I attended a “Call to Prayer” event not knowing who Lou Engle was. The name rang a bell, but I just couldn’t place it. The event was in conjunction with another future event that will happen on November 11th, 2011, or 11-11-11. This event is also a call to prayer happening across state from me in Detroit . If I had known what this event would be like, I wouldn’t have gone; but I’m glad I did because it opened my eyes to why I should not be involved with this group of people. Let me just relay what happened.
An orthodox pastor sent out an invitation for this event. I respect this person very much. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking that there was something amiss about this event. I have read about how some evangelicals are aligning with unorthodox factions in hope of more political power. I decided to go, but was ready to leave at any time. When I got there I sat on the outer edge. Within a minute, a friend of mine came over and asked me to sit with him. So I joined him and his group since I had come alone. There were probably around 300 people there, but this place could seat 800 easy. After I joined him I thought, “Now if I want to leave, it’s going to look weird since I’m right in the middle.”
An introductory speaker started things off. She stated that this was an event to rally people to support the event in Detroit on November 11th. She talked about the crisis that was overhanging our nation. She mentioned how Joel 2 contained a call to fasting and prayer. She also stated that the promise of God in response to His people turning to Him with prayer and fasting was to pour out economic blessings on His people. Her conclusion was that if God’s people in the U.S.A. humble themselves and pray according to II Chronicles 7:14, and fast and pray according to Joel 2:12-17, then God will pour out the blessings from heaven as promised in Joel 2:18-26 on the United States of America. These blessings would be economic and financial blessings. If God’s people do not humble themselves and pray, then economic disaster will strike America.
The worship leader began playing the piano. He stated that if God is for us, who can be against us. He asked, “Who can stand against us? Nothing.” He continued to repeat that phrase, “If God is for us, who can be against us.” Then there was about 20-25 minutes of worship music.
There was a brief introduction for Lou Engle. He took the stage and began talking about his dreams and visions that God had given him over the past 20 years or so. He stressed the importance of prayer and fasting. He talked about past events and how God had mobilized many to prayer and fasting by the thousands. He talked about how when the Spirit (I capitalize giving the benefit of the doubt) comes that there is no need for pastors since the Spirit is in control. At many events he has been at, the Spirit comes and many people in the crowd just begin prophesying sporadically. There is no one speaker in charge. Everyone is just prophesying over the top of each other.
At one point, he did open his Bible and state that God had a prophetic word for us. He turned to Luke 1:15-17, focusing on Luke 1:17 in particular. He talked about John the Baptist being a radical Nazarite. He stated that this prophetic word meant that God wanted to raise up a generation of radical Nazarites. He said, “God has raised up His apostles and prophets here in America, now He wants to raise up His Nazarites.” This was toward the end of his message as he segued into an invitation. He invited people to come forward to take the vow of a Nazarite. Note: this event was scheduled to take place between 5:30 and 8:30pm. The music had lasted until just after 6. Lou was now giving his invitation at 7. As people were “being led” forward to take the vow of a Nazarite, I was being led to leave the building. I politely said goodbye to my friend, shook his hand, and walked out. I don’t know what took place for the next hour and a half.
Above are the facts of what took place. Now let me give some of my impressions about the meeting. There was no proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ. No one that spoke talked about Jesus at all. The name of Jesus was mentioned by the speakers probably 5 times or less. Jesus was not at the center of this event. Instead, the promise of financial blessing was at the center of this event.
There was talk of humbling ourselves and confessing our sins. But there was a tone about this that seemed to mean, “We are confessing the sins of our nation, not personal sins. It’s all those unbelievers out there that we are humbling ourselves for.” With logs in their eyes, they confess the sins of the specks in the eyes of those around them. There was no humility in the tones of those that were speaking. It was more a tone of triumph. They seemed to know that “the Lion of Judah was going to roar from Detroit.”
Lou spoke of the need for prayer many times during his presentation. He also spoke about prayer and fasting, especially as God turns the heart of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers because of the work that the spirit of Elijah will do through those taking the vow of a Nazarite. He chastised many in the church because we only take time to pray, while the Muslims have a culture of prayer. He asked how we could compete with the Muslims because they are more immersed in prayer than we are. He stated that we need to be more like the Muslims since they take prayer more seriously than we in the church do. My thoughts as he said this were as follows. Muslims are praying to try to earn favor with God. Christians pray because we have already been shown God’s favor. Lou is asking us to live by our works because he is asking us to be more like Muslims. He stated that our prayers could not accomplish what we want because we don’t take prayer as seriously as the Muslims. Lou’s definition of prayer is showing up to one of his prayer events and taking a whole day that way. God’s definition of prayer can be exercised while one is at church, at work, at school, praying always in our hearts, Ephesians 5:19-20. This idea of being more like the Muslims highlighted the lack of one word throughout this entire session: the word “grace”. There was no mention of God’s grace, only how we needed to commit to pray and fast for this event in Detroit so that God could turn our nation around and pour out economic blessings on us. In short, they believed that God’s blessing would come through our good works.
Lou’s demeanor was odd to me. He spoke seriously and jokingly at the same time. His upper body rocked back and forth throughout his presentation. Those who have seen him on videos know what I am talking about. As I sat there I wondered, “Does this man know that I don’t agree with his methods?” Lou’s philosophy seemed to be as follows. If we pray and fast then God will bless. I really don’t know what Lou believes about God since he talked so little about Him. Instead he took most of the time talking about his strange visions and dreams that God has given him. Second for his speaking time was the events that he has organized and rallied.
The ambience in the room was pretty free flowing. Some would yell “hallelujah!” Some would say “praise God”. Some would raise their hands. One thing that stuck out was how the majority seemed to be taken with what Lou Engle was communicating. At one point he told a story of how there was a continuous reading of the entire Bible with people taking turns. He said that he was praying that the reading would be at the end of the book of Mark when he got there so that he could prophesy about the word God had given him in Luke 1 about God raising up a generation of Nazarites. When he got there, there was a girl who was reading the last two verses in the book of Mark. When he said this, many in the audience started “oohing” and “aaahing” like this was a great sign from God. He spoke of the Spirit coming upon a group of youths to whom he was supposed to speak. Once the Spirit came upon them, the youths started prophesying and Lou did not give the message he had planned on giving. These youths interrupted the plan. As Lou shared this, many in the audience were praising God and clapping their hands, but doesn’t this go against what Paul laid out in I Corinthians 14? When he gave the invitation for people to come forward to take the vow of a Nazarite, about 100 people had come as I was leaving and more were coming forward. As I was walking out, there were some with expressions on their face similar to mine. I wondered if they sensed what I sensed, but felt bound to stay for some other reason.
I am encouraging anyone who is reading this to NOT attend the event in Detroit on November 11th, 2011. There is no reason for Christians to align themselves with people who just want financial blessings from God. Instead, take the time on November 11th to pray for our nation. Pray that we ourselves would be humble and not proud. Pray and confess our own personal sins to the God who forgives because of His Son Jesus Christ. Pray that God would give us open doors to tell others of the forgiveness that comes because of believing and trusting in Jesus Christ. Pray that God’s kingdom would come and that His will would be done. If you pray with a group of people, let everything be done decently and in order. Elders or overseers should be in charge allowing two or three to speak in turn.
Remember, the world goes not well, but the kingdom comes.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman