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Prayer...? ...or... Performance?

The Pharisees considered themselves the ‘prayer warriors’ of Jesus’ time. Jesus castigated them for perverting prayer and making a public display of it for their own glory (Matt 6:5-8).

Time has moved on, and so has the subtlety and cunning of Satan, whose chief target is the elect of God. He deceives to lure people into spiritual traps where he can strip away humility and righteousness, injecting you instead with his pride and presumption.

When Jesus illustrated a right approach in prayer, His first emphasis was the opposite of what we see today in those who profess to be ‘strategic prayer warriors’! He said, “Don’t make a big show of it in public. Start from the basis of humility and pray in private if you might be tempted towards vanity.” (Matt 6:5,6 paraphrased.)

“Recognise your own inadequacy (Mt 6:11-14), your sinfulness and need for forgiveness (6:12; Luke 11:13), that you are deserving of no ‘glory’ but that all the glory belongs to God” (Matt 6:14).

Yet we see many charismatic ‘prayer warriors’ getting puffed up or elevated, thinking that they and their efforts are central to the attainment of God’s plans and purposes in Britain or elsewhere! A subtle transference has taken place in which church leaders have usurped divine prerogatives. They have taken Jesus’ place as the One who makes intercession for those who need it (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:26,27,34)

The very subtle – but very wrong – teachings of intercessory ‘prayer warriors’ are blasphemous! They are not taking cities for Christ! If Jesus is going to do that, HE will do it, and those He uses as intercessors will invariably be people behind closed doors whom very few others know what they are praying for. Why? Because Jesus knows it is harmful to you if you become a great celebrity through His achievements which He may give you the privilege in sharing. (Not sharing the glory while you are in the flesh, but sharing the work load.)

Always remember prayer’s primary purpose – it’s to change you first and foremost. When you pray for others, you change; your nature changes; more of the love of God enters; more gratitude, humility and other godly virtues are borne.

When prayer lifts people up, or makes them stage personalities and celebrities, something is very wrong. If they think that they are important or even indispensable in God’s schemes – ‘strategic’ – they have actually disqualified themselves (1 Cor 9:27).

Malcolm B Heap, July 2003

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