The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

God, Terrorism & You

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

As solo terrorist attacks dominate the daily news headlines with increasing frequency, it’s a great time to think about what you are supposed to be learning from all of these suicide bombers, random stabbers, and crazed gunmen.  The psychological factors that turn Average Joe Citizen into a screaming assailant really aren’t so mysterious.  People always have logical reasons for what they do, and whether it’s revenge, desperation, or dreams of a better life in eternity, the final results look the same to the public: some random guy violently assaulted a bunch of people without warning and now some people are dead and others are so horribly injured that they wish they were dead.  Terrorism is, well, terrifying.  So how is it affecting you when you pull up the news and read that another attack has occurred?  Have you ever been caught in one of these gruesome events, or have you known someone who was?  Noticing your own level of angst is quite important, because the more upset you are by these events, the more there is for you to learn.  You see, when it comes to your own spiritual development, there’s a principle that’s quite useful to bear in mind: if it upsets you, then it’s partly about you. 

Because God is such a multi-tasker, He’s always advancing many different agendas with each act that He does.  God works with humans on an individual basis—He’s talking with us all every day, teaching us different things, coaching us on how to deal with stress, and convicting us to make certain soul choices.  Let’s take Mike—a married man with kids who just got fired from his job.  How many people is God affecting with this event?  Well, Mike naturally feels like he’s the main target in this situation.  But is he?  Mike’s wife is a lot more stressed than she’s letting on.  His kids are worrying.  His parents and in-laws are worrying as well.  Because Mike is a quiet guy with very few friends, he figures that no one really notices what’s happening in his life.  He figures he’s not making much of an impact on anyone.  And yet Mike is wrong, because the truth is that God is using Mike’s recent firing to impact far more people a lot more deeply than Mike realizes.  Even Mike’s neighbor gets wind of what’s going on, and though he and Mike never talk, the neighbor is very concerned about Mike’s situation and he’s watching the family closely for any signs of stress.

So what’s good about stressing?  Well, from a health perspective, stress is a major negative. But from a spiritual perspective, stress is a fantastic growth tool.  Stress functions like a big marker that highlights core beliefs you have about God which either need to be revised or strengthened.  After all, just why is Mike stressing so much about getting fired?  When we pop into Mike’s head for a moment, we hear him thinking the following thoughts:

If I don’t find another job soon, how am I going to pay the bills? How am I going to provide for my family?  Why did God let this happen?  I was a good, honest worker, so why am I being punished?  How can I trust a God who trashes me like this?  He knows what I need and He’s just standing back letting Satan mess up my life.  Why?  What did I ever do to Him?  I go to church.  I tithe.  This just proves what I’ve always felt about God: that He doesn’t really care about us at all.

A lot of theological beliefs surfaced in this speech.  Notice how Mike is interpreting his firing as a form of punishment.  Notice how he describes himself as getting attacked by Satan while God refuses to step in.  Notice how he points to his church attendance and tithing as reasons why God is wrong to have him fired.  Clearly Mike thinks going through some religious motions is supposed to affect how God treats him.  Notice how he questions God’s goodness and mentions the soul attitude of trust.  And notice how he refers to a negative view of God which he says he’s been carrying around for a long time.  By introducing this new trial into Mike’s life, God has effectively raked up a bunch of theological issues that Mike needs help with.  He’s exposed weaknesses in Mike’s personal relationship with God.  When we listen to this speech, we’re not hearing a man who feels confident that God loves him.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Mike has some serious doubts and concerns about how God views him.  How is God responding to this situation?  He could cause Mike’s life to keep going along smoothly, thus never provoking Mike into facing how weak his relationship with God is.  But instead, God is shaking Mike’s world up for the purpose of getting Mike to face how real his doubts about God are and look to God for help.

While Mike interprets his situation as evidence that God really doesn’t care about him, quite the opposite is true.  God does care about Mike—so much so that He isn’t content to leave their relationship in such a shabby state.  He’s going after Mike. He’s pushing Mike to engage with Him.  He’s challenging Mike to rethink some of his beliefs about how God operates.  If Mike takes a teachable attitude during this trial period, he’s going to end up much better off for having gone through it.  But the first big step is for God to make Mike rattled enough to even ask certain questions, and that’s where the sudden firing proved to be the perfect tool.  Not only is God using this scenario to shake Mike up, He’s also shaking up everyone in Mike’s small little world who finds this situation distressing.  Remember that key principle: if it upsets you, then it’s partly about you.  It’s not going to be entirely about you, because God is such a multi-tasker.  But God knows all about what your personal buttons are, and when He presses one, it’s on purpose, it’s not a fluke.

