Violent Prayers

By Gary Amirault  

Anyone who has spent considerable time reading the red letters in their Bible translation (words of Jesus), knows that Jesus was NOT tolerant of complacency, middle-of-the-road faith, one foot in the kingdom — one foot out. From some of His statements, it almost seemed Jesus would rather see a person get totally cold than to have a luke-warm relationship with Him.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." (Rev. 3:15-17, NIV)

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matt. 10:17-40, NKJV)

"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matt 11:12, KJV)

For "suffereth violence" Strong's concordance and TDNT has: G971 biazo {bee-ad'-zo} from 979; TDNT - 1:609: 1) to use force, to apply force 2) to force, inflict violence on.

The New International Version reads: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it — He who has ears, let him hear. To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (Matt. 12-19, NIV)

"...Forceful men (and women) lay hold of it."

One of the tragic sides of living in "free" societies is that we are given the right to go to the church of our choice. This sounds like a blessing, but it can actually be a curse in disguise. We can go to a place once or twice a week, do our religious duty and hear sermons which conform to our own standards, our own comfort level, and our own level of commitment. We can set our own spiritual temperature, so to speak.

If we don't want to be reminded of Scriptures like, "Depart from Me, I never knew you," we are free to attend a church that won't convict us. In truly Democratic societies, we are free to attend churches where the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth is quenched just enough that we can feel comfortable with one foot in the Kingdom and the other in the world. This may please us, but it does not please Jesus in the least!

Jesus was not kidding around when He told us that if any man or woman does not pick up their cross daily, they are not worthy of Him. The demonstration of the power of the Kingdom of our Savior demands a "violent" end to ourselves. There is a custom-made cross for each and every one of us. Many of us have found numerous ways to escape our custom-made cross.

I can recall a few times when I found myself in a place where I came to violent prayer. The first time was as an atheist. Yes, as an atheist! You may have been taught that God doesn't hear the prayers of a sinner. Nonsense! How is anyone ever going to get saved if God doesn't hear the prayers of a sinner?

As an alcoholic atheist, I had come to the end of myself. I promised my wife I'd quit drinking alcohol, but I knew I couldn't do it. I tried many times in the past and failed. My wife, a new believer, told me that God would help me if I asked Him. How does an atheist pray to a God in whom he doesn't even believe? But I had no hope in myself or anything else on this earth in terms of overcoming my addiction. I had no hope and no faith in any power or institution in this world. I was perfectly ripe for a miracle and didn't even know it.

"Ok, Big Fella, here's your chance to prove yourself," I arrogantly and violently shouted in my heart towards a God I'd never met nor believed in. "If you want to prove to me you're up there, here, catch! I've got a problem and I can't solve it. And there's no one else on earth that can solve it for me. So if you want to prove to me that you're up there, Big Fella, my alcoholism is all yours, because tomorrow, I'm not going to mess with it!"

That prayer went up 1 AM on Valentine's Day, 1985. That day was the last of my drinking. In addition to healing me of alcoholism, he did some other major miracles in my life; the greatest one revealing Himself to me through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is now my personal Lord, Savior and King. That's one result of a violent prayer where I violently gave up on myself and the powers of this world. Soon I found myself wanting to do nothing but share this wonderful God with other people who needed a miracle in their lives.

One day, I found myself trying to share my faith with a Hindu woman. Before I could get a word in edgewise, she was witnessing to me about her religion. She was a non-stop talking machine. I'd never seen anything like it. "I quit!" I said in my heart. "If you want to reach this lady, you're going to have to do it. I'm off duty. I've had it with her."

Almost immediately, she looked at me and said something like, "God just spoke to me and told me I have to listen to you. You have the truth. Your face is shining like an angel." I was stunned; totally in shock! Again, this was the result of a violent prayer, a prayer of coming violently to the end of trusting in my ability to do something for God in my own strength.

You see, this kind of "violence," does not have to be an outward emotional physical expression. It doesn't require one go out and start a revolution. That's not what this violence is all about.

The last violent prayer I'd like to share with you occurred several years after becoming a Christian. As you might have guessed, my conversion was quite radical. And my walk was very radical. I was on fire. I was filled with compassion for the lost. I was hungry to fellowship with other believers who sold out to the kingdom of God. I went to hundreds of Churches in many different denominations and movements. After several years of going to churches sometimes as many as 6 or 7 days a week, I was burned out. Something was radically wrong and I didn't know what it was. I felt I was better off as an atheist than what I was experiencing as a faithful church attendee. I felt like a big hypocrite living in the midst of a bunch of other hypocrites. I felt we, Christians, including the leadership, weren't real -- we were a bunch of phonies pretending to be something we were not. The wonderful quality of life I received after my conversion disappeared within the first year of my salvation. I was told the honeymoon was over. Well, I wasn't satisfied with that answer.

One day I was expressing my anguish to a Charismatic Baptist pastor whose church I had been attending. He felt listening to a message on an audiocassette tape by a well-known theologian from Dallas Theological Seminary might help me. I listened to it on the way home. Half way through it, I became utterly disgusted with it. It was totally worthless garbage. This man, with all that Bible education was using long fancy words that were saying absolutely nothing!

"That's it!" I screamed at God out loud as I was driving down Interstate 70. "I want you to kill me right now. You just go ahead and send a lightning bolt down and hit me right between the eyes. I don't want to live anymore. I'm sick and tired of being a hypocrite amongst a bunch of other hypocrites. I know I'm going to heaven. Just get it over with. Kill me right now! I don't want to play these religious games anymore!" And I was serious.

On my way home, I decided to stop at an old friend's house. I told him about my frustration. He looked at my face of anguish and just started laughing. "Gary, I received some booklets in the mail the other day. I haven't read them, but I think they are for you."

When I got home, I immediately began reading one of those booklets. What I was reading made my heart race again! "If what is in these booklets is true," I thought, "then this explains why I was not having victory in my walk." The particular Bible translation I was using and the teachings of the churches I was involved with were causing me to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit without my being aware of it!

Those booklets, an immediate answer to one of my most violent prayers, helped me get back in touch with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Revelation of Jesus Christ. The fire within started burning fervently again! Looking back on that part of my life, those things which Jesus and the apostle Paul so strongly warned about seduced me — I had fallen from grace and didn't even know it. I had swallowed "traditions of men" and doctrines of demons that had "made the Word of God of no effect" in my life. (Matt. 15:6-9; Gal. Ch. 3, 4, 5)

These, then, are three personal examples of violent prayers and the wonderful way God answered them in a very supernatural way! God indeed does answer prayers and sometimes immediately. I wish all my prayers were answered in the way these "violently" hot prayers were answered. But that is not the case.

Violent prayers break through the crust of the earthen vessel that we are. They violate the law of gravity to break through to heaven itself. Violent prayers break through all formalities and rituals — they will break through our pretenses and trash our "traditional" way of doing things. Jacob once wrestled with someone that he would not let go of until he was blessed. That's what violent praying is all about.

Violent praying is utterly abandoning the lie for the Truth. It's getting real. And there's the rub — we are usually not real with ourselves, with others and with our Maker. Violent prayers can be awfully messy. They may sound offensive in a prayer circle in church. Violent prayers pour self out that God may pour Himself in. That's what violent prayers are — a replacement of all that we aren't for all that He is. They are a life exchange — His fullness for our emptiness. Violent prayers are a total acknowledgment that apart from Him, we can truly do nothing. (John 5:19, 30; 15:5)

Have you checked your spiritual thermometer lately?

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