AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
You’ve got a beefy guard dog who you want to teach to attack anyone who irritates you. First you need to choose a special phrase that is going to be your attack command—perhaps an old standard like “sic ‘em!” Then you need to spend many hours teaching your dog to associate certain behaviors with that special command. It’s a lot of work training animals to behave the way that you want them to behave in certain moments. How convenient it would be if your dog came pre-trained. Imagine if the first day you met him, he said to you, “Hey, if you ever want me to attack someone for you, just say sic ‘em, and I’ll take them down.” How sweet would that be?
Today scores of Christians are treating Jesus like their pre-trained dog. When they’re working with a new convert to the faith, Christians are eager to explain how Jesus comes equipped with some convenient commands which He says we humans can use to make Him do our bidding in any given moment. Instead of saying sit, stay, or sic ‘em, we Christians just have to say in Jesus’ Name, and POW, Jesus will send those demons packing. Jesus is so eager to please us that He’ll even accept variations on the special command phrase. We can say in the Name of Jesus, and it’s just as effective. It’s a sweet life when you think you’ve got the God of the universe acting the part of your trained dog who lives to do your bidding. And of course we pride ourselves on being good masters by rewarding Jesus with treats after He does what we want. Compliments, worship songs, extra money in the offering plate—hey, why not? We want to keep little Jesus motivated to serve.
Now here’s where a lot of Christians are already in a major huff because they don’t like the very derogatory way we’re talking about Jesus. And yet if you think Jesus is going to pretend you’re not bossing Him up one side and down the other by flinging His Name around, you’ve got some serious waking up to do. If you ever want to get somewhere with the real Jesus, you’re going to need to stop with this Name flinging business because it is utterly inappropriate. You’re not the boss of Jesus. You’re just a created speck. He doesn’t take orders from you, which is why if you’re honest, you’ll have to admit that your attempts to control Him by declaring His Name have met with mixed results. Sometimes Jesus does what you want, other times you feel the need to start repeating the command because He’s not getting it in gear fast enough. By now you’ve already sent up a boatload of requests that Jesus has completely vetoed. Yes, God most certainly does answer all of our requests. But how quickly we forget that no is an answer, and it’s also the main answer we receive when we keep throwing up immature requests.
Of course it’s embarrassing when Jesus doesn’t obey us the first time every time, so we’ve come up with a lot of ways to try and save face. We say that there is power in repetition—and of course that’s just code for “We don’t want to admit that God is saying no to us so we’re just going to keep asking Him the same thing over and over and hope that He eventually does it.” Then if He does, we say, “Look! Prayer works!” How ridiculous of us. God just did what He wanted to do according to His own schedule. Meanwhile, we were so out of sync with Him that we were asking Him to act way before He was ready to. Being so out of touch with God’s will is hardly something to boast about, but we Christians work hard to repackage our flaws as triumphs.
Take a closer look at all of this guff about the power of prayer and you’ll find that the prayer practices Christians promote the most are just a bunch of lame attempts to hide the fact that we spend so much time praying for all the wrong things. How do we know we’re praying for the wrong things? Because God keeps saying no. First He says no to you. Then He says no to you and your friend Betty. Then He says no to you, Betty, and the entire ladies prayer group. By now you’d think that you and Betty would start to get a clue, but nope, you just don’t want to face up to the fact that you’re praying for the wrong thing. So you add your request to the church prayer chain, and then you have Pastor John get the whole congregation to send up the same request on Sunday morning. God just keeps right on saying no, because none of you are praying in alignment with His will. Of course it’s hard to get in alignment when you’re never listening, but listening isn’t a popular pastime among praying Christians. Six months later, when God finally does what you want, you, Betty, the ladies home group, and the whole church congregation pompously pat yourselves on the back for being such powerful prayer warriors. Instead of trying to learn something useful from the fact that you just spent six months totally out of sync with God on the issue, you’re all acting like it’s a great thing to be such bossy, stubborn twits.
Now trying to get Christians to own up to what dominating pills they’re being when they pray is tough to do because most of us just aren’t ready to let go of the delusion that Jesus is willing to serve us. Christians are like all other humans: they want to be the masters, not the slaves. Jesus said we were slaves. Jesus said a lot of very pride grinding stuff which we just don’t want to hear, so we ignore all of that stuff and we just cling to the sentences we like. We like it when Jesus said that if any two of His disciples set their greedy little hearts on something, Yahweh would be compelled to do it. In other words, we just have to command Yahweh in pairs and boom, we’ve got ourselves a second all-powerful Slave who we can perpetually boss around.
