Travelling Intercession Unhinged:
A Look at the Fantasy Prayer & Fairy Tale Vision Movement
A dear long time friend from Canada on this Circle lately sent me a “Prayer Journey Report” from a prayer group detailing its spiritual interpretations of God’s plans and intentions for the nation resulting from its traveling prayer missions throughout the provinces. Some on this Readers Circle are intercessors familiar with this kind of prayer activity, having devoted part of their ministries to it. Others are not so familiar, so let me briefly describe it.
In this form of intercession, roving bands of intercessors map out a region they wish to cover with prayer. As they go praying from place to place, they arrive at spiritual “interpretations” of what they are sensing about each place, the people in it, the state of societal activity there, and what “God wants to do” there. The interpretations are based on the sensing of various scriptures that come to mind as they pray, together with perceptions of various kinds of heavenly spiritual activities over the area (good and bad), including a lot of imagery. Such prayer teams sometimes undertake historical studies about the area they will traverse, so their interpretations of their perceptions will include commentary on historic issues they sense may be affecting the spiritual “climate” of the land.
Travelling intercession activity also includes what might be called “symbolic prophetic rituals;” for instance, dropping “anointed” prayer stones along every mile or kilometer of a highway, or sprinkling sand from one place over the land in another place, or on the water—while declaring a prophetic meaning of the action. Such rituals are patterned by similar actions by Old Testament prophets (for example as when Elisha called for the casting of salt into a spring to purify its water).
Lastly, whatever these travelling prayer teams end up reporting, it almost invariably centers on predictions of “revival” and “blessing” over the land.
Now as you can tell by the provocative title of this article, I have some problems with this type of intercession as commonly unchecked. And because little is written to surgically identify and challenge the problems, I have chosen to cast the title the way I have.
But before issuing my challenges, I want to make it clear that I actually do believe in the valid role of this type of intercessory ministry, and that I have engaged in it myself. I am not debunking this style of intercession per se. It has a genuine place—but only if brought into alignment with governing spiritual reality pertaining to the gospel and the kingdom of God. “Unhinged” from such foundations as this activity tends to be, it is nothing more than a movement of “fantasy prayer” and “fairy tale vision,” something the devil enjoys watching for entertainment the same way we watch movies when we are bored.
The Imperatives of Spiritual Transformation and Structural Societal Change
Two key foundational layers of spiritual comprehension are usually missing from the present travelling intercession movement. The first comprehension is that of the imperative of spiritual transformation in the lives of the inhabitants of any city, town or land.
We live in the era of the “kingdom gospel.” So we have to ask, what is our gospel and how does this type of intercession relate to it? Well, after 2000 years, our gospel should be obvious to us. It is the gospel that intercedes and openly calls for the transforming of human hearts by the blood of Christ through repentant faith. The message of the death and resurrection of Christ applied directly to the individual soul is the heart of our gospel.
The church may pray for whatever else it is led to pray with regard to spiritual activities in the heavens and events on earth. This is all legitimate and necessary within the purview of our kingdom commission. But if the prayer for the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment unto repentance for sin leading to spiritual rebirth and the eternal salvation of the soul is not at the heart of that praying, what is the point??
In the 11 page single-spaced prayer report before me, there are numerous perceptions of the coming of spiritual “light,” “renewal,” “revival,” “peace” and “power” to the land. Yet not one of these terms is defined in context of the gospel. In fact the gospel itself is not even mentioned. There is only one mention of how any of these spiritual terms relates to the saving of anyone, yet “saving” is not defined in the report. Interestingly however, the report occasionally applies these terms concretely to the earthly concepts of the economy and relations among people in general—all of which will perish and have no final eternal value.
The prayer report abounds with other undefined spiritual language such as “hope,” “darkness,” “breakthrough,” “barriers,” “strongholds,” “preparation” and “growth.” Various spiritual “forces” are also named, such as “control,” “frustration,” “isolation,” disparity,” “divisiveness.” Yet none are given context relative to the purpose of the gospel. Spoken with no real objective definition, the descriptions woven of these words indeed leave one with the flavor of reading a fairy tale.
The second missing layer from unhinged intercession is the imperative of structural societal change. The “kingdom” aspect of the Christian gospel beyond eternal salvation is not about bringing a “facelift” to the structures of society as they exist now in sin. It is about changing them through prophetic challenge beginning at the spiritual roots of men. Those praying on travelling intercession journeys are generally ignorant of the root ills at the base of human society structures, and they have zero appetite for confronting the systemic deformities of civilization.
