Portraits of Superstition: 7 Common Superstitions Christian Women Need to DitchThis seven article series paints seven portraits of superstition — common superstitions that have infiltrated our culture and even our Christianity. Some of these portraits are autobiographical. All of them are worthy of self-reflection.
To read Portrait One: The Obnoxious Knocker click here.
To read Portrait Two: The Pagan Prayer Warrior click here.
To read Portrait Three: The Deal-Maker click here.
To read Portrait Four: Kismet Kate and Karma Counterfeit click here.
Portrait Five: Jeannie and Her Bottle
This superstitious woman treats God like a genie — “phenomenal cosmic power… itty bitty living space.” His dwelling? Her back pocket. All she has to do is pull him out, make a wish or pray a prayer, and her genie-god will magically answer. This gal believes in the law of attraction and affirmative prayer. Ready to live her best life now, Jeannie has God right where she wants Him, at her immediate disposal. To Jeannie, God is a just another tool to help her obtain all of the temporal treasures her heart desires.
In my previous article, The Portrait of the Deal-Maker, I mentioned the law of attraction and affirmative prayer. I want to take some time, here, and analyze these practices from a biblical lens.
The Law of Attraction
Many people today, Christian and non-Christian, have been swept up by a New Age belief structure known as “the law of attraction.” It is also called, “The Secret.” It whispers, “Believe it and you will achieve it.” It tells you that whatever you set your mind on, it will surely come to you. If you set your mind on coffee, before you know it, a co-worker is bringing you that steaming cuppa’ joe. Thus, “the law of attraction” proves itself true in your life. This heresy is a dangerous smokescreen that lures believers away from biblical worship, prayer, and theology, and into New Age practices. It has many names: “The Secret,” “the power of positive thinking,” “the law of attraction.” But it is all one big superstition.
If you would like more information on “the law of attraction” I recommend this link for further insight.
Because so much of the Word of Faith movement and the prosperity gospel borrow from New Age practices, it is no wonder we are witnessing “the law of attraction” creeping its way into Christian prayer lives. We see it specifically with affirmative prayer, also known as “name it claim it,” or “positive confession.” Affirmative prayer is no different from rubbing a lamp and making your wish. The goal of affirmative prayer is to set your mind, positively, on the thing you desire. The prayers start something like this, “I’m believing God for [insert wish here.]”
With this, false teachers encourage the person praying to thank God for something she hasn’t yet received, something for which she is longing. This is supposed to demonstrate the great strength of her faith. This is particularly important because the measure of blessing she is to receive is contingent upon how much faith she can muster. Sadly, people caught up in this movement generally aren’t praying like this:
- Thank you Lord for sanctifying me (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
- I’m believing God for bringing my brother to saving faith (James 5:13-16).
- Thank you Jesus for humbling me and mortifying my sin (Romans 8:12-13).
Though not always the case, most people who pray these affirmative prayers are praying like this:
- I’m believing God for my raise.
- Thank you Lord for healing my (fill in ailment.)
- I’m believing God for a new and better financial situation in my life.
This prayer practice combines a false and superstitious understanding of “the law of attraction” with a self-righteous assumption that God’s desire for you is the same as your own desire for yourself.
When Christians pray like pagans God is dishonored in at least two ways: 1.) The person praying becomes prideful because she has obtained some special power that those who are not as “enlightened” as her, those who don’t possess her great faith, have not. She is more special. She is more holy (cf. Luke 18:9-14). 2.) Praying like this becomes an addiction to a holy experience, an idol, that can never and will never fulfill like an authentic relationship with the Triune God. An authentic relationship with the One True God is one of contrite reverence, and is rooted in the knowledge of His attributes (cf. John 4:24; Psalm 51:6).
Sister, we cannot dabble in this. We must not incorporate this or any New Age pagan practice into our Christianity. It is flat wrong for us to think doing so is okay. These are unbiblical practices that fly in the face of everything the Bible tells us about the character of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Five Reasons to Ditch Affirmative Prayer
1. We see it nowhere in Scripture.
Prayers are not wishes, and God is not a wish granter. There are many excellent examples of prayer in Scripture. I’ve listed some in my previous article. Never ever do we see anyone in Scripture trying to manipulate God with prayers like the ones above. The Bible does tell us that, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). It is right and good to have goals and plans, but we must hold them loosely and submit to the Lord in all things. Sometimes my will aligns with God’s, as it should (Psalm 143:10).
However, there are times when God ordains trial, something we would never pray for. Rarely do we pray for refinement by fire, if ever (1 Peter 1:7). But God know better doesn’t He? How often when we come through the other side of a trial do we say, “Well, that wasn’t part of my plan, but I’m so thankful God had His way over mine.” Praise be to God (James 1:2-4).
2. It leaves people discouraged because their faith was not strong enough.
When the girl who prayed fervently for her mother to be healed of cancer, only to have her die…
When the barren woman isn’t granted fertility…
When the handicapped woman is not miraculously freed from the confines of her wheelchair…
Not only are they grieving their losses, but they feel punished because their faith was too small. They weren’t thinking positively enough. Praise the Lord that Joni Eareckson Tada did not fall for this heresy. How great is her faith! It is not despite her quadriplegia that she glorifies God and inspires others; it is because of it.
3. It is a sinful effort to try to manipulate God.
This one should be obvious by now. How the Almighty God, gracious and merciful Father, Sovereign Lord, is shoved into the back pocket, tucked away when not needed, but close at hand to grant that lustful wish. This is the Alpha and Omega, Maker of the Heavens and the earth, King of Kings we are talking about here.
4. It is an effort to find the God within.
“The Secret” is all about the divine power within… if we would just tap into it! It was Satan’s desire from the beginning, and it was this very sin that sent the tower of Babel crumbling to the ground — the prideful desire to be like God (Genesis 11:1-9). Affirmative prayer does just the same. When we assume God wants the same for us that we want for ourselves (that new job, this house, those accolades), we are acting not as sinners saved by grace — contrite, humble, reverent. No, we are acting as cohorts with Christ — impenitent, prideful, brazen, like He is our wingman who has our backs. If we know anything about the attributes of God, then we know this is not His character at all.
He is sovereign. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
5. It fails to acknowledge Jesus Christ himself as our ultimate treasure.
When we view Christ as our wingman (that reliable buddy of ours who helps us obtain that for which we lust), we fail to acknowledge Him as the true and only treasure to behold (Philippians 3:8). If our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then we are just chasing after the wind seeking all of these temporal desires. They just don’t satisfy.
The goal of “the law of attraction” and affirmative prayer is to set your mind on that temporal heart’s desire in order to obtain it! But Scripture commands us otherwise (Rom. 12:1-2). In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ commands us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
We are not called to thank God for temporal blessings we have not yet received. We are to thank God for His Son Jesus Christ who is the treasure above all treasures — the One who came to rescue us from this dying and crumbling world (John 17:3). We are called to pray, “Not my will but yours be done, Lord. You are the Potter, I am the clay. The glory is Yours alone. Amen.”
- This WWUTT video gives a bit more food for thought.
- Understanding the attributes of God helps us to discern unbiblical practices like the ones I’ve discussed here. The Bible itself and a good theology textbook will help you gain wisdom and discernment in these areas, and will strengthen your relationship with the God of the Universe. Here are some resources to guide you: