Candidly, I distinctly remember God speaking to me about this concept in the early 2000s and the ORT/1Church1Day prayer strategy incorporates that revelation. In the strategy continual prayer, praise and worship seats the courtroom of heaven so you can come and plead your case and await to hear God's decision. Now, back to the purpose of this article.
As I recall, they said something to the effect that there was a fee and that it just did not seem right to them. They were uncomfortable with it as it seemed like they were charging for prayer. It seemed like "pay to pray."
When they asked me about it I had to qualify my answer because I did not have time to address this subject and cover all the bases. You see, I was hearing things second hand and I did not have all of the information. I did not know the motive of the ministers nor how things were actually being handled. But I can tell you the way it was presented did not sound good to me either.
It caused me to remember prosperity ministers who would use manipulation and violate trust in order to get more for themselves kind of like Eli's sons did in 1 Samuel 2:38-30. Eli's sons took the very best for themselves. Their greed defiled the altar. Greed is typically accompanied by compromise and manipulation. Why Paul even warns in 1 Timothy 6:5 that in the last days corrupt men would seek to use godliness as a means of gain. But let me be clear, I do not know if that was the motive of the ministers offering the service. It was the statement of "pay to pray" that inspired that the thought. (Click here for Purifying the Altar. This book impacted my thoughts about the minister's responsibilities years ago.)
The Bible is also clear that the the giver has responsibilities as well. It is possible for the worshiper to have wrong motives and which is manifested when they try to use their offering to manipulate God or the ministry. It's one thing to appeal to God's covenant exercising your faith but it is quite another to resort to a formula devoid of relationship with God. This often descends into a form of witchcraft if left unchecked over time. Galatians 5:9 teaches us that faith works by love while James 2:20 teaches us that faith without works is dead.
Why we had a donor just weeks ago attempt to do that very thing. They thought the could use their large offering they gave months before as leverage to manipulate our ministry into compromise. Here's the truth.
Do you know what KLI did? Why we gave the offering back with a stern warning to never ever do that again. It was a defiled offering which could lead to a defiled altar had we allowed it to lead us to compromise.
The reason I am focusing on offerings and worship is because I have found this to be one of the consistent keys to answered prayer. It has to do with honor and covenant. You see, God is seeking those who will worship Him "in spirit and in truth."
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Our adversary the devil seeks to make people sin. People includes the ministers who are responsible for the altar and everyone else. Satan seeks weaknesses to exploit. Sin literally means to miss the mark. I don't care if you go to far to the right, or to far to the left, or to low or to high these all miss the mark. The goal is to hit the bullseye.
Personally, I like to use the term "hit the mark." God's word is my standard and defines the mark. In my worldview, the Creator of the Universe designed all natural and spiritual laws. The Bible is like the manufacturer's warranty and owner operators manual. It describes how things work and what will happen if I operate life within the parameters of the Creator's design and what the consequences are of operating outside of designed parameters.
Candidly, I have found that tithes, offerings, first-fruits and alms speak to the four basic types of giving in the Bible. These are signs of a people keeping covenant with God. With each form of giving you will find God gives the worshiper a covenant promise to go with it. The reason I share this is because I've discovered that when handled rightly, these are some of the important keys to answered prayer which I've observed over the last twenty seven years in ministry.
Here are the challenges we face: imperfect people, ignorance, mis-understandings, demonic influence.... and the list goes on. Our goal is to hit the mark.
In the Old Testament and at the start of the New Testament the economy was agrarian. Some today use this fact to insist that the tithe only refers to crops and therefore is no longer applicable today. However, in Deuteronomy 14:24-25 the scripture says "If the place where the Lord your God chooses to set His Name (Presence) is a great distance from you and you are not able to carry your tithe, because the Lord your God has blessed you [with such an abundance], then you shall exchange your tithe for money, and take the money in your hand and go to the place [of worship] which the Lord your God chooses." Then in Genesis 28:22 Jacob declares, " And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
You'll note the underlined portion of scripture. Jacob's declaration here is consistent throughout scripture. He says of "all that you give me I will surely give a tenth." Our giving is based upon what we receive. This scripture transcends an agrarian only economy.
I want to make four points here.
- The primary purpose of tithes and offerings are worship.
- There is a theme all through Deuteronomy that speaks of taking our tithes and offerings where God "chooses to make His name abide." This means our giving ought to be out of relationship with God. We should ask Him, "Lord, where do you want me to worship You?"