So now let’s talk about terrorist attacks.  How are you responding to news of increasing terrorist attacks around the globe?  What specific concerns are these events stirring up for you?  If we were to pop into your head as we did Mike’s, what would we hear you thinking about?  What questions about God would we hear you asking?

From a spiritual perspective, this new trend of terrorism is actually quite exciting because what we have here is an issue which is universally threatening. Not everything falls into that category.  If you read about a skier getting killed in an avalanche, but you never ski yourself and you hate the snow, then that fellow’s icy end just isn’t going to feel very relevant to you.  Because you plan to steer clear of frosty peaks, you figure that what happened to him will never happen to you.  As long as you’re fluffing off other people’s problems as irrelevant to you, you’re not going to start the process that Mike is going through. You’re not going to start reviewing your core beliefs about God and you’re not going to turn your focus onto your personal relationship with Him.

So what if God does want you to turn your focus towards Him?  Well, God is a master at creating specific trials that will motivate individual humans to ask certain questions, and He’s constantly setting up these kinds of problems in individual lives.  But sometimes we see God shift gears and start creating a string of problems which effectively threaten the whole human race for the same reasons at the same time.  This rise of solo terrorist attacks is a fabulous example of this.  Notice how God keeps shifting the target around to various countries.  France, Germany, England, Canada, the United States.  These are considered the “stable” countries—the countries which are supposed to have their act together enough to prevent mayhem from filling their streets.

When a country has a rep for being in a constant state of war, the rest of the world stops viewing attacks in that country as significant.  It’s not a good thing that we treat some lives as less important than others, but this is what happens when humans acclimate to violence.  We start saying things like, “They’re always fighting over there,” and we brush off the news.  But when countries who pride themselves on being more advanced keeping getting bombed, and as we see them raising security at public events, the lack of control becomes obvious.  Stopping complex attacks is one thing, but how do you stop rogue individuals who are detonating themselves in open markets and on public streets?  It’s simply not practical to scan people 24/7 for explosive materials or weapons, and with bombs being delivered via ambulances and other trusted symbols, feelings of fear and helplessness only increase.  So how are you responding to this growing pattern of governments tossing up their hands in frustration as yet another public scene is filled with carnage?

For Christians, the instinctive response to terrorism is to pray.  As soon as a new terrorist attack is reported, you see scores of people claiming to be “praying” for the victims and their families.  And all of this praying is clearly a good thing, right?  Not necessarily.  You see, when you pray, you end up rehearsing and reinforcing certain beliefs that you have.  If you’re rehearsing and reinforcing lies, then your prayers will actually end up harming you.

Christians love to talk about “the power of prayer,” and prayer is indeed powerful, but not for the reasons that they think.  You see, most Christians are envisioning God and/or demons as the ones getting effected by their potent prayers.  The common Christian view of prayer is that it’s a highly effective tool for getting supernatural beings to do what we want.  And yet, as is often the case with common Christian doctrines, this theory about prayer is a complete reversal of truth. In real life, it’s not other beings who are impacted by your prayers.  Instead you are the one being changed by the great power of your own prayers, and that power is mainly expressed through the rehearsal of beliefs.

BAD ROLE MODELS

If you repeat something enough times, it will start to sound credible, no matter how absurd it really is.  If you talk to God using certain language, you will effectively talk yourself into viewing Him as some incompetent Oaf who needs you to tell Him what the best course of action is.  The Christian response to terror is a great example here.  An attack happens somewhere, and instantly Christians are claiming to be praying for the folks in that city.  But how exactly are they praying—are they praying in a way that will help themselves or are they praying in a way that is going to harm their own walks with God?  We pulled the following Christian prayer off of a website that was guiding Christians on how to respond to the bombing of a rock concert in Manchester, England.  See if you can identify the core beliefs about God that are being expressed in this prayer:

O God, the Author of peace and Lover of concord, to know You is eternal life and to serve You is perfect freedom: Defend us, Your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in Your defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

