Childhood Trauma · Magazines

Can we pray backwards?

Driving in my car in a never-ending sea of comings and goings, I turned on the radio for the five-or-so short minutes to pick up the kids from summer camp. On Thursdays I often times miss the wonderful and lovely musings of Hallie Lord, a wonderful mix of parenting, Catholic discussions and anything in between. It was 4:42 in the p.m. to be exact and I sighed at missing her once again, until I picked up the show at something that perked my ears up. Hallie was discussing an article she had found by Elizabeth Scalia, Editor-at-Large at Aleteia , who had written an article entitled, “A prayer that this broken heart may be healed…” The title was not as revealing as the message which Hallie discussed.

For those that have experienced childhood trauma, can we go back and pray for that little version of ourselves, can we go back in time to pray?

I had never heard anything as earth shattering and mind-blowing as asking for God’s help for something that happened in the past. But Scalia makes this statement which Hallie read on air. It caused me for a split second of time to completely lose my breath:

We know that God is outside of time, and that prayer is too. I wonder if I can pray for God’s active grace and the action of the Holy Spirit to become inserted into all that occurred 50+ years ago, and in that way, help the stress response to reset away from “high,” away from all the inflammation, the damaging rising of stressors that can only break a body down. Stunt them a bit, so that if Little Lizzie must go through all that, for whatever purpose is meant by it — and I do believe all things are permitted for a purpose beyond my understanding — then at least she gets to be a little more comfortable in the present time.

It gave me pause when she mentioned “Little Lizzie.” That those of us who have experienced great traumas- physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse, the loss of a parent at a young age and the myriad of others in an endless list of what can happen to little children, can truly experience past healing for the present. The article was both painful and brilliant, and thinking of Little Lizzie made me think of Little Melissa. I was 6, I was 14, I was 16. I was back there. It’s not so often these days, but it happens. The difference is when I am back there, God is with me. The scenes replay but He is next to me and He hides me under the shadow of His wings.

I couldn’t help but ask God where He was when I was sexually abused. I never asked the question before, nor was I ever mad at Him for it. But it has defined me for thirty years or so and caused me a great deal of pain, long roads and broken relationships, and even more than that…

I closed my eyes tight, unafraid these days to go back there. There was a lot of silence and many tears. I was in a dark closet but filled with His marvelous light. I cried and then asked, “God, were you there? Can you go back and protect my little heart.”

I didn’t hear an answer, but received an inexplicable peace. I knew it was ok to pray for that little girl. I have always prayed for the adult, the one whose made it, the one who has the benefit of having gone through an intensive Christ-centered healing. But I have never cried for that little girl, never.

Elizabeth Scalia changed my life yesterday and I hope one day I’ll get to thank her. We think God can’t work miracles in the five minutes it takes to go from here to there, but as Elizabeth said, God is outside of time. I hope you’ll share her article with those that have been subjected to childhood trauma, and encourage them to not only pray for but acknowledge that little child who just wanted to be loved.

A prayer that this broken heart be healed, Elizabeth Scalia





21 thoughts on “Can we pray backwards?

  1. wow—that is indeed powerful and something, as this adopted child needs to do—also, I read a powerful quote today on Oneta’s blog…don’t know if you read her but at 83 she is a hoot yet so full of wisdom…we are to pray that “God’s word will not return void”
    time to ratchet up my beads!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The answer is an unqualified yes. Neal Anderson has written several books on the concept of healing of memories. There is also a former Catholic priest in Jacksonville who specializes in that ministry. His name escapes me at the present time, but it will come to me when I least expect it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Would love to know his name, let me know if and when you remember! This is fascinating to me and just simply amazing!


  3. I love your question, and I think it is a natural one for people who pray a lot.

    Not sure I have the right answer to it, but I have a couple of thoughts that might help get there.

    I often pray to the God of After-It’s-Too-Late.

    I have no biblical idea of turning back time, nor do I sense we could our should. But I am aware that our God comes through sometimes (and in fact in the premier case of all cases (the crucifixion and death of Jesus) he does come through AFTER IT IS TOO LATE. He comes through after all hope is exhausted.

