In the past twelve months I have attended quite a few international and national prayer gatherings. There was one in particular that stood out. I was quite keen on this meeting as there were many intercessors and leaders attending. Some of these people were old friends. The meeting began with energetic, even ecstatic worship as the participants moved to the beat.
The invited leaders then began to queue to pray. As each one ascended the dais, the crowd stood to their feet applauding in honor, almost to the point of unbridled adulation. These guests were clearly the stars of the night. But instead of invocations, petitions, or declarations in prayer, we entered into a two-hour diatribe of what is wrong with that nation, the Church, and worse of all their spiritual enemies who take human form.
Elected officials, national leaders, and educators were preached against much to the delight of the listeners. One invited guest even derided women of color as being intellectually inferior because white women "know better" than to submit their bodies to various fertility practices. I looked at the woman of color seated next to me whose eyes grew large at the unabashed overtones of racism.
All that made me wonder: would Jesus attend such a meeting? Was His Spirit even there? Based on the Gospels, the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, is this what Jesus would do? Or maybe we should ask, is this exactly what Jesus wouldn't do?
We are called to a spirit of prayer, not protest. When prayer meetings become political rallies, it's time to re-examine our hearts and motives. Call the meeting anything else. Invite who you want. And call it what is. Just don't call it prayer!
Jesus loves sinners. He loves saints. He loves all people, meets them where they are, and brings them to a higher plane of living. When it comes to blinded eyes and hearts, he's all about love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Maybe it's time we begin to pray that way again.