One of our readers took the time to do what I did not do this morning when I posted the story on the Ablaze intercessory prayer event sponsored by the LCMS. She went to Pastor Bira’s church’s website and found that they are promoters of something called Theophostic Prayer.
Rev. Cliff Bira is one of the LCMS pastors who the synod has called on to organize the intercessory prayer event to support President Kieschnick’s Ablaze program. Read this quote from the Theophostic Prayer website and see if you notice any concerns.
TPM is Christ Centered Prayer
The TPM Basic Training Seminar Manual defines TPM as, “Intentional and focused prayer with the desired outcome of an authentic encounter with the presence of Christ, resulting in mind renewal and subsequent transformed life.”
Theo (God) Phostic (light) is a ministry of prayer that is Christ centered and God reliant for its direction and outcome. Simply stated, it is encouraging a person to discover and expose what he believes that is a falsehood; and then encouraging him to have an encounter with Jesus Christ through prayer, thus allowing the Lord to reveal His truth to the wounded person’s heart and mind. It is not about advice giving, diagnosing problems, or sharing opinions or insight. It is about allowing a person to have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus in the midst of the person’s emotional pain.I (Ed Smith) understand that it is the Holy Spirit that lead us into all truth and that it is He that intercedes for us in prayer to the Father. However, I also believe that we can have a personal relationship with the person of Jesus. The Apostle desired to “know Him” (Phil. 3:10) and experience Him; “Him” being the person of Jesus. Some might suggest that we can only have a relationship with God by way of the Bible through growing in deeper knowledge. I believe that knowledge is very important and Bible study a necessity but knowledge alone “puffeth up” (1 Cor. 14:1). Theophostic Prayer seeks to know Christ experientially and relationally. At the same time it does not seek to replace any of the Christian disciplines such as prayer, fasting or personal Bible study.
I do not believe that people who report seeing visuals of Christ are seeing Him literally as in a visitation. I believe this picture is the Holy Spirit communicating personalized truth in a visual manner. However, I believe that people can come to know Christ intimately in a ministry session. I also believe that this same relational experience can occur in a sundry of different venues such as personal worship, meditation on Scripture and just experiencing life walking with God.
So Theophostic prayer is a means of experiencing Jesus apart from word and sacrament. That makes it a means of grace. There is much more to be alarmed with here but I will let you commenters flesh that out below. I will say this one more thing.
I am all about prayer. The Divine Service that we do each week is pure prayer. What I am opposed to is the fact that in the Ablaze/Kieschnick era of LCMS history there is little or no supervision going on by the Synodial President, District Bishops and Circuit Visitors. How can it be that we have a pastor who promotes this heterodox prayer program doing so publicly on his congregation’s website? Even worse, how can it be that a pastor with this little Lutheran discernment is picked to head up a synod wide prayer event?
I have only scratched the surface of the Theophostic Prayer website. I need to get back to making the preparations for the Divine Service of prayer this coming weekend in our congregation so I leave it to our readers to peruse the rest of the Theophostic Prayer website and share whatever positive things there may be there and alert us to the other hazards of this new heterodox prayer movement with which the LCMS is now in bed.