During the Last Supper, Jesus told His boys that they could ask Him for anything in His Name and He’d do it. Sweet. Of course we’re all over comments like that while we totally blow off all of those parables about people ending up eternally damned for their lack of submission to God. As long it’s ego-pleasing, it doesn’t matter how ludicrous it is: we’ll believe it. Jesus doing anything we ask if we just use the magic command? Why not?? It doesn’t matter that we’ve spent the last 2,000 years proving what a crock this concept is—we’re still clinging to it as a rock solid promise (see Practicing Discernment: Jesus Lies). Of course our kids keep dying even though we’re commanding healing in Jesus’ Name. Of course demons keep hassling us even though we’re invoking the Name against their strongholds. And even though we’ve pleaded for world peace, the salvation of all humans, and for Hell to sort of just go away, Jesus keeps welshing on His promise to do anything we want. It turns out there really isn’t any power in the Name after all. There isn’t power in the Blood or the cross, either. It’s Jesus who has the power, and Jesus won’t take orders from us.
You can’t succeed with Jesus by trying to control Him. Whenever you invoke His Name, you are trying to control Him. Take the classic scenario of you rebuking the devil in Jesus’ Name. Here’s where a lot of Christians try to argue that they’re not commanding Jesus, they’re commanding demons. What a bunch of hooey. The only reason you’re bringing Jesus into it is because you know you can’t take demons on by yourself. Your emphatic rebuking is just your way of saying, “Sic ‘em, Jesus!” And once you’re ordering Jesus to attack some other creature at your command, you are so trying to dominate Him. You’re not submitting, because submission is about following, not leading. And while you’re busy acting like the god of God, you’re totally discounting Jesus’ sovereignty and acting like this whole demon event is some kind of failing on His part. After all, where was Jesus when the demons first attacked you? Was He off napping somewhere? Was He feeling overwhelmed by all the sin in the world? Of course not. While you can’t even control your own heartbeat, Jesus is controlling everything He ever created with total ease. Demons don’t attack you because Jesus fell down on the job. Demons attack you because Jesus wanted them to. He’s the One who gave them access to you in the first place, and since the whole crisis is of His own making, it’s all the more inappropriate for you to order Him to undo it just because you don’t like it.
You’re not the one the universe revolves around. Sure, you have opinions, but if you want to stay on the right side of Jesus’ patience, you need to learn to express your opinions with a lot more respect. He’s the God, you’re the speck. Demons are creatures who Jesus is choosing to sustain, and He’s hardly going to take orders from you about how He should manage His own property. If you want to actually benefit from your tussles with demons, you need to focus on submission. Submission is a soul attitude which says to Jesus “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Submission inspires prayers like, “Help me to learn whatever You want to teach me through this trial” (see The Spiritual Benefits of Being Trampled by Demons). Submission does not say, “What is this demon doing here?! Jesus, what is Your problem?! You know I hate demons! Get this thing out of here NOW—that’s an order!” A prayer like that is domination and rebuking demons is all about you trying to dominate your Creators. Oh, sure, you’re focusing on the demons, but your commands are really directed at Yahweh, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit.
Dominating soul attitudes abound among Christians, which is why the Christian label is so meaningless. We can attend church, sing snarky worship songs, and fling Jesus’ Name around all we want—until we sufficiently submit to our Creators we’re going to end up in Hell. In real life, a whole lot of so-called Christians are getting chucked into Hell every day because they spent their entire lives on earth treating Jesus like their super-powerful Servant instead of revering Him as their Master.
Jesus is God Almighty. Yahweh, Jesus, and the magnificent Holy Spirit are the Supreme Authorities over all things. Treat Them as less than Supreme in your own life, and you’ll soon discover just how meaningless Jesus’ supposed promise to do anything you want really is. The wrath of our Gods is a truly terrifying thing, and if you have any sense, you’ll stop flinging Jesus’ Name around like some all-purpose spell. While you’re at it, stop talking to the mighty Holy Spirit like He’s some kind of weather system. No, He really isn’t going to blow, fall, and burn just to entertain a bunch of irreverent brats.
As a general rule, Christians do an abominable job of speaking to their Gods with respect. What we call “prayer” tends to be nothing more than an endless stream of us trying to manipulate, nag, and coerce our Gods into doing what we want. For the most part, They don’t respond to this kind of snark by immediately nailing us with some dramatic form of punishment. But if we think that They’re not already putting Their revenge into motion, we need to think again (see The Eternal Cost of Defying God: A Warning for Christians). There are terrifying consequences for lipping off to the three non-human Beings who have total control over your quality of life. If you’re smart, you’ll ask Them to help you eliminate all dominating elements from your prayer life and teach you what real submission is.
Prayer Warriors: Disrespecting God & Proud of It
In Jesus’ Name, Amen: How does God feel about the traditional Christian sign-off?
How Your Powerful Prayers Are Wrecking Your Relationship with God
Hymns That Lead Us Astray: There is Power in the Blood
Worship Song Analysis: THE NAME OF JESUS by Chris Tomlin
Singing Smack to the Holy Spirit: CONSUMING FIRE by Tim Hughes
Treating God Like God: Simple Steps to Improving the Way that We Pray
Practicing Submission in the Way that We Pray