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Violent Prayer: Engaging Your Emotions Against Evil

(Paperback - Mar 2006)
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Overview

Pray from Your Gut
Satan is alive, well, and actively searching for opportunities to ruin you. Perhaps your trying circumstances or struggling relationships reflect his schemes. Does that make you angry? If you've ever suppressed simmering anger toward the enemy, seeing it as an intrusion into your prayers, it's time you experience the power of violent prayer. These very emotions of hatred and anger against Satan are fuel for life-changing prayer. Overcome an unhealthy, passive approach to prayer that dilutes your communion with the reigning Victor. When you move from defensive, reactive prayers to offensive, proactive prayers with an aggressive agenda, things begin to change. And you don't want to miss out.
When the Battle Rages,
Wage Prayer
You witness evil all around and it bothers you. You fall to your knees and tentatively, hopefully, you approach God and ask Him to step in.
But nothing happens. Goodness and righteousness seem to be fighting a losing battle. You wonder, "Why is God so passive?"
Perhaps the better question is this: Why are "you" so passive when it comes to prayer?
Embrace the infuriating, passionate emotion that wells up within you against Satan and his schemes. Turn your righteous anger into proactive, aggressive prayers that invite God to intervene and destroy the evil around you. Engage in "violent prayer."""
"Chris Tiegreen writes with wisdom, knowledge, and creativity.
"Violent Prayer" is a wonderful resource for Christians who want to
make prayer a more powerful part of their lives."
Carol Pipes
Editor, "On Mission"
Story Behind the Book
"Especially in praying for my family, I've learned that there is a connection between the emotional content of my prayers and the results I see later. Many such experiences have convinced me that 'violent' prayers can be quite appropriate and effective. My book gets into the nuts and bolts of praying God's agenda without reducing it to formulas, hierarchies, military strategies, or any other cliched approach to spiritual warfare. It primarily addresses the emotional attitude of the believer and describes how to incorporate God's holy anger into prayer for specific situations. Christians will learn how to pray from their gut-level reactions to the enemy's agenda." --Chris Tiegreen

Details

  • SKU: 9781590525821
  • SKU10: 1590525825
  • Title: Violent Prayer: Engaging Your Emotions Against Evil
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books
  • Date Published: Mar 2006
  • Pages: 191
  • Illustrated: Yes
  • Weight lbs: 0.45
  • Dimensions: 8.28" L x 5.30" W x 0.52" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Illustrated, Bibliography
  • Category: PRAYER

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

WAR UNCENSORED Beyond Our Assumptions

I prayed all night, pouring out my heart and wrestling with God. It was a huge struggle, but the next day, I knew I had my answer."

The Thai pastor telling me this might have seemed, to someone just walking in on the conversation, to be talking about some intractable situation in the church he'd started in the thick of Bangkok's crowded streets. He could have been speaking of a prolonged conflict among Christians or a long-endured family crisis. He could have been praying for the Spirit of God to move through the city, or any other petition for an ongoing, critical situation. But he spoke of none of those things. This was his prayer for salvation. He was talking about when he became a Christian.

It sounds strange to Western evangelicals, doesn't it? Our prayers of repentance come at the end of a church service or during a "time of commitment" at a camp or retreat. We're saved in an instant. After all, God said if we asked, he would answer. This godly Thai pastor was just mistaken, being so new to the faith and all, right? A request for something God has already promised shouldn't take so long, should it?

Ideally, no. But we don't live in an ideal world, do we? We live in a fallen world, where the flesh corrupts our motives and an enemy interferes with our spiritual growth. We're former citizens of a kingdom of darkness who have been reborn into a kingdom of light. But the darkness still exists, and we're surrounded by it. We don't pray in a vacuum.

TACTICS OF AN INTRUDER

Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone while an antagonist is constantly harassing you, heckling you, and getting between you and the person you're talking with. You try to hear your friend, but the pest keeps getting louder and more obnoxious. He shouts lies to you and contradicts everything you say and everything your friend says. He waves his arms to distract you, and his tactics often work. You may actually exchange some meaningful conversation with your friend, but only by being patient and enduring. It would have been a lot easier if you two had been alone.

What if that's a picture of your conversations with God? We frequently assume that when we speak to him, it's just him and us. We're alone with God, and if we don't get immediate answers or have intimate communion, it's because he's being silent today, or we're off base in our requests. We wonder why he seems so distant or why our words sometimes seem to bounce off the ceiling. We don't even consider the possibility that there's an annoying heckler, harasser, and distracter. We forget that we may not be alone.

Our misperceptions about life in a fallen world among evil entities who harass us lead us to three false assumptions about prayer, which we might as well face head-on: (1) We misunderstand the investment of time most prayers must take; (2) we underestimate the energy and conflict involved in most of them; and (3) we confuse the passive and active elements in our role and God's.

