Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Idolatry of "Powerful Prayer"

So, I saw this on Facebook this morning:

Keep this going.......Heavenly Father, walk through my house, take away all my worries, any illnesses, please watch over and heal my family, & comfort my friends in Jesus name, Amen. This prayer is so powerful . Stop what your doing and set this to your status, and watch what He will do..♥

First of all... stop what "you're" doing, not what "your" doing. Grammar!

But I do find that deliciously ironic. The premise is that this prayer, these specific words are powerful. That given the power of this prayer, it will make things happen!

This is prayer idolatry. Seriously, it is. The cause, the source of God's blessing is no longer God, but my "powerful" prayer. Sure, I watch what He will do... but that mean old God wouldn't have done it without these powerful words that I have to get to you say as well.

Our prayer is not meant to manipulate God. It's not meant to get God to stop being so mean. "But, but, but... the prayer of a Righteous Man availeth much!"

Yep - and Jesus is the Righteous Man. And He is constantly interceding for you and I even when we are forgetful... but that Righteous Man teaches us to pray, not in order to twist God's arm, but in order that we might learn to be more like Him, learn more to trust in God and be concerned for our neighbor, and that we might not be overwhelmed by the burdens of life and rather remember that He cares for us totally.

"Powerful prayer." The Holy Spirit dwells within me, interceding for me -- like I need to have your specific words that some schlub worked up a few years ago.


Mike Baker said...

You should not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

What does this mean?

Answer – We should fear and love God so that we do not curse swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

Such summoning and conjuration prayers are superstitious witchcraft.

“And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." 14Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily."

-Acts 19:11-20

Anonymous said...

Great point, Pastor Brown. Well said, Mike.

The theology of glory always ends up making God a tool and means of some gain (even if that gain is pious, such as converting the lost). You need look no further than the pronouns folks use in conversation and particularly in prayer to discern whether they are glory-centered or cross-centered in their theology.

"Me", "I", "We", "Us" feature regularly in petitions like these, as if assuming that our prayers contain any innate qualities of efficacy or that its about what we are doing.
"He" (that is, Christ) is taken for granted. Yes, we are bold to pray, "Abba, Father", but only inasmuch as we are Baptized into Christ.

Anonymous said...

Prayer is a good thing. This prayer did make something happen... it got you and others to comment about it. It got people to post it as their Facebook status. So this prayer DID make things happen. Don't knock prayer as this prayer is POSITIVE. There is no need to be so serious and judgmental. Peace.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Anonymous - I don't have as much problem with the prayer but with the it is "so powerful". The power isn't in the prayer - the power is in God.

And this isn't being judgmental - this is simply ascribing all power and glory to God alone.

And as for it being good because it got me to comment -- by that logic, if I were to complain about Lada Gaga making a bloody fool tart of herself and how we need to start treating our bodies with more respect, would that suddenly mean that Lady Gaga is a good thing.

Let us be precise and clear when speaking about God.