What a neurotic bit of doubletalk this is.  Notice how we start out by calling God the “Author of peace” and the “Lover of concord (which means harmony).”  We claim that simply serving Him is perfect freedom and that knowing Him is eternal life.  Then we ask God to defend us from all of the assaults of our enemies.  Um…what’s wrong with this picture?  This is God we’re talking to, right?  So if He’s such a Fan of peace and harmony, why are we ever having a bad day?  God is supposed to be mega-powerful, right?  He created everything and sustains all life, so if He’s such a Lover of peace, why is He allowing war in the first place?  Who are these enemies that keep assaulting us and why are they being allowed to succeed with their attacks?  If the “Author of peace” is really God Almighty, then how come someone has succeeded at polluting His peace with violence?

It really doesn’t work for you to ask God to defend you from your enemies in the same breath that you’re saying what God wants is failing to happen.  According to this prayer, God is all about peace and love, so clearly He couldn’t have had anything to do with people getting blown to bits at a rock concert.  No, that had to be “our enemies”—notice how it’s the enemies, not God, who get blamed for “assaulting us” in this prayer.  Obviously the “Author of peace” couldn’t have played a role in the bombing, because God just doesn’t author violence.  And yet playing this very popular game of pretending God has nothing to do with violence only backfires on us in nasty ways.  Because by claiming that God had nothing to do with a terrorist bombing which happened on His watch, you are forced to conclude that God was overpowered or outsmarted by a set of “enemies” which He clearly can’t control. And it is this sad excuse for a Deity that you’re calling on to defend you—the same Fellow who was too incompetent to stop the bombing in the first place.  So, really?  Your God is this much of an Oaf?  No wonder you’re feeling so stressed.  If God is so lame that He can’t even stop one human from setting off a bomb, how can you expect Him to defend you from anyone ever?  Are you seeing what’s wrong with this prayer?  Sure, it sounds fancy on the surface, but when you really think about what’s happening here, we’re all just admitting that God dropped the ball and we’re begging Him to get His act together so “that we, surely trusting in Your defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries.”  And yet how realistic is this goal?  How can we hope to ever get in a position of “surely trusting” God for anything if He can’t even stop His own creatures from bombing each other?  Since this prayer is a clear admission that the “Author of peace” is no match for the “authors of violence,” we’ve got no real basis for hope.  All we’ve got is a weenie God who has apparently let His own creatures dominate Him, and now bomb happy humans are running the show while the “Lover of concord” is sitting there feeling baffled.

If you want to spiritually benefit from terrorism, you need to stop listening to the clowns in the Church and start listening to God.  There is a reason that God is arranging these terrorist attacks and ensuring that they succeed.  There is a reason He is putting these headlines in your face over and over and systematically eroding your confidence in the abilities of weenie humans to protect you.  No one can protect you from God’s will for your life, and if you want that to not be a terrifying thought, you need to get your theology right about who God is.  God really isn’t some Oaf who is watching demons and humans wreck the world that He created.  God really isn’t some flaky Ally who fails to get your back when it matters most.  God never said it was His agenda to keep you in some problem free bubble of joy, so the sooner you stop asking Him to return to a goal He never claimed to have, the sooner you can start praying right.

Praying right means praying in ways that will actually help your soul develop the attitudes that God says He wants to teach you: things like reverence, submission, dependency and trust.  As long as you’re busy acting like the god of God by telling Him how He ought to manage other people’s lives, you’ll be stuck praying like this very misguided Cardinal who gave this response to the Manchester bombing:

“May God grant strength and enduring faith to all who are bereaved, injured and traumatised. May God welcome into His merciful presence all who have died. May God turn the hearts of all who commit evil to a true understanding of His desire and intention for humanity.”

This prayer is not only bossy, it’s disrespectful.  First notice how the Cardinal is praying for everyone but himself.  Instead of looking at his own walk with God, the Cardinal finds it acceptable to fire off three rounds of instructions on how God ought to manage other people. He first tells God to “grant strength and enduring faith to the bereaved, injured and traumatised.”  The very fact that the Cardinal feels the need to say such a thing demonstrates his absolute lack of confidence that God would naturally do this on His own.  You see, when you ask God to help others, it’s like you’re saying, “Please don’t be Your usual jerky Self.  This time, actually help people for a change.”