    This is part of what makes Luke 24 so potent. Those disciples walking on the Road to Emmaus are down in the dumps because the HAD THOUGHT Jesus might really be THE ONE. He WAS, after all, a prophet mighty in deed and word. But of course that is all of no avail, no use, now… except this stranger begins opening the Scriptures to them. This stranger/vagabond/drifter (homeless guy?) who is sooooooooo unlikely a character to drive this plot, helps these despondent disciples see all through Scripture that the things that happened to their failed Messiah had to happen. And then he reveals his true identity in the breaking of bread! He … poof … vanishes, but the disciples recognized him and run back to Jerusalem to tell the others.

    And what do they say about their experience?

    “Our hearts were burning within us!”

    And this Holy Heart Burn happens in the midst of their dashed hopes when they still think their Jesus is dead. It is after they see he is alive that their hope is restored. But during the hopelessness, their hearts burn a strange flame they recall later.

    Heart burn in the midst of AFTER-IT’S-TOO-LATE. Then God reveals that it is not too late after all, not for HIM.

    In this scenario, the plot keeps moving forward. The present keeps moving into the future. But something very strange happens to the hope and the hopelessness that almost seems to bend time itself. And I wonder if praying for things in the past is not like that.

    I pray for dead people and dead ministries. I even wrote a post about it a while back. I think God is still working in those dead people and ministries.

    This has me thinking of Psalm 88. The Psalm of NO HOPE. It asks shrill questions of God. Desperate questions for which the psalmist knows in her (possibly his) bones the answer is NO. But look at those questions carefully. She asked them with her dying breath centuries BEFORE Jesus was crucified and raised up. She is still in her grave dead now having not heard the answer YET. And of course, the answer (In JESUS) is YES. Yes, the dead rise to praise You! Yes, God works wonders for the dead! But of course the dead are all the proof we need that it is already too late! Yet God…

    One last thought on this:

    In his book THE GREAT DIVORCE by C.S. Lewis (a very easy read that you can complete in an hour or two – AND WELL WORTH THE TIME) Lewis makes a statement about heaven and hell that seems to bend time itself and opens the Christian imagination almost big enough for God Almighty to fit in it.

    I wish I could quote it. I am sure my paraphrase will not do it justice. But he says something like…

    Heaven is retro-active. Those who go there look back on their lives and realize they always were headed there … were in a sense, almost there all along. He claims the same for hell. Those living in hell look back and realize they always sort of lived there.

    This statement makes its fullest sense in the fictional account of a man greeted by heaven when the great Spirit kills his sin for him. His sin is LUST represented by a red lizard that sits on his shoulder and talks in his ear convincing the man that he cannot live without the LUST the lizard brings. When the Spirit kills it (spoiler alert) the amazing thing is that the very lizard that had been the temptation talking in his ear holding this man back from his potential of true life in heavenly bliss, writhes in agony until (in the Spirit’s hands) it is transformed (in a death/resurrection-like event) into this grand stallion upon which the man jumps on and rides like a rocket into the heart of heaven!

    The very thing that had been killing the guy transforms into the better part of the man and Lewis would have us see that as heaven working retro-actively.

    It is worth considering! And thus, I love your question. I find it very appropriate for the Christian imagination.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your words are just too beautiful not to read twice, I have tears in my eyes. You answered the question better than I ever could have.I have to go back and read your answer again just to garner its beauty and depth.

      Like I told you the other day, we are all here for some purpose. Our words change lives which in turn changes others. How else is Christ manifested then through us and our interactions with one another?

      Your reply is worth a thousand publishings…
      Love and blessings my friend…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s never to late for little hearts to heal and the power of God is so awesome he can even go back in time. Love this post😀❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think praying into the past is a big part of what God desires when he says he’ll “redeem.” Not only can he give reassurance in the present and healing from the past, but also can use it for Kingdom purposes going forward! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Praise Jesus that He ordained that moment on the radio just for you to hear. So happy for your healing journey. May God ignite the Holy Spirit within you to seek deeper and deeper after Him and may you rest in His sweetness. Amen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I know! It has been a great journey. God bless you for stopping by and may His peace rest upon you!


  7. An interesting thought, as God is outside of time. It’s interesting, I can’t remember what Podcast that I was listening to but the speaker expressed that when we stand in Judgment, all prayers from all times-whether before or after our earthly death– will be in the moment with us to help atone for our sins.

    Liked by 1 person

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