The January 6th Prayer Warriors

The January 6th Prayer Warriors June 16, 2022

I am not comfortable with the term “prayer warrior.” Never have been. Recalling Frank Perretti’s thriller This Present Darkness, I see the pitfall in believing greater numbers of people praying causes victory. The term is deceptive. It implies prayer empowers God. Therefore, more prayer equals more power. The book was a real change in the understanding of prayer as motivating God to use divine power. An idea that is still problematic. I realized how force is the deceptive influence when the insurrectionists on January 6th decided to hold prayer in the Senate Chamber.

Prayer Force

Praying is not about forcing. Any deity that can be manipulated is a weak god. I could blame George Lucas for this mess. “Use the Force” and “May the Force be with you” are well-known expressions. The Force is “out of balance.” And, for some reason, bringing balance to the Force requires the Jedi being victorious. Unfortunately, these ideas did not originate with Lucas. He likely heard it in Church.

People will claim to “feel the prayers” when they were in need. Others will talk about how all the prayers, helped overcome a health crisis. But God is not forced to do anything. Jesus claims the rain is sent “on the righteous and the unrighteous.” But churches in farming communities pray for rain during periods of drought. Why? They are expressions of need, dependence, and community.

The Force Behind January 6th

The events of January 6, 2021 directly tie to the events of September 11, 2001. The new identity of Christian nationalism began to resurge. People began approaching uniformed military people saying, “Thank you for your service.” God Bless America became the second anthem during baseball games. Flags flew. Patriotic slogans were repeated. And flag etiquette changed. I was concerned. These little acts of devotion were beginning to add up to a movement. I started warning my fellow clergy about it. My concerns were dismissed. After all, why be concerned about things that had not yet happened?

Evangelicals changed the Global War on Terror into a post-modern Crusade. Fundamentalists shared anti-Islamic propaganda in emails and later on the new platforms of social media. Then Barack Obama, a senator with African origins, won the nomination and then the election for President. “He’s a Muslim!” Some of my church members claimed this and, “He is foreign!” This “birtherism” soon changed to put suspicion on all naturalized citizens and immigrants. Nativists claim, “The government provides “illegals” with free medical care and builds houses for them.” All the lies began to shape into a new expression of an old ideology and became an idolatry.

January 2017

Evangelical Christians were ecstatic that God had apparently done it again. Donald Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 election just as George W. Bush lost it in 2000. Their candidate was obviously chosen by God. They ignored the fact that the electoral college works in odd ways. It is a strange application of Occam’s razor.

The “Christian” President replacing the “Muslim” one needed prayer warriors who would fight the prevailing powers of darkness personified in a black President. Many prayer warriors showed up. The fiasco of the next four years proved the idea of “prayer warrior” was not an ethos but a pathos. Power is the true object of worship. Worse yet, it is not divine power that they worship. It is their own.

Prayer Warrior Failure

November 2020 proved the failure of the passion for power. But the prayer warriors did not accept that their faith is misplaced. This time they latched onto the more complex reason for the loss. The battle cry, “Stop the steal” became a call for the spiritual war to become a physical one. The “new civil war” is an extension of turning the Global War on Terror into a spiritual war. Anyone bringing into the discussion of social justice, LGBTQ rights, and racism is in league with the powers of darkness. The powers Obama represents. Physical warfare is the model of Spiritual warfare. The model is the real desire.

An evangelical speaker at a youth gathering claimed there should be “Christian jihadists.” I was present and expressed my concern to our youth minister. He was uncomfortable too. We made sure the youth did not come home spouting that craziness. The speaker obviously admired the dedication of “the enemy.” Admiration often turns to emulation. On January 6th 2021, it did just that.

Pray And Spray

U.S. soldiers often say the Arab security forces use a tactic they called, “Pray and Spray.” The security officers did not aim their automatic rifles. They simply covered the target zone with bullets. Perhaps, they prayed they hit something. Probably not.

Prayer warrior thinking ignore community or fellowship. Prayer warriors may attend church. Or they may not attend church. People praying for the same goal and, often, at the same time is enough togetherness they require. The idea, remember, is to be transformers sending power. Spray enough prayers to get the job done. Being a prayer warrior involves very little commitment to prayer as communion with the Divine. Why should it be? It is all about our own power.

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