Christianity-New Age dialogue #6

On Jan 10, 2010, Josh wrote:

Thank you, prayer is one of the most important aspects of my spirituality. I have noticed that prayer is unimportant to many Christians, but there are a great many who hold it very close. I tried to keep that message short, so I did not go into it in detail, hopefully this will help.

The first time I was hospitalized, I was having an incredible experience with God as well as having a psychological break down, or perhaps experiencing part of God through a psychological break. It was as if I was experiencing everything for the first time, music had a new vividness and meaning. I was in a new state of consciousness that I had never been in before. I felt like I was communicating with God, but in many ways I was not.

I was so eager, so excited and over joyed that God would actually communicate with me that I spun my tires and really went nowhere. There were many profound things (at least in my mind they were profound) coming to me, but I over analyzed everything and made a muck of most any communication God gave me. So things were obviously unclear, but very sublime. I was taken by the police to a mental institution where I was evaluated and committed.

My girlfriend at the time had missionary parents who really helped me get back to God, although in my view I had never left (in hind sight of course). I learned many valuable principles about trusting God, prayer, staying under God’s “umbrella of protection,” and various other practices. They told me that I was not possessed because I belonged to God and could not be possessed, but rather I was oppressed by demons. I learned that a clear channel of prayer can heal disease, keep you healthy, and create miracles. It was important to speak the prayers out loud, and it was a daily prayer practice. I would dress myself each day spiritually with the armor of God, reciting a few prayers from scripture about spiritual warfare and the like. I found that I could make decisions based on prayer with God, rather I was shown how to make decisions with prayer. I have forgotten some of the practices as they are not necessary in my belief system, only the core of that experience: fully reliant on God was necessary.

I will address the woman who prayed for God to close the doors here. She did not recognize, or she refused to accept the closed doors. The man leaving is an obvious closed door to me, I have a feeling that others were closed before that but she refused to acknowledge them. When I did this kind of thing, I would be specific at times, and other times I would say that I am going to try everything I can to do a thing, and God would have to stop me if I shouldn’t. God would make it obvious to me because I asked him to. I could be around sick people and not get sick, my girlfriend’s mother was healed from breast cancer during the time I knew them from prayer. They would ask God if he wanted to heal them supernaturally or if they should use a doctor, and they were spot on every time. Her parents found that sickness was a result of sin, and through a process one would confess and turn from their sin, which would heal them. The mother was literally paralyzed with an in curable sickness. Doctors told them to go live away from cities and many modern conveniences or she would die. She was given principles from God through prayer and the bible that healed her from her sickness. Her sin was fear. You see, if you are being fearful, you are not trusting God, this was her paralyzing sin. In the moment of her healing it was fear that was cast out in prayer, they were not praying for her physical healing at the time. The morals of right and wrong come from scripture, but when it comes to making decisions, you can always trust God to give you the bread you asked for and not a snake.

I followed their principles religiously for a year and learned a lot; I do not recall all of what I learned, but I do remember that it was as valuable as my more significant spiritual experiences. I remember that I was worried that I would be oppressed or have a psychological episode again, so I prayed to God about it often. I came to a point of trusting God and being at peace by the time the anniversary of my hospitalization, and had done away with a lot of my worry. A Christian friend of mine, at least he was Christian at the time, sent me an email containing Conversations With God. I thought this was a Christian book because I got it from a Christian friend, he had taught me good Christian principles before, why would now be any different? I began to listen to the CDs and before too long, a red flag went up with something the narrator said. I continued to listen clearly against what they had just said, and a few other red flags went up, I stopped the CD and went to pray. The thing about the red flags is that they were things I received from God the previous year (to the week). I was really angry with God, because I had followed faithfully and it seemed as if he was just messing with me. I went through some of my prayer rituals and took some time; I don’t know how long it was before I went to listen to it again. The book said the things I learned the year before but with much more clarity. It struck me so hard because not only did I resonate with those principles when I learned them on my own, but they resonated when I heard them from the CD as well.

I could not throw out the possibility that God was leading me in this direction and I was simply resisting. I made a vow to follow no matter where I am lead, I did that before becoming a Christian as an adult. I suppose my allegiance, if you will, is to the spirit I felt when I began seeking God outside of man’s definitions. One might say that this means that I was not really saved, but I disagree. I went so far as to tattoo it on my arm symbolizing that I would rather die than deny Christ, and when I went into the mental institution for the first time, I remember fighting for that. When eight or so men had me pinned on the floor, I saw the tattoo, remembered that I was fighting for Christ (or so I thought) and would have fought to the death had they not tranquilized me.

It was from the pulling of what I felt and what I had learned that led me to make a desperate prayer that God would stop me by any means necessary if he did not want me to listen to the CD. To fully trust that God would stop me is a heavy thing. He could have chosen to kill me then and there rather than be lost forever, and would that not have been more merciful? God is not willing to lose even one, and I trust this. I was thinking that my computer would crash, I would come down with some sickness, the files would get corrupted, or just be plain gone, anything. I had said by any means necessary before, and it ended in a harsh lesson. Nothing happened. I did not accept it at first, I was mad that God was apparently playing tricks with me. I even tried going back to Christianity, but it wan’t like before when I could feel the presence of God. I decided to go and not look back, and it was extremely liberating.


On January 19, I responded:

Josh,


Thanks for filling in the gaps.  I appreciate it.  One of the things that jumped out at me as you described the prayer form this couple taught you, but which you rejected or haven’t continued to incorporate in your life is that it smacks of magic.  By that I mean, a ritualistic way of controlling the environment and/or protecting oneself.  The fact that it had to be spoken, that certain prayers were said, etc. all hint at it being like a magic amulet hung around one’s neck for protection and preservation.  

The other thing was in the following paragraph where sickness is attributed to sin.  I believe that some sickness is attributed to sin, but not all sickness.  When asked who sinned, this man or his parents, Jesus responds, “Neither, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).  Not all sickness is a result of personal sin, sometimes it just happens from living in a fallen world.  

After reading, I still come back to my previous comments regarding the need to be grounded in the word and not just in prayer in order to be led properly by God.  And I really bristle when people say “I prayed and asked God to stop me if it wasn’t of him.”  This is like a child telling their parents, “I know you said not to go do that previously, but if you really don’t want me to do it then stop me now.”  Then when they do it, they justify it as having been their parents will that they really did go through with it.  Is that true.  No, but maybe the parents decided that natural consequences would be a more natural deterrent in the future from bad decisions than stepping in again with a child who refuses to listen and or learn.

I know the analogy is rather harsh Josh, and for that I apologize.  I know that we have enough history together that I can say some thing like that and you will understand it is said in love and concern.  I still urge you strongly to mediate your prayer life with a diet of the Word of God focused on Jesus Christ.  Study the Word, learn from it, let it lead you and influence you.  Accept its teaching about avoiding false doctrine (Hebrews 13:9) and being a working for Christ who has studied and can rightly divide the truth (2Tim 2:15).  

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)

“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:9 NIV)

Speak to me about your study of the Word.  Tell me about your time in Scripture. What does the Scripture teach about God, Man, the human condition, and the solution to the human condition?

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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