Transformations or re-transformation?
A Paradigm shift for evangelism
I want to begin this article by saying that we all need to pray more and praying has a lot to do with changing our heart just as much as it does others. God wants us in the correct attitude with Him to do His will. And we should be looking for opportunities to pray all the time. So, when a movement comes along that wants to incorporate more prayer in our lives; I’m sure you would agree in saying, “Great lets do it.”
There is a video that is going through churches throughout the world that is making some very bold claims about the results in various countries, specifically four areas. It is called “Transformations.” The video is presented in these terms: “Imagine a community where 92 percent of the population is born-again; where city jails have been closed for lack of crime; where agricultural productivity has reached biblical proportions.” “Imagine a town where local bars have been transformed into churches; where ancestral shrines have been destroyed; where entire family clans have come to faith in Christ. Don't imagine...BELIEVE!”
This video is endorsed by Charisma Magazine, CBA Marketplace, by the National Prayer Committee. Numerous ministries involved in prayer and evangelism are also distributing it on their web sites such as YWAM and Americas National prayer committee under the section “Prayer Revival Videos,” also Campus Crusade, Promise Keepers, and Aglow (http://www1.gospelcom.net/npc/videos.html). Endorsements have also come from Jack W. Hayford, Pastor of The Church on the Way and Kenneth Hagin ministries.
They advertise it as: “We recommend the video to show churches and communities that God does indeed move when they pray. At a recent viewing during a City Transformation Conference in Woodbridge, Virginia, this June, when the credits started, the entire 500-plus audience leaped to their feet in praise--not for the video, but in genuine praise for what God has done. This applause lasted for more than five minutes.”
“Transformations” video, has been viewed by some 35 million people so far. (http://www.jesus.org.uk/dawn/2000/dawn0039.html) Transformations video has been aired on TV by a CBS on August 26, 2000. Its publicity by the various media associations has helped make it mainstream. I wonder how many people have checked out the claims to substantiate what is being told as fact in the video? It “is now available in 150 nations, and we know of almost 1,000 places in which Christians join in united prayer to experience what the video depicts” (Source: George Otis, Jr., The Sentinel Group, USA) Distribution of the video “has absolutely exploded,” Petrie said. More than 80,000 copies,… and 40 international ministries use it. It is being translated into 25 languages, including Arabic, Mandarin, Chinese, and Hebrew. ( http://www.joelnews.org/news-en/jn323.htm)
At the risk of being criticized for bringing a “bad report” it will have to be chanced in the honest pursuit of the truth. Like anyone that approaches this topic, we hoped for the best but were willing to look at the facts and not just testimonies. We do not want to discourage someone who might think as they read this “Why bother praying?” That is neither the intent nor belief of those who have helped in putting this article together. We believe in prayer and expect God to answer prayer according to his purpose and will in relation to what we ask.
Yet it would not be a good thing to claim prayer has done something, if in
fact it has not. Furthermore: it is not a good thing of endorsing a certain
method of prayer if in fact it is unbiblical.
George Otis Jr. is called a “noted investigative researcher,” as the host of the video he travels first to Cali Columbia, then Hemet California, Almolonga Guatamala, and Kiambu Kenya. The four cities are covered as models of what we can see happen when one follows certain strategies in praying (spiritual warfare / prayer formulas).
On the website “Sentinel pledges” “uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles.” All facts are checked and rechecked; multiple sources are consulted; sensationalism is avoided. Integrity is a value cherished by Sentinel's leadership.” George Otis Jr. implies he is not only a researcher, a meticulous researcher. We will see if it is research he is doing or something else. He is represented to us as “a man who spent years reading signposts on the road to community transformation.” What is promoted in not so many words is spiritual warfare, binding, loosing; the pulling down demonic strongholds. He rightly identifies in the beginning of the video “community transformation is a concept many Christians Struggle with,” So he begins by planting a seed of doubt… for those who do not believe this transformation occurs. Throughout the video he is an apologist to convince you that it is real and true.
