Thursday, August 30, 2007


John 16:23-24; Luke 11:13; I John 5:14-15

All of us receive on occasion mail with prayer chains in them. One I recently received said this: "Before sending this I said a prayer for you. Got a minute? All you do is say a small prayer for the person who sent you this.... [A prayer is given]....Then send it on to 10 other people. Within hours 10 people have prayed for you, and caused a multitude of people pray to God for other people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life."

Isn't this hilarious and sad at the same time? Only people who are ignorant of Scripture and of the nature of prayer put out such foolishness as this. Let's examine it, not just being critical. First, the mail assumes that all receiving this know who GOD really is, and therefore "can" pray. But this is incorrect to start with. Secondly, looking at the mail, and the prayer given for us to pray, no Scripture is given, and the Lord Jesus Christ is never mentioned. In other words, this could be sent out by Jewish people or Hindu people. It doesn't matter, because obviously everyone knows "how to pray," and if we just form the right "chain," getting enough people to join in, we can just "sit back and watch the power of God" do great things for us and others (of course, bringing us "peace, prosperity, and power").

But according to the Bible, this is not the case. Our Lord taught different things about prayer, among them: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto [until now] have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24). Notice, these words were spoken to "His disciples" (v. 17), not to Jews and Hindus, Moslems and Buddhists, or to all Roman Catholics and Protestants. We must not read other people's mail, taking it as our own. Christ is addressing His followers, those who were drawn to Him by His own power, and He had just been teaching them about the mighty presence of "the Spirit of truth" coming to them, as their "guide into all truth." And Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, "He will glorify Me" (John 16:13-14). But "truth" doesn't matter anything today, as all of men's religions have been mixed together into one big soup, but alas, "there is death in the pot" (2 Kings 4:40).

Why is the above "prayer chain" so popular? Because people are naturally sentimental and believe in luck, and think that "prayer" is some "magic wand" that can be waved, allowing us then to relax and "watch the power of God work." This is nonsense and cannot be condemned too strongly. Just think of Christ teaching that "praying" was like the mythological Aladdin rubbing his lamp, letting a genie come out to do whatever Aladdin asked. Moslem myths and Christ's truths do not mix, and Christian people have no business promoting such. And how could a canned, "small prayer" possibly "cause" countless others to "pray" without the Holy Spirit? Christ plainly tells us to "ask" for the Holy Spirit when we pray (Luke 11:13). But modern prayers that really "work" don't require this.

Then, why send this prayer chain on to "10 other people"? Why 10? Why not greatly multiply this "power of God" by sending it on to hundreds and thousands, if it really works? But we don't stop to think this through, fearing we will "break the chain" if we do. In other words, we do not really believe in God or His power or true prayer -- what we actually believe in is luck and chance and magic. Correct?

True prayer is God-glorifying and humbling to the flesh. It honors God's sovereign will (I John 5:14-15), and glorifies the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. But what passes for "saying prayers" today is another thing altogether. Let us examine ourselves and the Scriptures.


"Ignorance of the Bible is the root of all error." J. C. Ryle

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