A conversation with Leanne Payne, pioneer in healing prayer movement


Interviewed by David Kyle Foster —

David: If you could pinpoint it, what would be the area in which you minister?

Leanne: When I am teaching in the university, undergraduate school or seminary, I think that it would be the area of “spiritual formation”. When you are dealing with spiritual formation, all the needs we have come to the fore.

David: How did God call you into this?

Leanne: He healed me, and I knew that if God could do what He did for me, He could do it for anyone. I was a young single mother, in the South, no education, terrified after a divorce, all alone, wondering if I could make a living – all of these kinds of things. There were so many desires in my heart and not much hope of any of them being realized – and then the Lord gave me every desire of my heart, everything I’ve asked Him.

It’s just amazing. The deepest desires of my heart He has certainly given to me. So, He has been a wonderful spouse – this divine spouse. I’ve really been married to the Lord. You notice I wear that ring (she shows me the ring). The Lord directed me to get that.

David: How interesting. Guess what He directed me to get? (I show her my ring). It’s a cross with wedding rings that you give to people who are getting married. I was asking God if I should get married – if I should look forward to this or not. You see, I was afraid to put a lot of emotional hope into marriage because it was a deep longing in my heart. And so, I didn’t want to put all of this hope into it and then not have it happen. I wanted God to tell me if I was to marry or not. Either way was fine as long as I could know it was a part of His plan. Then, He gave me a vision in which I was married to the Father and the Son.

Leanne: Praise God!

David: It was a marriage ceremony in heaven and that was His way of letting me know. It was very profound and very moving.

Leanne: You know, we’re all called into this spiritual marriage and it’s only then that we are safe for marriage. I really do know that I was given the gift of celibacy. Not everybody has that. But we should all know this spiritual marriage whether or not there is the gift of celibacy. In other words, I’m not open to remarrying. The Lord has taken that completely from me. On the other hand, having the call to marry God first doesn’t necessarily preclude marriage to someone on earth.

David: That’s how I’ve taken it. I think it’s Him telling me, “Yes, I’ve called you to celibacy,” although at the same time, I’m willing to be shown I’m wrong. I’ve misjudged what God has tried to say to me before.

Leanne: Well, you see, that spiritual marriage is what He is calling you to, but that’s what enables you to have a good marriage later on if the right one should ever come along.

David: Another thing that convinced me was that He took away 90% of my sex drive, which used to be addictive and out of control. He took it away. Of course, I asked Him to. For years I asked Him to. But He finally did that, and then with the marriage ceremony, I’m fairly certain I’m called to be single and am very comfortable with that.

Leanne: You are going for prayer tomorrow night, correct? Do you know where all of the anxiety came from that underlies your neurosis?

David: Which neurosis? I’ve had so many!

Leanne: (laughing) I’m not supposed to be interviewing you! The compulsive drive toward the same sex – that doesn’t just happen as you know. There’s a deep psychological need there. That does not just occur.

David: Yeah, it was definitely a failure to emotionally bond with my father. He was totally cold and distant and not there. I grew up hating him as a result – and hating God, because he was a minister. I’m certain that that was the main thing.

Leanne: Have you been able to reconcile with your father?

David: Oh yeah. Before he died in 1982, (my third year of seminary), we had a reconciliation. He had been the man I most despised but became the man I most admired. God had changed him so much. He made him gentler. And he became born again after 30 years of ministry – my mother and him – at a charismatic conference for Presbyterians. I just loved him because of that and very happy that that happened before he died.

Many people minister in areas where they’ve been healed. Where did God heal you exactly? What did He do?

Leanne: Well, you know, I never had any kind of gender confusion at all. I was raised by this precious mother – precious Christian mother. I didn’t even know how to be angry. I had to practice to be angry. I remember thinking how cute it was. I’m telling you the truth here!

You know, there was no anger in my home. So my main need was that there was no father. And I think probably I would have been considered a gifted child – a precocious child. I very much needed a father because it’s the father who gives direction to the greater world. And so I was absent a father who could provide direction and harnessing and knowing how to contain what God had given me.

