Updated: Jul 17, 2019
The following is the first of a series looking closely at the teachings of Robert Henderson found in his book Operating in the Courts of Heaven. I first suggest some theological questions that require answers before the teaching is embraced whole-heartedly, then evaluate the biblical passages used to back-up the teaching.
Operating in the Courts of Heaven is a book and series of teachings by Robert Henderson that purport to solve the problem of unanswered prayer as well as bring a correction to the way people pray that will prevent defeat, chaos, destruction in our lives and “intercessory backlash” – the feeling that Satan is making things difficult for you when you choose to stand in intercessory prayer. The solution offered is an alternate model of intercessory prayer.
Prayer is not, Henderson says, conducted primarily on ‘the battlefield.’ This is to address some of the problems he sees with typical practices of people praying in intercession; striving, directing prayers against the enemy and his works, with a repetition and longevity that prove by experience to be ineffectual and serve to stir up demonic forces more than dismantle them. For our evaluation, let us call this the Battlefield model. Henderson recommends instead we conduct our prayers primarily in the Courtroom of Heaven. Let us call this the Courtroom model.
The Courtroom of Heaven is a heavenly place where petitions, accusations, arguments and evidence are presented to God the Father, who plays the role of a presiding judge establishing ‘legal precedents’ – or making rulings. Jesus is the mediator, who advocates for the praying individual. As we navigate our way through this legal system, books that contain what God desires for every individual, tribe and nation, written before time began in the council of the Lord, can be opened and read from so that ‘his word can be made flesh’ – or his desire become a reality here on earth. The books are open and their contents available through personal revelation and prophetic insight. When we remind God of what is written in the books we set the courts of heaven in motion.
Just as courts of law here on earth have certain customs, there are also appropriate procedures for the heavenly courtroom. Satan is the prosecuting attorney, whose accusations of past, present and ancestral sin are evidence as to why the Judge cannot legally grant what is written in the books. Our role is to contend in the courtroom for the content of those books. Specifically, to silence the accusations of the devil by confession of sin – even sins not your own. Thus, we meet the legal condition required for our forgiveness, cleansing and holiness. Satan’s only strategy for prayer prevention is defeated. We also are tasked with agreeing with testimonial evidence from a collection of nine different voices (eight of which are listed in Hebrews 12:22-24). Thus, we grant God the evidence required for him to render just verdicts and judgements and fulfil his passion.
The remainder of the book (chapters 6-14) is an elucidation of these nine voices. Chapter 15 is a concise and helpful summary of the preceding chapters.
Overview of Evaluation
In “The Courtroom on Trial?” series of posts, some theological problems with the Courtroom model of intercessory prayer are discussed. These include;
- Is the nature of the Courts of Heaven obscured by the limitations of human language?
- Does the courtroom model suggest God is not the ultimate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest either God is not all-knowing or heaven is imperfect?
- Does the courtroom model suggest Christ’s atoning death on the cross was inadequate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest a theology of works?
- Does Operating in the Courts of Heaven imply a theological method that prioritises personal experiences over biblical revelation?
Following these the exegetical problems are discussed. These include;
- The persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)
- The heavenly books
- Heaven’s council
- The five stage process (Romans 8:29-30)
- Simon Peter’s courtroom trial (Luke 22:31-32)
Finally, I provide my own conclusion and recommendations.