Hint to Pastors: It’s about time for a sermon on this subject!
A least once a day I receive a chain email prayer from one of my friends or Internet acquaintances. Often the prayers come from “Good Christian” friends – church goers who ought to know better. The prayer is usually very lovely, or sweetly poetic, and sometimes a heart-wrenching story is attached. The prayer is something that initially makes me feel good about wanting to forward it. After all, it’s a way of blessing all of my friends at once. But by the time I get to the end of the prayer or story something not quite so nice is almost always lurking there.
Is it just me or have you noticed it too? The simple little prayer of blessing suddenly has a magical condition attached.
“REMEMBER to make a wish before you read the prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just share this with people and see what happens on the fourth day . . . .
Now, send this to 11 people within the next 5 minutes . . . You must send it to 11 people including me . In 8 minutes you will receive something you have long awaited. Have faith . . ”
These kinds of prayers really aren’t about asking God to bless your friends. These prayers are NOT about having faith in God. No, they are just a numbers game and the god of this prayer is nothing more than a false belief in a magical dispensing Genie who is more like a one-armed bandit. When you forward this prayer, your faith is actually placed in numerical odds, not in the Living God.
“If I put enough coins in (forward it to enough email addresses) I’m bound to win something.”
See, it’s really all about me but it’s so wrapped up in nice godly-sounding words I didn’t even realize it.
Isn’t it cunning how the Devil works?
Are you just about to pull the hair out of your head over receiving these kind of prayers day after day? Are you simply forwarding them just to keep the peace – afraid of hurting your friend’s feelings?
Instead of forwarding or lecturing or ignoring or deleting just send your friend a real prayer:
I ask you to bless my friends reading this right now!
show them a new revelation of Your love and power.
I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment.
Where there is pain,
give them Your peace and mercy.
Where there is self-doubting,
release a renewed confidence in Your ability
to work through them.
Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion,
I ask You to give them understanding, patience,
and strength as they learn submission to Your leading.
Where there is spiritual stagnation,
I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness,
and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You.
Where there is fear,
reveal Your love, and release to them Your courage.
Where there is a sin blocking them,
reveal it, and break its holdover my friends' life.
Bless their finances, give them greater vision,
Raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them.
Give each of them discernment
to recognize the demonic forces around them,
and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it.
Father, I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name!
You don't have to send this prayer to 11 people within 5 minutes. And in 8 minutes you may or may not receive a thing. If you do send it to someone, don't do it via chain mail. Send it individually and pray for them first.
God knows you and He knows your friends and He knows those who have prayed for you and yours. Have faith that God will bless each of us and our friends in His own time and in His own way.
Here is an excerpt from “Is God a Cosmic Santa Claus?”
Christians often approach God in prayer as a kind of “cosmic Santa Claus. . . . We pray for better parking spots, for better jobs, for a million dollar check to show up in our mailbox. It seems like prayer, for many Christians, has become more about what God can do to serve us, rather than what we can do to serve God. . . How often do we take time just to thank God for who He is and for all He’s done in our lives? How much time do we spend asking God to bless others versus how often we ask Him to bless us?
Excerpt from “Prayer (Lesson 1)”
. . .Prayer is not some magic process where you say a few chosen words and then everything you desire will come true. Sometimes we say our prayer and we end it with the words "In Jesus' name," and we think we can just kick back and wait for the blessings to come. It's almost as though we think saying "In Jesus' name" is like saying "abra-cadabra." But that's not what prayer is all about. We can't "name it and claim it," like some churches teach, or speak things into existence. If you have that idea, you will soon be disillusioned. Prayer is not getting God to do what we want. Prayer is a time of coming before God with our concerns and asking Him to show us what He wants for us, and then trusting in the way He responds even if it is different than what we asked for.
Some additional articles on Prayer:
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV 1984)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.