I had a precious mother, but a very tired one. She and I were so different. She was a very even, quiet person – a person of few words – not artistically inclined at all, but a wonderful teacher. And here she has this child like me, that for most of the time, she didn’t quite know what to do with.

On the other hand, my grandmother was anti-intellectual and would actually repress my giftedness. She was an old-country Scots-woman, you know.

I, on the other hand, was an optimist and thought I had the world by the tail. I expected everybody to be good like my mother.

And so, I grew up in a very restricted environment with just my grandmother, mother, and sister. So I finally exploded out of there. Does that make sense to you?

David: Oh yes.

Leanne: I needed to be affirmed because there had been no father. And I did find that through the Lord. But I needed direction. I needed the true self affirmed and called forward.

I had really messed up. I married the same man twice. It was a very abusive, sick situation. I didn’t know what kind of man to look for to marry. I had no model at all and so the missionary zeal in me was very strong.

I think I was trying to help him. I’d even say I was trying to mother him. He was looking for a mother, I think. And so, that was very difficult.

I found out what sickness really is. It’s a lack of responsibility – alcoholism – all of those kinds of things that were in him. And then I finally had no choice but to eventually get a divorce.

It was after all that wounding, finding myself divorced, sorry that I had hurt my mother by marrying the wrong person and getting divorced, all of that, and not really having much of a future. You can imagine. You know what it’s like – a single parent, uneducated in the South, etc.

So it was in those circumstances that I came back to God as an adult and learned to walk in the Spirit.

David: Must everyone go through trauma in order to effectively minister to others?

Leanne: I don’t think that you have to suffer what those you minister to have suffered – that’s not so. If you have the gifts of understanding, healing, empathy, common sense and you’ve walked with the Lord for a long time, you’ve got wisdom to pass on. And I have, you know. I’ve walked with the Lord for a long time, and so I quickly learned.

I knew that when the Lord started bringing me forth into fullness of life, and trusting Him, and walking in the Spirit. If I could learn to do that, then anyone could. I knew that they’d be healed in the doing of it.

You see what I’m doing here? I’m calling forth the true self for the people, and saying, “Rise and walk! Let’s shake off those shackles!”

Have you noticed this week that we have been dealing with a lot of misogyny? It’s because there is a lot of hatred of woman in the class. Those are the main shackles – those that are oppressed, those that are fearful.

Every time is different. By calling the true-self forward in freedom, via listening prayer and obedience, you’re going to come into who God created you to be.

David: Where did you learn all of this?

Leanne: I learned it from the Lord.

My mother was a thinker. She only had a High School education, but she was a teacher of the Word. She had good commentaries in the house and was an extraordinary woman. So, if I had only had the wise kind of direction that a father can bring…….

There was a lot of poverty in my home as well. My mother was a widow. In a poor state like Arkansas, there was no thought that it would be possible for me to go to college. In terms of being good at my studies, however, there was a lot of giftedness there. I’m a natural in some ways – a natural theologian in terms of putting things together.

David: So your giftedness lies in perceiving the bottom line reality of how things work and how things can get mended with God.

Leanne: Right. It’s theology. It’s knowing God. It’s not being fooled. But we shouldn’t talk in terms of giftedness really.

Most importantly, I never had a rift between head and heart, so I never had experience separated from knowledge. That’s the way to say it. I was never confused. There was no codependency to deal with. I never tried to substitute knowledge about God for the real thing. They just went together. Consequently, there was the balance of the masculine and the feminine within me.

I needed an awful lot of input from good, holy men because I was like a big blob of meaning. I really was. I’d taken in so much. I knew God. I loved Him. I knew what He wanted to do with people, but I needed that masculine input to be able to shape, edit, define, and to break through. And so, as I walked with the Lord, He made it possible for me to get a good education and really begin to make friends with good, great men of God. I really needed that.

