SHOULD WE PRAY WITH PEOPLE OF VARIOUS DENOMINATIONS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Other names for this activity are “interfaith” prayer, “interdenominational” prayer, or “ecumenical” prayer. It is often done when local religious leaders or even college students gather in public to pray for their community, state, country, or even the world. Never do we fault anyone for seeking to do right and improve society, provided they are sincerely desiring to do God’s will in life. However, we do question the underlying doctrine guiding people to do what they do and say what they say. Is it God the Holy Spirit working in them, or is it just their flesh laboring to substitute God’s work? Usually, when denominational people are involved, it is nothing but erroneous doctrine underpinning their theological system. Essentially, there is no Holy Spirit superintending the matter, so, in that case, it is nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. However, dear friend, if you do not know what God has told you in His Word, how can you have effectual prayer? What is the point of you praying when you have no idea about what you are praying?! Even if you do happen to be in the very small minority that is grounded in the Scriptures, how can you expect denominational people to be in agreement with the truth in prayer when sound Bible doctrine does not even form the foundation for their prayer life? They cannot pray for God’s will, or pray in accordance with it, because they do not know it. It does not make sense for the person who understands sound Bible doctrine to presume he or she will have a profitable time in prayer with someone who does not. There is no fellowship, no communion, no unity—and was not the purpose of the prayer meeting to agree to the point of solving society’s problems?! The Holy Spirit is being quenched or hindered in the ignorant soul, only compounding the woes in the world. Do we still want to participate in this debacle, jeopardizing our own spiritual health in the process?
We can never, ever, EVER (!) force God to do something He is not doing today. Maybe He did do it in the past, and we are quoting Bible verses under the impression He will behave that way for us. This is just how denominationalism treats the Scriptures. Citing Bible passages without recognizing to and about whom they were spoken or written, is dangerous. It will lead to frustration, misunderstanding, and even an outright abandonment of the Bible! Denominational systems rely so heavily on verses quoted out of context. They take passages not to or about us, and they assume these verses apply to us. Here is a sure way to open ourselves up to a host of uncertainties, disappointments, and illusions. Satan’s policy of evil will use all of this as a doorway into our lives—and let us not underestimate him! Let us heed the warnings of Scripture.
For example, consider 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Could these words be any plainer? The Bible says we are not to attach ourselves to unbelievers—and just because someone claims to be a “believer” or “Christian” does not guarantee they really are, either. Many unsaved people say they are “Christian” just because they have joined a local church, enrolled in a denomination, had “Christian” parents, attended “Christian” schools, and so on. The aforementioned passage goes beyond simply forbidding our intermarriage with unbelievers. It refers to mingling with them in their religious services (would that not include prayer?!), participating in their ignorance (would that not include prayer?!), joining them in their Satan worship (would that not include prayer?!). This is strong language, but it is what the Bible says, and we either believe it or we do not. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.”
Galatians 1:6-9 is another thought-provoking portion of God’s Word: “ I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
According to the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, the Galatians were to have nothing to do with false teachers. These false teachers were actually Bible teachers: they wrongly taught that the Law of Moses (Scripture!) was applicable in this the Dispensation of Grace (see Galatians 4:21). Even today, you can find legalists and legalistic teachings (“perform to get God’s blessings”) throughout the thousands of denominations, sects, groups, and cults of Christendom. Instead of stressing grace (what God has done for us through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork), they put the focus on us or works-religion (what we can do to merit God’s favor—tithing, water baptism, confession of sins, repentance, commandment-keeping, et cetera). They are ignorant of God’s Word to and about us today, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.
Look at another excerpt from Paul’s epistle to Galatia (chapter 5, verses 7-9): “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What happened to these saints? Well, remember from chapter 1 (cited moments earlier), how false teachers had deceived them, leading them away from Paul’s ministry and message. Just as a small amount of yeast causes the entire lump of dough to rise, so a little false teaching inflicts great damage on its audience. The whole local assembly is subject to fall into the error. Friend, if you fellowship with individuals who are not spiritually stable, you yourself will wind up compromised. You will begin repeating their silly phrases. You will be misquoting verses too. You will end up deceived. Unfortunately, the Church the Body of Christ has been far too naïve in this regard, believing it is immune from such ruin. Over these last 2,000 years, we have permitted an abundance of lies in our seminaries, colleges, and pulpits. Little to nothing was done to stop it, and now look at the doctrinal mess besetting the whole professing church worldwide! Non-Christians look at us and cannot help but laugh. We are totally irrelevant because we do not have a clue what God is doing in the world today! And we claim to have and know the truth?! No wonder unbelievers have such a poor attitude toward the Bible.
Here is yet another admonition or warning about exercising great caution concerning false teachers: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). What do the Scriptures say? We are to “withdraw” from anyone, isolate ourselves from anyone and everyone, who teaches something other than what the rightly divided Bible teaches. When you listen to denominational people pray, they sound like “know-nothing” people. Their minds are “corrupt”—and you know it because you can hear the words coming out of their lips. Whatever they are saying is so antithetical to what the Holy Spirit has already said through the Apostle Paul. There is no unity, for doctrine divides.