The video is produced by “Global Net productions” copyrighted by the “Sentinel group.” When one visits the site they find books and videos that are about the methodology of Breaking Strongholds in your City by C. Peter Wagner. It is not the point of this article to look at everything promoted on the site. However, the connection to Wagner and others shows what the true intent of the video is and the meaning of the key words said throughout it. Wagner’s philosophy of ministry is not biblical but pragmatic as he states, “... we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means. What else possible could justify the means? If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method. If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?” (C. Peter Wagner, “Your Church Can Grow - Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church”, 1976, p. 137 - emphasis in original) So if it works, not matter what it is, then its fine by Wagner. It appears that many of the facts in the video are manipulated to make it look like it worked. They want it to work so they find whatever they can to promote it to suit their cause, in this case, prayer. There seems to be no proper investigation or substantial proof offered, which is normal for the Third Wave adherents, who often use unfounded unproven testimonies.
George Otis Jr. is president of The Sentinel Group, a Christian research agency that produced the video, and co-coordinator of the AD2000 United Prayer Track. Wagner has been the International coordinator of United Prayer Track and the Spiritual Warfare Network of the AD2000 and Beyond movement and founder of Global Harvest ministries. George Otis Jr. is on the board of the church in Cali, Colombia that is pastored by Ruth Ruibal, the wife of Julio (who was unfortunately gunned down) who is featured in the video. Otis has spoken in spiritual warfare seminars with many of the known names that traffic in spiritual warfare, the Third Wave and new revivals. Several of his books are required reading in C. Peter Wagner’s course on “Discerning Spiritual Strongholds.” Among them are Spiritual Mapping Field Research Manual, The Last of the Giants, and The Twilight Labyrinth.
Otis has developed a 28-stage scale to measure the progress of a community from the “spiritual beachhead” phase to “spiritual breakthrough” to “spiritual transformation.” The spiritual mapping stage does not begin until stage nine. Otis points out, “When you reach that point you have a core of intercessors in a community really petitioning God for a visitation,” he says. (“Christianity Toda”y Jan.12, 1998) Actually Spiritual mapping is a term allegedly coined in 1991 by George Otis, Jr. He defines it as “The discipline of diagnosing the obstacles to revival in a given community. Through fervent prayer and diligent research, practitioners are able to measure the landscape of the spiritual dimension, and discern moral gateways between it and the material world.”
Wagner's World Prayer Center, just one of the many groups that Peter Wagner has formed or is involved with the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. This group has become the internationally recognized authority on prayer and spiritual warfare. Apostolic Elders include known people as, Chuck Pierce, Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, Mike Bickle and Tommy Tenney. The group's statement was released after they met in Colorado at the end of February 2000. The council formed to provide a corporate forum for leaders with a recognized prophetic gift--was born out of a similar gathering at the prayer center in January. They say that it is necessary that every city have an Apostolic leadership over it. Wagner also has released a new book “Apostles of the City: How to mobilize the territorial Apostles for city Transformation.”
Cindy Jacobs is known as a “spiritual warfare specialist,” and a prophetess to the nations. She has written a book called “Possessing the Gates of the Enemy,” a training manual for militant intercessors, the forward is written by C. Peter Wagner (In it she states Wagner has been her mentor; actually she has had just as much influence on him that he has had on her.) Numerous new concepts are introduced, for example, laughter in prayer means God’s will is accomplished or the answer is on the way. I guess I missed the chapter and verse in the Bible on this one; can anyone help me find it? She uses prophetic intercession to pull down strongholds in the heavenlies that block evangelism. Jacobs, along with others, hold to the Latter Rain teaching of the “overcomers.” That is, an endtime church will birth the manchild, which is a worldwide revival (the only biblical precedent for this is in the tribulation, spoken of in Rev.7). The Generals of Intercession are headed by Cindy Jacobs, who attends the Vineyard church with pastor is Dutch Sheets, who wrote the book, “River of God”, which was endorsed by prophet Rick Joyner.
Peter Wagner heads up the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. One of the prophecies of the council is “The church will be in key transition period between 2000-2003. During this period the youth in particular will be transitioning into revival. It is especially important for the apostolic government to be initially established and functioning in our cities by Oct. 2003 if we are to see the transformations that God wants to release.” In 1998, Otis' Sentinel Group, Wagner's Global Harvest Ministries, and Ted Haggard's Christian Information Network plan to move into the high-tech World Prayer Center on the grounds of Haggard’s New Life Church in Colorado Springs (“Christianity Today” May 20, 1996, p. 78). This all comes together under Wagner who is the chief spiritual engineer. He states “Spiritual mapping will be central to the operation of this “electronic nerve center to connect the intercessors and let each other know what they're hearing from the Holy Spirit” (“Christianity Today” Jan.12, 1998) I guess this will be something like the CIA for those Christians involved in city and country warfare of spirit beings. It will immediately disseminate the information of what is taking place in the “spiritual realm” to others.
