The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Prayer: Useless Practices

Understanding Verbal Blessing & Cursing: So Much Hype, So Little Power

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In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about the human practice of verbally blessing and cursing other humans.

HOW HUMANS VIEW BLESSING & CURSING

There are two main ways that humans view blessing and cursing.  For non-serious users, the phrase “Bless you!” is the same as saying “Thank you!” or “I like you!” or “Wow, you seem like such a nice person that I hope things go well for you in the future.”  Alternately, to say “Curse you!” is a way of saying “I hate you!” or “You’re such a jerk!” or “I hope rotten things happen to you because you’ve upset me!”  For non-serious users, blessing and cursing people or objects is just a way of expressing personal joy or anger. Read more of this post

Sicking Jesus on the Devil: The Christian Addiction to Bossing God

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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? Read more of this post

Why Serious Christians Shouldn’t Pray the Lord’s Prayer

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Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matt. 6:9-13)

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most well-known passages of Scripture.  It’s also one of the most misapplied.  First, we ignore context.  The Lord’s Prayer was part of the Sermon on the Mount—a long speech by Jesus which was intended to strike terror into the hearts of Jews who were blowing off the importance of reverentially submitting to God.  Second, we get hung up on the fact that Jesus is the One doing the talking.  Even though Jesus is God, we aren’t open to Him having a variety of agendas when He speaks.  We try to make everything Jesus says a direct message for sincere Christians, when in reality most of Jesus’ recorded words were directed at rebellious adherents to Judaism.  Ignoring Jesus’ original audience is guaranteed to lead us astray with our applications of what He said.  But the third mistake we make is not asking Jesus Himself to help us properly apply His words in our lives today.  It’s not like Jesus has ceased to exist and the biblical records are all we have to remember Him by.  No, Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all actively involved in our lives today and They encourage us to come to Them directly with our questions.  When we skip the step of asking Them, then we just end up eavesdropping on what Jesus said to a bunch of Jews 2,000 years ago and deciding that anything He said to them must apply to us as well. Read more of this post

Why We Shouldn’t Pray for Revival

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Praying for the lost to get saved.  Praying for the Gospel to be spread throughout the whole world.  Praying down that bad ole devil and praying for revival.  It all sounds so right, doesn’t it?  But what does God think about us praying for these kinds of things?  It turns out that He doesn’t like any of them.  In fact, He finds these kinds of requests downright insulting.  Of course He understands when we’re not trying to insult Him, and when He sees that we’re trying to please Him by praying for these things, He graciously credits us for our good intentions.  But the day must come when we stop letting other humans and the Church define who God is and give Him the chance to speak for Himself. When we do this, we’re going to start getting hit with one shocking revelation after another because it turns out that these teachers we’ve been counting on to explain God to us don’t really understand who He is.  In fact, trying to find folks who are well-acquainted with God is quite a challenging task because there just aren’t that many of them.  Why not?  Because humans have always done a lousy job of sincerely seeking God.  When they do seek Him, they’re usually so caught up in their own agendas that they simply aren’t interested in really learning about God’s perspective of things.  So while we claim to really know God, the reality is that we’re just recycling a bunch of manmade theories about Him which no one is bothering to ask God to authenticate.  It’s like you reading a bunch of articles about your favorite actor in the gossip rags and then saying that you really know the guy.  No, you don’t know him at all.  All you really know is what other people say about him, but what is that worth?  Until you actually sit down with the man himself and do some focused listening, you’re never going to know if any of the stories you’ve read about him have any truth to them.    Read more of this post

Improving Our Treatment of God: Why We Shouldn’t Pray for the Lost

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Like seeds that are designed by God to sprout and grow, we humans are also designed to continuously grow and change.  Since we are spiritual beings, our spiritual maturity is the most important aspect of our personal development.  Spiritual maturity has to do with how we relate to the three non-human Beings who created us: Yahweh, Jesus, and the magnificent Holy Spirit.  We mature in two basic ways: acquiring more understanding about who the real Gods are and what They want from us, then applying that understanding well.  We are totally dependent on our Gods to lead us in both of these areas, for we can’t gain understanding on our own, nor can we learn to apply our understanding well without Their guidance and help.  In practice, spiritual maturity is like a dance in which our Gods are the Leaders and we are the followers. They always initiate.  They choose the direction in which They want to move us, and we try to follow Their lead with as little stumbling as possible.  But of course we do stumble all over the place, and this is not a problem until we start getting intentional about it.  It’s one thing to have your faith crumble because you applied what you had and it wasn’t enough.  It’s another thing to sit on piles of faith and refuse to use it because you want to give the orders instead of take them.  Read more of this post

