– Pastor Bimbo Animashaun
When I was much younger in the Faith, it was common to give “prayer punishment” to believers who engaged in any act of “wrong doing”.
Within my own circle of influence, the “prayer punishment” was given to executive members of the Fellowship who violated the rules of the Fellowship, e.g late-coming to meetings and what have you.
So a brother who came late for Fellowship meetings or who engaged in negligence and dereliction of duty would be told, “Bro, your punishment is to go pray in tongues for three hours at a stretch”.
When I came into ministry and became privileged of God to serve in leadership positions, I also gave “prayer punishment” to people who committed blunder.
In one breath, the praying exercise helped the spiritual lives of the people because prayer will do you good based on the teachings of Scriptures.
Yet in another breath, the label “punishment” in relation to prayer is a far cry from the Biblical perspective on this spiritual exercise.
All the definitions of the word “punishment” go against the very nature and intent of prayer.
To punish is to impose a severe, rough and disastrous treatment on someone so as to serve as retribution.
Being punished implies suffering pain as a result of an imposition of a penalty for wrong doing.
But think about this beloved; when we pray, we do not suffer pain or a loss; we’re built up and edified instead.
Therefore in relation to the wrong act committed by believers, PRAYER can never be a PUNISHMENT; PRAYER is a REFINEMENT!!!
Glory to God! When we pray, we are not PUNISHED; we’re REFINED.
We become better through the changes that the Holy Spirit initiates through the process.
What I used to believe was that we could “punish people by asking them to pray in tongues for 7 hours at a stretch” but now, I think I know better.
Now I know that a person could be asked to go through the praying process, not as a means of punishment but as a means of purging, purifying and refinement.
That way, we don’t put the image of prayer in a negative light, and people’s faith in the very art of prayer will not hang in a balance.
Prayer cannot be a punishment (there’s no scripture for it going by the spirit and letter of Scriptures); prayer is fellowship – it’s fellowshiping with God.
Prayer is koinonia. Prayer is a delight. Prayer is a spiritual exercise. And actually, prayer can be “fun” all through; PERSPECTIVE IS WHAT MATTERS!
By God’s Grace, as a Pastor, I don’t personally like painting prayer to people as a cumbersome exercise that is tedious, burdensome and monotonous.
No, I always like people to know that PRAYER CAN BE LIKE FOOD to them, and that it’s an opportunity to talk to and interact with the Heavenly Father.
There are ministers today who talk about prayer and fasting to people and people become sad – they become worried and their “hope” fades away.
Imagine a preacher says something like, “Brethren, we’re going on 3 days marathon prayer and 70 days of fasting. And you know, it’s not easy at all. It is survival of the fittest. So tighten your seatbelt because only God knows who will survive it”.
Now that’s putting prayer and fasting in a bad light. That period actually is a time to build strength; a time for spiritual refreshing and rejuvenation”.
That’s how it should be and that’s what we are to internalize. Little wonder the Apostle Paul was THANKING GOD that he could SPEAK IN TONGUES more than an entire Church.
1 CORINTHIANS 14:18
I THANK MY GOD, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
PERSPECTIVE matters friends! I don’t see praying in tongues as a burden or a punishment; I see it as a delight, and by the Grace of God at work in me, I also live a fasted life.
One day, my wife asked what I would like her to prepare for me, knowing that I would be out of town for a very important assignment.
I just told her, “Don’t worry Sweet Love. It’s an opportunity for me to pray in tongues while driving and to also spiritually prepare for the work before me for the weekend”.
That’s PERSPECTIVE! I wasn’t punishing myself making that decision; I just wanted to stay refreshed so that I could be a perpetual blessing to my generation, and that doesn’t mean that I don’t take care of my health because I do.
When we see prayer this way, then we will have more “PRAYER GIANTS” than “PRAYER WARRIORS” and we will amass great wealth in the realm of the Spirit.
I hope this meets us well Sirs and Mas?
Do have a fabulous weekend!!!