Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this segment of our program, we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God, and we’re in chapter 5, just beginning chapter 5. Concerning Prayer is the title. Dave, you begin by—in bold letters you say, “The major partner to faith is prayer,” and we talked about faith last week, the week before, and there’s a lot of confusion out there about it, but also prayer. If you don’t have faith right, how can you (chuckles) have prayer right?
Dave: Well, you’ve…or I guess everyone has heard the old saying, “No atheists in a foxhole.” Even atheists, when they get in enough trouble, cry out (chuckles) for help from someone! So, what is prayer then? Is this a religious technique to get our own way? We get bailed out of our troubles? Is that the purpose of prayer? And if so, to whom are you praying? Or praying to some force? That’s a very common idea—there’s some cosmic energy source out there. For example, if you studied religious science, they talk about some universal mind. Apparently this universal mind has no mind of its own, oddly enough! But it has all power, and it will grant whatever requests, you know—if you make these positive affirmations strongly enough, and we talked about that in the past, the bumper stickers, “Think snow.” “Visualize peace.” What power is this that you are trying to tap into which, if we had enough people visualizing peace, it would bring peace, or if we had enough people thinking snow, affirming snow, it would begin to snow!
Dave: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on this program, Tom. If I have, it would be years ago. I will never forget—I think I was about 8 years old, maybe 9 or 10, I don’t know, living in Southern California, it was in July, probably 110 in the shade, and I prayed for snow! Did I ever mention that?
Tom: I can’t wait to hear the answer, though!
Dave: I’ll never forget it! You want to hear how it snowed in July, in Riverside, California? Well, I had been raised in a Christian home, I heard the Bible over and over and over, “Whatever you ask in faith, believe and you will receive it!” So I thought, “I can have anything I want if I just believe that I’m going to get it!” I didn’t go to some metaphysicist and some religious scientist or whatever, Christian Science to learn that. This is innate in human beings. And I thought, “Now, in order to help me believe, if I could just believe that what I’m praying for will happen, it will happen! That’s what the Bible says, doesn’t it?” I thought, “Now, if it would really help me to believe, I will visualize—“ Tom…. here I am, 8 years old…
Tom: Oh come on, really?
Dave: …this is natural to the human race! If I could just see in my mind snowflakes coming down…so I tried to see snowflakes coming down, and I kept my eyes closed as I groped my way to the window. Then I opened my eyes…thank God it wasn’t snowing! Wouldn’t that be horrible if by…
Dave: …visualizing, or by thinking, we could make anything happen we wanted to happen? Well then, if that’s the case, people are trying to do this! We have serious scientists, parapsychologists, you know, trying to tap into “psychic powers,” they call it. If there is some power out there, and if you just knew how to tap into it, you could get anything you wanted. But then what happens if different people want different things that conflict with one another? Who is in charge and what is this force that brings this about? Well, Star Wars! Star Wars force. There’s a dark side and a light side and well, now we got problems, don’t we? This is amoral, and I don’t want to go into that, but Tom, I think people get the idea. Prayer—Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” And prayer is to God. Now, do I want to try to convince the God Who created this universe that I am smarter than He is? I mean, I don’t know all the consequences—for example, even if I pray for rain, or snow, or whatever, I don’t know all the consequences that that could have worldwide, even! Now, am I going to…
Tom: What would it have done to the crops in Riverside?
Dave: Oh my goodness! (Laughs) Frozen!
Tom: The oranges!
Dave: Well, they don’t have oranges that time of year…
Tom: Oh, okay.
Dave: But it would have frozen the watermelons and the cantaloupes, and knocked the buds off of the watermelon vines and so forth. So, am I going to try to convince God that what I want should happen and that I know better than He does? See, that doesn’t make sense.
Dave: But it’s rather humbling, and rather difficult for human beings—“You mean, I’ve got to ask God what His will is and you mean He’s not going to give it to me unless it’s His will? Than what’s the point of asking Him, you know? He’s going to do His will anyway.” But even in the garden, Jesus prayed, “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
Tom: Dave, I want to go back to some of the things you mentioned, because they are fascinating when you think about them. You talk about the atheist in the foxhole...