Edgardo Silvoso is also involved behind the scenes wrote, “Taking our Cities for Christ.” He believes that unity is essential for the world to believe. Didn’t the early church have unity? Was the world won to Christ then? Well that was then and this is now. We hear that God has revealed “new ways and methods” to achieve the results, so they say.
Silvoso attributes the accelerated multiplication of churches within a radius of 100 miles of the city of Rosario because a prayer team broke the power of the spirit of Merigildo in 1985. Silvoso is one that also endorses the Toronto Blessing/Holy laughter, drunkenness in the spirit. Cindy Jacob's has been involved in the spiritual warfare movement for a number of years, and was involved in the Argentinian revival with Ed Silvoso (who promoted spiritual mapping) that was a predecessor to the Holy Laughter movement by Rodney Howard-Browne. This subsequently became the Toronto Blessing, transferred over to Pensacola and is now the Brownsville revival.
Ed Silvoso says, “Well, we find the Toronto blessing in every city we go to. I believe that it is a blessing indeed. ... the Toronto blessing has to be kicked out of the church - kicked out of the church into the world! If in each neighbourhood prayerhouse, there is a manifestation of Jesus, which I believe in its purest form that's what the Toronto blessing is, then the entire neighbourhood will flock to that house.” He should have stopped speaking at “kicked out of the church.” A manifestation of Jesus certainly needs to be defined considering what it means among today’s revivals. Let me put it in another way: Is the Toronto Blessing a manifestation of Jesus in its purest form? Would you like to see everyone in your neighborhood acting like they do at Toronto, completely out of control falling down and acting like animals?
Ed Silvoso had developed what he calls a biblical prototype to reach entire cities for Christ using “prayer evangelism” as the main tool. It has been implemented in 16 cities on three continents since 1994. With this background we know what this video is all about and where it is going.
In an interview for 'Jesus Life' magazine Ed Silvoso was asked about revival and evangelism in Argentina, (http://www.jesus.org.uk/es.html):
Noel Stanton: “What is prayer evangelism?”
Ed: “Prayer evangelism is basically the implementation of 1 Timothy 1:15 to 2:8. In 1 Tim 1:15 Paul says, “This is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” That word full acceptance means that everybody should accept it. Then in verse 18 he tells Timothy, “I have a command for you that if you keep it, you will succeed.” And the implication is unavoidable. You will succeed in making everybody accept the truth that Jesus came to save sinners.”
Are all sinners going to be saved? Did Timothy succeed in this, did Paul? Today we are being told that we can do what the apostles could not in many things, now it is evangelism. Many who are involved in this kind of evangelism have a view that we can go beyond anything the apostles did in all aspects of our Christian experience.
In the Transformation video it does not speak of sin or repentance, nor is the gospel clearly explained. When it is mentioned it is often connected to signs and wonders. There seems to be a reason for this. George Otis’ Jr.’s theology (if I may call it this) does not seem to allow for such views, at least in an orthodox way. He holds some different views that are contrary to biblical evangelism, at least the way it was done by Spurgeon and the respected old timers. [For more on the background of people involved check this web site: [http://geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/4948/people.html]
Here are a few quotes from Otis’ Jr.’s book “The God They Never Knew” (Chapter - sin is a sickness false concept 1): “The thing that we ought to find most frightening of all, however, is the fact that more and more Christians are jumping on this bandwagon. One prominent Christian author refers to the 'sin infection,' contending that when Adam sinned 'that one sin infected the whole human race, still in his loins, with the sickness of sin and death. Since then, all men are born sinners with the sentence of death upon them. It's a fatal disease with only one known cure.” “Where in scripture is sin spoken of as a sickness or disease?” (p. 57 He is quoting Dr. Menninger favorably) He goes on in the next chapter to attribute to Augustine this grave mistake of formulating the doctrine of original sin.
