As Christians, we don’t do magic, do we?
Sure, you might enjoy the Harry Potter books and movies (or vehemently protest them). But you yourself don’t engage in tarot readings, spells, potions, or incantations – do you?
I think you do.
But I think you (and I) use different words to mask it.
We call it “faith.” We call it “prayer.” But we mean “magic.”
We use our faith as the great manipulator of God. That’s what magic is – using means to control and manipulate the spirits or gods to give us good crops, better health, great marriages, longer life, or more wealth. It manifests in different societies in different ways – through witch doctors or shamans, Evil Eyes or amulets, incantations or spells.
And sometimes, like with Christians, it can be more subtle.
We repeat passages like, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20) So we “claim” this verse, muster up all the belief we can, and through the power of positive thinking, we seek to manipulate God to do what we ask. And they may very well be good requests – to keep a mother alive, for provision of rain for survival, to protect a child from harm.
And if God does not provide, we wonder if we have asked wrong – if we messed up one of the elements of the formula. Should we have added the phrase (incantation), “In Jesus’ name”? Perhaps I did not read my Bible that day that I asked. Maybe I forgot to do this thing that God wanted me to do first.
We know we have stepped into magic when we obsess over the rituals of asking rather than focusing on the Giver.
So what is prayer, if not a way to get something from God?
What is faith, if we cannot muster up enough to make God do what we want?