Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Lessons from Literature Part 5 – Warnings for Prayer Intercessors (FINAL)

This is the last in my series of posts taken from ‘How Not to Pray’ by Jeff Lucas (this segment is summarised and paraphrased in parts). You can buy the book from Amazon HERE (and I recommend that you do).

The poisoned chalice of pride is often offered to those who are recognised for their praying (it is an irony that spirituality itself can be heady, dangerous stuff).
In recent years it has not become usual to describe a group of people with a special gifting in prayer as intercessors. On one level it’s reasonable to recognise and release people into the gift and call God gives but, on the other hand, I’m a little nervous of this tagging of people…
Sometimes the gift is genuine but gets hijacked. I can think of a church right now where the intercessors are causing all kinds of grief, demanding to know details of just who in the church is going through marriage problems, where there are struggles with teenagers – because they mistakenly think they and they alone hold the keys to breakthrough in these areas of difficulty.
If a ‘word of knowledge’ is given by God for use in prayer and that intelligence is not used solely for those purposes a critical attitude is waiting to envelop the intercessor.

I remember seeing this in action when living in a small community church in the USA.
A number of the men of the church had developed a burden for prayer that was authentic and committed. They were gathering together at 4am every day. Sounds good? It was – for a while, but over a few weeks it turned sour. The first Sunday morning the meetings were announced the lead intercessor was joyful, the second he looked tired as he tried to convince people to come along, by the third week he looked close to total exhaustion and came across as judgemental and on week four (the last week) he resembled Lazarus – before Jesus passed him by! The man was enraged with the parishioners for not turning up in their droves.

We must not let our motives or attitudes become tainted, even if we feel our anger is righteous. At the end of the day, if people pray or not it is between them and God. Yes, we should still care and still encourage people to come along to prayer meetings BUT if they don’t it is nothing to do with us and we have no right to judge. If we were truly having a Christ like attitude we would pray even harder for these people instead of quickly criticising. God has indeed asked all of us to pray but that does not mean God cannot do things without us. He may have gifted someone especially in prayer but that does not make them better than anyone else – as with all gifts, they did not earn it. Therefore, brothers and sisters, pray and encourage others to do so but keep your motives in check because looking down on others never ends well. You could be in danger of putting people off God!