There were times when someone desperately need some help and a prophet or a preacher would ask God for help. These days, many Christians outsource their prayers to a team of so-called prayer warriors and several new Christian ministries exist based on this very lie. In this post, we will look into the deception of prayer ministry.
Mediators in Old Covenant
During old covenant times when there were no mediators, we can see priests and prophets pleading with God for His people.
Prophet as a mediator
Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched.Num 11:2
Here Moses is pleading with God for His people and God answered Him. We can see similar prayers from several other prophets in Old Testament times.
Priest/Levites as a mediator
The priest shall make atonement for him, for his sin that he has committed in any of these matters; and it shall be forgiven him. …Lev 5:13
God separated Levites for His service and appointed priests for people to come and inquire to the LORD (Num 27:21). We can clearly see how priests are the mediators for ancient Israelites as per the old covenant or the law of Moses which was given for the kingdom of Israel.
One Mediator in New Covenant
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. … But Christ came [as] High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.Heb 8:6, Heb 9:11
In the new covenant, Jesus Christ is our only mediator and our High Priest. He neither appointed any mediators nor gave up His role to anyone else. Hence, it is totally wrong to ask someone to pray for us as if they are our mediators. However, there are some exceptions where God expects the other person to pray.
Mediation by the Affected
And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore [her,] know that you shall surely die, you and all who [are] yours.”Gen 20:6-7
The first event in the Bible when God wants a godly person to pray is when he was directly and severely affected.
Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you [according to your] folly; because you have not spoken of Me [what is] right, as My servant Job [has.]”Job 42:8
We see a similar situation in the book of Job when God wants Job to pray for his friends because he was affected by them.
Personally Affected in Some Way
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess [your] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.Jas 5:13-16
Is it wrong for a father to pray for his own son? Or, church elders and members praying together for a fellow church member who is sick? Or, praying for a brother or sister in Christ who is persecuted for the sake of Christ which we read in the news? Absolutely not. In all these situations, we personally want something to happen and there is a deep desire within our heart for God to intervene in their lives by listening to our prayers.
This is in complete contrast to someone who is suffering in some way and calling a Christian ministry hot-line or sending a prayer request to helpdesk instead of praying to God. Some are even clever to send a prayer request and pray personally in parallel.
What does this show? Isn’t it an evidence of their belief that God may not listen to his/her personal prayer and require a ministry or some others to pray for them? Or, maybe they have a belief that prayers from multiple people means it will be powerful and somehow God will answer? These are totally false. Jesus never taught us to start any prayer ministries.
God wants us to have a personal relationship with us and the only Mediator is His own Son, Jesus Christ who is with the Father. He doesn’t want anyone to come in between in that relationship.
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place;] and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.Matt 6:6
Jesus taught us a model prayer which begins, “Our Father in Heaven … ” (Matt 6:9). However, the moment you shut the door to pray privately, the Father is now in that secret place and who sees us in secret. This is exactly what God wants, not broadcasting our request to God to everyone for them to pray.