David: What is the most central and prevalent deficit that you find in people who need emotional healing?

Leanne: They fail to accept themselves. They haven’t negotiated that step during puberty, when they are to finalize and separate their identity from mother, and then receive the affirmation of a father.

There are very few moderns who can figure out what is wrong with their lives. Between the ages of 40 and 50, most of them are going crazy trying to figure it out. They’ve never negotiated that step. They’re still looking for permission to be. They’re still looking for affirmation. So they’re emotionally dependent in some way.

Now, of course, we live in a time when the family is so broken that we find people everywhere without this initial sense of being. There hasn’t been nurturing in those first years of life or even while they were still within the womb.

David: What do you mean by “a sense of being”?

Leanne: That’s what we come to in healthy mothering. When a mother is cared-for by a husband in the home and there’s love and security, and when she is able to stay with the children, she’s not having to think about going to work when they are six weeks of age. So they come to a healthy sense of being.

The pathology that I run into now used to be rare but now it’s common. It’s this intense fear of non-being – this chasm – this sense of “Do I even exist!” This is common in mental illnesses. People are walking around with that big hole.

David: So it’s a sense of peace and happiness over the fact that you exist?

Leanne: If there is good mothering – if the bond between you and mother has not been broken and you get a good start in those first three years, you can take most anything later on and stand. But if you are broken – if there is separation anxiety, if you are cut off from mom and you’ve despaired and lost hope of her ever being there, you will bond with something other than her within your environment.

David: Like a doll or fantasy object?

Leanne: Yeah – a fantasy object, which is often found in neurosis – something that helps a person come to a sense of well-being. Most of the people in the ministry you’re in are bonded to an unhealthy, substitute fantasy object.

David: How do you know if you don’t have a sense of being? How do you know if that’s your problem?

Leanne: If you have an undiagnosed but strong need to bond with something or someone. One of the students in the class expressed that very thing to me. He said, “You know, I’ve been begging God to either heal me or take me home. I can’t live with this pain.”

When one of the speakers talked about separation anxiety, this person said, “That’s exactly where I am!” And so, they have trouble knowing who they are.

We have people come forward for this healing who don’t really need it. However, you can be in a perverted lifestyle and lose a sense of well-being.

It’s abnormal for a child to not bond in love with the mother. Our very birthing methods have mitigated against good bonding, because children are often taken from their mothers. Most every child who has been in an incubator has serious problems with this. We have a person at this conference who spent her first month in an incubator. The natural bonding process was broken as a result.

David: The first time that you used that term I thought, “Do I have a healthy sense of being?” And I was trying to figure out what to look for in my life that would tell me. So, as an adult, if you feel like you don’t exist or shouldn’t exist, is your problem not having a sense of being?

Leanne: Those with this problem describe a chasm or an intense fear of falling into non-being – intense fear of losing the mind, like they’re barely hanging on. It’s like there’s a hole or chasm within themselves and they are just about to fall through it. In homosexuality, for example, when there are two partners and one has an identity that is bent toward the other, he or she will find their whole identity in that other. They have no sense of identity whatsoever apart from that person.

David: So a sense of identity is part of it?

Leanne: Yes. You can see that in the schizophrenic as well. They’ll look in a mirror to see if they are really there. It is an intense missing.

The worse wounding that one can get is the despair of a child who doesn’t know that it is separate from its mother. When the mother is absent – whether the child has been placed in an incubator at birth, the mother returns to work too soon, or becomes absent for some other reason – the child enters into a crisis of being. From always hearing her heartbeat, from being one with her body, her sudden absence causes the child to sense a loss of their very existence. They begin to conclude that they are not wanted and will no longer nurse with their mother. They will nurse with another woman, but not the mother. It’s amazing what babies know!

David: How do you get a sense of being if you do not have it?

Leanne: God is the source of all being. He speaks being. The Lord showed me how to do that. He led me in that way of prayer. And I guess that this is where we see the most incredible healing – laying hands on people and asking God to set in a sense of being. We’re going to pray this prayer in the class. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who will come forward.