- Covenant between God and man is critical and there are five elements of covenant. The oath, the written portion, the blessings of covenant, the consequences for breaking covenant and the signs of covenant. I spoke earlier about tithes, offerings, first-fruits and alms and how these are signs of covenant and each form of giving has a covenant blessing associated with it. Such as:
- The tithe - Malachi 3:8-12 - God will open the windows of heaven and rebuke the devourer
- Offerings - Genesis 8:22 - seedtime and harvest shall not cease
- Firstfruits - Proverbs 3:9-10 - God will fill your barns with plenty and make your vats overflow with new wine
- Alms - Proverbs 19:17 - he who pities the poor lends to the Lord and God will pay him back what he has given
- There are patterns in God's word and giving is a form of worship. The motives and practices of the ministers receiving the offering are just as important as the givers motive and practice.
Worship and Its Connection to Intercession
Ministers have a responsibility to maintain the altar in holiness. An altar is where offerings are placed. Today, any church or ministry is a type of altar. What defiles an altar? It could be things like habitual sin, trying to use guilt or deception to manipulate others into giving more, poor stewardship etc. But, if the worshiper is giving out of a personal relationship with our Lord and asking Him, where does He want them to take your offerings then they would avoid giving to a defiled altar or a dead work.
Now we find a pattern in God's word. In the Old Testament only the sons of Aaron could worship in God's presence. Today, any believer has the ability to go directly into God's presence like Aaron did. Now the Levites were given as a gift to the sons of Aaron to assist them in the ministry in Numbers 18:6. They both worshiped with or handled the offerings before the Lord. We find the same pattern in the New Testament where Jesus gave the five fold ministry as a gift to assist the Church in Ephesians 4:8-11.
In Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 Jesus calls all of us to be kings and priests. The beauty of this is, Jesus is our example for both of these offices. You'll find Jesus modeling what a king does in Revelation 19:11-15 and what a priest does in Hebrews 7.
In Hebrews 7 the two main things the priest does is to first worship with tithes and offerings. Remember, the five-fold ministry is a type of the sons of Levi. The Levites received the offerings and served the sons of Aaron assisting them in their worship. It says in verse 5 that the sons of Levi have a commandment to receive tithes from the people. The tithe belongs to God and He choose to give the tithe to the Levites for their support (Numbers 18:28-31). Now here is the main point. Hebrews 7:8 says, "Here mortal men receive tithes, but there He receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives."
Jesus is actually the one receiving the tithe and offerings as worship. What is the second thing we see Jesus doing? Just read a little further. He is Interceding! Hebrews 7:25 says, "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
What's the context? Hebrews 7:8 reveals Jesus received the the tithe through "mortal men." This is one of the signs of covenant and we find the rest of the chapter flows well with the theme of covenant. Then we find intercession followed His receipt of the sign of covenant in verse 25. Hebrews 8:5 reveals that this was a type and shadow of what happens in heaven. Therefore, I submit to you, who has responsibility to intercede upon the givers behalf? Why it is the minister/ministry who receives the offering.
Giving Out of Relationship
Giving is a form of worship. Here's the truth. God does not need our money or stuff. It all belongs to Him anyway. While He does not need our worship, we have a need to worship. If we did not need to worship, then idolatry would be no issue at all.
When I first entered the ministry in 1992 and we started with a little house church I read Hebrews 13:7 and 17 which basically says to obey those who rule over you for they give an account of your soul. So my question as a minister was, "Lord, how do I know which souls you hold me accountable for?"
He took me to Genesis 14 and 15 where the tithe is first introduced. There we see Abraham going to war for a family member. It was in this context that the tithe was introduced.
It was then the Lord showed me that the people He would hold me accountable for their souls would give a tithe or a partial tithe. It's one of the signs of family and it indicates whom I am to go to war for and who is to go to spiritual war with us.
What Does This Look Like Practically?
Ever since that revelation Brenda and I do two things. First, we ask our heavenly Father, where does He want us to take our tithe? Or, I could ask Him, "Lord, where do You choose to make Your name abide?"
The second question we ask is, "Lord, who are you using in our lives to equip us for worship and for spiritual war?" Or, if we get in trouble, who do we want to come and help us? Who do we want to go to spiritual war upon our behalf.