If this were not true then there would have been no need for a virgin birth. Is this not the biblical position of how we are sinners. Are we born good and without sin and just decide to sin one day? Whether Augustine is the one who first wrote on this or not is inconsequential. What matters is whether it is Biblical.
Otis Jr. “As long as sin remains an elusive, undefined phantom it is no surprise that its victories over humanity continue to escalate.” Has sin not been identified thoroughly in the scripture? Its not the breaking of the law or even discovering one is a sinner that has kept man in bondage but the rejection of the gospel that can rescue humanity from its natural predicament, living in the sin nature.
“A sinful nature develops in our lives through habitual self-indulgence
and subsequently affects everything we do. Paul mentions this situation and the
impossibility of fighting it in our own strength in the seventh chapter of
Romans. Thus we concur that though a sinful nature is present, it originates by
We are not still choosing the wrong tree to eat from as Adam and Eve did. According to Otis jr. we can overcome any sin inclination by choice. This is Pelagianism at its worst. This means we can be good enough not to need Jesus. Of course he may not say this outright but that is what this means if one follows his theology. It has been said that unbelievers that do not having the new nature will sin; the only choice they have is which sin they will sin.
“The assertion that Jesus paid for our sins has caused immeasurable damage to the Body of Christ.” (p. 93)
If he didn’t pay for the sin debt than who did? Is this not the gospel we are told to stand in and preach? 1 Corinthians15:3: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
Hebrews 9:15 “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death.” He became our substitution as God punished him in our place and we were bought back out of the slave market of sin. 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Cor.7:23 “For you were bought at a price.” Acts 20:28 “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ died for sin as a sacrifice and to be a Christian one must see that we are sinners and accept the payment for sin by Christ. We can’t pay for it ourselves, nor ignore it. The work of Jesus bought us out of the slave market of sin, Jesus paid it all. This is why He said tetelestai on the cross (it is finished), a term in the 1st century used for contracts on a debt owed. It is finished meant the debt of sin has been paid; PAID in full.
However Otis jr. argues “If we accept the premise that Jesus literally purchased our salvation with His blood, it not only portrays God as vindictive and bloodthirsty and totally incompatible with biblical forgiveness, it also presents another grave difficulty. If Jesus literally paid for our sins with his blood (a paid debt is no longer a debt), and He died for the sins of the entire world, then we can come to but one conclusion. The theological word for it is universalism, which simply means the whole world will be saved.” (p. 109)
This is a misunderstanding of the atonement which is a provision made by Jesus for all who come by faith. 1 Peter 1:18-19 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Matthew 26:28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Revelation 1:5 “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” Romans 5:6-10 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Otis Jr. candidly denies the blood shed for our sin. He goes on: “So the atonement was in the bloody realization of God's view of sin and in its ability to humble the sinner who recognizes his guilt and responsibility. When man is in this condition God can wisely pardon him and reconciliation takes place.” (p. 116)
The blood was not for us to see how God views sin but to remove the sin that has separated us from God. Romans 3:25 “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously.” Romans 6:10 “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”
“It is not the matter of whether or not we 'accept' Christ but whether Christ accepts us -- that is the crucial issue. Will, indeed, Christ accept us the way we are as so many today infer? Will the King of kings come in to rule over a garbage dump? The notion that the sinner's condition is irrelevant at salvation only reveals the extent of our ignorance of God and the nature of salvation.” (p. 141)
Exactly who is being ignorant? I’m not sure all that Otis is implying but it is obvious that he is saying we must be clean in some way first before he can save us. Is not the grace of God mean unmerited favor? Does not the Bible say we are desperately wicked? (Romans 3; Mark 7) Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He is the initiator and we are to respond. Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
In the video Otis and the narrator uses keys words and phrases such as “blueprint”, “phenomena”, “global”, “spiritual roots”, “spiritual atmosphere”, “transformation”, “spiritual DNA of a city”, etc. These words and concepts are foreign to the Scriptures, especially the way they are interpreted by those who practice them. Some may wondering “How can you speak against praying.” Well I can’t and would not if it is correct prayer, Biblical type prayer, but we are admonished against wrong kinds of prayer, not just wrong motivation. The example of altering the spiritual DNA of a community by a certain type of prayer or preparation to prayer is what this “move of the spirit” is all about. Thus it is called “Transformations.” The video presents whole cities and people changed. Spiritual warfare is used against the powers of darkness, the spiritual genes (DNA) are broken over the city and the community is changed for revival to occur. The fact is, there is no such thing as a spiritual DNA of a city -- Christian or not. This is new information by new revelations through these apostle/prophets previously mentioned. What you see is not what you get! Knowing about this movement and the people that are behind the video is the key. This is how we learn about the true intent of the video presentation.
