One area in the church in which there are popular but wrong teachings and practices is the area of prayer. And when a wrong practice is popular, it becomes very hard to come against it. What people have been used to doing takes effort to let go. The tendency is to criticize any contrary view and to continue to hold unto what is wrong. It is my hope that someone reading this will keep aside feelings and opinions about this way of praying and look to Scripture for enlightenment.
There are many teachings and practices in the Body of Christ that seek to undermine and subvert faith in the Name of Jesus and the power in that Name. Holy Ghost fire, by thunder by fire prayer, by fire by force prayer is one of them.
I personally don’t know where the phrases, “by thunder, by fire”, “by fire, by force”, “holy ghost fire”, “holy ghost machine gun” came from. It is my speculation that someone tried to cast out demons in the Name of Jesus, and it didn’t work. The results were not what was expected. More like the case of the disciples and the epileptic boy while the Lord was on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:14-20). Then comes a difference in the reaction to the failure: while the disciples were confused with their results and sought the Lord for the reason for their failure, the by thunder by fire proponents believe the Name of Jesus alone is not enough to chase out a demon spirit. To the Name must be added fire, thunder, lightning, bullets, all spiritual, in order for devils to obey the command to leave their victim.
Another source of support for this kind of deliverance prayer is from testimonies and confessions. Someone confesses that they were experiencing heat or that they actually saw fire when they were being delivered, and that becomes a foundation for a teaching or practice that has virtually replaced the Name of Jesus with fire, thunder, lightning etc. “I command you by thunder by fire… to come out”.
I once told someone that this kind of prayer is not biblical; you can’t find any Scriptural example for this. They told me they don’t pray by thunder by fire; they pray by thunder by fire, in the Name of Jesus. I then said, why don’t you just scrape off the by thunder by fire phrase, and pray in the Name of Jesus as the Bible demands? They told me they cannot. That is to say the power of their prayer rests in the belief in the spiritual fire or thunder than in the Name of Jesus.
This same mentality is to be found in the adherents of anointed objects. They tell you their faith is in the Lord, not the object, but if you tell them to trust God without the mediation of their objects (usually bought at exorbitant prices) they would tell you they can’t. They don’t believe God will listen to a simple prayer made in faith in the Name of Jesus. They need to spray or drink anointed water, oil, “blood”; they need to touch the anointed picture of their favorite prophet; they just need something physical, before they can believe God. But that is not faith.
The Lord Jesus never did cast out demons by fire by thunder. His disciples never did. Paul never did. The questions that beg for an answer now is “has this generation encountered new demons and an advanced Satan that will not obey the authority in the name of Jesus of Nazareth?” “Has the name of Jesus over the years lost its power and authority so much so that fire, thunder, lightning must be added unto for the same results in the bible to be produced today?”
I honestly believe the devil not only loves this way of coming against him and his host, he actually encourages it: as long as it takes away the believer’s focus and authority from the powerful Name of Jesus, the forces of darkness are having a wonderful time. As long as the believer sweats and frets over one demon to see it leave, that’s just wonderful. And more wonderful, as long as some devils can be imagined and much effort used in releasing fire, earthquake etc. to kill them, that’ll be great.
The reason for the appeal and popularity
This way of praying is emotionally satisfying. As humans we are emotional beings and whatever we don’t feel satisfied about, it’s hard to believe in. Faith is faith and emotions are emotions. The two are deadly enemies. It is hard on the emotions and sight to simply give a command in the Name of Jesus and believe it is accomplished. We feel satisfied when we have shouted out our lungs, raining down spiritual fire, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, because in our minds we can give a picture to what is happening, which in turn affects the way we feel about the situation and our praying. I think it does something to the person commanding, when he sees the demonized person reeling under “fire”. He feels more powerful.
Second, situations have been encountered where a command was given in the name of Jesus and the devils apparently did not obey. What should one do in such a case? We will talk more on that below.
