Bewitched

17 05 2013

No self-respecting Christian would consider casting spells. After all, this is a practice that is prohibited in the Bible. But are we guilty of this without realizing our error?

What is a spell, anyway? In its simplest form, a spell is the selection of words or phrases spoken with the intent of getting our desired outcome. Sometimes actions and implements are used in conjunction with words. The expected result is that the one casting the spell will achieve their will in the matter before them.

Here’s where prayer gets interesting.

In the past, I have used rote prayers in an effort to “move” God and get what I want, whether it is forgiveness for myself or a change in someone I know. There are “key” phrases I believed needed to be incorporated – and if I used them, the result was supposedly “guaranteed.”

The “Lord’s Prayer” is one I used in such a fashion. Night after night I would chant these words to show God how serious I was about wanting to be His child. I have to say “chant” because there was no thoughtful consideration, really, of what I was saying. I’d heard that this prayer was “known” to put a person in God’s favor.

Another important “key” is that of praying in King James English. Somehow, doing so makes the prayer “holier” and more likely to be heard, or so I believed.

I would never touch an “eye of newt,” or spider webs; nor do I have access to dragon blood. The thought of using such things is distasteful, to say the least.

On the other hand, I have been known to perform certain rituals in an effort to “move heaven” and get what I was asking for. If my ritual was interrupted, I became angry. The whole thing was blown, and I would have to try again later when I was certain of being left alone to complete my rites.

The day the Lord showed me that all of my efforts were designed to manipulate Him, and were no better than casting spells, I was horrified. I had to rethink my prayer time and practices.

Going through the Lord’s Prayer, I began to see the words in a new light.

Our Father, which art in heaven – He is no man, and He is not like my earthly father

Hallowed be Thy name – You are holy God and worthy of honor and praise, I am neither holy nor God.

Thy kingdom come – The desire of my heart should be the restoration of all things to His original design – man walking with God

Thy will be done – You know best how to achieve the most blessed outcome for the most people. My goal is to make my life better.

On earth as it is in heaven – His will benefits all, making earth more like heaven. My will benefits me, and can bring hell to those who stand in my way.

Give us this day our daily bread – a reminder that there is nothing I have that did not first come from His generous hand

Forgive us our trespasses – How many times today did I “step on the grass” of activities, words, or thoughts of I know are outside God’s stated will, defiantly ignoring the sign that said “Stay Off?”

As we forgive those who trespass against us – Ooh! Do I really want to be forgiven in the same manner as I forgive those who have crossed my boundaries?

Lead us not into temptation – I can find enough on my own. Have I matured enough that I would be able to stand in the face of temptation? Please help me be strong.

But deliver us from the evil one – I have an enemy. His desire is to rob and steal and destroy. Help me remember this every day in every circumstance. Give me discernment to see when he is at work and wisdom to stand firm when his arrows are aimed against me.

For Thine is the kingdom – You are King of kings, Lord of Lords, and everything belongs to You. I am only a small piece of Your grand Story – certainly not the leading lady!

The power – You are in control at all times. You have placed this power, through Your Holy Spirit, in each of Your children to do Your good will. Let me never misuse this gift, but never let me refrain from calling on Your power when the situation warrants my involvement.

And the glory – You are the only one it is safe to worship and honor. People twist applause into pride and become corrupted. Nothing created can be fully trusted. All will fail; only You can be praised without being altered by the glory.

Forever and ever – What will I be doing a million years from today, Lord? Whatever that may be, amazing will be part of the package. I’ll have only begun to know You then. “Forever and ever” makes me Homesick. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

*********

This prayer is not a chant, an incantation; it is an opportunity to magnify the Lord – see Him as big as He truly is. When I do, it corrects my concept of how “big and important” I am in my own little realm. In light of Who He is, my ego is diminished and I am humbled to be chosen as His child. In reality, my life is the inch between my birth and death – which connects with everyone else’s inch on the timeline of history. That puts things in perspective in a hurry!

Don’t misunderstand, I am not opposed to kneeling, or lit candles, or other acts of worship. These are more like setting a mood for an intimate dinner, though; and not to manipulate the One I love. In fact, sometimes I use a prayer shawl. The fabric against my cheeks is like having the Father place my face in His hands and say, “Look into My eyes.” It keeps me focused; but that’s as far as it goes. God doesn’t say, “Oh, look! She has on her shawl. I have to listen and grant her wishes now. That really inspires me to give her what she wants.” Or, “Uh oh! She said, “In Jesus’ name.” Now I have to do what she asked.”