Think about your honest answer to this question: Without any humans lecturing God on how He ought to behave, how would He naturally respond to the victims of a terrorist attack?  What do you think God’s default behavior looks like?  Do you think His normal mode of operation is to just ignore people’s suffering?  You see, as a human, you don’t ask anyone for something unless you don’t believe you already have it.  If you own a car, you don’t say, “I wish I had a car.”  If you are confident in your spouse’s love for you, you don’t say, “I wish I had a spouse who loved me.”  If you ask your friend Joe to hold your wallet and he takes it, you don’t then say, “Joe, can you please hold my wallet for me?”  Instead, you acknowledge that Joe is holding your wallet by saying, “Thanks for holding my wallet, Joe.”

When it comes to how you talk to God, these same principles apply.  If you really believe that God loves people far more than you do, and if you really believe He is actively involved in every life, then you simply don’t pray things like, “God, please help those struggling people.”  You don’t pray this because you already know that God is helping those people and everyone else.  You not only know that He’s helping them, you know that He’s doing a far better job of helping them than you ever would because He’s so much wiser and more compassionate than you are.

So what does our Cardinal really believe about God’s Character?  Does he believe that God is already helping the victims of terror in Manchester?  No, he clearly does not, and that is why he is expressing a desire for God to do so in the future.  You don’t start a sentence with the word “May” unless you’re hoping for something to happen in the future which isn’t happening now.  A child asks “May I have dessert?” before the dessert is on his plate.  A Cardinal only prays “May God help those people” before God has begun to do so.  You see, the language people use in their prayers reveals volumes about what they really believe about God—it also demonstrates what blowhards Christians are with all of their waxing on about how good, trustworthy, and faithful God is.  You can give God fancy titles like “the Author of peace” all day, but if you still feel the need to beg Him to defend you, that title obviously doesn’t mean much.  You can declare to the masses that God is loving, but if you then pray things like, “May God help those hurting people,” it becomes quite clear that you really don’t believe what you preach at all.

So after expressing a hope that God will start actually helping the people traumatized by a bombing—something which He apparently isn’t already doing—our Cardinal goes on to say:

May God welcome into His merciful presence all who have died.

This language is obnoxiously disrespectful.  Since when is it appropriate for dots like us to tell God who He should and shouldn’t be merciful to?  In the Bible that Christians hold in such high esteem, God makes it quite clear that He demands a certain level of respect and submission before He’s going to grant anyone entrance into His Heaven.  But is our Cardinal showing one iota of respect for God’s preferences in this speech?  No, he’s treating God’s preferences as non-existent and totally irrelevant by telling God to just let all the dead humans in.  Doesn’t matter who they were or how they individually treated God.  Doesn’t matter if some of them despised God from the day they knew of His existence.  Even though our Cardinal is incapable of accurately assessing the soul choices of any other human, and even though he is aware of the fact that the world is full of souls who delight in hating God, he makes his preferences quite clear in this snarky little suggestion that God ought to just shut up and smile upon any human who dies because what we want totally trumps what He wants.  Let’s hear it for solid spiritual leadership in the Church.

So after asking God not to be His usual indifferent, callous Self, and after expressing zero respect for God’s feelings and preferences, our Cardinal concludes with this final statement:

May God turn the hearts of all who commit evil to a true understanding of His desire and intention for humanity.

This is a request for God to spiritually illuminate humans—to introduce Himself to those who don’t understand who He is.  Once again the problem here is that our Cardinal feels the need to make such a request in the first place.  Clearly he doesn’t feel that spiritually educating humans is God’s normal mode of operation.  So what does he think that God normally does?  It sounds like he thinks God just ignores us—that He lets us run amuck with evil without ever intervening in our lives or helping us thrive as human beings.  Apparently God is used to just sitting around letting humans rot in their stupidity and base instincts.  So it’s a good thing our Cardinal is piping up to tell God to get off the stick and actually start involving Himself in people’s lives.  How very insulting.

In just three lines, our Cardinal has conveyed the following sentiments to God: “I think You normally ditch us when we’re struggling.  I couldn’t care less about Your demands that we respect and submit to You.  I think You normally ignore us and don’t even attempt to help us understand who You are or what You want.”  But hey, a Cardinal prayed this prayer, thus it’s being promoted by Christian news outlets as a great model for us all.  After all, being a Cardinal makes it okay to publicly dis God, right?  No, it really doesn’t.

