I often find myself pulled in opposite directions by the compelling need to teach members of our network of churches the Word of God, correct errors and keep them on the right path on the one hand and on the other, to heed the admonition to ‘endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Out of my sense of responsibility to the sheep committed to me, however, I must teach the truth and correct wrongs.
I have observed a development in Pentecostal Christianity that is peculiar to Nigeria and African countries related to prayer and so widespread in practice that it is widely accepted. I am not here to criticize any particular church but to challenge us all as I often do myself and our own ministry on our way of worship. My reference is to the employment of fire in prayer. At the advent of the New Testament church, we see the cloven tongues like fire visibly descending upon each of the 12 disciples in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3). This phenomenon is related to the prophecy of John the Baptist that the Messiah will baptize them in the Holy Spirit and Fire (Matthew 3:11). This immersion in Fire is definitely an extra emphasis on the fiery nature of the New Testament second work of Grace. It will be characterized by power, illumination, passion, and spiritual fervency.
However, the role Fire has to play in petitioning God remains a puzzle to me. As I examine the rules and conditions guiding prayer, I am unable to find a single supporting scripture of the idea that I can ask God to bless me by fire. Beyond the need to pray with fervency according to James 5:16, I am unable to associate any attribute to fire. The invocation of fire in prayer has no precedence in scripture, be it in the old or New Testament. Only on one occasion and that is in an instance of trying to prove the authentic God in the midst of Jewish apostasy do we see Elijah calling on God and God answered by fire. The fire was not to meet any need nor even attack an enemy. Yes, the physical fire was conjured by Elijah to protect himself from arrest, but the circumstances are almost non-existent today.
Conditions for answered prayer under the dispensation of grace include some of the following; Must be according to the Will of God(1 John 5:14), must be made to the Father (John 16:23), made in the Name of Jesus(John 16:23), made in faith(James 1:6), backed up with gratitude. Offerings made by fire(physical) will at best be symbols of the presentation of Christ’s body to the Father through the eternal Spirit in the great work of redemption. Where the practice began is unknown but a good segment of charismatic churches today practice prayer by fire.
More than petition by fire is the practice of declaring death by fire against enemies. Throughout the New Testament, death was not pronounced on any enemy. The psalmist pronounced ill will and destruction towards his enemies who were foreign nations majorly and not demonic forces who are our major enemies in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:12). Killing enemies by fire has no biblical basis, let alone adding thunder for effect. The shift of attention from spiritual forces to human ones gives the enemy the opportunity to operate in disguise. It is my conviction that where forces of darkness are arrested and held bound by faith, the human agents are inoperative.
I pray all ministers of the gospel to receive this in good faith and like the Berean Christians will search the scriptures daily to verify the claims.