“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.” Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG) A few years ago, I encountered a website dedicated to prayer. It looked good at first, until I found out that those who needed help had to pay for these “Prayer Warriors”. They claimed that if you pay for a prayer, God will bless you with a positive answer.
Nowhere in God’s Word can I find any hint of what these “prayer warriors” were preaching. They are simply promoting religious “formulas” that will lead nowhere. Can you imagine Jesus saying to the sick, “Do you want to be healed? Give me your money!”
Instead Jesus urges: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8 (NIV) and “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24 (NIV) There are many charlatans in this world who pretend to be close to God. Unfortunately, they are not what they pretend to be. The formulas they broadcast will not draw you closer to God, for this is not His will. The only way to experience our Heavenly Father fully is by communicating with Him, listening to His voice and getting to know Him personally. When we delve into His Word, He will confirm what we are looking for.
While human formulas lead nowhere, experiencing our Father leads us in the right direction: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:7, NIV2) Our Heavenly Father is the One who provides, and I’d rather trust in Him than in a human who promises to pray for me if I pay him, wouldn’t you?
The First Nations people of Northern Wisconsin didn’t like that strange island off the coast of Lake Superior. Because of the strange noises that issued from this tiny piece of land, they believed it to be a haunt of demons, a place to be avoided at all costs. They called it, “Devil’s Island”. They didn’t know that the noises were all from natural causes. The waves off the lake strike the sea caves surrounding the island with such force that there is a loud clapping sound. Because some of these caves extend all the way to the center of the island and are sometimes connected to its surface via a series of blow holes, the noises often seem to come from the island’s center, and at times, the noises are accompanied by a spray of water shooting high into the air.
The First Nations people were most certainly missing something, for Devil’s Island is the most beautiful of all the islands off the coast of Wisconsin. The beautiful sea caves and blow hole are actually what makes it so fascinating. The same is true when we miss the beauty of our Heavenly Father by seeking Him through religious “formulas”. After all, our God is a personal God who loves us deeply.
(To access the entire “Majestic Mountain View” devotional series, please click here.)