Thursday, September 15, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Mark 11:20-25 and Psalm 145:1-8

The “I believe I receive” movement, also known as the “prosperity Gospel”, has done a great disservice to the Church.  Certain preachers who have television programs and write books on the subject have completely missed what Jesus was saying in this passage and have built a whole theology around getting rich quick.  This is a dangerous way to make a living, because it’s based on something that Jesus didn’t actually say.

For starters, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 19 that it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  He also told people to sell all they had, give the money to the poor, and to come and follow him.  So the idea that Jesus was all about getting rich fast has no basis in Jesus’ own practice.

Second, this passage is about listening and obeying.  Jesus told his listeners that the withered fig tree was nothing.  “Have faith in God,” he replied.  If we have faith, just a little bit, we can tell a mountain to move into the ocean and it will happen.

But here’s the rub: Faith is obedience.  Not presumption.  If God tells us to tell the mountain to move, it will move.  But if we just decide on our own to believe the mountain will move, then we better get out our shovels – it’s going nowhere.  God is not obligated to give us every wish and whim.  He is not going to move if we think up something (a new car, a new house, a new boat, etc.) and then say “I believe I receive!”  The kingdom doesn’t operate that way.  God will move when we are obedient to his commands, not when we think up some new magic trick for him to do.  What’s more, when we pray, we should forgive those who have wronged us, so that God can forgive us for our wrongdoings.  We’re too quick to leave that part off.

Take a few moments to think about this.  Are you guilty of using this passage the wrong way?  Ask God to forgive you.  Write your own prayer.

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