Shall I Pray For You?

The concept of Intercessory Prayer has become a popular topic
today in every denomination of Christianity. Many who call themselves “Prayer
Warriors” have tried to storm heaven’s gates with their prayers in hopes of
pleading to God on behalf of others.  As a result, a ground swell of claims
to answered prayer has flooded the Christian book market.  Books, full
of great claims to answered prayer which no one can truly validate unless they
were there to see the results, have generated more money in Christianity than
any other book rage prior to this day.  As long as someone in Sabbath
School will praise God for the report you bring, you could probably pass anything
off as an answer to intercessory pray
er these days.  If you question
the validity of such a notion, try proving that someone else’s claims to answered
prayer are actually true the next time the testimonies in Sabbath School are
given.

It is not that we should disbelieve that
prayer is an important part of the Christian experience.   But, we
should be aware that miracle hype is as old as snake oil and many are vulnerable
to what they cannot readily prove or disprove. Realizing this opens the door
to one of the most important functions of prayer. Through prayer, we can ask
the Holy Spirit to help us to discern truth from error.  This was part
of the Savior’s example of prayer in Matthew, chapter 6, where he showed us
to ask our Heavenly Father to “lead us not into temptation, but to deliver us
from evil.”  Even so, we run to the bookstore to learn about prayer from
other humans who have only a surface knowledge of how prayer works, and we forget
that the Master Designer of the concept of prayer is really the only safe source
to consult on this most critical issue.  Anyone who thinks that they are
a “prayer warrior” should know that many battles in history were lost because
of problems with the communication link between the leaders and the troops.

As we will shortly see, the Seventh-day Adventist church has
not been left without insight to the great prayer movement now going on. 
Ellen White, in a vision known as “The End of the 2300 Days,” saw that there
would be two groups of praying people prior to the Savior’s coming.  The
smallest of these two groups were found to be praying to the Savior, while the
largest group of praying people were found to be praying directly to Lucifer
without knowing it.  Since prayer has become such a critical issue in Christianity–and
especially in the SDA church–maybe it would be in our best interest to review
this vision with great care.  If Mrs. White is correct in her vision, then
Lucifer has full intentions of tampering with prayer on a global level.

Early Writings of Ellen G. White, pps. 54-56, Chapter Title:
Experience and Views

END OF THE 2300 DAYS
I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance
and admired His lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a
cloud of glorious light covered Him.  I asked Jesus if His Father had a
form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, “If
you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.” Before
the throne I saw the Advent people–the church and the world.  I
saw two companies, one bowed down before the
throne, deeply interested
,
while the
other stood uninterested and careless.
Those
who were bowed before the throne would offer up their prayers and look to Jesus;
then He would look to His Father, and appear to be pleading with Him. A light
would come from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the praying company.
Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son, and from
the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this
great light. Many came out from under it and immediately resisted it; others
were careless and did not cherish the light, and it moved off from them.
Some
cherished it, and went and bowed down with the little praying company. This
company all received the light and rejoiced in it, and their countenances shone
with its glory
.
I saw the Father rise from
the throne, and in a flaming chariot go into the holy of holies within the veil,
and sit down. Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who
were bowed down arose with Him.
I did not see
one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He arose, and
they were left in perfect darkness
Those
who arose when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne
and led them out a little way. Then He raised His right arm, and we heard His
lovely voice saying, “Wait here; I am going to My Father to receive the kingdom;
keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding
and receive you to Myself.” Then a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming
fire, surrounded by angels, came to where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot
and was borne to the holiest, where the Father sat. There I beheld Jesus, a
great High Priest, standing before the Father. On the hem of His garment was
a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate.
(Praying
Group # 1)
  Those who rose up with
Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, “My Father,
give us Thy Spirit.” Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that
breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace.
(Praying
Group # 2)
I turned to look at the company
who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left
it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God.
I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, “Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Satan
would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and
much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them
deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children.

Currently in the Seventh-day Adventist church, we encourage
the practice of going to one another to have a friend engage in Intercessory
Prayer on our behalf.  What many might not know is that Ellen White did
this from time to time herself. Here is one such case.

Manuscript Releases
Volume Eight, page 16, paragraph 5
Chapter Title: Letter to Lucinda Hall

We have had earnest seasons of prayer
that the Lord would increase my strength. Do pray for me. I need help. I need
strength.

Although she went to others to solicit prayers of intercession
on her behalf, late in her ministry she openly admitted that she had been
charged with a warning not to do this.  The following is from a letter
to her son Willie White written in 1906.

Manuscript Releases Volume Thirteen,
page 363, paragraph 3
Chapter Title: Relating to Trials and
Suffering

Take Problems to God, Not to Men .–Has the Lord directed
you to carry your burdens and difficulties to men who have no more strength
than you have? Will you make them your Intercessor? Shall man interpose between
your souls and God? Men in responsibility, handling sacred things, bring all
your trials and perplexities to God. Turn not away
from your great Counselor, to human beings.  I am charged with a warning:
Exchange not One infinite in wisdom for finite man.

This is not the only place that Ellen White
spoke out against the now popular practice of interceding for others. 
As early as 1888, Mrs. White was making strong statements against the notion
of men thinking it was their duty to act as intercessors on behalf of others. 
She firmly counsels that our Savior has not set any man to be either an intercessor
or to receive the confessions of sins.  

The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 842, paragraphs
2 & 3
Chapter Title: Peril in Trusting in the Wisdom of Men

The reproach of Christ is upon
us, His people. The gospel of Christ and His love and Him crucified was
a stumbling block to the Jews, and it has been evidenced that it is a
stumbling block to many who claim to believe present truth. They are forever
coming against the Rock of offense. “Man has been placed where God should
be,” are the words that have been spoken to me again and again. Christ
has made one sufficient sacrifice, and has become the only Mediator and
sole Priest between God and man.  Let every man stand out of the
way, and occupy his own place as wearing Christ’s yoke.

Jesus sets NO MAN as an intercessor
or to receive confessions of sins.
He calls
every sinner into communication with Himself, without any mortal man to interpose
between God and the sinner.  Jesus will accept every soul who believes
on His name, and He will cleanse him from all his moral defilement if he believes
on Him whom the Father hath sent into the world.

Still, many attempt to intercede even for the sins of others,
claiming to be co-intercessors with Christ.  This term, like “prayer
warriors,” is not found in scripture.  The notion of “co-intercession”
is a term heavily used in the Roman Catholic church doctrine of Mary as the
co-redemptrix.  In Protestantism, the term “co-intercession” is seen
as a functional way to avoid getting caught trying to usurp the Savior’s role
as our true Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary. In direct opposition to
both attempts, the Apostle Paul states clearly that only one individual can
mediate between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).  In agreement with this
teaching, Ellen White asserts that there are no middle men between Christ
and man.

S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol.
7, page 914, paragraph 5

Here we see the great Intercessor presenting His petition
to His Father.  No middle man comes between the sinner and Christ. No
dead prophet, no buried saint is seen.  Christ Himself is our Advocate.