Prayer vs Magic

It seems to come up wherever Christians and Pagans dialogue.
Not that that’s a whole bunch of places mind you. 🙂
From my perspective this is contrasting apples and oranges. Let me tell you why.
As a former Occultist, I see this in a different light than most of the people I know, Pagans included.
> The categories would be better defined as:
* Prayer vs Prayer
* Magic vs Gifts of the Spirit
Lets take the first one first shall we? 🙂
As a Christian sees a need in life, their own or someone else’s, the natural thing to do is to talk to God about it. Coming by way of the Door made by accepting Jesus as their Savior.
The Christian’s prayers also consist of just talking (and listening) to God. To the Pagan, prayer can be many things, as there are many, many paths through their world. However for most it would consist of communing with the God/Goddess of their particular branch, or perhaps one of a pantheon or ‘family’ of beings. As with the Christian it would consist of either a request for help, or simply enjoying the presence thereof. Not terribly different in form, just in the Deity being communicated with. Keep in mind that some of the Pagans I know would disagree.

Now as to magic.. this is the working of one’s will on one’s surroundings. It is practiced with or without calling upon a God or Goddess, depending on ones spiritual path and what is being done. You will find various opinions within the Pagan community on that point. Which is only fair since the counterpart in the Christian world is equally disagreed upon. 🙂 The Christian’s counterpart to magic would be found in the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit”. Many of these are listed in the Bible, some of them are in dispute as to whether or not they are in effect today. The big difference here would be as the ‘Gifts are God’ working through the Christian to affect their surroundings.

In both cases you will often find a blending with prayer, for what many don’t actually focus on, is that Wicca and other forms of Paganism are indeed religions. In a comparison of the two, magic would be seen as having more latitude for the wielder of it. With the Gifts of the Spirit being used to bring honor to Jesus.

What draws people to magic?

What draws people to magic?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question.
For some, it is the need for knowledge and/or power. For others, they are drawn towards them by various influences.
That list of influences just seems to keep growing, so I will take a look at some of the broad categories to start with.
Cultural influences are important here in drawing people towards this path.
Along those lines you have various movies and television shows which go to great lengths to portray magik as exciting and appealing. Then, of course, you have an assortment of books that have been written specifically to lead young people towards one magik path or another. With the most prolific authors along those lines being wiccan at the moment. It remains to be seen if those of another path will catch up or not.
Those movies and books fit in with various fiction works in print that also make magik seem to be an appealing form of empowerment.
What can be done about these from a christian perspective? As a parent you can and should be very aware of what your children are watching and reading. You should also pray for your children. Above and beyond that, there really is not much that you will be able to do about the various cultural influences, so lets look at the next item.
Peer pressure.
Think about it. Remember what it was like?
I thought you might.
When some of your friends seem to be involved in something ‘special’ or ‘cool’ and want you to join in. That can be hard to turn down at times. And it is natural for those who have found answers to spiritual questions to want to share them with their friends. So, people get introduced to the magik paths that way as well.
To be quite honest, there is really not much beyond prayer for you, as a christian, to do on that front either. Again, as a parent, be AWARE of what your children are doing. And don’t be afraid to discuss things with them.
The list goes on.. but as there is only one area that I can see for Christians to really affect, I will skip over to that part now.
Over these last few years, I have come to the conclusion that the largest contributor to the rise of neo-paganism and other magik paths in the Western world is really..
The Church.
How can this be?
It has to do with the ‘church’ losing it’s way.
Some of the issues that I have seen and heard of from others follow, in no particular order:
Extremely Liberal churches, Where the very power of God is shoved aside from thought and action, and God is thought of as not being interested in what is going on here on the earth. Where it almost seems as if they only exist as a social club that calls itself a church..
People there have a hard time finding answers to real spiritual issues. So when a seeker goes there looking for those answers.. and looking for God, they tend to leave again without finding either. So when they stumble across a magik path that has answers, they tend to follow it.
Word of Faith Churches, or, those churches that follow some form of those doctrines.
The farther they are from scripturally sound, the greater the damage potential. I have heard everything from ~you didn’t get healed because your faith is weak~ to ~if you give ‘x’ amount of money, God will do ‘y’~
and let me be real with y’all here….
If I wanted to do magik there are better ways than THAT to get it done.
People who escape from such places tend to view Christians as just out to part them from their money and time. To be avoided at all costs. So they go elsewhere looking for answers to spiritual issues, and if they land on one of the magik paths, they run with it.
Legalistic churches,
Sometimes hiding behind the name of ‘fundamental’, these churches tend to focus almost exclusively on the theological do’s and dont’s. You know the kind.. Christians behave thus and such… Christians don’t do that… etc..
What they forget, is to introduce people to our Saviour, Jesus. It seems that they have fallen into the trap of being to busy being correct all the time, and forgetting that they are also supposed to be compassionate. This also leaves people with a skewed view of Christianity. I have found many that walk the magik paths that have attended, or even grew up in this type of church. It seems that the very harshness of this type of fellowship drives them away even if they actually got introduced to Jesus while they were there.
Please understand that in each of those situations you may very well find some sincere, wonderful believers who are trying to do what they feel Jesus wants them to do. And what those people should be doing is praying for God to restore the fellowship that they are attending to a right perspective, and relationship with Him.
Even in churches that do not fall to those extremes, you will find a lack of understanding at times, and an unwillingness to dig for answers to inconvenient questions. This tends to drive away those who are curious about various things. Any topic from spiritual issues to scientific ones… if they keep getting stepped on for asking questions they will wander off to find what answers they can elsewhere.
I am drawn back to this verse here:
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land.
My brethren…
I implore you to act on that verse, for the only part of the equation we can fix here, is ourselves.