MORE FOOLISHNESS

Now lest you think we’re picking on Catholics, we’re not.  Catholics do not have a corner market on bad praying.  In every Christian denomination, we find reams of insulting prayers getting rolled out whenever a terrorist attack hits the front page.  Just to prove how universal the idiocy is, let’s take a sample from the morons over at “Charisma News”—a popular online pulpit for a whole host of false prophets who wouldn’t recognize the Holy Spirit if they tripped over Him.  Immediately following the Manchester attack, one dingdong produced this seven step list of “prophetic prayer insights” for how we should all be praying to God in the aftermath of this “heartbreaking attack.”  Brace yourself.  It’s going to be bad.

1. Pray for protection. Claim Psalm 91 over your Britain, over your nation and over your life. Turn Psalm 91 into the base of prophetic prayer. Let that be a jumping-off point for you to release prophetic declarations of protection.

This first directive which our author claims to have received from God promotes the absurd notion that the Bible is some powerful book of incantations that we can use to manipulate, well, everyone.  Here we’re told that the appropriate spell to start casting is Psalm 91—a very popular selection for Christians due to its absurdly simplistic and unrealistic portrayal of how God actually works in human lives.  Feeling quite high in the aftermath of a great military victory, the author of Psalm 91 made up a bunch of guarantees that God never gave him or anyone else (see Psalm 91: Life is Perfect & God Always Does What We Want).  Refusing to see any flaws in their sacred Scriptures, scores of Christians today continue to set themselves up for disillusionment by trying to treat the claims of Psalm 91 as valid.  And this is what our spiritual instructor is doing for us here in Step 1: she’s telling us to claim a bunch of totally false promises for not just ourselves, but for whole nations in the world.  Then she instructs us to “jump-off” from there to randomly start babbling a bunch of “prophetic declarations of protection.”  The assumption here of course is that God will be forced to do whatever we babble at Him.  Why?  Because we’re the gods of God, of course.  We’re mega sorcerers who can make even our own Creator become the slave of our spoken will (see Understanding Verbal Blessing & Cursing: So Much Hype, So Little Power).  We told you it would be bad.

2. Pray for specific prayer strategies to combat terror. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but we are wrestling against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (see Eph. 6.) We need new moves in the spirit to combat the rise of terror. We need our intercession to wax prophetic—moving beyond mere petitions based on the written Word of God.

There’s nothing like quoting the moronic apostle Paul to boost your case that we all have to get our hustle on to compensate for God’s innate incompetence (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ).  Paul had as much faith in God as the Cardinal we just finished dealing with.  Paul’s much ballyhooed metaphor of “spiritual armor” that is found in Ephesians 6 only sounds cool once you assume that you have to do the bulk of your own spiritual battling because God can’t be counted on for anything.  You see, once you think Satan has got God locked up in a closet somewhere, duct taped to a chair, then sure, you’ve got to suit up because now it’s down to just you and Satan’s bad boys.  You’ve got to rely on your own awesomeness to save the day because God is clearly incapable of holding those fearsome “principalities” back.  What a pain in the neck this God of ours has turned out to be by always creating things that He can’t control.  And since He’s constantly getting defeated by these clever and adaptable foes, we obviously need “new moves in the spirit” to combat the rise of terror.  Let’s hear it for spiritual judo.

Whenever you hear Christians refer to “intercession” think of the phrase “God’s an incompetent moron” because that is how you have to view God on some level before you can actually view intercession in a positive light.  What Christians call “intercession” is nothing more than humans nagging God to do what they have decided is best.  Just as our Cardinal showed no respect for God’s preferences by telling God to let everyone into His Heaven, intercessors view themselves as providing God with a critical boost in the areas of wisdom and power.  They believe that God is incapable of getting evil in check without their help, and they view themselves as wiser than Him, which is why they’re always telling Him what to do. Obviously our little prophetess views the Manchester bombing as clear evidence that God just got trampled by the powers of darkness, thus she’s rushing to tell us all how we can start helping God once more get up out of the dirt.  Hit Him up with Psalm 91—remind Him that He’s promised to give us all perfect lives (and hope He doesn’t get too depressed by how much He’s flubbing it).  Babble at Him.  Learn some new spiritual karate chops and “wax prophetic” because it’s not like God doesn’t already have enough useless noise to listen to.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you release laser-focused prayers that penetrate the darkness that’s working to cover the earth, including praying for a release of God’s glory (see Is. 60:2). Pray that God’s glory will overtake the terrorists and they would surrender to Him.