Third, the make-believe world receives some credit here for the appeal and popularity of the by thunder by fire prayer. This is no indictment against Christian scriptwriters and film producers, but it’s a call for theologically-correct stories. Christian movies should be a medium for teaching and correction, not propagation of false teachings wrong practices.
But doesn’t it work?
I won’t be quick to say it doesn’t work at all. As I have heard said “even a blind squirrel can once in a while come up with a nut,” I believe there are some good results that do come from believers who have genuinely but ignorantly adopted that way of dealing with Satan and demons. But the results could be better, like the results of the Lord and the apostles, who only gave a word of command and it was done. Instantaneous results. No bargaining with evil spirits.
What should you do when demons refuse to leave?
In the instance where the disciples could not cast out the demon from the epileptic boy, the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief, not the method they had employed. Probably they didn’t use the name of the Lord in faith or perhaps when the demon manifested, the sight of the boy convulsing made them give in to unbelief that countered the faith they initially had when they gave the command for the demon to leave the boy; instead of standing in faith, they watched the scene in unbelief. The Lord told them how to deal with the unbelief; He didn’t introduce a new way of dealing with Satan, because it has always been about authority, and that authority will always be about Jesus, not some object.
What about the manifestations that take place when “holy ghost! Fire! Thunder!” is released?
The issue of manifestations is another deceptive area. Before God’s bar, I can confidently say that not all manifestations are genuine. Because it is being expected and sometimes even demanded, some people have manifested when there was nothing happening spiritually. Secondly, if you put someone in a kind of posture and shout on them, they will certainly manifest. Someone with hands lifted up and head tilted behind or stomach punched with a fist will manifest. It’s not any demon in them. It’s the effect of the posture, the punch and the shouts. Someone being commanded to manifest will in the long run ‘manifest’ if they keep opening their minds to the desire to obey the command. That is why there are manifestations upon manifestations, yet no lasting transformation in so many lives.
Manifestation is nothing in itself if nothing truly happens. Depending on a manifestation or lack of it to determine the presence or absence of evil spirits has caused deception and some consequent damages in the area of deliverance. As believers, we desperately need the gift of discerning of spirits, not physical manifestations.
Could this not be about semantics? Doesn’t the actual power lie in the name of Jesus?
As mentioned above, people believe the power lies in the fire, thunder or whatever, even if they refuse to admit it. If they can’t pray in the Name of Jesus alone, then it is evident they don’t believe the Name is powerful and effective enough. It is not about semantics! I wouldn’t waste my time writing this if I believe it’s all about semantics. I have seen the practice and how some Christians are willing to cling to it regardless of what examples the Scripture have to offer.br />
Devils fear nothing like the name of Jesus. The authority in that name signifies satan’s defeat. He can’t stand that Name when it is called in faith. He is obliged to obey the command. Lack of proper knowledge in that Name has given rise to situations where you see people arguing with demons, with the latter vehemently refusing to obey the command to leave the person they have demonized. Why? Because when it comes to by fire by thunder, by fire by force, by earthquake etc. even if the phrase “in the name of Jesus” is attached to those phrases, the devils can contend. These evil forces obey authority and they can tell when one doesn’t know their authority in Christ. They don’t just obey words; they obey words spoken with authority. The authority is not in the tone of voice, how much you can shout. It is faith in the power and the authority in the Name of Jesus.
If you meet a devil who is contending with you, don’t graduate from the Name of Jesus, to fire or force. Go back to the word and study the authority that is yours in the name of Jesus. The devil doesn’t obey you, he obeys the authority you carry, the Jesus you call upon
Let’s restore the glory of the wonderful Name of Jesus. We can do that by learning the power behind that Name and calling it in faith. And should we encounter failure like the disciples of the Lord, let us learn to ask Him, “Lord, why couldn’t we cast out this demon?” and He would enlighten us on what to do. Let’s not cling to methods that undermine the authority and power in the Name above all names, that Name to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that the bearer of the Name is Lord of lords. Hallelujah!