David: You just ask God for it? That’s how you get it?

Leanne: We need to minister as well. For the person who’s never come to a sense of being at all, there is so much pain and so much need. You’ve got mental illness staring you in the face. And you’ve got separation anxiety beyond what they can bear.

David: So God mediates a sense of being not only directly but also through the laying on of hands.

Leanne: I tell you, I’ve never known anyone to receive this on their own in prayer. They’ve gotten such a poor start in life that it has been very difficult for them. I mean, they’ve dealt with depression all of their lives and too much evil.

With men like Mario and Clay, for example, their mothers had borne so much evil while trying to survive, but as children, she was the only island of hope and light that they had. For them to finally be able to deal with it, they had to relive the trauma and come to terms with the fact that they had not been able to bond with her. It was an incredible healing for both of them. They had thought that all of their problems had been connected to their dad, but not so.

I’ve written a lot about this in Restoring the Christian Soul.

David: You often mention the need to “practice the presence of God.” What does that mean?” How do you do that?

Leanne: If we’ve been regenerated – born again – God lives within us. But as twentieth-century Christians, we don’t believe in what we can’t see. In that and so many other ways, we don’t believe in God and His promises.

We’ll give lip service to it, but we don’t believe in the soul either. We can’t see it. But that makes practicing the presence of God all the more important. In other words, it is vitally important for us to discipline ourselves to call to mind that there is another who loves us. There is another who walks alongside of me. There is a sovereign. So you learn how to pray to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In The Healing Presence, I try to make very strong points in this regard so that we don’t lose any of the three dimensions of the Godhead.

David: Is that something we do all 18 waking hours, once an hour, weekly?

Leanne: When you first start, you can almost make a game of it – a wonderful game. I remember determining to do that. When I’d be driving, I would just say, “Thank you Lord for driving with me today.”

You’ve probably done things like this. But do it as often as you can think of it. You know, when our minds are working, we get so preoccupied. It doesn’t mean that we think about it every moment, but it means that we call this truth to mind as often as we can – until it’s second nature.

I can never forget the difference that it has made in my life. Now, I regularly pray in the Spirit under my breath. It just comes naturally.

David: How does practicing the presence of God benefit someone’s healing?

Leanne: It’s absolutely key! St. Paul did it. He said, “Fix your mind on God – fix your mind on Christ.” But even the Apostle Paul had to discipline himself to do that.

It’s much more of a discipline for us today. But the benefits are incredible. For the people who are healed of serious neuroses in our ministry, it has absolutely been the key. We’ve seen so many incredible healings – I mean, just miracles! We see them all the time. We almost take them for granted now. But they have to learn to practice the presence of God.

David: Prior to learning this, I would pray for healing or deliverance from something and never see victory. But now that I’m practicing the presence of God, I see many more turnarounds. What is the dynamic that makes it work?

Leanne: Well, you’re living at the center. You’re not walking alongside yourself. So now you can recognize when you’re living out of the Lord’s health. You were living out of a sense of inferiority, which had been the focus of your inner, angry or complaining child. But in God’s presence, you learned to live out of the true center of life instead. Any of us can begin to do that. It makes all the difference in the world.

I tell you, for the ones who are trained in this ministry and who were healed in that way, it is something they stress to those for whom they pray. Sometimes I think they stress it even more than I do because it means so much to them.

Mario says he would have lost his mind completely. I don’t know where Clay would have been. He’d be dead or would have killed somebody. And John Fawcett, with his brilliant mind that could never be slowed down – it’s so wonderful now to hear them teach on practicing the presence.

David: What Jesus said is literally true then – “Without Me, you can do nothing!”

Leanne: Yes! He completes us. What we’re talking about at its basic level is a healing from the effects of the “Fall”. It’s not complete in this life, but it will be.

