Prayer – communication with God. Because God is personal, all people can offer prayers. However sinners who have not trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation remain alienated from God. So while unbelievers may pray, they do not have the basis for a rewarding fellowship with God. They have not met the conditions laid down in the Bible for effectiveness in prayer. Christians recognize their dependence upon their Creator. They have every reason to express gratitude for God’s blessing. But they have far more reason to respond to God than this. They respond to the love of God for them. God’s love is revealed through the incarnation and life of Christ, His resurrection and His atoning provision at the cross, His resurrection, and His continuing presence through the Holy Spirit. Prayer cannot be replaced by devout good works in a needy world. Important as service to other is, at times we must turn away from it to God, who is distinct from all things and over all things. Neither should prayer be thought of as a mystical experience in which people lose their identity in the infinite reality. Effective prayer must be a scripturally informed response of persons saved by grace to the living God who can hear and answer on the basis Christ’s payment of the penalty that sinners deserved. As such, prayer involves several important aspects; among which include: faith, worship, confession, adoration, praise, thanksgiving, dedicated action, request.

Prayer has power over everything only limited by wrong kind of praying and prayers. God can intelligently act in any part of the universe or human history. Although some people think prayer is a waste of time, the Bible declares that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16) while prayers can do much to benefit the Christian believer based on God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit, the effectiveness of prayers can be limited when prayers and praying is wrong: “ you ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Also when prayers and praying is carnally motivated and out of God’s will meaning not in line with God’s word. For instance, Jesus rebuked his disciples for wanting to pray vengeful and soulish prayers – prayers against people who are against you or tries to undermine your wellbeing, mission and work. “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and set messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans; to prepare for Him But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said “you do not know what manner of spirit you are of for the Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village” (Luke 9:51-56).

Vengeful and soulish prayers is against the teaching of Jesus Christ to “pray for our enemies” as against that so many uninformed Christians labour, fast and spent time holding vigils just to engage evil and wicked people in prayers – “die by fire” and “back to sender”! What does the bible teach on this? First Jesus Christ set perfect examples (1) His example in Luke 9:51-56 reveal that we don’t have to get uneven,-bitter and embark on vengeful prayer action against those who undermine us, the work of God and our wellbeing. The principle and purpose of all engagement in life of Christian believer not unbeliever is to save unbeliever who have been held captive and ignorant of the work of grace and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Luke 9:56 cp 2Tim 2:24-26). Praying vengeful, destructive and soulish prayer is carnal, unscriptural and against God’s will that all may come to repentance and be saved (2 Peter 3:9). If you pray against your enemies, the household enemy and whatever you call them who will be saved? Does your old mother, brothers and sisters or relations you see as witch or wizard now after your life and welfare dies does that prosper you? Does that agree with the will of God and the teaching of the Scripture that says “you have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But l say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray to those who spitefully use you and persecute you. That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).

He said pray for them not against them. Also Romans 12:14-21 shows us how to overcome and engage people who are our enemies “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peacefully with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, vengeance is mine l will repay: says the Lord. Therefore, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him a drink for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head”. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Jesus Christ did not only teach against vengeful and soulish prayers, he exemplified what we should do when enemies undermine the will of God for our lives and the work of God. On being beaten, spite on and bruised on the cross with his garments taken away, said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”. And they divided His garments and cast lots” (Luke 23:24). Stephen at point of being stoned to death also prayed. “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice “Lord, do not charge them with this sin”. And when he had said this he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60). Jesus and Stephen show us the proper praying and prayers when our enemies war against us to kill, destroy and steal our liberty, life and wellbeing. Vengeful and soulish prayers of “die by fire” and “back to sender”, and all other prayers out of bitterness, wrath and hate is not God’s will. God avenges not you.

Some would say but Elijah prayed down fire to destroy “a captain of fifty with his fifty men”. (2 kg. 1:10) and Paul’s declarative prayers enforcing God’s judgment against Elymas the sorcerer “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit. Looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time”. And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord “(Acts 13:8-12). Another case that agrees with Christian teaching on this is that of Apostle Peter’s response to Simon, the Sorcerer’s request for power in exchange for money. “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given he offered them money also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit”. But Peter said to him, your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money”. You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” this Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (Acts 8:18-24).