The concept of spiritual mapping in identifying the problems in the cities was continuously mentioned, and considered very important. The declaration was the spiritual DNA of the cities is changed. What they don’t describe in the video is the mechanism of this prayer, it is something we must read about in their books. Of course the Bible tells us nothing about such an activity of prayer. How did the early Church manage to turn the world upside down without these new techniques? Are our evangelism and discipleship outdated? Has this kind of prayer they offer us ever been used before in the history of revivals? Did they ever pray like this?
The concept of a whole city changing is biblical, it took place only once, it happened to Jonah. But his intention wasn’t for it to take place, he actually was angry when it did. Although he did walk and preach through the city, he didn’t “prayer walk.” He didn’t “bind territorial spirits” or make the place clean so the presence of God will come down and be comfortable there. He preached, that’s right PREACHED! And the message was: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The nearness of their doom delighted Jonah in his preaching. Though he was obeying the call of God he wanted to see Nineveh’s doom, he was anticipating judgment, God was not. In Jonah 3:5 it states “And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.”
God honored their repentance; but Jonah was angry because he didn’t want to see them repent, he wanted to see them get what they deserved. So he said to God, “I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love, and one who changes his mind in doing harm.” Despite his attitude everyone is saved without his preaching judgment, instead of “God is good and loves you.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the perfect model to adopt, what I’m saying is that the only biblical example we have of God changing a city is Nineveh. Today Hell and judgment is out and only the gospel of blessing is in. Much of our evangel has become akin to Pillsbury doughboy evangelism- it only tickles the tummy to feel good.
Assyria had the greatest revival in history greater than the book of Acts - it was 100%. Here’s your model for taking a city for God! But I don’t think anyone is going to use this biblical model. They instead opt for a non Christian methodology for the results.
God had a plan and a purpose, He didn’t just save the whole city of Nineveh
arbitrarily. This was done to spare Israel and then give them time to repent. As
it was prophesied because of their disobedience they would be taken captive.
This even in Nineveh was never repeated again, I’ll say this once more -- this
was never repeated again.
The sentinel group who made the video offers the 20/20 plan which is -- Battlefield Intelligence for Frontline Intercessors - membership provides a monthly briefing through the 8-page magazine World Insight. This contains information vital for today's intercessor and spiritual mapper. Through it one discovers the most significant spiritual happenings around the world. They ask the members to Pray - at least 20 minutes of prayer each week for your community for the events on their counter-warfare calendar, and for their Target Group 20 countries and regions. All this is fine if the prayer is biblical prayer. If it is not - then what exactly are they doing? And that is where it becomes a grave concern, the direction they are taking the church to accomplish the results.
Otis Jr. has also written a companion book to the video called “Informed Intercession.” It “will help prayer warriors everywhere develop simple yet focused and effective prayer strategies for uprooting evil in their communities and leading the lost to Christ. This easy-to-use guide will help you develop a systematic plan for uncovering and attacking the enemy's strongholds. Filled with biblical insight and practical information on spiritual mapping and warfare prayer. Informed Intercession shows you how to transform your community with the power of prayer!
Spiritual mapping defined by George Otis, Jr. (the Sentinel Group) as “The discipline of diagnosing the obstacles to revival in a given community. Through fervent prayer and diligent research, practitioners are able to measure the landscape of the spiritual dimension, and discern moral gateways between it and the material world.”
Otis Jr. is no newcomer to any of this, he was one of the main speakers at the National conference on prayer and Spiritual warfare at Melodyland Christian center Feb.21-23 1994. This event was touted as featuring, “the top leaders in contemporary spiritual warfare movement” which included Hector Torres, Tom White, C. Peter Wagner Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs, Frank Hammond, Dutch Sheets, John Dawson, Gary Bergal. Otis Jr. taught on Spiritual mapping considered a pioneer in this area. Co-Sponsers were Global harvest ministries AD 2000 United Prayer Track, Spiritual Warfare Network and Injoy.