We do the same with firstfruits. Offerings and alms are completely up to us though we often choose to ask our Lord what He'd like us to do.
Remember, the giving is a sign of covenant with God. While you give to a church or ministry here, the truth is, you are giving it to our Lord.
Here are Kingdom League International we take the purity of the altar and the handling of peoples tithes and offerings very seriously. It is a sacred trust. People who are part of the KLI Family or Tribe give tithes. While it is a sign of covenant to our Lord Jesus Christ, it is also a sign of covenant to us as well. To us it is a sign of responsibility and in the kingdom where there is responsibility you will also find a corresponding authority granted.
When people give we teach them to worship our Lord (see Deuteronomy 26:13-15). That offering, that worship, brings them before the courtroom of heaven. It is a sign of the covenant. When we at KLI receive that offering we also worship our Lord with it.
In a sense, we become another witness upon their behalf before the Judge of all the earth who is seated in His court. We worship our Lord and say something to the effect of Lord, remember this son or daughter of Zion and look down from Your holy habitation and bless them. Remember You covenant upon their behalf.
If it is a tithe, remember Malachi 3:8-12 and rebuke the devourer and open the windows of heaven and pour out upon them a blessing. If it is a firstfruit, we say remember Proverbs 3:9-10 and fill their barns with plenty and make their vats overflow with new wine. If they gave an offering, we say remember Genesis 8:22 and seedtime and harvest. If it is alms, we say Lord, remember Proverbs 19:17 where it says he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord and You will pay them back what they have given.
As we do this, we become a second witness in the courtrooms of heaven. Remember, Deuteronomy 17:10, 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1.... teach us that in the "mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established." I would add, on earth as it is in heaven.
Responsibility & Authority
In the kingdom, with responsibility comes authority. The ministers responsible to intercede upon behalf of another are the ones who receive their tithes and offerings. The giver positions themselves for blessing. If they are giving out of their relationship with God and have taken it to where He chooses and if they have also considered who is equipping them for worship and for war, then their offering honors our Lord. It also honors the gift(s) of God spoken of in Ephesians 4:11 who is serving that person or their family.
Here's a concept, what you honor you attract. You can exercise your faith and expect whatever gifts are contained within the minister to begin to manifest and bless you. If you honor the apostle you will get an apostle's reward. The same with the prophet, teacher, evangelist or pastor (Matthew 10:41).
Your giving is a sign of covenant honor. It is one of the ways of submitting yourself to God and identify who you are inviting into your life. Recently, one of our KLI Family members called. The car they'd given a family member had been stolen. They were upset and rightly so. They have been faithfully tithing for years. Long story short, we did what we teach and brought their case before our Lord and asked Him to consider her case. We presented her tithe and evidence and used Malachi 3:8-12 to plead her case. Then we added her special request. She wanted the car returned with no damage to the interior upholstery or scratches or dents. Two hours later the police found her vehicle and her prayer was answered. The only thing touched were two Christian stickers had been scratched off the windshield.
We have so many testimonies like this. In fact, if you want, check out the testimony of the business who filed Chapter 13 in King David's Special Offering for God's House of Prayer.
So What About Pay to Pray?
Personally, I don't like the term. I want people to not pay for prayer but to rather understand covenant, His word, His ways and to worship God in spirit and in truth. At the same time I also see:
- It was custom to honor the prophet, a minister, when one sought their service.
- 1 Samuel 9:7-8 Then Saul said to his servant, “But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” And the servant answered Saul again and said, “Look, I have here at hand one-fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way.”
- There is a difference between the every day believer who prays and then the minister of God (ministry/church) who serves, facilitates, manages, and oversees people and the watch of the Lord. In other words, they are called to make their living by serving in our Father's house of prayer which His Church is responsible for. Every reformer in scripture followed King David's pattern starting in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13-29 which included ensuring the Levites received the tithe so they could devote their time and attention to mobilizing 24/7 prayer, praise and worship. Remember, the Levites are a type of five-fold ministers today.
- King David was first to give and His giving was out of a love relationship with our heavenly Father and his giving was extravagant. (2 Samuel 6:13, 1 Chronicles 29:2-3)
- You'll also note that the worship preceded the expansion of the kingdom and it prospered David and the nation tremendously. Don't forget that David's offering was based upon what He had, not what he did not have. Often times, our giving of our time and resources, think in terms of percentage, to the Lord often indicate how much room you are making for God in your heart.
