“Purge Thy Shelfe!” Quick Book Review
By Steven Mitchell (Power To Stand Ministries)
Author: C.Peter Wagner, Regal books 1997
One might ask, “How could Power To Stand have a problem with a book entitled Praying With Power (1997) authored by a leading church growth expert, “authority” on missiology, and professor-turned-apostle? Do we have a problem with people reading a book that teaches effective prayer principles? Our answer would be, “of course not.”
Unfortunately that is not exactly what we are dealing with here. Wagner’s book offers much more that goes beyond biblical prayer principles. At best, the concepts and items that we will review are problematic, and, at worst, border on extreme error. Let’s look at some issues of deep concern that await the reader of Praying With Power.
Here’s a brief review of some areas of danger in Wagner’s book. Please note that many segments of this book are dealt with in-depth in our other articles about spiritual warfare and the Third Wave. This is only a brief overview:
This book is a combo of Wagner’s earlier works on prayer in the “Prayer Warrior Series” that was extremely popular in America. This book comes highly recommended by the author himself as well as from a host of false teachers in the church today (Cindy Jacobs, David Yonggi Cho, and Roberts Lairdon). It is supposedly the most important book in the series. In fact, he has written this last book to be an introduction to the other four books in the series, so we are reading a significant piece of Wagner’s work here.
This book is full of incredible (dare I say “unverifiable” and unbelievable) stories about groundbreaking, demon-thwarting, city-cleansing, prayer warrior churches that have implemented these principles and experienced almost otherworldly results.
Praying With Power begins with what Wagner calls a “concrete example”(Ch. 1, p.13) of power-prayer principles in action. He’s referring to “The Prayer Cave” church in Kiambu, Africa. The tale of prayer transforming this city is sensational, involving a witch named “Momma Jane” and her powerful demonic grip over the city, causing all sorts of crime and violence. Through miraculous prayer and extra-biblical revelation (i.e. the name of the demon spirit over the city), Kiambu was wrenched from the grip of evil. The wicked witch left town and they found a sort of “sacred snake” in her house that was destroyed. Today Kiambu is prosperous and a place of peace and harmony…
“All’s well that ends well” Right? WRONG! Unfortunately, Wagner’s “concrete example” has large cracks in its foundation. The real truth of the story is that it has been exposed as a story with fabricated and distorted information in it. The fact is that Wagner’s account here and George Otis, Jr.‘s Transformations video report about Kiambu has since been proven a farce (see other articles on Transformations exposed on http://www.letusreason.org/ and http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ ).This and other stories from Argentinean churches have been weighed and found wanting in evidence and facts. Bottom Line: This story is less than true, but serves as a foundational “proof” of the unbiblical prayer practices Wagner presents as effective throughout the rest of the book. Wagner himself says of Kiambu’s Prayer Cave: “No other church I am aware of better exemplifies what this book is all about…” (Ch. 1, p.13). If that be true, then we have no further reason to read this book
We owe it to our God, ourselves, and each other to be discerning in what we read and believe. A little research shows that things are not always as they are reported and not always accurately represented. In the case of the Third Wave writers and teachers, these types of stories abound and are so numerous it’s dizzying. One thing to point out though is that few, if any, of the miracles that make up the lore and legend of this movement can be substantiated as valid truth claims. C. Peter Wagner and others in the “signs and wonders” movement seem less concerned with providing factual testimony and example than with advancing the points of their books. But read on …
Extra biblical Essentials?
Praying With Power is basically a primer on unbiblical prayer principles such as the necessity of “informed intercession” (complete with “armor-bearers”? (Ch.1, p.24)), generational repentance, and “spiritual mapping”. We are told that these are essentials in implementing the three levels of Wagner’s spiritual warfare theology, which is presented as God-given illumination. “God showed me” and “God told me” seem to be common aspects in his gathering of info for this book.
What’s the problem? None of these concepts can be proved as essential from Scripture. The Bible is silent about these concepts, which, according to Wagner, must be implemented or believed in order to truly have powerful prayer.