My point is this: Why do I choose the words I speak to Him? Are they carefully chosen to supposedly “back the Lord into a corner” so He has no choice but to perform that for which I’m asking? Or am I pouring out my heart to a trusted Father and Friend, knowing that His answer will be what’s best for all concerned?

Why do I carry out my rituals? Is my intent to invoke God’s favor and get what I want? Or is my desire to make my time with Him special?

If my motives are anything but love, (1 Corinthians 13:1-4), then I may well be in danger of attempting to bewitch Almighty God.

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20 responses

18 05 2013
heavenlyraindrops

I am reminded, when we pray, are we seeking His hand or His face? Jesus gave us the ‘Lord’s prayer’ as a framework for how to pray in a way pleasing to Him, not so that we would idolize the prayer itself. I love how you broke each component into proper perspective. I try to always do that whenever I use this prayer. I pause with each phrase and have God examine my heart and my motives in speaking them. He knows whether our motives are right! Thanks

18 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Mmm. I got so tired of my “grocery list” prayer time. I gave it up and began to talk to the Lord about everything as if He and I were chatting over a cup of coffee.

Thanks for your comments. It means a lot. 🙂
\o/

17 05 2013
Timothy Murray

Okay, I must admit, the title of the post has put in my mind the mental image of Samantha Stevens twitching her nose! On a more serious note! I do like your interpretation of “evil one”, taking it as a substantival adjective; instead of simply “evil”. I think the reference clearly is to the enemy. Many thanks!

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂
\o/

17 05 2013
Heidi Viars

This is wonderful … how easy it is to find familiarity in our prayers and forget the meaning of our words … We can’t make God present … no matter how we formulate our prayers … In Christ we are promised His presence ALL THE TIME …. Thanks for your challenge to us … and always pointing us to Jesus!

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for your encouragement. I so want to always be pointing others to Jesus – and not to me. After all, I can’t save anyone!
\o/

17 05 2013
Toni Sprandel

awesome as always!

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Toni.
\o/

17 05 2013
Toni Sprandel

How are you doing? You have to be physically, mentally & emotionally exhausted. Rest in the LORD and the comfort of His love. My arms are around you dear sister.

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

It has to be all the prayers being offered on our behalf. I’m none of those things! It feels kind of wrong to not be wailing and lamenting…but how can I? I know in my knower that I’ll see him again!

Thanks for asking. You’re such a doll!
\o/

17 05 2013
Kevin

Great message! Beautiful way to look at the Lord’s prayer. And the reality of understanding that he knows our real motives before we knew we had motives makes going to him so real. Once we understand our inability to manipulate we suddenly become free to appreciate and surrender it all because of His perfect love.

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Ah, yes. My favorite “F” word…free!
Thanks, Kevin!
\o/

17 05 2013
Tony

Very well said.

20 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Tony! 🙂
\o/

17 05 2013
Easter Ellen

I like this post. I can agree that in the past, praying the “Our Father” was done just because I was supposed to pray it. Now, I do pray it daily as the Lord tells us that it is the perfect prayer, but I feel depth, meaning and gravity in every phrase, as you also do 🙂

17 05 2013
vonhonnauldt

“Forever and ever makes me Homesick.” Brought tears to my eyes.

This is a great post! There’s a world of difference between “saying prayers” and “praying.”

17 05 2013
The Lily and The Marrow

Dallas Willard in “Divine Conspiracy” gives a wonderful overview of the Lord’s Prayer.
Thanks for sharing!
Blessings
-Jen
http://thelilyandthemarrow.wordpress.com/

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

We just listened to Dallas Willard on our way north earlier this week. He is a wonderful speaker. I’ll have to look up Divine Conspiracy. Thanks for pointing me in his direction. 🙂
\o/

17 05 2013
The Lily and The Marrow

Do you remember the name of the talk? I’m traveling soon and would love some good podcasts to listen to!

17 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

It’s John Ortberg’s church MPPC. Dallas was a frequent speaker there. I found John’s podcast on iTunes. They’re doing a series called “The With God Life” right now, and it’s very good. I don’t have the specific title at the moment, but they tell who is speaking on each podcast. Hope that helps. Check out Passion City Church, too. Louie Giglio is excellent. By the end of each message I’m revved up and raring to go!
\o/

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