You’re about to read real words heard in rabbit trails from Sunday sermons. These may appear to be a caricature due to their extreme nature. Nevertheless, they are typical of my past experiences.
We’d hear something like, “They’ve got the gift of prayer, of intercessory prayer. I can’t pray like them but thank God for people like (fill in the blank). I mean, they can pray for hours and hours. I got the gift of evangelism (although they’d usually say teaching). Even I need them. And just like they need me; they need you too!”
Set Aside for Specialized Sects of Saints
This myth is actually a fallacy that clings to most of the discussions about the gifts of the Spirit. I will avoid the discussion of whether or not Intercession is itself a gift imparted upon one at their Baptism in the Spirit.
The question at hand is whether certain personality types or supernaturally gifted people are set apart within the body of Christ to support all the members in this ministry. These people, in many circles, are called warriors – prayer warriors.
Some circles just call them Intercessors. This is fine and well as long as it is not a distinction. We can’t make it a club! Otherwise, it becomes a specialized, fine art that only the “Holy” can possess.
Sounds: Illumined Laypeople and Lazy Clergy
At the risk of sounding bitter; I’m intentionally placing (some of the) blame. Teachers/ Preachers have a weighty responsibility to teach the full council of God. That’s why James says that not many of us should want to become teachers. We incur a stricter punishment. (James 3:1)
So where do these claims come from? These irrelevant excursions are actually due to inattentiveness to transcripts, even outlines, a lack of notes altogether. They reveal an absence of practice, invested time, work, discipline, study and reverence.
All of this is most often guised as authenticity. Humans will get distracted. Ministers are mere humans. But we must safeguard, all of us!
These statements most often have nothing to do with the topic or text at hand. They actually say much more about the ministers than the singled out congregants. This deals not only with how we handle the Word but how we deal with each other.
There is a big difference between words of affirmation and encouragement and outright misplaced, wrong teaching. But what’s so wrong?
Silence: Persistently, Perceptive Parents
The separation and exaltation of people can only be done by God, all else will ultimately fail, especially within the church. This pride is us waging war against God. We can puff up others and often do. This isn’t only a pulpit problem!
This isn’t biblical encouragement. We must seek to be Spirit led in all of life. We must submit all of our speech to the Lordship of Jesus. See, these people were highlighted in the pulpit at random times, not as encouragement or affirmation but as simple (wo-)man praise. The right intention is lacking altogether here. This was an excuse giving tangent.
There are more reasons why this myth exists. There are glaring personal reasons that come from within. This is one that’s both preventable and obvious. That is why I’ve chosen to pick it apart.
But we should seek to kill it from all sides. We must be diligent in this for ourselves and others. This is part of the 3 opponents that attack in spiritual warfare; the Enemy, the flesh, and the world. Father, help us!
Can you imagine Paul, who wrote Ephesians 4, contradicting himself this way? We are all to be used and use our gifts to build up the entire body into the fullness of Christ. So, why would this gift (assuming it is a second gifting of the Spirit) be any different?
We have this problem elsewhere too, though. Let us think rightly about all of Christianity as we talk about Intercession. Gifts are given to edify and build up. Be honest, does this kind of babble build up anyone? Or does it isolate the parts of the body leaving all of us vulnerable?
Do we sometimes take psychoanalysis and personality tests to appoint members to tasks, the ones where we don’t want to help?
We should be progressively moving together toward the end. A body on mission gets stronger in time. A body in division dies in time.
Then there is the fact that we have fruits of personality that have nothing to do with an impartation of God into our lives. Don’t get me wrong. He created us with these traits but we have either been developing our perverting them on our own, without divine assistance.
We need a new perspective on the gifts. They’re gifts freely given. They aren’t competencies. Here’s another distortion. We have the gifts of Ephesians 4 which is a set aside group of people.
They’re assigned with the task of equipping workers. Many are now teaching that since all saints are to minister, that everyone is one of these 5 gifts. This falls on the other side in error.
I was sucked into this last one, at first. The priesthood of believers needs more attention in our age. I believe that’s why this second fallacy seems so attractive. It doesn’t do us any good to read our plans into scripture though. We have to read, obey, and then join His plans.
Symphony: Solidified, Sanctified Soma
Here’s one final word on restoring Intercession to the people. Whether or not we can see this as a gift, we have to concede to scripture. We can’t remain tangled in arguments of the types of gifts.
In Romans 8 language it is. It is a gift for all who are adopted. It is a gift to us, in us, and through us. How can we not join that? Our spirits should be crying out with His!
According to the Bible, EVERYTHING is to be done in prayer! We are all called to pray. We are all called to fight. The walk with Jesus, in Him, is a spiritual battle.
Therefore, we are all prayer warriors. There is no other kind of spiritual warrior, everything is held together in prayer, check out Ephesians, especially v18 at the end of the list of the armor of God.
Remember how I said my home was my most crucial discipleship environment and experience? This is where I learned what was going on, the deeper issue that hides behind this exaltation of man.
My parents have pointed this out to us for years. Unfortunately, it took a long period of time for me to listen and hear this lesson. There was a lot of public reference with these “prayer warriors” and so naturally they corrected this often.
Let us too, hearken to His Word and raise our families in His ways in all of life. Let intercession soak up our families so that it drips from everything we do, say, touch, and see!
Let us be sent ones who know who goes before them. Let us be led by the Spirit who intercedes on our behalf. Let Him use us to intercede for His other kids. What a great dad we have!