Brief Mention of Big Problems
Exceptionally dangerous is his short coverage of the emergence of the offices of prophet and apostle that God has allegedly re-instated in today’s church. The content of this chapter and the teachings of the “New Apostolic Reformation”(a phrase coined by Wagner himself) are vast and require an entire section devoted to sifting through that rubble. You can access our articles on this phenomenon in our “Third Wave Issues” section. Sad but true, this prayer book will serve as an introduction for some to the deeper error of this growing movement, so Power To Stand warns you here…
Turns for the Worst
In Chapter 10, “Innovative Praying”, the techniques and tactics of Wagner’s “Land, sea, and air” assault warfare prayer invasion take a turn towards the bizarre. So many extra/un-biblical concepts are advanced; it’s hard to know where to start for this short review. One particularly disturbing account of this type of prayer in action is found on p. 228. “Violent intercession” (heavily rooted in “Kingdom Now” theology), reveals that “Roger”, a member of a prayer group focusing on Nepal, must role-play as the demon spirit holding Nepal hostage from the Gospel. Roger is told by a “prophet” … “You are representing the demonic stronghold of darkness over Nepal…When it is broken, we will know it and you will then fall off the chair.”(P.228).
I appeal to the readers of this review to reject this foolishness. I am in awe that Christians like Wagner believe and advocate this kind of stuff. I hope you can see that something is vitally wrong if God asks one of his “prayer warriors” to represent a demon and fall from his chair when its power breaks.
One thing to note, Nepal is still largely closed to the gospel and steeped in Hinduism and Idolatry. When Roger fell from his chair, whenever this happened, I offer to you that there is no evidence whatsoever of any stronghold’s defeat over any part of Asia! This “role-play” is frighteningly unbiblical and Wagner displays a lack of discernment in including this as an example for his readers to follow. The concept of becoming a substitutionary representation of a demonic spirit is abhorrent. I fear that God is not the author of such madness.
Praying With Power abounds with talk of “prayer shields” and other figments of Wagner’s imagination concerning supposed truths that God has revealed to him about prayer. The problem remains that he is largely undiscerning in his usage of examples and therefore includes weird testimonies like the one mentioned above. Do we really need to read this book to pray effectively? Has Wagner, thus far, given us reason to believe he has discernment and authority to teach us on prayer? I believe the safer option is to study and stick to God’s Word to learn how to pray powerfully.
A final concern in this brief review is the absolute permeation of this book by false teachers/prophets/prophetesses like Jack Deere, Cindy Jacobs, Mike Bickle, John Dawson, and Morris Cerullo to name a few. Cerullo and Yonggi Cho represent the Word-Faith prosperity movement, while Bickle and Jacobs show face for the prophet/apostle movement. Tie ‘em all together and involve them and their teachings in the World Prayer Movement and we’ve got muddy waters and enough heretical teaching to clog drains. The end result is dysfunctional at best and serious error for sure.
This area of C. Peter Wagner’s associations is a big problem. By including them and their endorsements, he admits to being in the same camp as some of these men and women. He applauds their ministries and presents them as insightful and relevant spokespersons for his own erroneous spiritual warfare teachings and theories. In addition, because Wagner is well respected in many Christian circles, others reading his books will be introduced to these other false teachers and the error continues to deepen.
A common thread with almost every person cited in Praying With Power, is that they advocate extra-biblical revelation and/or unbiblical doctrines. In the area of spiritual warfare teachings (like spiritual mapping and informed intercession), these friends of Wagner have demonstrated a loose adherence (and, in some cases, defiance) to the Bible as authoritative. Wagner again sacrifices all credibility by naming these individuals as cohorts and fellow “Third-Wavers”.
Close This Book
Suffice it to say, Praying With Power has some biblical principles and terminology, but these are presented alongside extra/un-scriptural revelation and teachings. Power To Stand Ministries has no choice but to render this book unreadable and unrecommendable. It is dangerous to God’s people precisely because it is a mixture of truth and error that can prove to be spiritually hazardous for consumption to an undiscerning reader. We recommend the Bible as the primary source of learning effective prayer principles.If you enjoy reading about prayer, do some research into the author’s affiliations and ministry before buying. Select a book authored by someone whose goal is to stick to the authority of God’s Word for teaching on prayer, rather than the fanciful stories, faulty teachings and false teachings that come from the Third Wave.