David: In your estimation, what are the primary causes for the dramatic rise in child abuse and other perversions?

Leanne: We’ve been given over to reprobate minds. We can’t live without meaning. If there are enough generations in our family where there hasn’t been transcendent meaning, then there are going to be drugs and alcohol and there’s going to be abuse.

I’m a great-grandmother and I have seen a lot, you know? But in my one lifetime, I’ve seen an incredible thing happen. Earlier on, the “Hemmingway man” – made popular in the movies – was the man who could seduce the most women, shoot the most wild animals and drink the most whiskey. He was the kind of man that produced the extreme feminist movement that we see today. It took about three generations of women to finally stand up and say, “No more!” Well, the “Hemmingway man” is gone now. It’s over. But from there, he fell into passivity.

I’ve also seen an incredible loss of faith and desire to teach God’s moral law, as well as any expectation that people live by it – even among church leaders.

David: People don’t believe it anymore.

Leanne: They’re terrified of legalism. That’s right! And so they live a life of sexual looseness even while going to church, which makes things even worse.

David: Switching gears for the moment – How does God heal?

Leanne: In a way, you’re almost asking, “How do we become?” As we obey Him, we become persons. There is an integration of sorts. Praise the Lord! It’s exciting isn’t it Dave? Glory be!

David: One scripture that immediately comes to mind is “Christ formed in us.”

Leanne: Yes! That’s how He heals! He can’t heal us if we won’t abide in Him. But if we abide in Him, He can utterly transform our lives.

That doesn’t mean we don’t suffer. I’ve suffered for the Gospel’s sake in terms of slander. In many ways, I’ve been a groundbreaker here. You can imagine some of the slander I’ve endured for being a woman minister. I didn’t even know what misogyny was. I didn’t know what all these things were, but I was gradually able to put names to them, and in prayer, walk through them. So, it doesn’t mean we don’t suffer. But oh my goodness, what an exciting and wonderful life I’ve had – that we all can have. How incredible!

David: I remember hearing Kathryn Kuhlman say she thought God had called her to be in leadership because the man that God was trying to call wouldn’t respond.

Leanne: Being a Baptist woman, what else would she say or think? But from my standpoint, I would see it a little differently from Kathryn. She would stand out there and just love God. She’d just worship God until He’d come. She’d say, “Come Holy Spirit and heal Your people.” That’s what’s missing in the Church. But she was fool enough to do it.

Do you know how she was viewed? She was slandered. Now there were plenty of men who were willing to do it, who were willing to minister. But they were too out of touch with the feminine. God calls women out front when men cease to understand, appreciate and bless the true feminine.

Women like myself want to be hidden. I prayed for years to be hidden. The true feminine wants to be hidden. They want the men to do it. They want to respond to the man who is doing it. Walter Trobisch is so good here. Have you read any of his books?

David: No, but I am going to.

Leanne: Oh, you’ll love him. Read I Married You and I Loved a Girl. Those are wonderful to use in sex education, as well as on what it means to be a man.

It’s when men cease to take the true feminine out into the world that God has to call forth women to do it. Kathryn Kuhlman would go out there and just love God, and tell Him, “Heal the people!” because men weren’t doing it. And she was right to do so. They couldn’t do it. They were too cut off. The split between head and heart was too great. They could think about God but they couldn’t love Him.

David: That’s very true, even in the Church. When I was a pagan actor, I used to get high on marijuana and watch Kathryn Kuhlman on TV. I was captivated by her. Though I didn’t know Christ from anybody, I even went to her office in Hollywood in order to meet her. Sad to say, she wasn’t there, but it goes to show the extent that the Holy Spirit in her attracted so many people.

Leanne: God greatly used her. That dear old thing didn’t have much protection from the media though. The hatred of women is just so great. It’s just amazing that she did as well as she did.

David: Switching gears again – How is the homosexual healed?

Leanne: The same way anyone else is really. Their emotional dependency has evolved into a bentness toward the same sex, which has then become sexualized.

