Mistaken Ideas About Prayer: Prayer as a Tool for Changing Things


The perception of prayer that seems the most common today is that it is God’s way of changing things. While there is truth in this statement, in itself it is an inadequate perspective of prayer. It is my perception that most intercessory prayer today is stimulated by the awareness that so much is wrong with the world, and that God must be persuaded through fervent and even anguished prayer to extend His hand and bring about change. The measuring stick for effectiveness in prayer is the degree to which the circumstances around us change, either in personal situations or in relationship to any other specific external state of affairs.


As an underpinning of this desire for personal and social intervention, much attention has been given recently to discovering the root sin problems of geographical areas. The “spiritual mapping” process yields much understanding as to the generational “sins of the fathers” that have polluted a city or a region. Once that information has been obtained, intercessors attempt to discern the identity of the spiritual principalities and powers that have exerted their influence in the region. The intercessors then repent from the sinful choices of which the forebears were guilty in order to bring about a measure of restoration.


Certain kinds of “prophetic acts” are often part of the practice of spiritual mapping, such as administering salt to river waters that flow through a city or marching around certain geographical areas with musical instruments such as rams’ horns and tambourines. In some cases, efforts are put forth to address the demonic principalities and powers that have authority over a particular city or region, although this has become a less frequent practice in recent years. John Paul Jackson, in his helpful book entitled “Needless Casualties Of War,” demonstrated that this activity can be very damaging to those who involve themselves in it.


This kind of prayer has had significant and measurable effect in cities all over the world. George Otis, Jr., a well-known student of church growth and revival, has produced two videos, both entitled Transformations that give objective and observable evidence of the impact of city-wide prayer based on this methodology.


In this method of prayer, however, there is a danger that the continual focus on an area’s sinfulness and the spiritual forces of darkness behind the problems may have a negative impact on intercessors. There has emerged in many places a sense of overwhelming fatigue and even despair that is gripping numerous prayer warriors, and I am convinced that much of it may come from focusing on the wrong things. When the focus of prayer is consistently placed on what is wrong in an area, we tend to develop eyes that see only the corruption, and we may lose our sense of the beautiful.


We were created to become what we behold, and God’s intention is that we gaze on the beauty of His Son, Jesus Christ, and become like Him in the process. Then, in the context of intimacy with Jesus, filled with His Spirit of compassionate power, we will begin to accompany Him as He visits the cities of earth and brings the restoration of all things to the will of the Father, one person at a time.

More soon - Blessings!

Gary Wiens

Gary Wiens, 9/14/2011