How Your Powerful Prayers Are Wrecking Your Relationship with God

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Now and then someone asks us for a prayer that will help them deal with some kind of demon issue.  In other words, they want us to recommend a potent spell that they can use to force supernatural beings to submit to their personal agenda.  Now if we had no fear of God’s wrath and no concern for the welfare of the souls who ask us for advice, we could make quite a pretty pile of cash dashing off a bunch of smart sounding baloney for Christians to pray.  Of course, their prayers wouldn’t do bumpkus to send those demons packing, but hey, we don’t have to tell them that.  The internet today is flooded with Christians who are trying to swap spells with each other while at the same time assuring each other that, yes, they are superior to both demons and God.  You see, you have to be claiming superiority over all supernatural beings before you can possibly claim that your prayers will be “effective.” Well, repeating a lie fifty billion times doesn’t make it true.  The truth is that you’re nothing more than an impotent fleck of a being who is totally dependent on God to sustain your existence.  You know, that same God who you’re always acting like you can control with your verbal spell casting.  And while we’re on the subject of tough truths, here’s another bitter pill that your ego is going to have to choke down at some point: demons are not intimidated by you. Read more of this post

Christian Prayer Groups: Why God Isn’t a Fan

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Social bonding is an important element of any human relationship. To form positive relationships with each other, we need to spend time talking together and sharing our different perspectives. The experience of feeling listened to and empathized with is so intensely positive and uplifting to the soul that we are willing to pay counselors to provide this service for us. But it’s much better when we can find people who are willing to listen to us and care about us free of charge, and this is what makes Christian prayer groups so very popular. Read more of this post

Pray Without Ceasing: More Bad Advice from Paul

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In 1 Thessalonians 5, we find the apostle Paul making this bold declaration of what God wants from believers:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Yahweh in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

So then, do you pray without ceasing? Of course you don’t, and for many earnest Christians, the fact that they are such miserable failures in the unceasing prayer department results in all kinds of needless guilt. Well, it’s time to stop letting a man who you never knew act as your spiritual supervisor in life. The God who put you together intentionally designed you to be an extremely limited creature who finds it impossible to do any voluntary task “without ceasing.” So no, you’re really not some spiritual slacker because you find unceasing prayer to be a very tedious concept. Read more of this post

Why We Won’t Pray For You

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If you ask us to pray for you about something, our answer will always be no. We absolutely will not pray for you. But since “I’m not going to pray for you” is considered to be a vicious insult in the Christian community, we are now going to explain why we will not pray for you so you aren’t getting your feelings hurt for no reason. Read more of this post

Why We Shouldn’t Make Promises to God

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God controls the future. You do not. This critical difference in abilities is what turns your promises to God into such negative things. You see, when you promise that something will happen in the future to the One who controls the future, what you’re really doing is telling God what to do. God doesn’t like it when His own creatures boss Him about, hence God wants us to stop with the vows and the promises and start acknowledging our limitations.

Picture yourself riding along in a car which someone else is driving. You have no idea where the driver is heading because he hasn’t told you. But he obviously has a plan in mind because the car is in motion and he’s making turns at certain intersections. Now suppose you suddenly announce, “We’re going left at the next corner.” Isn’t that rather rude of you? Since you’re not the one driving, and since the driver already has a destination in mind, shouldn’t you instead ask, “So where are you taking me?” Or, if there is some shop you want to stop at, it would be far more appropriate for you to politely ask, “Would you mind if we turned left at the next corner so that I could pop in to such-and-such?” But instead of doing either of these things you simply command the driver to turn left at the next intersection. Well, when that intersection comes up, the driver turns right instead and gives you an annoyed look for being so disrespectful. Read more of this post