Manifestation vs Prayer

Manifestation, as in the law of attraction or cosmic ordering has been gaining popularity recently. Personally I heard about it about a year ago trough an Instagram influencer who absolutely swears by it, and watched her you tube video on this matter which actually prompted me to make my own vision board, although that was just a bit of lockdown entertainment I didn’t take seriously. But the growing popularity of this trend made me think “is this some form of prayer for non-believers?”
Lots of people are convinced that it has worked for them in the same manner people are convinced prayer worked for them. I really can’t help comparing the two. Yes yes, I know there are MAJOR differences but the bottom line is that people believe good things came their way as a result of either praying to God, imagining it or simply wanting it to happen. So why pray to God if you can just make a vision board and it works just as well? Also they say it only works if you believe that it works…is it not the same with praying?

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Good question. But a response to those seems to be, as Jesus demonstrated by sacrificing himself for others, and by teaching us to pray–the first request is “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The manifestation is a pie in the sky wish for our kingdom; praying as Jesus did changes us and the Earth to become more like God’s kingdom. Christianity is not easy. Or am I not understanding?

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Also chiming in with @Randy here; I’ve been reading through MacDonald’s unspoken sermon “Man’s problem with prayer”.

One of the main points he makes in it is that the ultimate end of any prayer or prayer life is to bring the supplicant into communion with God.

So to the extent that such faddish practices merely encourage self-help practices or “the power of positive thinking”, etc. - these must ultimately take their place beside the thousands of preceding fads that flare for a short season - perhaps help develop a commendable habit or two, but in the end must fade (if the God of prayer is as the Christian claims) and be forgotten because it shunts our “gratitude” down a dead-end lane where we find only a mirror, or perhaps nothing at all.

I say all this without knowing anything of the “manifestation” movement of which you write. So I don’t know what it really encourages or discourages. All I know is that anything directing away from our Maker must (at least on the Christian view) must ephemerally disappear. But if it can exist within the light of that Love - far be it from me to insist that God doesn’t make use of whatever tools seen fit for the task.

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Sorry, I don’t understand what you meant by this

OK, I’m not sure if I made my point in OP clear… The problem I see with this “wellness trend” is that the advocates of it are claiming it works almost just as a prayer(albeit that’s not how they are putting it, rather that’s my interpretation)
I’d true then this is bigger treat to the concept of prayer then all6 those studies with people reading out prayer from pieces of paper etc

Your point is taken: If any wellness trend can boast just as many positive outcomes as prayer, then doesn’t this seriously challenge the Christian’s insistence that “prayer works”? Is that accurate?

I am approaching the challenge from the other side, and asking: “who says this is what prayer is really about?” So when society (including Christian society) observes about anything:

I suggest that this phrase alone betrays society’s wrong idea about prayer. Let me go on to make what might be a provocative statement: If somebody discovers that “prayer works”, then I don’t believe it is Christian prayer they are really talking about. It is the mistaken notion that the chief or only end of prayer is to “get results”. This would be like a youth insisting that their only relationship to their mom or dad is to discover the method of making requests of them which gets the youth what he wants. He doesn’t care about relationship with them … in fact it is of little consequence to him whether or not they even exist. All he knows is that if he follows some well-discovered formula to “fire off” verbal petitions into the ether, as it were, he maximizes his chances of getting the desired results.

That anybody (secularists or religious) characterizes prayer in these pragmatic terms suggests to me that they know nothing of the chief end of real prayer. That we do ask God for things is a given - and we are even encouraged to do so. But that exhortation isn’t so that we can “get our things”. It is so we are brought into relationship with the Giver. The things are a means used by God to bring us to that greater end. So when we divorce those two - and set our eyes on the desired things as our only end, then God will get our attention some other way.

So I would say that if anyone discovers some technique that “works”, … they may indeed have latched onto some great self-help method that may encourage good mental or work habits, and may help them achieve greater things on their own steam. But if somebody claims that “prayer works”, I’ll suggest they aren’t saying anything more than “hey - I’ve discovered that whenever you say such-and-such to mom in such-and-such a way - she always caves and gives you what you want!” So to note that “prayer works” is already to betray that it isn’t really Christian prayer (at least not in its fully realized sense) one is speaking of. It is only that confused category of “prayer” that atheists (and some Christians) are perennially trying to tout for its alleged efficacies / inefficacies.

