Sunday, September 20, 2009

Democracy and Prayer

Modern Christians have strong faith in democracy. A disturbing aspect of this faith is the way that it contaminates prayer.

When a Christian requires God’s intervention in their situation, they ask other Christians to pray for them. For serious needs, they will attempt to get their entire church praying. The internet reinforces this behaviour, because it is now possible to get people all over the world to pray for a person in desperate need. This concern for people in need is good, but the underlying theology is flawed.

The basic assumption behind this practice is that God is more like to respond, if many people are praying. Putting it another way, if we can just get enough people to ask him, he will change his mind and meet the need that we are all concerned about. It assumes that God is democratic. If enough people vote for something, he is bound to do it. He will do something he is reluctant to do, if enough people pressure him.

In my book Being Church Where We Live, I wrote about submission and spiritual protection. The key point is that prayer is all about authority. Prayer gives God authority to act on earth. Prayer is standing in authority against the powers of darkness. The implication is that for another person’s prayer to be effective in my situation, they must have authority in my life. I give people authority in my life, by submitting to them. This is why we are commanded to submit to each other.

Groups of people who are submitted to each other can pray effectively for each other. An elder whom I have given authority in my life can stand and resist with the devils attacks against me. If I have submitted to a friend by giving him permission to challenge me when I take the wrong path, my friend has authority in my life. That gives him authority to release the Holy Spirit’s power to work on my behalf when I am struggling.

A person on the other side of the world, who has read about my plight by email, but does not know me, has no authority in my life, so their prayers will be ineffective. God does his own will. He does not respond to large crowds or majorities. He is not interested in democracy.

We often assume that if we have a large number of people praying for us, their prayers will more effective against the attack of the enemy. This is not correct. When resisting evil, two or three Christians who have real authority in our lives, because we have submitted to them, will be much more effective (BCWWL p.78).

1 comment:

Gene Redlin said...

This is most certainly TRUE