TIME

Many of our assumptions are by-products of living in an electronic society. We push a few buttons, and within seconds, dinner's ready. We key in a few numbers online, and just like that we've got a ticket to another continent. We fill out a requisition at work, e-mail it to the boss, and expect it back the same afternoon with a yes or no. It's a simple transaction, as most transactions are. It's the same at the bank, the fast-food drive-through, and the movie ticket window. We specify what we want, and it's either available or it's not. If we haven't received it within minutes, we move on to someone who'll give it to us. Or we look for an alternative product or service. Waiting is inefficient and annoying.

We've been conditioned to think of life in terms of simple transactions. Most of the people we deal with are acquaintances and nothing more, and there's no in-depth relationship with them. Our communication with them is by necessity brief and to the point. Those closer to us are different. We spend time with the ones we love, and we're generally committed to resolve any conflict we might have with them. Even so, we aren't as committed as we could be. We sometimes walk away from family members who seem to be creating too much dysfunction in our lives. We're committed, but not ultimately. We'll try to work things out until the costs start exceeding the benefits.

In our relationship with God, getting in line with his will is a process. A long process. There's no rush with a God who plans to love us for eternity. And with him, we never reach a point where the costs of the relationship exceed the benefits. There's never a time when it's right to give up and walk away. We're in this relationship forever, and we have to work things out. We're also in the midst of a messy fight between the kingdom of God and the one who most opposes it, and that takes time. We have to be really, really patient.

ENERGY AND CONFLICT

Inevitably, we'll have conflict with God. Perhaps we'd like to think that once we've been adopted into his family we're home free. All is peace and light, and there's never a contradiction between our will and his. But that's another false assumption we make. In reality, we know that's not true. We're told that his ways are high above ours, that his will is in many respects a mystery, and that he has unimaginably good things planned for us. But in order to get them, we have to submit to him. And that's where we have trouble.

So prayer is often a conflict resolution process between us and our God. There's no shame in admitting this. He actually designed it that way. Just as we learn more about a spouse and, we hope, grow closer to him or her in the resolution and aftermath of a disagreement, so do we learn more about God and grow closer to him when we have to work through the issue of why our will is so different from his. We understand more of his ways and appreciate more of his character when we have to conform to it. Though our relationship with him is solid and lasting-there's no doubt we'll remain his children-the practice of that relationship needs work. There are issues to resolve.

There's also conflict on another front. Our lives as children of God are a contradiction to the cultures and social systems around us. We're called to swim upstream, and that's not comfortable. Not only do we refuse to go with the flow of the world, we also have to refuse to give in to the temptations of an enemy. And this enemy doesn't just throw temptation our way; he tries to make our life a grueling obstacle course. This is not an impersonal dynamic. We don't just wrestle with evil; we wrestle with the evil one.

So our prayers will be filled with conflict. We'll have to resolve our differences with God-admit it, we have many of them-and we'll have to confront and thwart the will of demonic entities. Living as light in the midst of darkness can be exhausting. Our prayers will often sound like a wrestling match.

ACTIVITY

We like passivity. Each of us has areas of our lives we'd prefer to leave to others, tasks we don't enjoy doing or responsibilities we'd love to defer to someone else if we could. Some of us are passive by nature, but even those who are more proactive will still try to arrange a lot of things to be handled for them. We want to be free to enjoy life.

The belief that God wants us to relax and enjoy our lives is a third false assumption we make. There'll be a time for that one day in our relationship with God-in fact, there are many brief experiences of it now-but that's not the norm for discipleship. Jesus called his followers to be active: to go into the world and win it, to heal and cast out demons, to right wrongs, and to pray with passion and persistence. He didn't say "It is finished" in the sense that there's nothing left for his people to do. He gave them specific tasks, and most of those tasks were difficult. They involve intense effort and a will to endure.

Our prayers are to take on those characteristics. We're completely dependent on God and our petitions are, in a sense, a matter of turning things over to him. But that doesn't mean we're completely passive in the process. In fact, we're to be quite active in bringing issues to God and seeing them through in our prayers.

When Jesus taught his disciples about prayer, he used a lot of action verbs (ask, seek, and knock, for example) and a lot of action parables, such as pestering judges or banging on a friend's door at midnight. In Paul's illustration of our spiritual armor-an illustration that in the end focuses mainly on prayer-he compares our life in this world to a wrestling match. We're not passive participants in the kingdom of God.

THE STRUGGLE WE WERE MADE FOR

It's clear God didn't create us for simple transactions. Just the opposite, in fact. He created us for a lengthy, time-consuming relationship that cannot grow deeper through shortcuts.

Not only that, our relationship with him takes place in the context of a battlefield. Sometimes our conversations with him can be peaceful and relaxing. Sometimes they can be passive, requiring little physical or emotional investment on our end. And sometimes they can be quick and easy. More often, they're none of these things. Peaceful, passive, and instantaneous are rarely experienced on battlefields. A war is not a place for simple transactions. Victories take time and cost a lot. There is blood and sweat and exhaustion, and there are casualties. Victory is assured, but it isn't easy. God created us for battle.

