Manipulating God; Fooling yourself
I love God's Word; the Bible. There has always been a lot of debate in the Christian world about certain teachings like what people call The Prosperity Gospel. For those of you who don’t know what this teaching is, it’s something that goes along the lines of using certain parts of God’s Word, the Bible, to ‘claim’ blessing and all types of prosperity for yourself and your life. For instance, taking the promise of God being my provider to get myself a new car, house or for money to appear in my bank account through the chanting of a specific bible verse such as Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Some of you may ask “where’s the problem in that?” or some of you may be saying “yup! I claim this promise all the time!”. Others of you may be saying “yes! This is the prosperity gospel! What about all the poor Christians in the world??”.
Well, here’s the problem. Without going into depth of the bible verse (exegete, context etc) the bible was never meant to be a spell book. It points to and tells the truth about the actual Word Himself; Jesus.
One of my favourite verse is John 15:7-8 where Jesus says this to His disciples; “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit: so you will be My disciples.”
Pretty amazing verse. Ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. Wow. Amazing promise right?! Right. It is. But there are few important parameters that this promise (and every other promise in the bible for that matter) needs to actually be functional from a self-desire point of view.
1. You must abide in Jesus Himself and His Words.
This means you must stay in close proximity and relationship with Jesus Himself. Putting Him as number 1 in your life; Living out what He said and says. Your life must not be your own, it must be His.
2. It must be in line with the mission of honouring God and making disciples.
“By this My Father is glorified (honouring God), that you bear much fruit: so you will be My disciples (making disciples and being seen as a disciple). We are here and have the promises so that we can fulfil His mission! Promises aren’t just for ourselves!
It’s good to make our requests known to God, but it’s another to demand God to do what we want Him to. What’s even more surprising is that we use it like a charge against Him; “God! Your Word says provide so you must provide for me!” Like it’s a law we throw in His face and we somehow are the Word of God Police to the very One who wrote it!
We forget something very important. HE IS THE WORD and if you’re not so close to Him that everything He is focused on you are focused on; if you are not focused on honouring Him and making disciples, reciting the word to get what you want or even think you want, won’t work and you’ll simply be frustrated and confused.
I remember when I came to this realisation a while ago and it changed the entire way I pray and worship Him. It changed from constantly praying requests and my ‘must do list’ to just wanting to be in His presence and allowing Him to tell me how He wants to do things. This is VERY important.
Once, God did an amazing miracle in my life to do with provision of a lawyer so that I could see my daughter for the first time (the value was in the tens of thousands). 11 years later when I needed the same miracle, I went to God and said “God! You did it before, You’ll do it again! *Insert Isaiah 49:25* You’ll contend with those who contend with me and my daughter you will save! Send another lawyer!” But this time He said to me “No. I want to do it differently this time. This time you need to wait for Me differently.” I would of ignored this if I didn’t know the mission that God has given me; Abide in Jesus, Honour the Father and make disciples. So, my prayers changed in accordance and in line with the mission.
If you don’t pray in line with His mission, in line with wanting to be with the actual person who is the Word, you will constantly wonder “why God, are you not doing the scriptures I am speaking out? Why are you not doing what you did last time? Why are you frustrating my dreams with failure?” So when you pray, listen first, talk second and maybe even sometimes just go and sit with Him. You’ll be amazed at our much He has to say. He loves you and we know this because He died for you. And so think on this last point; Jesus on the cross is exactly why thinking that simply reciting the bible to get what we want is dangerous. The display of Joy and Faith is most powerful in hopeless situations.