Televangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum is defending her ministry, offering a seven-session prayer training course for $1,499.99 after critics called the price “outrageous.”
In a Facebook Live video posted Thursday, Bynum dismissed critics who said the cost of the prayer training was excessive. She said “discussing the price” of the course, which is due to start October 6, was “an insult to me, having been in the ministry for over 50 years”.
The 63-year-old preacher and author explained, “[I]was a pioneer in prayer and helping people understand prayer and letting them watch me do it so they would know that there are different dimensions and different levels of prayer.”
Saiko Woods, a Bible teacher in West Texas who hosts The Book Chapter Verse podcast, noted that he has had concerns for years after following Bynum’s ministry for years.
“When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, as we read in Matthew chapter six, there was no fee involved,” Woods said The Roys Report (TRR). “So prayer is free. There is no price for it.”
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A Chicago author and street preacher, Marcus Rogers, also publicly calls out Bynum.
“As you know, I never charge for travel and sermons, and I never charge for tuition,” Rogers posted on Facebook last week. “I feel like God gave it willingly, so I’m giving it willingly to help his people. . . . So I want to hear you all on this. I just find that outrageous.”
Bynum’s post received 3.7K replies and thousands of comments.
Regarding the course, Bynum emphasized that her television studio seats hundreds of people, and this Atlanta training envisioned her starting a “next level prayer school” that would be limited to 150 people. The online listing states that a carrying case, binder, journal, holy anointing oil, and a Prayer Institute certificate are included as part of the course.
“It’s going to be four weeks, seven sessions, in person,” she said. “It’s not a revival or a conference. I will consecrate you at the end and put a long prayer shawl on you and give you your certificate stamped with my seal of my ministry.”
TRR contacted Juanita Bynum International for further comment but received no response.
Woods, who attended Houston’s College of Biblical Studies for three years, said the course, as described online, does not appear to resemble any accredited curriculum with which he is familiar. “What I see are people claiming to be Christians selling goods to unsuspecting and naive people because that’s their market,” he said.
Citing 2 Peter 2, which speaks of false teachers, Woods described Bynum and other televangelists as “self-appointed, self-proclaimed prophets.” He added: “This is nothing more than a get-rich-quick program to fill their own coffers. And they do it at the cost of their own souls to make a profit.”
Bynum, whose TV programming airs four times a day on the Dallas-based Daystar network, has 1.3 million followers on Facebook and 248,000 followers on Instagram.
She claimed that in the past her service was made available to people for free. “In the past few years of traveling in ministry, I’ve given away more money than I care to think about right now,” Bynum said via Facebook Live. “[I have]preached at conferences and not taken a dime, which I have done and have done recently, and have stacks of letters to prove it.”
According to a database search, five different 501(c)3 organizations are listed as associated with Juanita Bynum. Only one such organization, New Juanita Bynum Ministry II Inc., has filed an IRS 990 form in recent years disclosing the salaries of its highest-paid employees. This nonprofit group reported $1.8 million in donations in 2020.
Bynum also said the course topics will include “understanding how to hear from God”, demonology, dream interpretation and the connection between mental health and prayer.
Woods, who described his theological background as a Reformed Baptist, said this latest offering from a televised preacher demonstrates a “lack of discernment” in many churches — particularly “in many charismatic communities.”
He explained, “Some of these people are sincere brothers and sisters, but they are naïve when it comes to what to look for in these ‘big’ ministers like Juanita Bynum and TD Jakes.”
Josh Shepherd is a freelance journalist writing about faith, culture and public policy for a variety of media outlets points of sale. He and his wife live in the Washington, DC area with their two children.