When Prayer is a Crutch
By: K. B. Napier
We should all pray without ceasing – but please read our article on ‘prayer meetings’ before attempting to define what is meant by the term. (Also see O-00100 False Prayer).
Prayer is supposed to occur throughout our waking time, at any time. It is our lifeline to God, our personal link with Him. But, we are not to invent prayer times, for, when we do, we make prayer a crutch, and not a true communication with God.
Regularly, well-intentioned folk say that I, personally, ‘do not believe in prayer’ (which is nonsense), when, all along, I have maintained a steady belief in prayer. What I do not accept are prayer meetings as they exist in our churches today. I cannot and will never accept them because scripture does not support them, nor does it teach that we may hold them.
In other words, I do not teach or support a system of activities (institutionalised prayer meetings) that have no basis in God’s word. For others to blandly tell me that this is down to my ‘opinion’ is a serious misrepresentation of what I say, and of what scripture says.
I have noted on many occasions that Christians who wish to carry on with unbiblical practices do so under the delusion that what I am saying is ‘wrong’, even if I have given an abundance of Biblical evidence to the contrary.
To continue to hold prayer meetings regularly undermines true prayer – it does not strengthen it! Scripture, for example, tells us not to pray for those essentials we all need daily, for God already knows we need them and will provide. So, why go against this promise of God by pleading for the very same essentials? The only reason we do so, is because we do not believe God, or that He will truly keep us. Our prayers are, then, borne of human anxiety and not of faith.
And why ‘pray’ for things we have little or no knowledge of, foisted upon us by someone else (such as missionary work and a myriad of ‘global’ activities)? This is just talking into the air. And why meet regularly when there is really very little of note to pray for…when in scripture the ONLY time Christians met for corporate prayer was when God laid on their heart something extremely serious and unique? Do not tell me that all those weekly prayer meetings fulfil these requirements – because I know they do not.
I must insist on what scripture teaches – that when we pray we must do so in our closets. Do not ignore this word of God, for otherwise all your prayers are as nought. And, if you already know this truth, do not tempt God by going against what you know.
Holding regular prayer meetings is an offence against God, for they show conclusively that those who attend them neither understand what true prayer is, or recognise when God is really talking to them. If they did, they would not make such an error in the first place.
I have heard so many Christians argue their corner on this topic, but none have given me a genuine, conclusive, scriptural defence. They cannot, for I have read every single example of prayer in scripture, and not one of them can justify regular prayer meetings.
In our town a church holds weekly prayer meetings calling for ‘revival’. Why? Those who attend show that they do not understand what ‘revival’ is in God’s eyes! If they understood what they were praying for, they would be struck dumb by their fear! What do they hope to achieve by their vain repetition?
It is my conclusion that many Christians attend their regular prayer meetings not because God wishes them to do so, but because it satisfies a deep psychological want in their minds. It cannot satisfy a God-given need, for such a need does not exist and cannot be shown to exist in scripture. The real Christian walk is far more solid than that.
So, look again at what you do. Personal prayers are essential, but do not follow the route taken by so many, of holding regular prayer meetings, which have no basis in God’s word. Every time they take place they reinforce useless tradition and make Christian living a fossilised stone, debasing true prayer. It does not matter whether you are two or 200 – holding such meetings debases the whole divine intention for prayer.
I say all this with conviction based on a detailed examination of God’s word. I ask those who hold these meetings to justify what they do from scripture…but I know that they cannot. The holding of regular prayer meetings, when there is nothing specific or serious to speak of, and when God has not given an urgent item to pray about, is Arminian in theology. It is the ‘doing’ side of Man that persists in thinking that we must ‘do’ something to reach God!
And when we meet in numbers, as though this makes our prayers extra-potent, it is more to do with spiritualism than with godly demand, for spiritualists and New Agers think that when they meet in numbers in the same place, their prayers have a greater power. It is also very prevalent amongst extreme charismatics.
Overall, though, I am convinced that those who meet in this way do so to satisfy a psychological desire to ‘do’ something (or to give a personal sense of well-being…which can easily be better obtained simply by obeying God). By completing the task they have set themselves they thereby put a mental ‘tick’ against their spiritual status. This is a piety not required by God, because it is human piety, and not of Him.
Please do not foist on me a ‘belief’ that is just personal, without scriptural basis! My views on corporate prayer were arrived at after many years personal struggle with tradition and wrong thinking. I studied scripture in detail, taking a very long time in the process and must repeat strongly – there is nothing in scripture to support regular, pre-determined, corporate prayer. Ignore this as you wish – but there is nothing you can say or do to alter the facts of God’s word!
No doubt their persistence in tradition makes them feel much better, but they should not thus think that what they do is given by God or based on His word…for it is not. It makes my heart fear for their spiritual safety, for when they continue in their error (and error is sin), they also continue in resisting God, those who teach His truth, and their own conscience.
If you pray corporately – ask yourself why. There is no Biblical precedent. There is no Biblical teaching to support what you are doing. Show me why you pray corporately…but read the article first, so that you can see why I say what I say.
If you continue in your corporate prayers, then you are not praying aright, but you are obeying your emotional and psychological desires, or, the expectations of others who prefer tradition to truth.
Friends, if you continue to ignore such words, you run the risk of losing the very communication with God you so urgently wish to receive! You will lose it because you are not obeying scripture. The trouble is – as we find in so many charismatic, Romanist and other circles for example – when you disobey in this way you reinforce your own desires and come to think you are right! Scripture talks of such situations as making black into white!
Pray in your closet and ask God to relieve you of this unscriptural desire to hold regular prayer meetings that have no foundation in His word. By adhering to them, you show not a desire for truth, but a desire to follow your own heart and mind and a fear of facing God alone, without the back-up of others in your group or church.
Bible Theology Ministries
© January 1999
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