Halloween….. here we go again.

Well, I guess I will start with this.

My name is Mark Bishop.

As a former witch who is now involved in outreach to the folks walking in witchcraft’s many forms, I feel the need to respond to yet another article that has been brought to my attention dealing, erroneously, with the subject of Halloween.

As the author of a piece at Answers in Genesis, Paul S. Taylor has trotted out a few of the half-truths that have been running around the church for years and deserve to be looked at with a different light. I have no issues at all with his assertion that this is one heavily debated topic in the western church. His next paragraph contains some good and some bad.. :

“The history of Halloween should give cause for concern.” Why? I would think the present of Halloween would be of more concern.

“It was originally the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This was a night when the spirits of the dead allegedly walked abroad, and it was thought that they could be conjured to do the will of those who summoned them.” Actually, not quite right here either. The Celts lived in many areas and had their harvest festivals roughly at that time of year. Samhain is somewhat different as it is a season where the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thinner for some reason that I have never figured out. It’s not actually tied to the man made calender that we use.

Rather than continue point by point, we’ll cut to the chase.

Halloween is not an ‘occult’ holiday. If anything, it is the candy maker’s holiday. Do some evil things happen then? yes. Sometimes even more than on other days. October 31st is a day that the Lord has made, and we should rejoice in it too! All the more since the local mission field will walk the path to our respective doors looking for treats, and getting prayer as well and maybe even age appropriate Gospel tracts to go with those treats. No, the witches don’t really do much with Halloween except perhaps to make it a party, Any real work is done elsewhere, on a day usually not too far from it.

Are parents opening their children up to occult influences by letting them go ‘trick or treating’? not really, but if the child goes, the parent better go since there are bad people in the world. That is the real danger that is posed in the current times. A little different than in years gone by but not really different from any other day of the year when you shouldn’t let your children go wandering around unattended.

Yes, the culture is going downhill fast in many places, and this does have an effect on all days, including October 31st. As with many things though, it is a matter of intent. You won’t be accidentally dabbling in the occult by celebrating Halloween, just don’t engage in some of the more ignorant things that go on… such as intentionally trying to contact the spirit world…

There is much more to the subject, but it will have to wait for another time.