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.
A Confused Image of God
References to intercession in the New Testament are sparse. Those heavily involved in intercessory and alleged prophetic prayer movements frequently miss the significance of this rarity. If we want to see greater fruit from our prayer effort, it would behoove us to investigate the reasons for, and the implications of, the scarcity.
I appreciate and respect those who pray and intercede for Rita and myself, our efforts in the Lord, and for the Lord’s greater interests on earth. Their ministry is invaluable. Nothing I say herein should be construed as demeaning the exercise of prayer and intercession. I’m not opposed to intercession. I am troubled by well meaning but ignorant, misguided, and unfruitful intercession based in bad theology, poor understanding of the new covenant, and the energy and desires of the human soul.
So much of the prayer and intercession I have had to endure in my church experience is little more than articulated unbelief and frustration with a god who is not doing what we think should be done, when we think it should be done, and how we think it should be done. We mask this all by calling it: prayer and intercession. We think if we add more frequency, quantity, passion, or time to our praying that a previously reluctant deity will now act on our behalf. This is nothing if not a pagan mindset about prayer and it permeates many local churches and prayer movements.
I am opposed to prayer belief systems that think that through our straining and striving prayers God, Our Father, is somehow awakened out of slumber to do what we think He ought to do. I am opposed to prayer belief systems that think our prayer somehow conditions God to act in accordance with our prayers. I am opposed to a God image that portrays God as reluctant to act on our behalf until His passivity is overcome by our prayer. I am opposed to a God image in prayer that the Abba of Jesus, our Father and His, is some sort of doddering heavenly potentate doling out crumbs of meager blessings to His pitiable subjects, because our prayers have finally prevailed with Him somehow. I am opposed to faithless begging being portrayed as persevering prayer. Jesus was so clear, and it is so often missed: Our Father IS NOT LIKE an unrighteous judge who has to be prevailed upon in the middle of the night. The prayer parable of Luke 18 is a parable of NEGATION, a parable of CONTRAST, NOT a parable of model prayer.
Some of the prayer we engage in is an insult to the Person and work of Christ. I want our prayer to be effective, with understanding, and backed with heaven’s life and power. For this to occur, our prayer must be on heaven’s frequency. Mentalities and methods that act as if nothing significant took place on the Day of Pentecost are out of phase with heaven’s order.
The “Christ-Act” Changes Everything
The Christ Act (birth, death/cross, burial, resurrection, ascension, glorification, Spirit outpouring, and Spirit indwelling) is the hinge of the cosmos. It redefined the temporal and spiritual realities of the universe. New creation intercession must be based on, and flow out from, this reality. Quite simply, the situation is not the same for us as it was for the Old Testament saints. If we pray from their paradigm of experience and understanding, we will find ourselves engaged in some misdirected efforts that may stimulate us personally or amp up a meeting, but which are of little or no real effect.
Since the very beginning of my faith forty-two years ago, I have been exposed to Latter Rain, “deeper life,” and “apostolic and prophetic” teaching in regard to prayer, intercession, spiritual authority, spiritual warfare, etc. I’m aware of the accomplishments of individuals such as Praying Hyde, Rees Howells, Madam Guyon, the Christian mystics, the Moravians and others–modern and not so modern. I’ve been very much an insider on this issue as it has emerged over the last 25-30 years in the Charismatic branch of the church (spiritual mapping, prayer walks, spiritual warfare (so-called) all night prayer, fasting, prayer vigils, prophetic intercession, etc.). I say these things as a necessity for what follows, because I am likely to aggravate many readers with what I say in this series. I could be misinterpreted as someone who “just doesn’t get it.” On the contrary, I have the T-shirt and the coffee mug on this topic. Been there . . .
Since the late eighties up to the present hour, the ministry of intercession and prophetic intercession has morphed into an extra-biblical, moneymaking machine based on inaccurate belief systems and practices. It’s my premise that intercession as it is commonly practiced today in many Evangelical, Charismatic and allegedly apostolic/prophetic circles, needs a thorough New Covenant update if it’s to recover biblical and spiritual legitimacy. In the next installment in this blog series I will look at four New Covenant “updates” that must be understand as we approach the topic of prayer and intercession.
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This blog series is an excerpt from New Creation Prayer available in electronic media format only here.