[I should probably pre-empt concerned responses about my apparent rejection of the ‘efficacy’ of prayer: the whole ‘prayer works’ phenomenon probably has some legitimate place in the spiritual life of a young or weak believer (or especially an unbeliever). I do think God can use even such ‘efficacies’ to get our attention at key moments - but rarely in response to ultimatums from us that are little more than tests in which such ‘efficacy’ is our main obsession. And I think that ‘efficacy’ concerns carry less and less weight or preoccupation in the life of the maturing believer.]

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Yes, I probably should have put up a link or something

I’d you don’t want to click… The general idea is to visualise various things in life that you want, be very positive and then there are vision boards where you collect images or descriptions of various things and you keep staring at them…I am probably oversimplifing things but that’s how I understand it. And I have heard testimonies claiming that really specific things happened, like their new flat was excacly like the one from vision board or they got to do project with a specific person they didn’t even know beforehand. Hence I asked is it a prayer for non believers because it certainly sounds like it to me.

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Thanks for the alternate description; without clicking the link, I think I can guess the gist of it. And believe me - I feel the attraction of such things. I too have my laundry list of things I want (some ‘noble’ - and some not so much). And I set about my own quests and agendas … would God give me this if I pray for it? Or if not … then I wonder how else I can make this happen. And that questing attitude alone should bring me up short as a Christian to muse on how I, along with the rich young man, am casting a longing look back at Christ (wishing he would come along with me) as I go on back to all my stuff that I’m so attached to. I’ve perused (what I imagine are probably similar) resources from various self-help and psychology gurus. It isn’t all bad stuff. And the stuff we chase isn’t all bad either. It’s the fact that we’re so mastered by it that we’re chasing after it in the first place.

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Yes, that’s the point I was making and I believe you have answered it. Although I’m sure that some atheists would still be making some remarks, but hey-you can’t win them all🙂

That’s another issue I have with all this manifestation… Is it OK for a Christian to participate in such practices? Or should we just keep our heads down, do our best and pray to God?

Health and wealth wolves in wolves’ clothing use and sell these techniques. They caused the 2008 crash and are perverting Christianity obscenely in Africa while it dies in the WEIRD world, especially America, to be replaced by fascism. You might as well snort cocaine.

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I think your last three words there are the key where the Christian can’t go wrong (even as we shamelessly ask God for wantonly selfish stuff). The point is … it is God we are asking.

As far as “is it okay for the Christian to practice such things…”, I don’t see why such practices are different from our labors to get ordinary and necessary stuff done in life. As long as the Christian has underneath it all (to use Macdonald’s words here) …

the low accompaniment ‘thy will be done’

in the conscious presence of God. Then all these self-help practices can probably be subsumed underneath our relationship with the one Giver. In other words - I think even ‘positive thinking’, or ‘gratitude’, or whatever else - so long as it isn’t in opposition to the life and relationship God wants for us [and isn’t becoming a fixation for us to replace God with], can probably all be okay for the Christian. We do have incredible freedom here!

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Sounds a lot like “The Power of Positive Thinking” and the message of the prosperity preachers just recycled.
I guess the bottom line is whether or not it works. Seems to have for Joel Olsteen and Norman Vincent Peale.

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Indeed! I have a lot of positive attitude about how the money in your bank account can help finance my private jet. :airplane:

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I have noticed how the “manifestation” language has taken off in Christian health and wealth circles. Joel Osteen is all over this trend. So, I think it is super similar to the Christian “name it, claim it” kind of prayer. But that centers on unorthodox theological beliefs about the power of words and a certain view of faith as a kind of magic tool to get what you want. Christian prayer as modeled in the Bible is about petitioning God for the things God tells you he wants for you and bringing your will and desires into alignment with his own. The Bible says God delights in giving good gifts to his children, so there isn’t anything wrong with asking God for the things we want. But it’s not like if you have the right prayer formula or have enough of the right kind of faith you can treat God like a heavenly vending machine and manipulate the universe for your own designs.