There are no two healings alike, however. But there really is no such thing as homosexuality. Invariably, there’s something deeper that is the real problem. The sexual behavior is a defense against some kind of pain. It’s a defense against the neurosis. So we have to go back to the source of the pain – the real thing that is amiss – and God quickly takes us there.

David: How do you find the root cause of same-sex attraction?

Leanne: It doesn’t take long. I almost hesitate to say how you find it – but I just invoke the Holy Spirit and invite the repentant one into the presence of God, that is, if they really want to serve God. I then ask Him to come into their memories, and the Lord comes present pretty quickly to reveal whatever the root cause is.

David: So it’s not something that man can adequately root out on his own.

Leanne: I usually talk with them a little and can pretty well tell where the problem began, because I pray for so many. As a result, I usually don’t talk or pray with someone more than once or twice.

They do need to get into programs like you have and like Andy Comiskey and others have. Many of them come to four or five Pastoral Care Ministries events and some eventually begin ministering to others in the same way.

In addition to asking God to go into their memories to reveal the root cause, I sometimes ask them, “Were you happy as a child?” If they were happy as a child, then I’ll know that the root cause came later in life. I’ll then say, “When did you begin to be unhappy?” And they’ll think a minute and say, “Well, it was so and so at such and such a time”. Then I’ll ask, “What happened just before that?” That usually takes us back to the first cause, or one of them anyway.

With the girls, it will often be a sexual affair or something that was traumatic – something dark where they got off on the wrong track.

David: Is it at that point that you ask the Holy Spirit to come to heal the wound(s)?

Leanne: There’s also a need for repentance. The office of the confessional can be effective here. We often see a breaking of the power of sin. It is amazing!

David: How can the child sex abuser be healed? Most people don’t think it’s possible.

Leanne: Well, they can – the same way anybody else is healed. I talked a little about restoring the pedophile in Restoring the Christian Soul. A cannibal compulsion is often at play here. You’ve usually got a lost childhood, and they’re trying to swallow it up in some young boy who represents to them the childhood they never had.

You can deal with the neurosis, but if they’ve acted it out, they’re going to have to get healed or be put in a place where they can no longer abuse children.

David: So then, how do they actually get healed once they’ve discovered why they’re doing what they’ve been doing? How does the compulsion get healed?

Leanne: The same way that homosexuality and other compulsions get healed – through the practice of the presence of God.

There was a pedophile, that has a ministry now, who came to one of our Pastoral Care conferences. He started writing to me when he was in jail after listening to my tapes. At the conference, he received the most incredible healing.

His jailers would often taunt him by saying, “We’re going to get you. You guys never go straight.” Perhaps they were trying to scare him so that he would go straight – I don’t know. But prison officials don’t think these people can ever be healed. But they can. I know a number of them.

There are some that don’t want to be healed, of course, and we’re going to have to put them away. And we need to do everything we can to shield young boys and girls from sexual abuse. It’s a dreadful thing!

David: If someone comes to you and says they’re involved in that, other than ministering to them, what do you do so that potential future victims are protected?

Leanne: I think there are mandatory reporting laws now. I’m fortunate though, that those who confess to me are ready to be healed.

There are those, however, who will never seek healing even while confessing their behavior to a priest. I don’t think that the government will abide by the privacy of the confessional anymore in this area. I think things are changing and that we need to think through this issue. On my part, I move to get the family involved. You’ve got to do something to protect the children and to find healing and/or confinement for the perpetrator.

David: What are the roots of addictive behavior? A lot of people have addictive personalities. If they’re not acting out sexually, they are acting out with food, drugs, alcohol, gambling – you name it. The addiction simply moves from one self-destructive habit to another. What is the root of that and how do you get rid of such a merry-go-round?

Leanne: These compulsions come about as defenses against pain of some sort. If there’s no meaning in life, if there is intense separation anxiety, or to a lesser degree, if there’s ongoing boredom, something must be done to set them free.