- Jesus says in John 14:2 that in my Father's house there are many mansions and He goes to prepare a place for us. Have you ever considered that the size of your abode in heaven will be determined by the room you make in your heart here for our Lord? Jesus teaches us in Luke 12:34 that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Today, treasure is measured in time and money.
Why did David give so much? It was because He set His affection on God's abiding presence. He just did not give a lot of resources. He also invested a lot of time to prayer, praise and worship which was sometimes accompanied by fasting. David's giving reflected the place He gave God in His heart.
1 Chronicles 29:2-3
Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might: gold for things to be made of gold, silver for things of silver, bronze for things of bronze, iron for things of iron, wood for things of wood, onyx stones, stones to be set, glistening stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones, and marble slabs in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver
King David set an example and the leaders and people followed his example (1 Chronicles 29:6-9). Every reformer in scripture followed David's pattern (ie. Solomon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Asa, Josiah...).
What is Honorable?
We also find the principle in God's word where Paul teaches about the ministers wage exhorting us to not muzzle out the ox who treads out the corn (1 Corinthians 9:9 and 1 Timothy 5:18). I submit, the issue is what is honorable.
What honors God? What honors the ones doing the work? Did you know that there is actually a curse that comes when we do not honor the ones doing the work?
- Jeremiah 22:13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice,
Who uses his neighbor's service without wages And gives him nothing for his work.
- Now I understand this is referring to business services, but I'm using this to illustrate a principle just like Paul did with not muzzling the ox in Deuteronomy 25:4 and using that to teach about a minister's wage.
- How many seek prayer, council, advice, and help from ministries or ministers to whom nothing is ever given? I can tell you from experience that there are many who've done that for years. They typically live from crisis to crisis. My wife Brenda says, "those who expect to get something for nothing, often get nothing. "
McDonalds can't keep offering hamburgers for free and neither does God's house work that way. The economy of the kingdom of God includes tithes, offerings, firstfruits and alms. The scripture identifies how these are to be distributed as well. It teaches how the ministers are expected to be people of high moral character who do not abuse or misuse their oversight in the distribution of these resources.
You see on MT Zion there were continual offerings that accompanied the prayer, praise and worship. Actually worship is not the slow song but rather the acts of kneeling, lifting up hands, bowing and giving. It was a sign of covenant and the ones who received these offerings also collaborated with the King to make proclamations upon behalf of the king.
The Kings Gave and the Ministers Prayed & Proclaimed
We find that 1 Chronicles 16 records the end of the procession where King David set up his tabernacle with 24/7 prayer, praise and worship. What was the first act of king David? 1 Chronicles 16:7 says, "On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord..."
The king delivered a Psalm. The Psalm was the written decree of the king. He began to rule and reign in in the kingdom of Israel first through prayer. Who did the praying and proclaiming? The ones who were receiving the offerings.
This is the pattern. For example consider King Cyrus. Why did Cyrus ask of the children of Israel he sent back to build God's house? He sent them back to (note the underline).
Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king's expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. And whatever they need—young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem—let it be given them day by day without fail, that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons.
This is the pattern we teach churches, ministries and networks who use 1Church1Day to mobilize.
Some Say Hire an Intercessor but I Say Covenant with a House of Prayer
I've heard businesses which have esteemed prayer so highly that they hired an intercessor. This is good and many have been so blessed. But I submit to you, that there is even a better way. My advice is, covenant with a House of Prayer (HOP) or a church, ministry or network who prays and is working to consistently invite God's abiding presence. It's better if for no other reason than the potential for the power of agreement that could be brought to bear upon your behalf.
I teach our ministers and ministries that when someone is tithing or giving offerings they have a covenant responsibility to watch over and pray for and with them first. It is the honorable thing to do. To give their time and attention to others for whom they have no responsibility for is not wise stewardship of their time and it dishonors those to whom they have responsibility for before the Lord.
Now I am not saying we don't help people. We do. We do it all the time. However, that charity is extended after we've taken care of our responsibilities first. We have a natural family and we have a spiritual family. In KLI we have three ways people can relate to us. It is as a Family, Tribe or Fellow Worker. The Family or Tribe members sign a covenant. They are part of our spiritual family which means they are given priority especially as it pertains to their destiny or a challenge they encounter. Why? Because it's right.
Does that make sense?
I hope this was helpful. I'd love to hear your feedback.