I think a lot of the New Agey talk about manifestation and “setting intentions” is really just harnessing basic psychology. When you clearly define your goals, your motivation and intentionality about moving toward them increases and you are more likely to achieve them. Maybe for some people, their prayers are just a form of goal setting that push them to help themselves consciously and subconsciously. But I think much of Christian prayer happens at the end of oneself, in a posture of dependence on a source of strength and goodness outside of oneself. They are prayers that fuel perseverance through hardship and suffering, not prayers that actualize desires and blessing. The things Christians are told to pray for (for God’s name to be glorified, justice for the oppressed, forgiveness for sins, greater understanding of the depth of God’s love and grace, boldness to proclaim the gospel, etc.) aren’t really “vision board” material.

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Although I am not a huge fan of this (manifestation and law of attraction stuff) any more than I was a fan of this in the previous incarnation under the phrase “power of positive thinking,” that doesn’t mean this is entirely without any truth to it whatsoever.

I think this is a reaction to the most massive delusion of modern times that we can live our lives as an objective observer. While objective observation works extremely well for science, it does not work well for human life at all. Life requires subjective participation, and there is definitely a significant interaction between our wants and beliefs and what we accomplish. No, we cannot simply make something happen by wanting it but neither can we make something happen without wanting it, because that is what motivates us to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

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He gives BabylonBee easy material (kind of like Trump and Andy Borowitz – the latter sure has to work harder now, and some doesn’t work).

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I think this thread shows the difference between faith and magic.

For a truly authoritative explanation of the Law of Attraction we can turn to Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 30-33 (KJV) he says:

"…do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. "

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

This is the spiritual principle behind the Law of Attraction. God’s spirit will allow you to transcend material limitations if your faith is strong enough to believe it will.

This was the guiding principle behind Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science. The things of matter mask God’s reality which underpins everything and in that sense are illusory. She understood that Jesus worked that principle in his healings and she argued with the necessary spiritual strength we could too.

The New Thought movement that splintered off of Christian Science introduced the idea that this principle could be used beyond healing to bring any and all desired things to ourselves and thus comes the Law of Attraction. However there is a fatal flaw in the approach of today’s New Thought advocates, gathered in the Church of Religious Science.

In Ernest Holmes’ The Science of the Mind (HI Productions edition) on page 222 he urges his followers:

“Let us BLIND OURSELVES TO NEGATION, as far as we are mentally able to. LET US NOT TALK, THINK, OR READ ABOUT ANYTHING DESTRUCTIVE, whether it be war, pestilence, famine, poverty, sickness, or limitation of any kind. Looking at this from a. practical standpoint, there is all to win and nothing to lose.” (All emphasis in the original)

This is cloistering without cloisters. It is said that practioners of Religious Science will turn around and walk away from you if you tell them you aren’t feeling well. You can create an artificial world of positivity this way but you’ll never find your way into God’s Kingdom.

At least Religious Science people and the prosperity gospelists give it to God in their approach to the Law of Attraction but at its most vulgar God is dispensed with entirely as in the piece included above.

Thought does have power even if it’s devoid of God and a lot of things can be accomplished with disciplined thought but if you’re concerned about where you’re going to spend eternity then something more is needed.

If people want to follow Jesus in this you basically have to live your with the faith that God knows and will provide for your needs. Of course God has his plan for you and that could include tests and trials (read the Book of Job in the Old Testament).

But just to show how the spiritual can manifest into the material I can point to the amazing way God and His angels have provided for me. I have a few dozen pairs of shoes in my closets and I have not paid for a single one. They just have a way of coming to me (and not from clothing pantries or human charities).

It may seem like a material world but with the right faith the spiritual will find its way into your life.

,

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How do the shoes get into your closet then?

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Sounds way too extravagant for a Christian lol

Unless you’re a televangelist!

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