I have never understood the prosperity gospel.
It just doesn’t make sense to me.
The “name it and claim it” mentality was never something that clicked in me.
Now, that could have been because I grew up in a more “traditional” Protestant home.
Maybe it was because the pastor I grew up listening to never preached on or about prosperity or having a lot of money. (FYI, my dad was my pastor, and a great one at that.)
Or it could have been that we as a pastoral family never had a lot of money that the prosperity gospel never took root. It could be that the Prosperity Gospel is not as big in Canada as it is in the rest of the world.
While all of these are real and valid reasons for why I never gravitated towards the Prosperity Gospel, there is one larger, more obvious reason that I stayed away from it. At least I would hope it is obvious.
Because in all truth and honesty, it is a very simple reason.
Everything that we have is not ours.
Your car, your house, the clothes that you put on this morning, or the ones that are cluttering your floor; all of these things do not belong to you.
The food in your pantry or on the table, the plates that you eat off of, the drinks that quench your thirst; all of these things are not yours because you claimed them.
The air that you breathe in , the sunlight by which you work, the cool night in which you relax and take rest; all of these are things you enjoy, but by no means are these things yours.
All these things, everything you have, everything that you enjoy, it really is not yours. While you may claim it, while you may call it your possession, you are not the true owner.
Why would I say that? Where does such an idea come from?
“The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; on them he has set the world.”” – 1 Samuel 2.7-8 NIV
All things belong to the LORD. Everything that we call and label our own really is not.
For this is the reality of us and all our stuff, our earthly possessions,
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1 Timothy 6.7
They are not ours. And even if we would so believe, they are not ours for long.
The old saying, the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, it is not Scripture, but it does speak the biblical truth. God has command over all things. God is in control of everything that we possess. God is Lord and Master over all the inhabitants and all their “possessions”.
To those that do not believe that to be so, remember this.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. – John 1.3
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.– Colossians 1.16-17
And if all things are made by Him, and through Him, if all things are under his authority, who are we to start “naming and claiming” anything?
What right, what privilege do we assume we have that we can command and expect earthly riches to fall from heaven for our good?
I’ve had some people cite that because we are children of God, a princess or a prince to a Heavenly King, we have the right to name and claim what we will.
They are right to say that we, those believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior, are now sons and daughters of the Heavenly King (2 Cor. 6.18), but even children of an earthly king do not act this way. Earthly princes and princesses have no power over their father to command that their bidding be done.
While they have a royal right, they are still subject to the fact that they are not in command, they do not have any real authority. Any authority that they have is only passed down from their Father. They have no power to make their clothing, their car, whatever trinkets and toys they appear by merely demanding their father produce it for them.
Should the royal prince or princess want something, like any other child, they would have to do as God calls his children to do.
Pray to your heavenly Father for what you need.
Then “your Father in heaven gives good gifts” (Matthew 7.11) to those who ask.
Why pray? Why not demand what you want or need?
Demanding things presupposes that you have authority to receive whatever you are requesting. Demanding presupposes that you are in a position to have your expectations met.
The truth is you aren’t.
Before a Righteous and Holy God, we are nothing.
Like the old hymn says, would He denote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
But through Christ, believing in Him and being clothed in His righteousness, we can come to the throne of grace, the Throne of the Righteous and Holy God and ask for what we need.
We can ask, we can petition, we can plead for the things that we need as a child would ask their father. But never are we in a position to demand anything of our God. Never are we in a place where we have the right to “name it and claim it” as if God had to do what we said.
What is truly beautiful about our Heavenly Father is that He hears us when we pray. He listens to us when we pour out our hearts with requests and desires.
Though He is under no law, no expectation, no obligation to, He hears us and then answers us.
Thought He may answer in ways we would not have excepted at times, He always answers our prayers. And what He gives to us, our answers to our asking, they are always blessings.
Blessings, not the result of our demanding, or naming and claiming. Blessings, a gift, a present to us from a loving God.
We have done nothing to deserve an answered prayer. We have done nothing for God to be obligated to respond. But because He is a loving Heavenly Father, He graciously and benevolently gives blessing, upon blessing to His children.
The idea of God giving, God blessing us because He loves us rather than filling our order, flies in the face of everything that the Prosperity Gospel is about.
While their Gospel may be easier to follow, it seems to exclude a real relationship with an actively loving God. Rather they have a God that is a cosmic waitress that fills their order. Or, a classic illustration, God is just a vending machine. They demand whatever they want and expect it because they put in the right number of coins or shake the machine the right way.
That doesn’t work for me. That doesn’t jive with the whole of Scripture.
I would much rather have a faith, a personal relationship, a religion if I had to use that word, with and in a gracious and loving God, that blesses me out of the abundance of His heart, because He chooses to, than a cosmic vending machine or waitress.
I would rather a love and grace gospel over a Prosperity Gospel any day of the week.