Tom: …who, or what, is he crying out to? But he has a need and he doesn’t like the circumstance that he’s in…
Tom: …and that’s not just an atheist in a foxhole. Those who are marginally, call them agnostic or maybe they had some kind of Christian background or something like that, they’re also thinking, “Well wait a minute, I haven’t been as good as I could be, but I really have this need and God’s going to look upon me because I’m crying out to Him for something…
Dave: And you’re going to make a promise to God…
Dave: “Lord, if You will do this, I’ll do this.”
Tom: Mm-hmm. And then it becomes more complex. You mentioned Star Wars. Well, that movie has been around for decades now and the series…
Dave: Changed the thinking of a lot of people.
Tom: Right, but what you’re talking about here is “prayer wars”—no difference! There really is no difference, fundamentally! “Prayer wars”—we’ve seen this in schools that want to have a prayer before the game where they’re taking on their rival, and so on…
Tom: …they’re going to have a prayer meeting beforehand—well, you’ve got 2 schools competing against one another and they say, “Oh no, no, we’re just praying that we could do our best and that nobody gets hurt,” but (laughs) you know, back of their mind is, “God help us win this game!” And you have 2 sides going after it!
Dave: Yeah, so which side is going to win?
Dave: Jesus said, “If you have faith, you can say to this mountain, ‘Be thou removed.’” Cast it in the midst of the sea, and it will happen! Okay, so we got Mr. Jones and Mr. Brown, and there’s a mountain, and they’re both praying to move this mountain, but Mr. Jones wants it moved to the east, and Mr. Brown wants it moved to the west! Now, which way is it going to move? The mountain, according to Christ and your own common sense, will move when and where God decides and wants to move it, okay? Now, if Mr. Jones is in touch with God, and God has revealed to him that He is going to move this mountain to the west on a certain day, then he prays in faith. That’s where faith comes from. Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in faith, believe that you have it.” Well, wait a minute! That’s not turning this over to me! What is faith? Jesus said, “Faith is in God.” Now how can I have real faith and believe that God is going to move this mountain unless I know that that’s His will, and that is what He’s going to do and when He’s going to do it? So, it’s very important that we understand what Jesus is saying. We’ve talked about it in the past, Tom, I know, when Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My Name, the Father will give it to you.” So people think, “Wow, I just throw in the name of Jesus. I say whatever I want and then I say, ‘In the name of Jesus.’” Tom, I’ve been asked to speak in some churches, charismatic types—I don’t get invited there very often—but I’ve seen pastors call people forward for prayer for healing, and I’ve seen them, I’ve heard them lay hands on someone: “In the name of Jesus, I command this disease to leave!” And it doesn’t leave! I remember seeing a man on television, they brought a lady in a wheelchair—I won’t mention his name, but anyway, oh, in the name of Jesus he commanded her to be able to walk and so forth, and nothing happened and then, I remember it distinctly, Tom, he said, “Wheel this healed lady back to her place.” Now, it’s her fault! She must believe, you see!
Dave: Well, Tom, you think about it logically, how many times does a teenager growing up in a church like that have to sit there and see this same routine? Go through it again and again, commanding in the name of Jesus that this person will be healed and they’re not healed. Well then, what does that do to the name of Jesus? The problem is, they are misusing the name of Jesus. Now, to pray and ask in the name of Jesus as a petition to God, that’s okay, but to make a command…the first, we leave it to God’s will, the other we’re trying to impose our will upon God. Tom, I’ve seen people instantly healed. I’ve laid hands on people and prayed and seen them instantly healed—very rare occasions! God gave me the faith at that time to know that it was His will, right then, to heal that person, but that doesn’t mean that I can go around now and just command anybody and everybody to be healed. It may not be God’s will; furthermore, He doesn’t heal anyone forever. Even those who have taught that healing is in the atonement—everything we have is in the atonement—but they’re talking about a guarantee of physical healing…
Dave: …from any disease you ever would get. They are all dead or they’re dying, and they haven’t lived any longer than anyone else, so that obviously isn’t true, because God is not going to perpetuate us in these bodies of sin and suffering and disease and temptation. He has something better in mind. He is going to deliver us from these bodies completely and to a new universe, a new creation. But we have a tendency to want to impose our will on God, and that’s what people think faith is, some kind of a force that you can aim at God, (laughs) and get Him to do what you want Him to do!
