"This stuff," which is what I'm going to call the above stuff for this post, has spread all over Christianity to the point where it's become in certain ways indistinguishable from it. People now just look at this stuff like it is normal for Christianity. It's not considered unchristian anymore and even more christian than what is actually Christian. It's everywhere, and if you point it out, you're often seen as unloving. The feeling or the experience, some result that goes along with it, is seen as some kind of movement or power or baptism or filling or manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Whole books have been written on and against this stuff, but as I see it, it's everywhere, even among those who say they dislike it. It's that rampant.
One should not expect any of this stuff from those who call themselves or consider themselves reformed or Calvinist, but it's not true. What or who is supposed to be the opposite of this stuff has itself or themselves appropriated it with and through its associations, music, techniques, methods, and strategies. What got my attention came from something I got in my email inbox that contained material from a very well known conservative evangelical, reformed or Calvinistic group, which sells the Puritan hard drive, called, Still Water Revival Books.
The Charismatic movement or continuationism says that sign gifts are for today, those being tongues, healings, and miracles. They have their "healings," their fraudulent healings, that are not the signs of Jesus and the Apostles. They have their miracles, fantastic events that supposedly occur and maybe massive numbers of salvation, at least professions. All of these tell them that they're of God and that the Holy Spirit is with them. Both Charismatics and non-Charismatics cannot both be right, and Charismatics are not right. You can see that in scripture. Still Water Revival Books referred to a sermon on prayer by Paul Washer, where he mentions George Mueller and J. Hudson Taylor, and they tell a story apparently about George Mueller.
So non-Charismatic, non-continuationists, the others, they don't have the sign gifts. They don't believe it. They don't have healings and miracles. They don't. But yet they do. They as good as have them, their own version of them. They do in numbers of different ways that I've been talking about here in several different posts over the last decade. People need to recognize it. They need to eschew this stuff, all forms of it, all of which is deceit. They are as much the "seeking after signs" that are as wicked as anything in any form of this stuff. They are "acceptable versions" of this stuff.
Jesus said that those who seek after this stuff are faithless. Faithlessness fuels it. It isn't faith or more power, but a lack of security. This stuff provides a kind of authentication of Christianity to them, letting them know that what they have is real. The Bible is real. Christianity is real. God is real. Jesus is real. It's all real. It's not helped along by this stuff. The Bible is good enough. It is sufficient.
In the title of the post, I've mentioned prayer, because that was what the email was about that I got in my inbox. In the Charismatic movement, you have these "healers." People being physically healed is a very powerful thought. You see it in the Bible. The Charismatics have their "healing." It's not as though the non-charismatics do not have theirs.
The non-Charismatics, supposedly non-continuationists even, have praying for the sick, praying for someone with a brain tumor, praying for someone in surgery, all of that. Theoretically in and with these prayers, like what is supposedly occurring in Charismatic healing, God is doing the healing. Like the Charismatic healers, these prayers, even though they are said to be God, they won't result in someone getting a new leg who has lost his leg. I'm saying they are very similar to Charismatic healing and they fill church prayer lists, minus things like blindness either way. The idea here is that someone prays and someone is healed. It's quite a coup, an amazing offer, to propose the possibility that someone might be healed as a result of a prayer today. It is very powerful to the one who anticipates a healing. I consider this too to be a church growth method. Everyone gets sick. That's a big audience.
Healing is not all. You will also read what are reported as miracles of prayer. Here's what I read from Still Water Revival Books:
Once, while crossing the Atlantic on the SS Sardinian in August 1877, his ship ran into thick fog. He explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but Captain Joseph E Dutton (later known as "Holy Joe") said that he was slowing the ship down for safety and Müller's appointment would have to be missed. Müller asked to use the chartroom to pray for the lifting of the fog. The captain followed him down, claiming it would be a waste of time. After Müller prayed, the captain started to pray, but Müller stopped him; partly because of the captain's unbelief, but mainly because he believed the prayer had already been answered. When the two men went back to the bridge, they found the fog had lifted. The captain became a Christian shortly afterwards. Müller's faith in God strengthened day by day and he spent hours in daily prayer and Bible reading -- indeed, it was his practice, in later years, to read through the entire Bible four times a year.
I would say to anyone, "Pray." That's not all there is to it, however. People need to look at what the Bible says about prayer. A lot of what people think about prayer, they didn't get from the Bible. They read a story like above, and what are they supposed to think? It isn't scripture. What do they think about Mueller? Mueller had special power. He could accomplish things no normal human, no normal Christian, could. He had a faith they don't have, and a power they don't have. He got the second blessing that they covet. He could get fog to lift right when he needed it. How far could he go? Could he he pray for the ship to move two or three times faster? Could the ship fly? Could Mueller fly? Jesus walked on water.
What is it that holds people back? They don't believe. Don't believe what? Do they not believe that God can lift fog? Or do they not believe that they should pray for fog to be lifted? Is not praying for fog to be lifted -- is that faithless? Is fog lifting a basis of faith? Should we agree that we should pray the same or that we're missing something if we don't? Where is Mueller's faith in England today? Why not?
I'm not saying that what I'm reporting about prayer is the worst of this stuff. What I was reading from Still Water Revival Books and even from Paul Washer in his sermon on prayer was this stuff. I am saying that it got my attention, because it reminded me that this type of thinking is everywhere in Christianity, including with the reformed and Calvinists.