Again, Romans chapter 16: “ Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” If they do not teach sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided; 2 Timothy 2:15), we are not to fellowship with them. They should not be allowed to teach at our Bible conferences or during church services. They should not be leading us in prayer either. We should not marry them. We should not go “witnessing door-to-door” with them. We should not cooperate with them in blood drives, clothing drives, food drives, or any other parachurch/paraministry philanthropic endeavors. The Bible says we are to “avoid them.” Once more, we either believe the Bible or we do not.
One final passage, 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” It is extremely important that we notice these people have “a form of godliness.” They appear religious. It seems like they are Christians. However, the Holy Scriptures consider them to be evil. What should be our response to them? “From such turn away.” Could that be any clearer, friend? It does not matter what they do or say because they “deny the power of godliness.” There is no power of God with or in them, for they have rejected His words that contain that power (Hebrews 4:12)—sound Bible doctrine. If you have the power of God with and in you—that is, you have trusted sound Bible doctrine—then you cannot expect to be compatible with these individuals.
For anyone to say it does not matter where we go to church, or it does not matter with whom we pray, or it does not matter what we believe, or it does not matter whom we invite to teach in our local assembly, that person is simply advertising Bible ignorance. They are totally unfamiliar with what the Bible has already stated about these issues, the verses we have just read, and they are therefore disqualified from being any authority on the subjects. Before they talk about matters they do not understand, they had better go study the Scriptures, lest God hold them accountable for misrepresenting Him and His words.
Once, someone argued “interfaith” prayer, “interdenominational” prayer, or “ecumenical” prayer, was acceptable because it was just a short meeting. As long as it is brief, we can do it. Applying that logic, we could swim in raw sewage—so long as we leapt out before too long! We could drink a little poison—but not too much! We could hold our hand over an open flame—provided we withdrew before being burned! Would we go sit in their local church building for an hour and listen to false teachers teach or preach? No? Well, in the form of prayer, they are teaching and preaching to us at a prayer meeting. They are still imparting to us their erroneous view of the world, the Scriptures, God, et cetera. This exposure to error will negatively affect us at some point—perhaps short-term, perhaps long-term, but, rest assured, it will ultimately damage us. All we have to do is look around at Christendom, with its thousands upon thousands upon thousands of denominations; with its millions upon millions upon millions of confused and spiritually immature church members. Dear friend, is that really what you want to get involved with?! Do you actually desire to pray with these kinds of people?! Absurdity ad infinitum!
SUPPLEMENTAL: THE LESSER-KNOWN DANGERS OF ECUMENISM
One of the most ardent supporters of interfaith, interdenominational, or ecumenical functions, is the Roman Catholic Church. Why? Since the Protestant Reformation over 500 years ago, the Vatican has devised and employed various methods to bring Protestants back under the pope’s authority. Sometimes, this came in the form of physical assaults or wars—burning Bibles and Christians at the stake, appointing Catholic leaders after subjugating nations, and the like. In recent centuries, however, the Roman Catholic institution has taken a subtler approach to “return dissidents to the fold of Rome.”
For instance, during the early to mid-1800s, when Roman officials wanted to lead the Church of England back to the pope—from which King Henry VIII had split the British people centuries prior—a campaign known as the Oxford Movement or the Tractarian Movement was underway. A series of pamphlets or tracts promoting Roman Catholic doctrine (propaganda) was written and circulated among the English people. Also, Roman Catholics (especially Jesuits), pretending to be Protestants, trained subsequent generations of preachers in their false teaching at colleges, which ultimately led to Roman Catholic ideas infiltrating the Church of England through the pulpits (apostasy from which it has never recovered).
Out of this disaster emerged two Cambridge professors and Anglican church leaders, B. F. Westcott (1825–1901) and F. J. A. Hort (1828–1892), who successfully led a Bible translation project to overthrow the Protestant King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus. The 1881 Revised Version and its underlying Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament are based heavily on the Roman Catholic Greek Bible known as Codex Vaticanus (or “B”)—you did see “Vatican” in “Vaticanus,” did you not?! In 1901, the American Standard Version was released, bringing the false texts and textual theories of Westcott and Hort to the United States, which resulted in over 100 Bibles during the next century. Now you know why there are so many modern English versions today! With Protestants using dozens upon dozens of Roman Catholic Bibles, and having no one standard text, their confused minds and hearts are ready to hear those words that will lead them back to Rome: “A better translation is… [Rome’s Bible says…].”
Especially since the opening of the 20th century, Roman Catholics have actually sat on translation committees of Protestant Bibles. In fact, for decades, Cardinal (Jesuit!) Carlo M. Martini (1927–2012), of the Pontifical (Pope’s!) Bible Institute, served as one of the primary editors of The Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies) and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. These Greek Bibles are essentially the perverted texts of Westcott and Hort, and are the tools modern English translators use to produce modern English versions! Whether they know it or not, American Protestant churches have been “Romanized” just as the Church of England was in the 19th century!
Of course, practically no one is aware of this—and those who know it often choose to remain silent for fear of being labeled “unscholarly,” “troublemaker,” “heretic,” “divider,” “church-splitter.” Likewise, these are the insults reserved for those who refuse to participate in Rome’s ecumenical, interfaith, or interdenominational prayer services. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
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» Does doctrine really matter?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”
» How can false teachers sleep at night?