I just attended Bethel Church in Redding California. It's pastor, Bill Johnson is a big proponent of works of faith. His books have been widely circulated though our church, probably his most famous is The Supernatural Power of the Transformed Mind. The church has a very dynamic worship service, exciting preaching and it is a very upbeat and popular place. The one thing that messed with my head though was the Offering of Thanks that they "prayed" when they received the offering. And here when I say pray here, I mean chant. And the words, dutifully supplied by their Website went like this;
"As we receive today's offering we are believing the Lord for:
Jobs and better jobs,
Raises and bonuses
Benefits Sales and commissions
Estates and inheritances
Interests and income
Rebates and returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts and surprises
Debts paid off
Blessing and increase
Thank You, Lord, for meeting all of my financial needs that I may have more than enough to give into the Kingdom of God and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The six exclamations points are exactly how the people in the congregation yelled it out. To be honest I was a little horrified by the whole exercise. Don't get me wrong, I do not disagree that God has given some promises in the Bible to provide for us. Even one of his names is Jehovah-Jireh, "the Lord will provide." But I also am aware that it is only one of his names. Others include "the Righteous one," "the Lord of Hosts", "Judge", "the Lord who heals" etc. Also, it does not really come across as a prayer of thanks, but more like a list of demands.
I can only image what God might think of hearing it. My brother has a new baby and he feeds and takes care of the baby without the baby even asking for it. When the child is older, I suppose he will be able to use his words to ask for things. Image if the child at the age of ten, got a hold of a Toys R Us catalog and came up to my brother and said.
"Christmas is coming up and I am believing you for:
Video Games and Accessories
Bikes and Riding Toys
Learning Games and Books
Gym Sets, Slides and Swings
Inflatable Bouncers and Trampolines
Dolls and Stuffed Animals
Cars, Trucks and Trains
Construction toys and Crafts,
Action Figures and collectibles
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Sports action and cartoon
Blocks, Bricks and Building sets
Gift cards and gift certificates
Fire, Police and Rescue Toys
Television and Movie toys
and lots of commercial tie-ins.
Thank you Dad for meeting my playtime needs, so I will share with my siblings and that I have more than enough time for school, homework being a good boy too.
Can you imagine if he learned to say it in Sunday school? My brother might say to him, "I want you to share with your siblings, go to school, do your homework and be a good boy no matter what you get for Christmas this year." I also know that my brother is excited to be a Dad and might get him something cool too, maybe something they can play with together.
To be honest, as an adult that first "grown-up" list would be helpful too. Who doesn't want to find money and have a good job? I have had three jobs this last year. God has provided for me, his daughter, but I don't demand that he does. I am pretty sure that he wants me to be a thankful, generous person with the things he already gives me and promote the Jesus whether I get money or not. I don't think he wants me to try to leverage my obedience with his provision.
I have been waiting to hear back about some money for the last three weeks with a pending decision. I prayed to God about the situation (not the chanting kind) two days ago, and yesterday I got a check in the mail. I felt it was kind of ironic. And that's why I thought I would share about it. I think God already cares for me in ways that I don't even know and he was just showing me that I don't need to demand stuff for him to respond.