Many Christians don't agree with that. I once heard a youth pastor on a TV show telling his audience how easy prayer is. It's like when you're a kid and your father comes home from work or a business trip, and you know he has a surprise for you. He may keep you in suspense for a little while, but all you really have to do is ask. This speaker mocked those who stress and strain in their prayers as though God is reluctant to give good things. Our good things, like daddy's surprises, are there for the taking.

I know what he meant; he was encouraging a young audience not to be so intimidated in praying to a big, respectable God. He wanted his hearers to think of God as a generous, approachable daddy rather than as a stern, reluctant authority figure. I agree with the intent, but not the resulting message.

I've heard critics of the "spiritual warfare" movement-a movement that certainly has its excesses, paranoia, and distortions of Scripture-insist that the Bible never instructs us to speak to the devil or to communicate at all with evil spirits. And if we're looking for direct commandments, that's true. But even a superficial reading of most biblical characters reveals some level of intense struggle, and often that struggle comes through in prayers.

The Bible is clear that a malicious personality is bent on destroying the people of God, and that this evil one is often resisted in prayer. Sometimes, he's even directly addressed by human beings. A Bible so full of examples in this realm has already, in a sense, given us our instructions. We have numerous illustrations of militant prayer.

Nowhere does the Bible speak of prayer as a lighthearted, easy endeavor. It can be delightful, but it can also be strenuous. The Psalms, for example, are not simple requests, and the answers received in them didn't come easily. Many of them took place in the anguish of the heart and in the hostility of the battlefield. Biblical prayers are not minimal investments.

OUR EXAMPLE

There's nothing in Jesus' ministry to indicate a prayer life of peaceful, passive, and instantaneous petitions. Jesus often went away for the night alone to wrestle in prayer. He spoke directly to demons, and Scripture indicates he spoke loudly and harshly. He preached often about hell and the devil. He had extremely blunt words for scribes and Pharisees, and he pointed to a violent battle in this world between the kingdoms of darkness and light. He told us "the gates of hell" would not prevail against his kingdom, he praised those who approach the kingdom forcefully, and he gave his disciples authority over snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. Jesus spoke like a general.

That militant attitude carried over into his prayers, as we'll see. The Lord's Prayer implies a hostility between kingdoms, and he instructed his disciples to pray diligently and persistently even for things God had already promised. As mentioned earlier, he compared prayer to a woman pestering a judge for relief and to a neighbor begging for bread at a completely inappropriate hour of the night-though God is by no means a reluctant judge or a sleepy neighbor.

Not only did Jesus pray for the kingdom of God, he prayed against the works of Satan. And though we cannot read tone of voice into the biblical text, we can probably safely assume his prayers against the evil one were not exactly polite and reserved. The misty-eyed Jesus of old Hollywood epics is found more in the psyche of secular observers than in the New Testament. In much of Jesus' ministry, we get the distinct impression he's at war.

Ah, but that was Jesus. He was sent into this world to fight evil so we don't have to, right? No, Jesus was clear that his disciples would follow in his painful footsteps. If the world hated the master, it would hate the servants, he assured them. In the world they would have tribulation. Jesus referred to Satan not only as the father of lies, but also as the prince of this world and the god of this age. One of Jesus' disciples later wrote that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. We can't get away with thinking that the conflict Jesus came to win is a conflict his disciples can avoid. Jesus defeated Satan at the cross, then sent his disciples out into the world to enforce the victory. It's an enforcement that doesn't come without resistance.

The rest of the Bible bears this out. Somehow we got the wrong impression that the tone of the Bible is calm and sedate. We often hear the voice of God in Scripture as a deep baritone with a refined British accent. Centuries of King James formality and decades of cinematic artistry have conditioned us to assume civility in all biblical conversations. But God is not a baritone, and Jesus' disciples were not British actors. The voices of the Bible range from boisterous shouts to gentle whispers, and they're filled with excitement, agony, rage, despair, and wild celebration-sometimes in embarrassing extremes.

When we apply this understanding to prayer, the flavor of Scripture intensifies. As Joshua the high priest stands before God's throne in Zechariah 3, we can picture a shouting match between Satan and God, not a stern but restrained exchange. In 1 Samuel 1, we can envision Hannah staggering and stumbling, or maybe even writhing on the floor as she prayed, not kneeling politely and mumbling under her breath. In 2 Samuel 6, we can imagine David not simply asking God fearfully why Uzzah had to die when he reached out to touch the ark of the covenant, but being utterly frustrated, angry, and confused by the God he thought he wanted to know more intimately. There's no reason to assume restrained dignity among biblical characters simply because they're in a holy text. Anyone who has been overwhelmed in life can relate to those scenes. They light up in living color when read like that.

(Continues.)

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