On building a house of prayer web site http://www.nupsa.org.za/links.htm The Sentinel Group is described as a Christian research and information agency dedicated to helping the church sustain prayer campaigns that result in evangelistic breakthroughs and community transformation worldwide.
On the Sentinel site they have a link on their website to Christ for your city (Feb.2001). It is here where even more of the methods are revealed. “Christ For Your City” ministries is headed by Michael Pierce located in London Ontario. This ministries mission is coordinating efforts to bring “revival” to cities using a pre-set agenda/processed sequence of events. Michael Pierce and his ministry “Christ for Your City” endorses and recommends books by authors such as Peter C. Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Bob Beckett, George Otis Jr., etc. Michael is a member of the Western Ontario Renewal Network which endorses the Toronto Blessing/Holy Laughter movement (Actually if one reads the books they put out, they each endorse each other’s books.)
One must consider why the majority of people involved in this spiritual warfare also endorse a false revival. It appears that all of this “spiritual warfare/ take your city” is solidly connected to the unbiblical revivalism that has been taking place for years. He has written a prayer guide for strategic warfare, for a review of this go to (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/4948/gnm.html)
One of the recommended methods is “prayerwalking” which they believe is a tool that God has provided which provides a tremendous opportunity to mobilize large numbers of the church community for effective intercession. “We are aware of no other tool with the potential to have such a significant impact.” Quite a claim, but then there are many other claims like this.
Leading proponents of prayerwalking Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick define prayerwalking as “praying on site with insight.” Locations are visited by intercessors who have researched the “spiritual” history of each place to determine specific things to pray for, or who have “spiritually discerned” strategic information obtained directly from the Holy Spirit. It combines physical exercise with spiritual exercise as one walks through the neighborhoods. They recommend Prayerwalking to be a lifestyle. And ask us to check out the lives of Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Enoch - and Jesus. So what they are trying to do is find a biblical basis for this, but there is none. Did they gather groups and walk through neighborhoods waiting to hear from the Lord on words of knowledge onto identify the spiritual strongholds. Surely the apostle Paul taught this. After all, he is the one who mentioned that we do not fight against flesh and blood but the spiritual strongholds in Eph.6. But Paul has no instruction of this method.
New Apostle Peter Wagner says, “I believe the March for Jesus has the potential to become one of the most powerful vehicles for the advancement of the kingdom of God that we have yet known - generating new spiritual power for unprecedented evangelistic harvests, as well as for measurable changes in our societies toward righteousness and social justice ... This kind of public declaration can do serious damage to the principalities and powers of darkness over a city ... What tremendous spiritual power will be released on that day I anticipate a world that will never again be the same” (Ministries today May/June 1992, C. Peter Wagner - Marching for Jesus).
This is how it is done. As we walk, we keep our eyes open to see and our ears open to hear. Our senses give us information as to what we should hold up before the Lord. One can take along helpful notes or sample prayers to help with the words to say.
There is nothing wrong with praying while walking or, for that matter driving. But the point is that they claim it is a tool “God provided.” A method that is not found in the Scripture or practiced in the New Testament church.
They call this sort of on-site intercession “prayerwalking.” It's simply praying in the very places that we expect God to bring forth His answers. It's not really about walking or moving around. Prayerwalking simply helps us draw nearer in order to pray clearer.” This makes no sense to me maybe it does to you. If it is not about walking, why not just stay home in your prayer closet without distractions and pray. The actions speak clearly, one must be near, (on site) to engage the enemy.
Yet their claim is “our intent is simply to bring the blessing of God into the area we are walking.” This concept is just a miniaturized March for Jesus. The March for Jesus book, written by its British co-founders in 1992, explains the purpose of the march, “Our objectives were first and foremost spiritual. We wanted to see a change in the spiritual atmosphere over our country.” Did it work? Obviously not in England where there are more liberals and Muslims today than ever before. They state, “We pray the promise, not the problem; We pray blessings, not curses; We pray to build, not destroy!” This is interesting since nowhere does the Scripture teach this. This has an ecumenical flavor. Jesus came to destroy the works of darkness and Paul told us to expose them. One can only receive the blessing when they believe the gospel -- no believing the gospel, no blessing. We need some bold PREACHERS and EVANGELISTS bringing the gospel, not prayer walkers.