Rather than pray penetratively toward the true causes, travelling intercessors offer “band aid” prayer to treat superficial issues of a society with which they otherwise identify and find themselves in imaginary romantic harmony. This is “fantasy” prayer based in “fairy tale” vision. True kingdom prayer sees and challenges the foundations of society’s structures, envisioning and yearning for their replacement by glorified administration in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the course of the particular journey under discussion, the prayer report cites a visit by the prayer team to the provincial legislature in session. The observer noted that the team was “welcomed” by the legislature. (How very nice and sweet.) The observer’s summary of the spiritual impact of the team’s visit was in effect nothing more than that a spiritual “good time was had by all.” The point made was that the natural cordiality evidenced that day by the people in government was somehow a “key strength” that was foundational for “building a prayer strategy.” (Is that really so? What is that supposed to mean?)
The Book of Revelation “Lite”
Travelling fantasy intercession finds support for its visionary approach from the Old Testament prophets and the Book of Revelation. There is nothing at all wrong with spiritually “seeing” and perceiving heavenly images such as angels and animals, and lions and tigers and bears (oh, my) relative to life here below, and attempting to decipher their prophetic meaning. After all, the Book of Revelation is full of such imagery.
We see thrones and bowls and harps and horses and dragons and beasts and harlots and angels and temples and lamp stands. This is all very real as witnessed in the heavenly plane. It is not imaginary or allegory. And there is no reason for God not to impart the same type of imagery to prophets and intercessors today.
But why is it that we do not consider the Book of Revelation to be pure fantasy and fairy tale? It is because of the bedrock gospel and kingdom truth on which the visions of the Book are written. The Book of Revelation is not about fantastic images per se with fanciful interpretations. It is about spiritual realities as they bear on the truth of the gospel and kingdom of the Lamb seated on the Throne and slain from before the foundation of the world. The images do not stand alone and are not left to be deciphered alone.
The visions of the Book of Revelation are based on the clear gospel. The Book also clearly distinguishes the power structure of the kingdom of God from the power structures of the kingdoms of this world. It places the power structures of God and man in clear opposition and contest, to the ultimate removing and replacing of the human structures by the divine. The Book of Revelation is no friend of the world! Its visions offer the world no face lift, nor present the world in a romantic light relative to God’s people.
What is happening today in the realm of travelling intercession however is not what we see in the Book of Revelation. Today’s intercession with all its assigned perceptions to earthly sites is in most cases the stripping of the visionary dimension off the bedrock truth of the gospel and kingdom to instead create a Passionist humanist reality.
This is a false spiritual reality. It is not real. It is “made up.” And the more unhinged the visions become from apostolic truth, the zanier the declarations based on them can become.
Example: Absent any reference to our founding gospel and the intentions of our kingdom regarding society, a Passionist intercessor on a prayer walk strolls by a town hall, sees a white pigeon flying out of the belfry overhead, looks at his watch, notices it is noon, immediately draws an interpretation from it (because he is always in “prayer mode”) and says, “Ah, this is God’s sign of peace over the town and its officials; and the town’s righteousness shall be as the noon day sun!” And then he writes a report about it to announce “God’s declaration” over the place.
Not long after, he sees another “sign” and makes another declaration. And then later again. And then as teams of intercessors go about doing this day after day in different places, they feed on one another’s “interpretations.” No one tests anything. Anything uttered is taken as the truth. And out of these interpretations are written phantasmagorical reports purporting to reveal God’s mind and promises about coming “revival” and “blessing” to the cities and regions and nations of the earth.
Meanwhile, as these walking visionaries derive their perceptions and utter their declarations, the every day people they pass on the streets are dying and being carried off to hell. (Why do we rarely hear of travelling prophetic intercessors warning of the judgment to come as is done throughout Revelation? Just askin’.)
Again, to be clear, I am very much for visionary intercession over all places and lands and peoples for which God burdens us. This is not a condemnation of visionary intercession per se. It is a condemnation of unchecked, untested and unfounded Passionist visionary intercession based in humanist co-identification and aspiration—something which seems unfortunately to mark a large segment of western travelling intercessory ministry.
Just so you know…..
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island, USA
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created June 26, 2017