Elijah case in 2Kings 1:10 is under the law that demands physical judgment on evil and evil doers in the Old Testament. His was an enforcement of God’s judgment as demanded under the law in that dispensation it was the permissive will of God not perfect and acceptable will of God (Rom. 12:1-2). Hence Jesus Christ in the New Testament under the dispensation of grace said to the disciples not to follow the pattern of Elijah in calling down fire to destroy but that in the new dispensation of grace, the spirit in operation is different. It is to save men’s lives not to destroy (Luke 9:51-56). In the case of Apostle Paul and the sorcerer Elymas, it was enforcement of God’s judgment tendered with mercy in that it was a caution that put the sorcerer who had bewitched the proconsul, the ruler and the community for long was put away for a season and that led to the conversion of the ruler. Sensitive to the Holy Spirit is emphasized here and the dictate of the scripture over circumstances. It is neither the rule nor a doctrine to proclaim or practice that whenever you see somebody opposing the preaching of the gospel you invoke judgment on them. No! This is still permissive will of God. Go for the perfect and acceptable will of God in everything including prayer (1 John 5:14 cp Rom. 12:1-2).

Have seen that a lot of Christian believers prayers are vengeful and soulish – out of order and against the teaching of the word of God. What is the power to overcome vengeful and soulish prayers?

One, gain understanding, wisdom and revelation of the acceptable and perfect will of God in all you do as a Christian (see Eph. 1: 15-19, Rom. 12:1-2, 1John 5:14, Luke 9:51-56, Eph. 5:15-17, 2Tim. 2:24-26, 2Peter 3:9) A proper understanding of the will of God in all circumstances of life will enable you to pray right and do the right thing at all times no matter the contradictions and negative circumstances of life. Don’t pray out of bitterness against those against you. Love is your greatest weapon over evil (Rom. 12:9-21).

Two, have a forgiving spirit and practice forgiveness no matter the level of wrong done to you and the person involved. The Bible teaches forgiveness when praying and when you discovered someone wrong you or has something against you (Mt. 5:23-26, Mk. 11:25-26).

Three, be at peace with everyone including your family and live a holy life (Heb. 12:14, 1Peter 3:7). Vengeful and soulish prayers won’t work when you are bitter with your spouse and have quarrels with other people you think are your enemy. Hence much of “die by fire” and “back to sender” prayers God is not answering them. God want the wicked people saved not destroyed. In this dispensation it is not an eye for an eye. Grace, truth and peace is what Jesus stand for (John 1:14-18) .F our, obedience to God’s word on the teaching to love and pray for your enemy gives God the power to avenge you of your enemy, the battle is not yours and God will “prepare a table for you in the present of your enemy” (Ps. 23:4-5) and will empower you to “ rule in the midst of your enemies” (Ps. 110:2).

When you pray soulish and vengeful prayers you deprive God from fighting your battles and open the door for Satan and his cohorts to buffet you and undermine your authority as a believer sitting with Christ far above your enemies. (Eph. 1:17 -22). Praying for your enemy, loving them, helping them take bitterness, wrath and offense from your heart and releases your spirit to soar above all forces of evil that seeks to undermine your wellbeing. When you do, it empowers you against your enemy and make God stand with you to enforce your victory over evil that were militating against you. This is the Spirit of the sons of God in this dispensation – it releases blessing not curse. Beware what you use your tongue to create. Born again Spirit filled believer don’t curse – they are blessed and are given commandment to bless not to curse.

Because every act you do shall be judged. If you bless and become a blessing to other you will be blessed and not judged. (See James 3:6-12, Mt. 12:33-37, Num. 23:20, Rom. 14:10-13, 2Cor. 5:9-11). People are not our enemies. The devil and his demons are. Is your brother, sister, mother, father and relations being used against you. Pray for them to be free and saved and command the evil spirit using them to go. That is to address the evil spirit, Satan. That is what Jesus did prayed for Peter. Here lies the power to overcome vengeful and soulish prayers (see Mt. 16:22-23, Luke 22:31-32)

Written By Dr. Lewis Akpogena
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