Beloved fellow-believers, I am compelled to write to you about an ongoing issue that troubles me greatly.
I recently attended the reunion tea of a fellowship group that hasn’t met since Covid. During conversation, one of the ladies was enthusing about a “powerful prayer” that was being circulated by a “prayer warrior”. The prayer was apparently against a certain political figure who is currently making waves in South Africa.
The content of her enthusiasm disturbed me for many reasons. Let me, therefore, explain my objection to the motive of this prayer even if I have not received or read the prayer.
1. Nowhere in Scripture is there any example of “praying against” a person or situation in the history of Israel or the church, no matter how bad things became. Habukkuk is a fine example of someone who had such an opportunity, since God revealed to him what Babylon was going to do to his people. Instead, Habukkuk prayed a prayer of trust and confidence in God, no matter what happened.
“I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster strikes the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights….”
Habakkuk 3:16-19 NLT
Equally, in the New Testament, its writers encouraged God’s people to submit gladly to their hardships and suffering because God was working His character in them and supplying His grace to endure with joy. There was never any “praying against” the Emperor or the Roman government, regardless of severe persecution. Rather, believers were encouraged to submit to the governing authorities unless they were commanded to do what was contrary to God’s Word or will.
2. Scripture adamantly declares God’s rule over the nations, His power, wisdom, sovereignty, and will in all His dealings with people and nations. There are numerous references to His authority in all things. I can only quote a few.
“For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”
Romans 9:17 NLT
“But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’
Daniel 4:28-32 NLT
The rulers of the nations…
“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”
Psalms 2:1-6 NLT
“The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
Proverbs 16:4 NLT
“God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm….. “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance.’” For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness— should raise a defiant fist. It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. For the Lord holds a cup in his hand that is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours out the wine in judgment, and all the wicked must drink it, draining it to the dregs.
Psalms 75:2-8 NLT
God has appointed His own authority to rule over the nations.
“For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.” The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.’”
Psalms 2:6-9 NLT
Paul assures us that God is in charge.
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”
Ephesians 1:11 NIV
These are only a few of the verses that assure us that God’s power, wisdom, sovereignty, and will are unassailable.
2. To “pray against” people or situations that happen to offend us is unbiblical, and a denial of the Lordship and sovereignty, wisdom, and power of Jesus. He earned the right to rule over all things through His obedience to the Father’s will. God has exalted Him to the highest place, far above all principalities and powers.
“… That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Ephesians 1:19-23 NIV
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:22-25 NIV
God works in all things for the good of His people. His church is His focus not the world. He uses the world to hone our faith and character so that we will resemble His Son.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Romans 8:28-29 NLT
3. There is no such office or authority in the church as a “prayer warrior” in Scripture. This is a man-made office and an imposition upon the Word which is unauthorised and unacceptable to God. No one has the right to add, practise, or teach what is not in Scripture. There are severe warnings for those who do this.
“Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 NLT
“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.”
Revelation 22:18-19 NLT
On the contrary, the Bible teaches us that…
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16 NIV
Since our righteousness is a gift from God, all who believe in Jesus are righteous in Him. Therefore, every true believer’s prayers are powerful and effective if they are according to God’s will.
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
1 John 5:14-15 NLT
We have a Helper…
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
Romans 8:26-27 NLT
Let no one deceive us into believing that one person’s prayers are more powerful and effective than another’s.
There may be other reasons for us not to participate in these unbiblical practices. I have highlighted only three which should be enough to help us not to be guided by our emotions or by the deception of false teachers. Jesus warned us to be on guard constantly because the deceivers can be very convincing. We have the Scriptures to guard and guide us. Let us be faithful to God’s word.