Christ for Your City says the goal is to see “Canada covered in prayer: Community by Community, Street by Street, Person by Person. To create an environment that invites God by the Holy Spirit to bring total community.” Does God get invited to total transformation of a community? Why is it that the apostles did not practice this nor teach it to the Church? Because it comes from the “new apostles.” We have apostles of healing and now we have apostles of prayer, warfare prayer -- isn’t that special.
The claim is Prayerwalking gives results! Documentation is available that makes a convincing case for ongoing prayerwalking on a street, neighbourhood or community. Think for a moment; your neighbourhood has the potential to experience revival proportionate to your prayers!
What this means is that if you pray longer by their method it will be successful in ratio to the amount done. This implies that if evil rules in this world, it is because Christians have not prayed correctly or enough to overcome the principalities and powers in their given community. This again is unbiblical. In all this talk about spiritual warfare no mention is made of personal sin, personal accountability to God or obedience. Breaking free from demonic power is a matter of individual faith in Christ, not a collective experience. While there is a certain element of truth in what they are saying it is brought to an extreme. Yes we pray, generally and specifically (But to whom, how and in what way.)
“The purpose of being a lighthouse is to pray the blessing of God upon your neighbours so that none will perish but all will come to repentance and faith in Christ. (2 Peter 3:9) 1 John 5:14 promises that as you ask anything according to the will of God, it will be given.”
They change “God is not willing that any will perish” to none will perish. God says that repentance is needed to not perish. It is a choice on the person’s part when they hear the gospel. We can’t make them do it in prayer. We can petition God to work in the people’s lives to bring them to the point of decision. We can, as some say, water the ground but we can’t pray the blessing on them. This methodology makes our prayer, our words the power and not God. For no one comes to him except by the drawing of the Holy Spirit. He convicts one of sin, something we are hearing very little of today, especially from many of those who are networking in this circle of spiritual warfare prayer.
The Christian Science Monitor thought this was news worthy enough to write an article on Otis’ Transformation and the claims of victory through spiritual warfare. “A lot of people in the conservative camp say Scripture is fairly unclear about how aggressive one is to be, particularly in praying directly against demons or territorial spirits,” says Jonathan Graf, editor of Pray! Magazine. “They say, 'Just pray to God.' But more charismatic believers say, 'Scripture says we have all authority in Christ and can come against principalities and spirits, and we need to do that. “Mapping is the research tool - “the discipline of diagnosing the obstacles to revival,” and it answers the questions: “What is wrong with my community? Where did the problem come from? What can be done to change things?” says George Otis Jr. Mr. Otis, president of The Sentinel Group.”
Outside the evangelical community, the discomfort rises quickly when prayer targets other religious groups with the apparent aim of eliminating their influence and converting members. Otis Jr. has written in Pray! “We are not asking God to 'make' people Christians.... Such requests violate human free will.... What we are appealing for is a level playing field, a temporary lifting of the spiritual blindness that prevents [people] from processing truth....” ( http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/09/23/fp15s1-csm.shtml)
Otis’ concept of not praying to make people Christians is concerning, we are commanded to pray. Instead it is replaced with an unbiblical concept of making a level playing field by spiritual warfare. What does the Bible say about lifting spiritual blindness. Blindness is from unbelief. The Bible teaches that the blinders are lifted by the hearing and believing gospel, then one becomes a Christian. 2 Cor. 3:16 “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
To believe one must hear the word by either reading it or from someone preaching it, they must understand it and have faith in it. Paul says it is the gospel that will (Acts 26:18) “open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” 2 Cor. 4:3-6 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” It is through the gospel that one sees Christ for who he is to be saved.
