April 25, 2015 1 Comment
Holly Pivec is my co-author for two recent books, God’s Super-Apostles and A New Apostolic Reformation? Today she writes a column I’d like to share here. It’s about the upcoming National Day of Prayer and three worrisome emphases within the New Apostolic Reformation: the practice of “warfare prayer,” the practice of prayer “declarations,” and the doctrine of a Seven Mountain Mandate. Holly’s words are a call for caution and discernment. We commend the designation of special occasions for prayer. But we also stress the need for a biblically-grounded theology of prayer. And we encourage awareness of efforts by NAR leaders to infiltrate the ranks of traditional evangelical churches and organizations.
“The ‘NAR-tional’ Day of Prayer?”
Churches across the United States are gearing up for the National Day of Prayer. More than 40,000 prayer gatherings are expected to be held on May 7 in observance of this annual event. But has the National Day of Prayer been hijacked by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)?
The official promotional video, being played in Sunday morning worship services, gives no hint of NAR influence. But the influence can be seen if you look closely at the National Day of Prayer literature. The following NAR teachings and practices are being promoted.
One NAR practice being promoted is “warfare” prayer. The National Day of Prayer website features an article titled “What is Prayer?” which is excerpted from a book titled The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare written by John Bornschein, vice chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. This book is promoted heavily in the National Day of Prayer literature. Included in the article’s list of the types of prayer “the Holy Spirit wants to lead us into” is a form of prayer known in the NAR as “warfare” prayer.
What’s “warfare” prayer? It involves verbally addressing demonic spirits and issuing direct commands to them. The National Day of Prayer website describes it as “prayer directed against the powers of darkness. … We pronounce against them the written judgment by reading the Scriptures of judgment against them (Psalm 149:9), we command them to be bound or to leave their positions of influence or authority in the name of Jesus (Matthew 16:19; Mark 16:17).” Yet nowhere in Scripture is prayer ever directed to demonic spirits. Prayer is always directed to God. They seem to be confusing “prayer” and “exorcism.”
Of course, Scripture does indicate that Christians have been given authority to cast out demons from individuals. Yet it gives no hint that they’ve been given authority to cast out demons from cities and nations. Those familiar with NAR teachings about “strategic-level spiritual warfare” will recognize immediately how warfare prayer relates. The idea of commanding demonic spirits to “leave their positions of influence or authority” seems to be a not-so-veiled reference to NAR teachings about the necessity of casting out evil, powerful “territorial spirits” that are believed to exert rule over specific geographical regions, such as cities and nations.
But the Bible gives no support for the teaching that territorial spirits must be cast out before a city or nation can be reached with the gospel. There’s not a single example in Scripture of God’s people seeking to cast out a territorial spirit or engage such spirits in any way. Nor is there any teaching about the need for such engagement. Contrary to NAR teachings, Scripture indicates that rebuking such high-ranking spirits may actually be dangerous (Jude 1:8-10; 2 Peter 2:10-12). Why, then, would the National Day of Prayer Task Force ever be compelled to promote “warfare” prayer?
Another NAR practice that’s being promoted by the National Day of Prayer is that of making faith “declarations.” A declaration is not asking God to do something, which is how prayer typically has been viewed by evangelicals. Rather it involves declaring that such-and-such a thing, that is believed to be the will of God, will happen. It’s believed that Christians have been given the power, through their spoken words, to bring a desired reality into existence–much as God had creative power to speak the universe into existence.
Literature circulated to churches in Alaska, by the National Day of Prayer Alaska state coordinator, invites believers to gather at noon on May 7 “in one voice of victory declaring Jesus as King and Lord over Alaska and America.” It urges Alaskans to plan to “go someplace where you can easily make a loud declaration … and boldly proclaim into the atmosphere across our state and into the lower 48 [states] that Jesus is King and Lord over this great land.” My hunch is that similar directives have been issued in other states.
Some will wonder what can possibly be bad about declaring Jesus to be King and Lord. Certainly, there’s no problem with simply stating that Jesus is King and Lord because he already is–whether or not anyone states that fact. The problem is found in the notion that–simply by speaking these words–a new reality will somehow magically be created. That’s not the traditional, and biblical, view of prayer as petitionary. I’m pretty sure it’s not what most churches have in mind when they encourage their members to take part in the National Day of Prayer.
Seven Mountain Mandate
A third possible NAR influence could be found in the striking resemblance of the “7×7 campaign” to the “Seven Mountain Mandate.” The National Day of Prayer website encourages people to get involved in the event by downloading free prayer guides for each of the “seven centers of influence.” Clicking on the link provided takes people to the website of Pray for America (a project of the National Day of Prayer Task Force) and a description of a 7×7 campaign to pray for the “seven centers of power, seven days a week.”
Again, those familiar with NAR teachings will naturally wonder how closely the National Day of Prayer focus on the “seven centers of influence” resembles the “Seven Mountain Mandate” that supposedly has been revealed by God to NAR prophets as a strategy for the church to take sociopolitical control of nations. If there’s no connection, then the National Day of Prayer Task Force would do well to clarify its view and clearly distinguish it from NAR teaching.
Have you seen signs of NAR influence in your local National Day of Prayer events?