Spiritual match between prayer warriors & theologians

Liba Hopeson, BTC

When Manchester United and Chelsea clash in semi final in a Premiere League, it is extremely exciting and electrifying. Football lovers exhibit the desire and passion to watch their play, even leaving aside other essential works behind, as though football will enliven their life. But, the spiritual match between the so called ‘prayer warriors’ and ‘theologians’ is long and lackluster. It is a match, where both the teams, though concede goals, never consider that they will be losers. In their mind, they are always the winner. Spirituality is a complicated subject for human beings. It is a subject which is not talked much about by spiritual people, but unspiritual people talked a lot about it. A spiritual person doesn’t talk much about who is spiritual and who is not, but teach and show people to live a good and spiritual life. Recently, a couple from Australia visited our college, and the wife happened to be a person who did her studies in “Spiritual Formation”. She took some classes, wherein, one was on Spiritual Formation, and we had a wonderful and enriching time. She quoted few definitions on spirituality: (i) Spirituality is the life-long process whereby we are formed by the Spirit. It is concerned with encountering the triune God who invites us into the community of the Godhead. (ii) Spirituality is the individual prayer and communion with God, both of ordinary Christian and of those with special gifts with an outward life that results from this devotion.  “Spiritual formation is a radical ongoing conversion process, a fundamental reshaping of our lives from the inside out. It draws us increasingly into the risen life of Jesus Christ.”

On the subject of spirituality, there is intense disagreement between many theologians and prayer warriors. Theologians are branded as ‘unspiritual’ by many prayer warriors. I have heard many theologians expressing fury and disapproval over the comment given by the prayer warriors. Truly, when theologians discuss about it, there is simmering resentment and tone of exasperation in their voice. According to my understanding, it is not just a simple comment, but a criticism, an accusation and a condemnation. Such comment is often not given with constructive ideas and motive to transform the theologians, but with egoistic views to show that they are kings and queens in spirituality. Theologians are often criticized for being too much concerned about bookies knowledge, without building up spiritual values. They are reckoned to be a group who can give information and bring reformation, but not transformation. Theologians are also slandered for wearing expensive and swanky dresses, but spiritually empty. At times, they are even dubbed as ‘hypocrites’ by many prayer warriors. I don’t know how far it’s true – perhaps to a great extent, but that’s not the end – let us continue to reason as theologians have to say lots about prayer warriors.

As human beings, when we are reviled and accused for any reason, it is not easy to readily accept or be receptive. We are quick to defend our right and integrity. Unlike many professions and activities, we don’t need training, practice and experience in defending ourselves and covering our weaknesses. So, when theologians are tagged as unspiritual people, they don’t agree to it and hence, counter attack ensues. Theologians are experts in blowing their own trumpets, and also in pointing fingers at others; they are masters as they claim to know something more than others. They consider themselves as chosen people who know the Bible, follow the truth and do what is right. In digging out the background and context of the Scripture and in interpretation, theologians consider themselves as the best. Consequently, when they are spoken of as unspiritual people by the prayer warriors, they don’t keep silent, but throw counter words at them. One main topic theologians employ to speak against prayer warriors is ‘spiritual gift’. Indeed, many prayer warriors posses spiritual gifts, which many theologians do not have. But, a great and overwhelming doubt and suspicion rule over the theologians. They accuse the prayer warriors for not being Biblical in the use of their gifts. Theologians call them as feigners, hypocrites, lovers of money and fame – people who work with evil spirits, yet claim to be the friends of Holy Spirit. Prayer warriors are spoken against for not being submissive and obedient to the Church, and therefore considered as people who are against Christ, for Christ is the head of the Church. There are instances that the prayer warriors say no to Church in certain cases, by affirming that, the Holy Spirit says not to do or follow it. Theologians allege that prayer warriors cannot be above the Church and break the rules and systems of the Church, though the Church leaders do not live their life up to their expectation. Theologians accuse the prayer warriors for hurting the sentiment of others by disclosing the sins openly, without using mind and conscience. Prayer warriors are disparaged by theologians for employing their minds and sharing false visions with people as if it is a true revelation from God. They are even accused for chasing satan everywhere unreasonably and unconsciously. And, most significantly, theologians frequently reiterate that, the ‘words’ and ‘life’ of prayer warriors are not proportional. In other words, prayer warriors utter many words about God and Holy Spirit, share dreams and visions, prophesy, but never practice or their life never prove it. 

So, the war of words between theologians and prayer warriors is like a fierce and aggressive football match, and therefore, I term it as a ‘spiritual match’. It is an endless match without chief referee in the field. God is the chief umpire. The match is indeed rough and tough.  Let us reason together how to ease and stop this rough match! Firstly, it is equally important for both the teams to know that God can use literate as well as illiterate – educated as well as uneducated, for His Ministry. Therefore, it is imperative for the prayer warriors to know that there are different spiritual gifts. If they say that theologians are not spiritual just because they do not prophesy, see vision and heal people, it is absolutely wrong. God uses every individual in a different and distinct ways. On the other hand, theologians should bear in mind that God also chooses the illiterate people for His Ministry. Theologians cannot expect prayer warriors to know Bible like them, for many of them are not educated like us. Rather, we should be thankful to God for bestowing them good gifts and using them mightily. Can theologians know science like the scientists? Absolutely not! So if we say that every act of prayer warriors is not Biblical, we are wrong, though not denying the fact that evil spirits can also work with human. Imagine! If God didn’t give gifts such as prophecy, vision and healing to the uneducated people, who is our God? Is He foolish? Therefore, we cannot undermine others simply because we are better in one field.

Despite of the development of these understandings, we need to reason more and learn about spirituality. In this subject, love and doing everything for God’s glorification should not be brushed aside. If theologians see the prayer warriors going wrong in their life or deviating away from the Bible, they should humbly suggest, tell the truth and teach them to correct and change. And if prayer warriors see the theologians not concerned about spirituality, they should pray for them and encourage them to commit their life to God. Otherwise, if we are quick to point at other mistakes, criticize, condemn and hold on to our superiority complex, where is our spirituality? It is nowhere. The moment we speak out we have it; we lose it – that is spirituality. Those who think that they are weak in spiritual life and try to improve it every day will become ‘spiritual giants’. In spirituality, it is more important to know God than to know about God. We must have the desire and thirst to know more and more about God’s love, majesty, greatness, power and grace. Our faith, words and actions are equally important – failing in one negates spirituality. “Blessed are those who know they are spiritually poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” (Matt.5:3). Do you still think you are more spiritual than others? If it is so, you need to pray more than others for your spiritual life!