We’re made in the image of God and so we are makers. If our creative energy isn’t going out at the higher level, at the highest level, it’s going to come out at some compulsive level.

Today, young people have very few options for meaningful, self-sacrificing behavior. They don’t have to work hard. For many, their parents have expected very little of them. And so, their powers to create haven’t been called upon. But then you also have the one who is obsessive-compulsive because of separation anxiety.

David: Ultimately then, their path to healing is the same as with other disorders.

Leanne: Yes. If they want to engage in spiritual formation, the same thing works for everyone. It’s the most amazing thing!

Dorothy Sayers writes about the six other deadly sins – wrath, gluttony, covetousness, envy, pride, and sloth. Moderns like to think about them as being under the umbrella of lust. But they don’t consider people who are covetous and gluttonous to be immoral. Nevertheless, they need the same forgiveness and healing.

David: How can parents avoid all of these problems so that they can raise healthy children?

Leanne: We’re all fallen and I don’t know that we can avoid it in every case. There can be really good parenting and the child still go astray.

Make your home a sacred space that is dedicated to God. Teach them the Word and live it out in front of them. Knowing the Word isn’t enough. Head knowledge can so easily be split off from the living and experiencing of it. But if you teach the Word and live it out in front of them, Proverbs 22:6 teaches that no matter how far they may stray, they will eventually return to it.

The truth in Christianity will stand up with any ideology of the day. It needs to be out there in the marketplace. It is a system that works and it happens to be true. And when you’ve given that to a child, everything else is less than that. And unless they simply want to be separate, unless they deliberately choose hell – the hell of self – they’ll come back to it.

David: What seems to be missing today is the example of it played out and working in the lives of parents and others.

Leanne: You don’t fool a child.

David: In my life, I had the information of Christianity but I didn’t have the example of it working in the family.

Leanne: That’s right. But look at you now.

David: With God’s help, I came back to it anyway.

Leanne: You didn’t stop until you got the truth. Oh my goodness. It’s a dreadful thing to grow up in hypocrisy, where there’s the Word but not the reality. And it wasn’t a conscious thing on their part – your father and mother needed help.

David: What goes on at a “School of Pastoral Care” conference? (The ministry is now called “Ministries of Pastoral Care”)

Leanne: There’s worship, there’s the practice of God’s presence, and we see God move.

You mentioned Kathryn Kuhlman’s meetings – where she saw physical healings. It was so wonderful. We’re seeing emotional healings like that – and on that scale, too. It’s just the most amazing thing, where God is.

We’re seeing God heal birth traumas, misogyny, and lesbian neuroses. We see the renouncing of self-hatred, the healing of memories, the gaining a sense of being – you name it! Sometimes, we even see physical healings, but for the most part, it’s emotional healings that we see.

David: Is it like a worship service?

Leanne: We have a lot of worship and the Holy Spirit moves so softly. I’ve got the most precious worship team! We never get over being amazed at what God does.

David: Is there teaching mixed in?

Leanne: I do some of the teaching. Mario teaches. Clay teaches. We have Jean Holtz who does a lot of teaching in the area of codependency in the context of incarnational reality.

The schools, as we call them, go five days – Monday through Friday. It takes an immense amount of energy, however, so we can only do a few each year. Oh my goodness, what God does in these schools!

David: Are you training people to go out and start their own ministries?

Leanne: Yes. Yes, indeed. They go all over the world. I can’t do them anymore because of age. But we get invitations from all over the world and pray over which ones we can take. The main thing that I do now is minister to leaders and to write. More and more, my team is taking over.

David: Thank you very much for taking this time with me.

Leanne: Well, it’s been wonderful!

End of Interview — Conducted at the University of the Nations, Kailua-Kona, HI on February 24, 1993


Celebrating the Life of Leanne Payne

Leanne Payne, who died on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at the age 82, was a Christian woman who made an extraordinary contribution to the ministry of healing prayer through over forty years of service and leadership. Called a “great soldier for Christ” by the philosopher Dallas Willard, she founded Pastoral Care Ministries, dedicated to teaching, healing, and growth in Christian maturity. She wrote seven books that continue in print in English and in at least 13 other language translations.

