Prayer is one of those topics where there is no limit to the number of ways people can be made to feel guilty about not measuring up to “what they ought to be doing.” As I enter the final quarter of the race of my mortality (starting to push fifty years a follower of Jesus) my life-long puzzlement over the matter of prayer just gets deeper. These days my prayers are less frequent, shorter in duration (A couple of orders of magnitude less from the days of my youth!) and I don’t say much (I use to think it was my job to inform God about all the things He should be doing). Yet my prayer life is richer and deeper than ever. I think I may be on to something.
Prayer and intercession ministry can have some common pitfalls to avoid. I understand that not everyone involved in prayer and intercession has issues in the areas I am about to mention. However, many do. After having had exposure for over forty years to prayer and intercession movements across the world, I believe (and have seen) that those given to intercession can be uniquely vulnerable to the following harmful beliefs and practices:
What are some New Covenant “updates” that need to be considered when we approach the topic of prayer and intercession? I suggest at least four. If the significance of what Christ has wrought at the cross and in His resurrection and ascension do not form the foundation of all that we do in prayer, we will end up in with some very unsound beliefs about, and bizarre practices of — prayer and intercession.
Prayer and intercession (along with praise and worship) have become a cottage industry within large segments of Evangelical and Charismatic brands of Christianity. Prayer and intercession can so easily be leveraged to create guilt in believers. On the other hand prayer and intercession can also be a platform to create an elitist class of alleged intercessory specialists. People take their sense of identity and personhood from a reputation as an alleged prophetic prayer warrior, just like many take their sense of identity from being a pastor (or any other traditional ministry expression for that matter). In this three-installment blog series, I take a look at intercession from a new creation, New Covenant perspective. What does the resurrection and ascension of Jesus do to our understanding and expression of intercessory prayer? It changes everything.
Understanding Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 is critical to understanding all of the new testament and the genuine spiritual authority of a new covenant priesthood. These two Psalms are the scriptural base the apostles used to “justify” the existence of a new order of priesthood based on resurrection life! It is not an exaggeration to say, that the apostle’s interpretation and application of these two Psalms is the doctrinal foundation of the entire new testament, as they tried to explain the “Christ-event” to their generation.
Abusive spiritual authority is epidemic. Reactionary responses to abusive authority are also epidemic. My friends Don Atkin, Greg Austin, and myself address what genuine kingdom authority looks like: a serving nation of priests, patterned after the Head, the High Priest of our faith, the resurrected God-man, Jesus, the Messiah. That requires, as Desi used to say to Lucy, “some ‘splainin’.”
There is no scriptural example, anywhere, for the concept of recruiting spiritual sons. Recruitment is practiced commonly today as if it is a heaven-sanctioned methodology.
There is a common understanding of Hebrews 7:25 that gives the impression that Jesus is not at rest seated on the throne on high after His resurrection, but rather is supposedly engaged in eternal intercession, praying to the Father, more or less pleading for humanity, in the eternal state, forever and ever. This is very unfortunate.
Many common beliefs and practices regarding prayer and intercession are based on Old Testament typologies that do not reflect an understanding of the realities of the New Covenant era. They need a thorough New Covenant update.
When it comes of an alleged special class of people who are uniquely gifted as specialists in prayer and intercession in the New Covenant era, too much has been made of too little.