Dutch Sheets has repackaged his classic Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth. Sheets caused me to examine my own prayer life in light of Scripture and my traditional understanding of prayer, miracles, and the will of God.
I greatly appreciate the word studies, questions at the end of each chapter, and the Leader Discussion Guide for small groups.
When Christians consider principles about God, they would do well to imitate the Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11b
According to Sheets, Christians are called to re-present Jesus to the world by extending Jesus’ work of intercession because “He needs a human on Earth to ask for Him because He is in heaven now.” (p. 49) What happened to the promise of Colossians 1:27b, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and other Scripture references to Christians being one in Christ? Furthermore, Jesus is one with the Father and Holy Spirit, and we know that God is omnipresent, present everywhere. David so eloquently states this is in Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
I am concerned that someone who is not a student of the Word of God might misunderstand some of the examples in the book. For example, the story of David and Polly Simchen’s intercessory prayer journey for their son Jonathan on pages 131-134 recounts the couple’s years-long prayer journey to win their son back to the Lord. They anointed his room, his car, his clothing, his bed, and other belongings.
“Pastor Dutch, David, and I together laid hands on a prayer cloth, releasing God’s power and anointing into it, and agreeing that the anointing would break the yoke of drugs, sin, ungodly friends, perversion, and anything else that needed breaking.” (p. 132)
They then cut the cloth into 12 pieces and put the pieces between the sheets on his bed, in the flap of his wallet, in the cuffs of his pants and other items.
In the margin, I wrote, “witchcraft?” It felt like they were casting a “Godly” spell upon their son.
“God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits when out.” Acts 19:11-12
God works in many ways, even through handkerchiefs. I think the important thing to remember is that it is God working, not men and women agreeing to release God’s power. God is the One who releases His power. He may use men and women to be the instruments.
I have memorials throughout my house that help me remember what God has done in my life. They have no power in themselves; yet, as I am reminded that God has worked mightily in my life, my faith increases. God instructed the Israelites to have reminders in their homes and in all that they did, even on their bodies. Yet, these objects have no power in themselves.
I don’t know the point of the hidden pieces of a prayer cloth. They weren’t reminders of God to Jonathan–he did not know they were there.
Prayer is a mighty thing. God has used prayer to change me, to heal me of fibromyalgia when no other help appeared to work, to create divine appointments, and to make an impact upon others. God uses people, and we have power through Jesus.
A book of 286 pages cannot serve as a comprehensive study on prayer. Readers need to be aware of what is included and what is omitted. There are many biblical examples of God using men’s prayers to work miracles and modern-day examples of God using prayer to change people and geographic areas. I find it interesting that the focus in the book is not God working but on a somewhat formulaic use of prayer to “release” God’s power.
Sheets does not cover the prayers that receive the answer of “no.” For example, Jesus prayed, sweating as if great drops of blood fell from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. His prayer: if there was another way to achieve the redemption of man, He asked that God remove the cross, but if no other way, He prayed, “Not My will but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42. Additionally, Paul prayed three times that God would remove the thorn in his flesh, and God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9
There are important points for the mature Christian to consider in this book. However, readers need to search the Scriptures and pray about what Sheets presents.
Father, thank You that You have given us Your Word to show us Your truth, Your power, and Your work. Teach us to search the Scriptures. Teach us Your Truth. Teach us Your ways and guide us in the works that You have prepared for us from before the foundation of the World. Thank You that the Holy Spirit guides us in all that we pray, making groanings and supplication for us, perfecting our prayers. Deepen our prayers, Lord. Make our prayers effective for You. Keep our eyes on You and Your works, not ours. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House for my honest review.