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Faith abuse

Abrefa looked through his window and observed the Akwapim range of mountains. Then he remembered vaguely what Jesus said about moving mountains: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them” (Mark 11:23).

So Abrefa, a cloud in his heart and a cunning smile on his face, prayed, “Aburi mountains, I say to you according to what Jesus said: throw yourself into the Atlantic Ocean!” Then he stood by to see if the mountains would move.

Of course, the Aburi mountains are still where God formed them centuries ago, and no wishful prayer of faith or belief is going to move them.
Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that the Akwapim mountains have relocated into the sea, because someone, exercising his faith in prayer, has moved them there, drowning the inhabitants!

Abrefa’s ambitious but empty prayer to literally move the mountains into the sea because Jesus said so is a typical example of faith abuse. “Faith abuse” is the reckless misuse of prayer privilege available to us as Christians.

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What is faith?
In our relationship with God, if we are hopeful that he is able to do what he has promised, that is faith. We may not as yet see what we are hoping for, but our confident assurance that we will not be disappointed is based on faith.

In other words, while we do not see God, we believe in him. Even if we are humanly short-sighted, we are spiritually far-sighted enough to reach out to him in faith.

Therefore, faith is the engine that fuels and lubricates our relationship with God. And when our faith is weak, we, like children, trust in God’s grace and abilities in our daily walk with him.

But exercising faith in God is not a magic wand to compel him to do things for us. Sometimes we pray as if we are commanding God, as if we are deity and the Lord is at our beck and call! How dare us do that!
Not only did Abrefa misunderstand the Lord’s teaching on the exercise of faith in prayer, he also turned faith and prayer into magic. God answers prayers, of course, but he is not a magician or a voodoo wizard.

God’s will
Like Abrefa, many of us fail to consider a most important teaching of Christ about the will of God whenever we make a request of him.
“In accordance with his will” is one of the Bible’s most enduring statements about prayer. God’s will supersedes our desires that are often laden with selfishness and ulterior motives.

When Jesus prayed fervently that if possible he may not suffer, God could have dispatched a battalion of angels to ensure that Jesus wouldn’t suffer. But it was God’s will for him to suffer and die and resurrect in order to save us from our sins.

Jesus, always ready to abide by God’s will and not his, tagged his request with “Your will be done, not mine.” That is why he taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Today, I wonder if “Thy will be done” is in our prayer vocabulary. Faith in prayer can easily be abused if we fail to see the importance of God’s will against ours.

“Come and see”
Faith often gets abused because of our fondness to “see” before “believing”. We have a never-ending desire to see miracles and then use the miracles to determine our spirituality.

Sadly, in the corridors of Christian leadership, there is a subtle competition to excel in the display of “powers”. The more you are perceived to be “powerful”, the higher you are elevated, and the larger the crowds that flock to you.

That was what Satan hoped would happen when he tempted Jesus to command stones to change into bread or throw himself down from a high point. Jesus had the faith, the power, and the authority to do all those wonders, but he refrained from misusing them for a selfish ambition.

Today, Satan doesn’t have to work too hard to deceive people with signs and wonders. On radio, television, and social media, people are invited to “come and see” the power of God.

Yielding to the pressure of the people who desire to see these wonders, some leaders are even lured into occultism, spiritism, and satanic worship.

It is this penchant to force the hand of God to perform miracles that gives rise to fake testimonies, fake healings, and fake signs and wonders today.
Next week: God willing when we return to this subject next week, we will discuss other nuances of faith abuse.

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