When Prayer Becomes Magical Thinking……

posted in: Prayer | 0

Hard word: Telling someone that their prayers for discernment are pointless if they are not committed to spending time in the Word of God connecting with the touchstone of truth and instead are thinking that such wisdom is going to just arise out of their own reason and experience because they have professed faith in Jesus Christ and are content to listen to someone else talk about truth. We live in too relativistic a culture to trust someone else’s interpretation of truth. Go to the source or quit pretending that truth is what you really want.
Prayers themselves are not pointless, but if someone is praying SPECIFICALLY for discernment of God’s will and to know right from wrong, good from evil, which is the context in which this was discussed, and the person is only basing it on his own judgement or experience or looking to others for opinions instead of searching God’s Word, I’m thinking that person is wishing and hoping or doing a survey, not earnestly seeking God’s gift of discernment (the ability to recognize good and evil and recognize the origin from which each is arising). How does one test “truth” without a standard outside of one’s own thoughts or opinion or that of others? This was also in the context of “testing” spirits- one’s own desires within one’s own spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, or the influence of an evil spirit. I’m not judging someone’s salvation or prayer life or understanding of the Word, just observing that saying you’re praying for something as specific as discernment but not looking for answers in the Word, as this person indicated was not something he spent a lot of time doing, reflects a huge oversight and overlooks one of God’s primary means of providing us with the answers we seek.
God speaks to us as we read his Word, by his Spirit, through people he puts in our lives, and through the circumstances of our lives. In an effort to assure that what we’re hearing, or discerning, is from God and not arising from the desires of our own human spirit or from influences of evil, we are to use Scripture first and foremost, apostolic tradition and the tried and true wisdom of the church (when it was actually seeking truth in the Word and being obedient, too, because God is faithful and does not change in character), the ability to reason that God HAS given us and other trustworthy people whom God has placed in our lives, and lastly, our own experience and that of other trustworthy people who can help us discern truth. If you take out the first 2 – due to ignorance, laziness, or dismissing them as invalid- and you rely only on the last two you are opening yourself to the risk of significant deception.
One pastor friend, Anita Brown, commented that she had heard a pastor say “If you are praying, but not reading the Bible, you are just talking to yourself”. She has repeated that often….as well as reminded herself of it often!

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