Deliver us from evil

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In the introduction to his book, Unbound - A Practical Guide to Deliverance, Catholic author and speaker Neal Lozano wrote that nearly 45 years ago he welcomed God's loving grace into his life. But soon after that welcome, he felt that Satan was interfering in his attempts to serve God. This was manifested by physical ailments making it difficult for Lozano to go on ministerial retreats or to speak at conferences.

His search for freedom from Satan and his demons eventually was developed into a ministry called Unbound.

"I believe in deliverance," he wrote. "Yet I also believe that most of our spiritual freedom comes when we learn the truth of who God is and we actually believe what He said about Himself, about us and about His workings in our lives."

Unbound is a part of Lozano's Heart of the Father ministries that was founded in 1997. Lozano says there are five keys to deliverance: repentance, forgiveness, renunciation in the name of Jesus, taking authority in the name of Jesus and receiving the Father's blessing.

Terry Riggins, the Unbound prayer ministry coordinator for the Arlington Diocese, went through the Unbound program herself and sets up the venues at various diocesan parishes. Volunteers come from all over the diocese. She said that people come to prayer meetings because they feel that there is something wrong in their lives, things they can't get past. Riggins said that these prayer sessions are not a substitute for psychological therapy, adding that people are often referred to Unbound by their psychiatrist.

"People can't forgive someone or themselves," she said. "It's spiritual healing."

Prayer meetings are held periodically at parishes throughout the diocese. Before someone attends a prayer meeting they are advised to attend an Unbound conference or read Lozano's book.

Trained Unbound volunteers meet, usually at a parish hall, and pray with the people seeking help. Prayer sessions usually last about an hour and a half. Riggins said that Unbound in the diocese usually sees about 15 people every few months. She said that 75 percent of those who attend prayer sessions feel better.

Victoria, who requested anonymity, is 69 years old and divorced. She said she had heard about Unbound for a while and heard Riggins speak about the healing ministry. One of her friends in her Bible study group emailed her writing, "I woke up in the middle of the night, and the Lord told me to tell you to go to Unbound."

It was a remarkable statement, and since Victoria had been interested in Unbound for some time, it seemed providential.

Victoria said that like most people, she had issues. Her problems were with her children that were the result of her divorce. She said the sacrament of reconciliation helped her to come to terms with these issues.

"I believe in the power of the confessional," she said, "but you are there for such a short time."

Victoria said she felt no pressure during the Unbound prayer meeting.

"The individual can say as much or as little as they want," she said. "I felt emptied out of all the junk."

She compared Unbound to a deep cleaning. We clean our houses continuously, she said, but eventually everything needs to be scrubbed.

"As the facilitator led me through the five keys and two others quietly prayed for me, I was able to open up and share all the pain and disappointments that were bothering me at the time. What surprised me was that things from my past that I believed were already dealt with surfaced," said Victoria.

She had been to psychological therapy, but that is secular. This is spiritual.

"Only the Lord knows our deeper self," she said.

The Unbound experience had such a profound effect on her, that she is taking the training to become an Unbound volunteer and help lead prayer sessions.

Another Unbound graduate, Maggie, had suffered from years of low self-worth. She also suffered from migraine headaches that were the result of years of stress. About seven years ago, she heard about Unbound from friends, and after a prayer session, she said her migraines got better.

But Maggie still suffered emotional stress, and after counseling about two years ago, she finally admitted that she grew up in an emotionally and sexually abusive home. She saw a listing on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Arlington webpage and emailed the contact.

"Having been through Unbound once before, now having a deeper and better understanding of the lies I was living under, I wanted to go back and take a few more solid steps toward freedom from the childhood that still haunted and terrorized me," said Maggie.

She said the experience the second time was incredible. Maggie said the woman who prayed with her helped her to forgive the people who hurt her and reject the lies that she was told.

"It took me several tries to be able to say, 'In the name of Jesus, I reject the lie that I am not worthy to be loved,'" she said.

Maggie said she finally realized that she was worthy of love simply because she was a child of Christ.

Through all these stories lies a common thread of freedom and deliverance, all in the name of Christ. Unbound can be a tool of salvation.

"(It's) a model of prayer that helps people recognize doors that may have opened, lies they may believe, and wounds they may be suffering," said Riggins.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014