked from true intimacy by my secret. I believed that if I told him, he would reject me though nothing in his behavior would have led me to that conclusion. My emotions created an irrational prison.
Then one day at the age of twenty-six I was driving down the highway listening to the familiar voice of Dr. James Dobson. My six-month-old baby girl was in the backseat of my brand-new white mini-van. I heard two sentences that day:
Dr. Dobson: What is the number one question on a teen girl’s mind when she’s talking to her mom about sex?
Interviewee: The number one question on her mind is “Mom, did you wait?”
I pulled to the side of the road and allowed ten years of grief and isolation to engulf me. The healing that I wasn’t willing to pursue for myself, I would seek for my beloved daughter. Even before I knew her, I had written about her in my college journal.
So deep was the pain of my sexual sin that my prayer was for her to never know it. I had never considered that she’d ask about my past.
I knew it was time to tell Bob. We’d been married for five years. I put mykids to bed and we settled into the bedroom. I told him that I had to confess something to him.
It took me three emotionally gut-wrenching hours to get a one-sentence confession out. I kept turning the light off, hoping he wouldn’t “see” me. He kept turning it on and holding me. When I finally mumbled an awkward sentence of truth, daring to believe that God’s forgiveness was as big as He said it was, I was met with an inexplicable sense of newness and hope.
I’d confessed my sins to God on an almost daily basis for ten years, and I was forgiven. I had just never felt it before. Now, in my husband’s arms I felt it.
Perhaps that is why we are told to “confess your sins one to another, and then you will be healed” Because as the body of Christ we are the arms of Jesus convincing the guilt-ridden wanderingsoul that it has been found by Mercy. I know that’s how it worked for me, and I’ve seen it work that way for hundreds of other young women as I plead with them to take the first and most profound step of healing: tell someone!
I’d like to break that simple advice into a step-by-step plan for you. Through twelve years of helping women walk into wholeness through sexual healing, I have found these to be necessary steps to walk toward freedom from the past and victory over future temptation.
First, Tell an Older, Godly Woman Whom You Can Trust
The first confession is the hardest. But, according to James 5:16, it is so critical to the healing process. I encourage you, whether or not you are in a dating relationship, to prayerfully consider that your first confession should be face-to-face with an older, wiser woman—not to a guy. Don’t be concerned with what you will say; just do it. It doesn’t have to sound just right, and whatever you plan will probably not be what you say in the emotion of the moment.
Just do it.
While my first choice would be your mom, I realize that this might be too big a step for you or that your mom might not be able to handle it or that she might not be geographically available. (And I’d like you to do this within the next twenty-four hours. God is speaking to you about it now, so now is the time to pursue it.) Prayerfully consider whether it can be your mom. (My own mother was such a tremendous source of healing and prayer for me when I confessed to her. I believe her intercession is one reason that I was able to move on to use my story for God’s glory, rather than to continue to bury it as an unusable part of my life.)
As you select the right woman, ask God to guide you as you seek to find someone who is (a) older, (b) walking in strong relationship with Christ, and (c) who has been transparent about her own weaknesses and sins. If you look for these three things, you’ll often find that her response will be comforting and helpful.
Schedule a Prayer Time to Verbalize Forgiveness and Break Soul Ties
Your initial confession will probably lead to an extended conversation, and perhaps some follow-up meetings to set new goals and establish accountability for existing or future relationships. (If it doesn’t, let your older, godly friend read this chapter so that it will.) After this occurs, it is time to take your healing to a deeper level in order for you to be prepared for marriage one day. This can and should occur within a few weeks of confession to an older, godly woman, despite your readiness for marriage at the time. Why wait for the healing?
Sexual activity creates a soul tie between you and the person you have sex with. Within the confines of marriage, this is a tremendous glue for the relationship. Outside of marriage, it causes, the soul (emotional center) to become confused. (I explain this in depth in the book.) The brain clearly experiences physical manifestations of our sexual choices. But let me explain it spiritually.
First Corinthians 6:13-16 says,
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”
The Greek word “unites” in this verse is kallao. It means “to glue together, to make cohere.”[i] According to God’s Word, anytime we have sex with someone we are “gluing” or tying ourselves to that person emotionally. Since the soul is the center of our emotion, these are called soul ties. When these soul ties are established outside of a marriage relationship, they can wreak havoc on future or existing marriages.
This sexual soul tie must be renounced through prayer in order to clear the way for wholeness within your marriage or future marriage. I have known this personally since I did not discover my bondage to a soul tie with my teen sexual partner until I was well into my thirties. The prayer that released me from this dramatically changed the health of my marriage with Bob. A sin-induced sexual soul tie must be spiritually renounced in order to experience wholeness within your marriage or future marriage.
Critical to the progression of healing is a specific prayer time to verbalize forgiveness toward your sexual partner(s) and to break soul ties. I generally recommend that you have at least two other women present for this prayer time. Ask your older, godly mentor to read the sidebar on “How to Facilitate Sexual Healing Prayer.”(Included at the bottom of this special excerpt.) Schedule this time together, and then begin to fast and pray for God to prepare your heart. Don’t let anything get in the way of this crucial step.
Prepare Your Heart to Confess to Your Future Husband
(This might be something you won’t need to do until later, so you can simply put this book aside and come back to it when you need it. I’ll still be here waiting for you!)
If we are called to be intimately one within the marriage relationship, there’s little room for secrets. I can’t imagine living within a marriage that lacks the intimacy of transparent confession. (Okay, I can actually. I did it for five years. As difficult as confessing was and is as we practice it on an ongoing basis, our marriage is much healthier and intimate when we know each other unmasked.)