Not asking for God to convert the person to be a Christian presents a problem! Does not the Bible teach the gospel is the power of God for salvation? Where does it teach to level the spiritual field first so the gospel can be introduced? Do we have any examples of this being practiced by the apostles? The Bible teaches that no one comes to the Son unless the Holy Spirit draws them. So God has to be working in their lives already and no demon can hinder the work God is doing (they may be able to have small skirmishes). I see this as belittling the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and putting the impetus on the Church. Notice that Paul gives the commission in 2 Cor.4 they preached Christ Jesus the Lord. As he said in Rom. 10:15-17 “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah asks, “Lord, who has believed our report? “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It seems some believers don’t believe in the report of preaching the good news, instead it is replaced by war -- Spiritual war in the heavenlies to break up the ground (or air) for evangelism. The question is, do they get to evangelism or is most of the time spent on what they call pre evangelism? Since we have not seen this being practiced from the time of the apostles until now, what exactly are we being offered? Is it more power to do His work? When Jesus told the disciples the Holy Spirit would be sent to baptize them it was to change them to be bold witnesses-- to contend openly for the truth in the culture they were living in. They spoke up and contended for the faith, refuting the false ideas of the philosophies and religions of their day. Is this what this new power is given for? No, it is to identify and chase away demons over cities. And that is only the beginning of this fallen concept of prayer.
Unfortunately we see many people jumping on the bandwagon. “Government officials are embracing the video's message that prayer can change a city. The mayor of Cape Town showed it to his municipal leaders, Petrie said, and the mayor of Pretoria, South Africa, received 100 copies and promised to distribute them to other leaders. The mayor of London, Ontario, Canada, said her city needed the blessings depicted in the video, as did the Mormon mayor of Boise, Idaho, the Sentinel Group said.” (http://across.co.nz/TransformationVideo.htm) I guess if spiritual mapping works like they say even the Mormons can use it. Not surprising, as we already know they have joined in some of the March for Jesus campaigns.
Transformation of communities
Otis Jr. states, “Community transformation is a concept many Christians Struggle with. But where does this tentativeness come from? My own observation is that it drives largely from the limitations of our own life experience. Otis then gives examples of people being asked if they experienced spiritual revival, and if large scale church growth can happen? They say yes to these. But what almost no one has experienced at least in the western world is a profound and pervasive transformation of their community. And as a result we are inclined to think its unattainable, but is this a valid assumption.”
I want to stop here to interject that many do believe it is possible and we don’t challenge it can occur as we have seen with the example of Jonah. It is the methodology that is to be questioned. Not just that prayer changes conditions and hearts when God answers it. But what KIND of prayer are we talking about? To jump from spiritual revival and large church growth to whole communities being swept into a change to serve God is a leap the Bible does not offer. Certainly not in the way they are expecting it to take place. Throughout the video Steve Fry’s song is played interspersed in specific places to lift up ones spirit that something has actually occurred. In it the words “we have declared war” “we’ve overcome by the blood of the lamb.” “victory shout” were repeated throughout.
The communities for the most part are in remote places and are very difficult to research all of the claims presented yet we did find something on all of them. I believe it is prudent that we should carefully check on things before we endorse a video (and a movement) as genuine or biblical. Many churches have used this film to make people aware of prayer and what it can accomplish. In that respect it is good. But the real intent of the film is being used as a means to promote certain “programs” from the New apostolic network to make “revival” happen and change the way Church is being conducted. The video appeals to those dissatisfied with the way things are. So to a certain extent they want people to press on in prayer, they want to see results. And while the end results may apparently be the same goal we all want, it is the means that is in question. This is prayer not from a biblical model. As Peter Wagner has already stated, “If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method.” That is not the criteria for truth. As one discovers the integrity of the people involved in this movement its not surprising this view would be endorsed. It doesn’t matter how one yields results, as long as one gets them. I want to propose that it does matter, it matters to our Lord and if your results are not from a biblical model will they last?
So I would like you to examine with me the concept being promoted in the Transformations video and what is actually behind it. It is none other than the spiritual warfare movement that comes through C. Peter Wagner and others who either endorse it or have leanings toward Kingdom Now Dominionism. George Otis, Jr. of the Sentinel Group and their associate organizations have been involved in this concept for a long time.
As the narrator claims, “We will see several communities whose streets and several institutions have lately been rattled by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ll examine both the causes and the effects of this most impressive phenomena.” “Four communities that have been dramatically altered by the power of the Holy Spirit, four communities that offer a shining example of what can happen when God comes to town.” Please take note of the words so positively used – “rattled”, “impressive phenomena”, “dramatically altered”, “shining example”. We will journey through these four areas to see if these powerful descriptions are accurate.