Tom: Dave, about a week ago, I saw a movie, and I wanted to see this movie because of the director. The director’s name is Ron Howard, and many of our listeners would know him as Opie on the Andy Griffith show, or Happy Days.
Dave: And Tom, I live such a sheltered life, I’ve never even heard of the man!
Tom: Yeah, but he is a first-class director. He’s really done some big films. I’m not sure that—he may have won an Academy award, but I’m not positive about that. But anyway, he’s a solid director and he does things that really appeal to people. Well, anyway, the movie I’m talking about, and I’ll tell you why I went to see it, was called The Missing, and it was set in the 1800s, and it had to do with a renegade shaman, okay? An Indian medicine man who, because of his beliefs and because of his hatred of the whites, he went around with his band, and they captured women to take across the border to Mexico, white women to take across the border to Mexico—oh, and some Indian women as well, as I remember it, to sell them. But he was a shaman, and that was really the heart of the story, and a woman who tries to get her daughter back.
Dave: Tom, maybe we ought to explain what a shaman is. Everybody doesn’t know.
Tom: All right, go ahead.
Dave: It’s a word from the Tungus tribe in Siberia; that’s what they call their witch doctor, medicine man, as you said…
Dave: …and that medicine man, witch doctor, that has kind of bad connotations, so now, parapsychologists, anthropologists and so forth have adopted, universally, the word shaman. What it means is witchcraft.
Tom: Right, but the belief is that there are powers out there, and there are rituals that you go through, whether it be voodoo, vodun, whether it be Santeria or whatever it is, it’s communicating with the powers out there, whether it be spirit animals or whatever, but there is a power out there, and that’s the point. Now, the…
Dave: And we can tap into it and use it.
Tom: Right. One of the main characters in this movie had her daughter stolen by this renegade shaman, and she went after her daughter to try and retrieve her daughter, and there’s a point in the movie in which the shaman finds one of her hairs on a brush and now begins to do rituals over this hair and she becomes sick! Now, the point I’m trying to make here is that she was getting sick and sicker and sicker, and then those who recognized what was going on, they had their own rituals, they had their own, and the rituals ended up being eclectic—there was somebody crying out to Mary, there were rosary beads, there were all kinds of—not just Christian, but there was an Indian involved, the Cherokee Indian, I believe, and he was doing his rituals to offset the power of this shaman. Now this is “prayer wars”! Certainly not in a Christian setting…
Tom: But this is the way we think, this is…Now, the reason I went to see the movie is because Ron Howard is going to do a movie based on, really, a very popular bestseller called The Da Vinci Code, which we will be dealing with in the future, but this is spirituality that people are accepting because it’s impressive, because they’re presenting it in a way that’s so persuasive because of the film medium.
Dave: Well, Tom, there really is a power out there—Satan. And Satan and his demons are willing to grant some of these requests in order to draw people into their camp, to cause people to believe in this impersonal power, to cause them to believe that they can manipulate this with their rituals and so forth and you interviewed a former shaman…
Dave: …and he talked to you about some of these incredible things that would happen and how he was delivered from the powers of darkness through faith in Christ.
Dave: So what we’re talking about is something real. Now, a lot of people do not know it, they don’t experience it, they’re just whistling in the dark, they’re trying to get it to work; but those who can see it really work, they’re the ones who have surrendered themselves to this power, whether they realize this is Satan or what—it’s like Mephistopheles, they have sold their soul for this power. They don’t realize it until it is too late.
Tom: Mm-hmm. But Jesus said in Mark:11:22, “Have faith in God.” Comes down to, do you know Him? Do you have a personal relationship with him? You make some really great points, Dave, about “Would you put your faith and trust in anybody?” The atheist crying out from the foxhole, that’s what he’s doing, because he wants something for himself, but is it normal to just put our faith in anybody for anything?