However, don’t go confessing to every guy you meet and begin to date or court. Wait until you are certain that the relationship is headed towards marriage. Then set a time and place to talk that’s private, making sure to let him know that you have some serious things to share with him so he is in the right state of mind.
Then, follow these guidelines:
1. Ask your older, godly friend to pray for you.
This can be a difficult conversation, and it’s good to have someone covering you in prayer, and who you can have prepared to talk afterwards.
2. Confess categorically and truthfully.
I told my husband, “I gave away the gift that God meant for me to give you on our wedding night.” And then I cried. He understood clearly that I was not a virgin. Since then, I have shared with him a little bit more but not much.
3. Do not confess specific details of who, what, and where.
I have never—not in one relationship—found this to be helpful. Most counselors will agree with me that specific details only torture the imagination and give root for unforgiveness. Save those details for the counseling room or to share with your mentor.
4. Be patient with your boyfriend, fiancé (or husband if you happen to be reading this after your wedding night).
He may need time to examine his own heart and respond in a godly manner. I know one woman whose husband went outside and mowed the grass. Didn’t say a word. Just mowed the grass. It was an agonizing few hours as she waited prayerfully, but he came inside and was able to extend forgiveness after he processed things.
Finally, Prepare to Pass On the Healing As You Confess to Others
Second Corinthians 1:3,4 reads, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Bottom line: God doesn’t heal you just to make you picture perfect. One of His purposes in giving you comfort is that He can comfort you so that you can comfort others. The Church is full of Pharisees. We don’t need more of them. Rise up to be a humble example of God’s mercy and grace, as you share your story in appropriate places and with others who need the healing you are experiencing and living in.
Pass it on!
How to Facilitate Sexual Healing Prayer
(Sidebar from What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex by Dannah Gresh, purefreedom.org)
The Scriptures teach that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. Our battle is with spiritual, unseen forces of darkness. Perhaps there is no greater place that the battle is waged than in the marriage bed, since this is a picture of Christ and the Church. Do not go into this time of praying without fasting and prayer leading up to it. While I do not understand the full realm of what is done during such a prayer time, I know it is effective and I know we are always breaking off some unholy bond from the person we are praying over.
To set up the prayer time, please meet with the recipient (the person seeking freedom from the soul ties)verify that they are walking in a true relationship with Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Confirm she is not currently in a sexual relationship with the person she is breaking soul ties with because it does little good to break them only to have them reformed. Then, ask her to prepare her heart with prayer and fasting as you do likewise.
Please do not go into this prayer time without preparing your own heart. Also, do not go into it alone. Make sure you have a minimum of one other trustworthy woman who can assist you in hearing from the Lord and praying for our dear sister who needs full freedom.
Once you and your prayer team have prepared your heart through prayer and fasting, there are fivecritical things that need to occur during the actual prayer session, which should take about one hour.
1. Ask our forgiven friend to prayerfully confess and verbalize forgiveness to her sexual partner(s). After opening in prayer that humbly acknowledges Jesus Christ as her Healer, ask her to confess her sin out loud and to specifically forgive each person she has been sexual with. Allow her to be specific if she needs to be concerning the sexual acts that occurred, but don’t require it. I have found that some women need me to know the specifics of just how bad it was in order to believe me when I say that I am sure God forgives them. Others find details to be too shameful, and it closes down their spirit to the healing. During this time, you simply listen and coach her if she gets stuck. You may need to specifically ask her to say, “Lord, I chose to forgive (name) and I release him/her for (specific sin).” It is important to choose forgiveness, though she might not feel it. That’s okay. Emotions often follow forgiveness rather than preceding it.
2. Pray in authority and ask Christ to break off any existing and unholy soul ties that exist between our forgiven friend and her sexual partners. Pray as God leads you, but using the name(s) that our forgiven friend just spoke, ask God specifically to break off any bondage or ties to each one. You can say something like, “Lord Jesus, we ask you to break off the soul tie that exists between (forgiven friend) and (name of sexual partner) in your precious name and by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
3. Ask God to reveal any lies that she might believe about herself or her relationship with God that may have taken root in her heart. Often, we internalize terrible lies. Common lies believed by young women I have prayed with have believed include: “I can never serve God now” or “My body is bad” or “I’m a slut” or “Men are bad.” Rely on reading your friend's cues and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the lie to you and to her. (It is better if you wait for Him to show her.) As He does, find specific Bible verses to pray over her that state truth.
4. Verbalize God’s forgiveness to your forgiven friend. Take a lot of time and specifically tell her how proud you are of her and why. Read scriptures that you’ve selected from your preparation and prayer time to encourage her. Some of these will be selected prior to praying with her, based on what God's Spirit tells you and what you know of her situation. Others will be verses you jot down during your prayer time as God's Spirit further reveals Truth for her.
5. Send her home with a list of Scripture verses to study and memorize concerning her forgiveness. God’s Word is the only true power I have ever discovered that effectively reprograms a broken emotional system. Often the wounded person believes lies about themselves and needs God’s truth to reprogram her heart and mind. As you pray, speak aloud, specific verses that come to mind and assign one member of the prayer team to write these down. If you haven’t found any during the prayer time, close the time by prayerfully asking God what our forgiven friend needs to take home with her. Ask her to put these verses where she can read them several times a day and program her heart and mind to believe them.
[i] Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word (Nashville, Broadman and Holman, 2000), page 232