In Step 2, we were instructed to seek out new spiritual moves that we could use to chop the enemy down.  Now we’re told to reach for the spiritual laser guns: ultra potent prayers which apparently the Holy Spirit can help us fire.  Notice how we’re supposed to pray for a release of God’s glory—because apparently the cork on that particular bottle is too tight for even God to get off.

So why do we need to uncork the glory?  Well, apparently God’s glory has the power to neutralize terrorists and drive them into submission to Him.  So we’ve got to get that glory released, so we can start that glory tsunami, or those pesky terrorists are never going to bow down.

4. Pray against the spirit of fear gripping people in the nations in the midst of growing terror manifestations. Luke 21:26 tells us people will faint from terror in the last days. God did not give us a spirit of fear (see 2 Tim. 1:7). Fear solves nothing.

Folks who promote the power of intercession often enjoy turning emotions and concepts into living supernatural entities.  Notice how our prophetess tells us to pray against “the spirit of fear.”  Is there really a demon named Fear going around?  No, but once you love the apostle Paul—which most intercessors do—it’s only natural that you follow his lead in inventing fictitious foes for God to have to duke it out with.  In his New Testament epistles, Paul spoke of things like sin and death as if they were living entities.  Not only did Paul turn these concepts into living creatures, but he claimed that they were more powerful than God by teaching that Sin and Death hijacked God’s creation.  In Romans 5:14, Paul says that “death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses”—death, not God.  Apparently Death started some kind of coup in which he managed to shove God off of His throne.  And once Death secured the power position, he promoted his buddy Sin to being his right hand man, thus Paul says in Romans 5:21 that “sin reigned in death.”

Once you realize how many foes Paul has invented, it really doesn’t mean much when he tells his protégé Timothy that “God did not give us a spirit of fear.”  According to Paul, there is a whole host of spirits out there who can trample God onto the ground.  God might be anti-fear, just like He’s supposedly anti-sin and anti-death—yet according to Paul, God is triumphed over by these things all the time.  And since our little prophetess is an obvious fan of Paul given how many times she’s quoting him in this seven step formula, it’s no surprise that she, too, perceives “fear” as a spirit who is going around “gripping” people.  And how does she advise us to respond to our rising fear?  Remember that this gal claims to be passing on instructions from God, so apparently God is advising us all to beam our laser prayer guns at the entity known as “the spirit of fear.”  According to this woman, God is telling us not to talk about our fears with Him, but to turn our attention to “the spirit of fear” and try to duke it out directly with that fictitious being.  Hm.  So apparently God doesn’t realize that fear isn’t alive, either.

5. Pray police, armed forces, intelligence agencies and more would have prophetic insight and tactics to not only bring terrorists to justice but to prevent attacks before they happen. Pray they would have a spirit of wisdom upon them.

If this lady is a sample of what prophetic insight looks like, do we really want it to become a global phenomenon?  Isn’t that the same as praying for God to turn all of our law enforcement agents into spiritual morons?  Well, yes, but this is why spiritual leaders hate it when you actually think about what they’re saying.

Notice how we’re being instructed to ask God to help the humans stop terrorists attacks before they happen. Don’t miss the very clear assumption here that God is totally opposed to these terrorists attacks.  If instead God was actually the One causing the attacks, then we’d be praying for God to help us stop Him from doing what He wants to do.  Now there’s a moronic prayer focus.  “Hey, God, I know I depend on You to hold my atoms together, but please help me outsmart You so that I can stop You from doing things that upset me.”

Now if God is actually as powerful and in control as He claims to be, then we can know that terrorist attacks aren’t flukes or a sign that God has once again been rendered helpless by shady demons and clever humans.  According to God, terrorist attacks occur because He wants them to.  They are part of His strategic plan for helping the human race wise up and make wise spiritual choices.  And once we accept God’s assessment of reality, then we have to realize that this prayer in Step 5 is not only stupid, it’s irreverent and rebellious.  We’re asking God to help us block His will from happening.  When you listen to spiritual fools, you’ll be encouraged to cultivate soul attitudes that are quite the opposite of the attitudes God encourages you to have.

