I learned a very valuable lesson about authority in prayer and I would like to share it with you.
During a prayer meeting at our church a faithful member of the prayer team came forward with a typed out prayer for our president that she said the Lord gave her the day before. She was allowed to read the prayer and we agreed with her. It was a very moving, scripture based prayer that was loving, considerate, compassionate and powerful. It immediately got the nod of approval of all in the room. It was a prayer that inspired confidence and faith in all who prayed it. This lady had obviously heard from the Lord.
As those in the group were commenting about how powerful it was, the Lord spoke to me directly and said, “Why didn’t you pray for your previous president in this manner?” I immediately knew what the Lord was talking about. I remembered the many times we lifted this former leader up in “prayer” and I was reminded of some of the opinionated requests, the tone, the attitude, and the complete disregard for this man as an individual. We weren’t praying out of love for our president, or even love for our country. We were praying against him, not out of love, but out of selfishness and self righteousness. Our motives were wrong, our heart was wrong.
I shared what the Lord had showed me and the entire prayer group received it and we all repented before God.
When praying for yourself, or others, its important to consider your motives for praying. This may seem overly simple, however there are some areas in our thinking and believing that can be ever so slightly off kilter, and therefore making our prayers ineffective.
Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is a powerful example of sacrificing authority because of selfish pride. The Pharisee presented himself as better than “other men.” Notice in verse 11 that “he prayed thus with himself”. In other words God is not even listening, he is praying to sound spiritual and be heard by others.
Although this sounds terrible, it gets much worse!
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
When we pray from a place of bitterness, envy, and selfishness we become a landing strip for every evil work. We actually invite demonic activity into our life and have absolutely no effect on what we are praying for.
Lets look at the rest of this passage in James to see where our heart needs to be when we pray.
James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Prayer that is made from a place of love, mercy and compassion is a prayer that is heard and answered by God. Prayer made from a place of selfishness is not heard by God, but is an invitation to demonic influence.
Pray for people, never pray “against” people. Praying against a person is an invitation to confusion, demons, and every evil work. It is earthly wisdom learned from the fall of man and perpetuates the enemy’s agenda.
If we check our hearts and motives before we approach God with prayer and make sure we are praying from a healthy place of love for the person, we can be confident that our prayers are effective.