Dave: The atheist doesn’t know God. Why would you even think God would help you now, when you have thumbed your nose at Him and turned your back on Him all of your life, if there is a God. So he’s just hoping that there might be some god out there who will look favourably upon him in this moment of distress, but the point the book makes is you must know God to trust Him. Why would you trust someone you don’t have absolute confidence in? And how could you have absolute confidence in a God you don’t know, or even if you think you know Him, without really getting to know Him and this is the heart of it, Tom. You put your finger on the heart of it because people don’t want to know God. People often say, “Well, look, if God would speak with an audible voice, you know, then I’d believe.” Well, He did that for the Israelites. He opened the Red Sea! Let them walk through on dry land! He gave them water out of a rock! Manna every day. Led them with a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, showed them where to go and where to camp and so forth. He spoke to them from Mount Sinai and that mountain is on fire; there’s thunder and great noise, and He speaks with a very loud, audible voice, gives the 10 commandments to them, and one of them is—the very first is, “You shall have no other gods.” And before Moses even gets down from the mount, they had made a golden calf and are bowing down to this calf as the god who delivered them—it’s astonishing! But Tom, this is in the human heart. We don’t want a God, the true God, who will lead us according to His ways, His will, before whom we must bow and acknowledge that He is Lord of all, that He is the Creator of the Universe, that He has all power and all wisdom. But we want a little calf that we can get to do our will, and that’s the lie, of course, of shamanism. They think they’ve got this power and, Tom, one of the ways they meet it, of course, is through visualization. Nobody taught me to visualize as a little boy, and as you alluded to, they visualize an animal or a human being, some power animal, like a coyote, even, or a leopard or whatever, and we have psychologists, serious psychologists, we have medical doctors—I think of Bernie Siegel. Bernie Siegel was a medical doctor at Yale University. He got into this and he thought, Well, I’m visualizing, I’m going to visualize some power, some person with power and who will it be? Well, probably Jesus will appear to me or whatever. He said a young man in a surgical garb and skullcap comes and now he trusts this guy! We have people trying to visualize Jesus—it’s not Jesus! He doesn’t do that, but it’s a demon impersonating Him, and what happens, Tom, is they become entrapped in this. The power takes over from them. This is not the God of love who gave His Son to die for our sins.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, in Christianity, we have people trying, as you mentioned earlier, people trying to work this into laws. They find things in the Bible, whether if you have faith to move mountains, faith as a mustard seed and so on, and they develop it into a law of faith, but there are no laws related to faith.
Dave: Faith is the opposite of laws! If it works by laws, it doesn’t require faith. You don’t have to have faith to believe that when you put 2 chemicals together in a test tube, you get a certain reaction. That doesn’t take faith! You don’t have to have faith to believe that if you jump out of an airplane, you’re going to go plummeting to the ground. So, that is a tragedy, Tom, and there are a number of people—again, I’m not trying to down charismatics, I believe that God is the same; He can do anything! I believe in the power of God; I’ve seen miracles! But don’t try to make a law out of it! When you make a law out of it, then you don’t need God. When I get in an airplane, I don’t go into the cockpit and say, “Hey guys, are you born-again Christians? Are you walking with the Lord? Leading a spirit-filled life?” That doesn’t matter! All they have to do is follow the laws of aerodynamics, and it works for an atheist as well as for a Christian. Now, we want to make it scientific; this was what Mary Baker Eddy did. She turned Jesus…”Oh now, oh, Jesus was the first scientist, isn’t that wonderful? There are laws out there that He understood. Now if we just understand these laws, then we can do what Jesus did.” That, Tom, turns the whole thing on its head. God is no longer the Creator of this universe, but like in Mormonism, these are magicians! The Mormon gods, and there are trillions of them according to Joseph Smith, they are just magicians! They have discovered these laws, and now they know how to use them, and if we can discover these laws—wow! We can do it, too, and then we’re back to what you started with, Tom, “prayer wars”. Now we just have a bunch of Obi Wans and Darth Vaders out there zapping one another with psychic power, all trying to develop stronger power and Tom, you know we’ve studied it, the CIA, the KGB, governments around this world have been investigating psychic power, parapsychology, in order to carry on these psychic wars against one another.
Tom: Dave, if this is true, then grace is a bad joke. But we are Christians: we are under grace, not under law. So, I mean, that’s foundational for people who are attracted to this. You’ve got to come back to what the Word of God says: “It is by grace…”
Dave: And “by grace”, Tom, means you trust Him.
Dave: He will decide graciously, and we’re in His hands. And Tom, I wouldn’t want it any other way.