6. Ask the Lord to release angels on assignment to war in the spirit realm against principalities and powers over nations (see Dan. 10).

Intercessors and false prophets are famous for unchecked egos which are raging out of control, hence you often find them promoting themselves as the controllers of angelic activity.  You see, we have to give the Lord permission to let the angels out of whatever cage they’re currently locked in.  Not only does He need our permission to let them out, but He also needs us to tell Him how to command them.  Christian prayer warriors just love the image that they’re in that strategy tent with God, telling Him what to do and constantly improving on His ideas.  One wonders how God ever managed to get anything done before He created humans.

7. Pray in the Spirit, since we don’t know how to pray as we ought (see Rom. 8:26).

This final step is a reeking load of hypocrisy.  The woman has just spent six steps telling us exactly how to pray, and now she claims that we don’t know how we ought to pray.  But parroting famous Bible verses is an easy way to gain credibility, and this is all that’s going on here (see Shady Shepherd Tactics: Gaining Rank).  After giving us detailed instructions about laser prayers, psalm chanting, and uncorking God’s glory, this lady can hardly sell us on the idea that she thinks she doesn’t know how to pray.  She clearly feels she knows exactly how we all ought to be praying—so much so that she’s giving us a nice bullet point list.

So then, as we said before, we’re not picking on Catholics in this post.  As Ms. 7 Steps demonstrates, in the Christian community, spiritual idiocy cannot be corralled by denominational borders.  It’s everywhere, and it’s especially prevalent in the folks who are urging you to look to them as your spiritual teachers.  So if your leaders are teaching you all wrong, what should you do?  Well, let’s talk about that.

BENEFITING FROM TERRORISM

God doesn’t set up terrorist attacks so you can practice talking to Him like He’s a dunderhead, or so that you can engage in “I’m the commander of angels” fantasies.  God sets up terrorist attacks to challenge you to really think about what you believe about Him, about His relationship with evil, and about what your own spiritual priorities ought to be.   Here’s a great rule to keep in mind whenever you find yourself stressing over the news of some new mess that God has just caused: go direct, and keep it personal.  By “go direct” we mean talk directly to God—don’t go running off to some fool who’s going to tell you that God told her He needs your help to uncork His glory.  Cut out the middlemen (and women) and try treating God like Someone who actually is interested in helping you.

The second step is to “keep it personal”—and that means that you need to keep your focus on you and God.  Don’t be like our Cardinal who prayed about everyone else while he ignored the only relationship he has any real say in.  Don’t be like Ms. 7 Steps who has you trying to fix people, fix God, conquer evil spirits and dispatch angels.  Realize that as soon as you turn the focus onto other beings and you start telling God what to do in other lives, you have ranged beyond the turf God has given you some influence over.  The only being you get to make spiritual choices for is yourself.  Where you end up in eternity is going to be determined by how you treated God in the privacy of your own soul.  How many bombs are going off and how clever the police are really doesn’t have bumpkus to do with you and God.  What matters is what soul attitudes you’re choosing to embrace and what beliefs you’re constantly rehearsing.  Are you embracing an attitude of submission by saying, “I want Your will to happen in my life”?  Or are you practicing an attitude of rebellion by praying for God to help you block His next troublesome plan from happening?  Are you embracing the truths God is teaching you—such as the fact that He is infinitely wiser than you are?  Or are you rejecting the things God says about Himself by talking down to Him as if He’s an impotent Bungler?

God says He is all-wise.  He’s not just a flickering bulb who occasionally has a good idea.  He’s wise all the time, and He’s infinitely wiser than you are.  If you’re going to talk to God as if this is true, then there really isn’t any room for telling Him to do things differently, is there?  Certainly God wants you to be honest, and the honest truth is that a lot of what He does really upsets you.  But there’s a line between being honest and being disrespectful.  “God, I’m really upset by this new bombing and I really don’t understand why You do such awful things,” is an honest prayer.  Honesty is good.  But “God, wake up and do something to fix this horrible thing that just happened!” is a disrespectful prayer.  God delights in honesty.  He does not like it when you start acting like His superior.