Leanne Payne was born during the Great Depression on June 26, 1932, in Omaha, Nebraska, the elder daughter of her parents Robert and Forrest Mabrey. Times were hard, and became even more difficult when her father died from a sudden case of encephalitis when she was three years old. Her mother moved with Leanne and her younger sister to Little Rock, Arkansas to live with family.

Leanne’s early adult life was shaped by several impulsive and painful choices that ultimately brought her to a place of deep repentance. At the end of herself by her mid-twenties, she underwent a full and lasting conversion to Christ, stepping firmly onto the path of obedience to God.

In 1963, Mrs. Payne became the dorm mother at Wheaton Academy, beginning her forty-plus year association with Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and its legacy of great evangelical leaders such as R. A. Torrey, F. B. Meyer, and Dwight Moody. A year later, she joined the prayer circle of Fr. Richard Winkler, considered the grandfather of the charismatic renewal movement. In 1965, while working for Wheaton College, she enrolled as a student and thus began her formal education. From 1965 to 1974 she studied at both Wheaton College and the University of Arkansas, earning a Bachelor of Art, and two Masters of Arts degrees. In the course of her studies she wrote her first book, Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C. S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality.

In 1970, Mrs. Payne became the assistant of Dr. Clyde Kilby, the visionary who established the C. S. Lewis literary collection at Wheaton College (today’s Marion E. Wade Center). She worked in the collection for several years, cataloguing the letters of C. S. Lewis while sitting at his desk and benefitting richly from Lewis and the mentoring by Dr. Kilby.

Fr. Winkler introduced her to the healing-prayer ministry of Agnes Sanford in 1973 and Leanne was soon serving with Mrs. Sanford in her Schools of Pastoral Care. By 1976 she was ministering fulltime through writing and healing prayer. She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1978, and served as a research fellow under Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School in 1981. This year also saw the much-celebrated publication of The Broken Image.

In 1982, she incorporated Pastoral Care Ministries with the guidance of friends experienced in business matters. The establishment of this ministry structure brought order and Leanne flourished in generative creativity. From this time onward, she provided pastoral care through prayer and counseling mainly at the week-long PCM schools conducted throughout North America, Europe, Hawaii, and Australia. She published five more books in the years that followed: Crisis in Masculinity, The Healing Presence, Restoring the Christian Soul, Listening Prayer, and finally, in 2008, her spiritual autobiography. Dr. Donald Bloesch said of Heaven’s Calling, “It poignantly shows how the author has been mightily used by the Spirit of God to spearhead a ministry of renewal and celebration.” In 2008 Leanne founded Ministries of Pastoral Care, which has allowed her week-long pastoral care schools to continue beyond her retirement and to this day.

Leanne was known for her deep devotion to God, her profound thinking, her writing about “incarnational reality” – how God dwells in his people – and for the way the triune God would respond mightily to her prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit.” She shared the winsome character of her mentors, Dr. Kilby and Agnes Sanford, the “eternal child,” delighting always in creation whether it be a squirrel, a perfectly formed flower, or a man or woman made in the image of God.

Find out more about Ministries of Pastoral Care


Books by Leanne Payne

Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C. S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality

The Broken Image

Crisis in Masculinity

The Healing Presence

Restoring the Christian Soul

Listening Prayer

Heaven’s Calling (Leanne’s spiritual autobiography)

About David Kyle Foster

Dr. David Kyle Foster is the founder/director of Mastering Life Ministries and author of Transformed Into His Image and Love Hunger, and is the founder/director of Mastering Life Ministries. Read more of his take on sexual sin and brokenness in his newest book, The Sexual Healing Reference Edition and listen to his twice-weekly podcast at: charismapodcastnetwork.com/show/purepassion.

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