Rather than leap to the assumption that God has dropped the ball or that He’s been outsmarted by human halfwits, ask Him to show you how He wants you to respond to terrorist attacks.  God really doesn’t do these things for no reason.  He isn’t just bumbling around.  He has a very positive purpose, and if we were to try trusting Him with the same enthusiasm that we’re currently thinking the worst about Him, we’d discover just how beneficial His methods really are.  When God causes upsetting things to happen in your life—either by having them directly happen to you, or having you hear about them happening to others—that’s your cue that He has some very positive and helpful spiritual lessons which He wants to teach you.  It’s then up to you to decide whether you’re going to be receptive to what He has to say, or if you’re going to plug your ears and spend all your energy in useless tantrums.

God uses stresses and upsets as tools to help us grow closer to Him.  It’s by wrestling with the classic question of “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” that we end up really thinking about what our personal beliefs about evil are.  But why hammer a subject like God’s relationship with evil—how much does it really matter what you believe about that particular topic?  It’s critical.

What you believe about God’s relationship with evil has an enormous impact on what you believe about His Character, how trustworthy you think He is, and how powerful you think He is.  Deep soul peace—the kind that allows you to stay calm in the face of terrifying circumstances—is not attained by practicing denial with every fiber of your being.  In the Church, this is what you’re taught: that real peace is a result of consistently shoving away any question that disturbs you.  This is why Christians so often freak out if you try to suggest that God is involved with terrorist attacks—because they’ve been taught to run from any thought that bothers them, their faith in God is totally rickety and it threatens to crumble on them the moment they even try to face how complex He is.  So if you want real peace—and we all do—then you have to get it God’s way, and that means you stop running away every time He puts a stressful topic in front of you.  Instead, you stay in the room, you look at what He’s showing you, and you honestly engage with Him.  “God, it terrifies me to think You’re actually doing these things on purpose,” is a prayer that will get you a lot farther down the road than “God, I know You had nothing to do with what just happened—obviously Satan just outsmarted You again.”  The first prayer is facing tough truths, expressing honesty, and inviting God to teach you how to deal with the aspects of Him that disturb you.  The second prayer is throwing up a wall of denial and getting ready to deflect anything God has to say.

If you want a relationship with the real God, then you need to cooperate with His efforts to ease you into some tough realities about who He is.  God is not just flowers and sunshine. He has some truly terrifying aspects.  But that does not mean that you and He can’t forge a wonderful relationship.  We Christians need to get out of this infantile mindset that we can’t ever learn how to deal with a God who isn’t everything we want.  God is far more capable than we give Him credit for, and given that He created us for the purpose of relating to Him, obviously He knows how to make that happen.  No matter how much He upsets us, those issues can be put to rest somehow, someway.  But the only way we’re ever going to have a shot at gaining the kind of relationship He has wired us to want is if we stop running for the hills every time He does something that upsets us.

Now you can’t stop other Christians from being dingdongs and squandering the precious opportunities God is giving them to grow up.  But you certainly don’t have to let other people dictate what your choices are going to be.  Stop following the herd on this issue of terrorism and ask God to help you learn whatever lessons He wants to teach you through these ongoing attacks.  The world is not spinning out of control just because human governments are feeling befuddled.  Humans have never been the ones keeping this place tacked together, so we really shouldn’t be hitting the panic button because humans are openly admitting that they are feeling stumped.  Of course they’re feeling stumped.  We can’t stop God.  But we don’t need to try to stop Him, either, because He has our best in mind.  If we could see how many bombings that God is preventing on a daily basis, we’d appreciate how purposeful He is being when He does these things: who He puts at the scene, who He kills, who He injures, and who He tells about it.  You can’t learn other people’s lessons for them, but you’d be a fool not to learn your own.  So ask God to help you do your own spiritual work when stressful events come your way.  Focus on making wise soul choices in your own life and leave the rest in God’s more than capable hands.

FURTHER READING:
Treating God Like God: Simple Steps to Improving the Way that We Pray
God’s Absolute Sovereignty: Essential Theology
Prayer Warriors: Disrespecting God & Proud of It
How Your Powerful Prayers Are Wrecking Your Relationship with God
Dealing with the Death of Christians in the End Times
Dealing with Death: Eight Lies that Keep Us Stuck in the Past
Overcoming Survivor Guilt
Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God
Understanding the Purpose of Terror in the End Times

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