What the Bible should have said #25, #26 and #27

For the last forty years or so that I’ve been “doing journalism” as a Christian, I’ve occasionally written pieces on “What the Bible should have said,” adapting texts to match what people actually believe, or do. A couple of examples are here and here (the serial numbers are arbitrary). I now find that, like so much nowadays, it’s no longer a spoof, but a real Thing, termed “deconstruction” and practised by progressive Evangelicals to rewrite morality, and by anointed Charismatic worship leaders either to comply with modern “apostles,” or to escape their clutches.

To continue the trend, I append three alternative re-writes of what Jesus taught on prayer, from a Charismatic perspective, so that you can upgrade and update your faith accordingly from that outmoded Lord’s Prayer you learned at school.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘OK – all sit there and open yourself to whatever God wants to do, whilst the keyboard pad repeats VI,V,IV,I chords to activate the Spirit. Now, just open your mouth and start speaking a new, secret prayer language… do it with me… Hugga Mugga Chugga Lugga Humbugga Boom Chit. That’s good. Now do it loudly! You’ll need to practise, though, at least an hour a day, though seven hours a day is better. Then you’ll certainly have breakthrough into the spirit realm.
‘And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Glossolalia isn’t a bit like that.’

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
‘“Father, hallowed be your name,” and so on.
‘But then you need to just sit in quietness and wait on God to speak to you, because he doesn’t want us to keep asking for things, but instead he is a relational God, and what relationship can you have unless there is a two-way conversation? God may speak through thoughts that flash through your mind, or even by audible words… well, words in your mind, as it’s usually only prophets and apostles that God speaks to audibly. But you can be sure that unless you’re hearing that “still small voice” you haven’t learned how to pray in the spirit properly, because it’s all about God speaking, and you listening, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him, and is certainly going to tell you about it to impress you. Oh, and by the way, don’t be discouraged if most of the time it’s not God speaking at all.’

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
‘“Father took me to heaven and said, ‘I’m making you as Elijah to this people, so say “Hallo” to them in my Name.’
‘”So I declare and decree that God’s kingdom is coming now, and his will is gonna be done as his end-time people bring heaven down to earth, amen?
‘”He will give us each day not only our daily bread, but that new job or car we wish for, if we sow the seed by tithing to this ministry.
‘”And I thank God I have no sins to forgive, because I have the anointing of the blood, and so can you…”‘ etc.

What did the historical Jesus know about prayer anyway?

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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4 Responses to What the Bible should have said #25, #26 and #27

  1. Peter Hickman says:

    In the 1970s I attended a Dales Bible week, which featured the then highly respected Canadian Bible teacher Ern Baxter. He had a plan; this included, as the culmination to his teachings, ‘binding’ the Prince of England, a Satanic being purported to be ruling over the country. During Ern’s last meeting the entire congregation was encouraged/directed to speak in tongues together, vigorously, loudly, for the purpose of augmenting both the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power Ern required to undertake the ‘binding’; whilst doing this Ern also needed the support of two men, one on each side of him, a bit like Moses did (although they didn’t find Ern a rock to sit on). I thought to myself, “Am I the only one here who has deep reservations about all of this?” Perhaps I was. I now record all of this from memory. I was very impressionable at the time, but even if recollections may vary I’m not making it up. Maybe there’s a recording of it somewhere. Anyhow, Ern duly ‘bound’ the Prince of England (apparently). I’m not aware of how the success or failure of this venture was supposed to be verified; no-one said. In retrospect, the way the country has ‘progressed’ since that time suggests to me that it was a failure. Or maybe the Prince of England managed to wriggle free soon afterwards. How long is a ‘binding’ supposed to last, I wonder?

    Being a bit of a Bible student, I felt I had sufficient reason to visit my pastor and seek his views about the practice of corporate speaking in tongues. My reading of 1 Corinthians was that speaking in tongues was for the purpose of self-edification and that, in church, those speaking (or singing) in tongues should do so one at a time, and that on each occasion there should be an interpretation so that the rest of the church could also be edified. It was contrary to Paul’s teaching for everyone to speak (or sing) in tongues all at the same time. Unfortunately, at that time corporate singing in tongues was de rigueur; the guitars strummed, the keyboard player riffed, and everyone (well, nearly everyone) closed their eyes, raised their hands, and sang variations on ‘Hugga Mugga Chugga Lugga’; there were even harmonies; everyone (well, nearly everyone) had a great time; emotions were high; participants were told that they were experiencing the presence of God (so the more such singing the better, then). It was a lonely path to tread for anyone, like me, thinking that what he was observing was a manifestation of corporate self centredness, and that God was no more present in the meeting than He was at the local football match the day before. Sometimes I shed a bitter tear, not simply because I thought that a bunch of lovely folk, many of whom were my friends, had got their doctrine wrong, but out of disappointment – it seemed to me that what I was witnessing was a poor substitute for Real Thing, that which I sought after.
    Anyhow, my pastor didn’t have an answer to my concerns. He referred me to an eminent visiting speaker, a certain Peter Parris, who advised me that whilst the Corinthians had had a problem with discipline, we didn’t, and so we were not bound by Paul’s strictures. So everything was alright, then.

    Sunday morning knees-ups continue to this day, more widespread, often more sophisticated (if you like bands with lead singers, banal lyrics and forgettable tunes), but with less of the Hugga Mugga (I guess it hasn’t proved as edifying as was hoped).

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:


      Two personal anecdotes – one was of a similar “group-shouted prayer” at Spring Harvest. Though not (exclusively) in tongues, my thought then was, and is now, that this was a direct contradiction of Paul’s “edification” principle in 1 Corinthians. The idea that disorder is OK if a church isn’t disordered is typical of Charismatic doublethink (akin to “He died soon after we prayed, but at least he died healed”).

      Even earlier, I attended a “Festival of the Holy Spirit” led by David Watson in Guildford Cathedral (was it ’71-’72?). The “singing in the Spirit” (I noted then, of course immediately trying to check my “ungodly” scepticism) simply consisted of the congregation finding a root note, and choosing conventional harmonies to make a chord. Not unpleasing, but not supernatural either… and as you say, now out of fashion in favour of worshipping anointed worship leaders until they deconstruct their faith or sexually abuse other anointed worship leaders.

      The more I research things the more I find (a) that even in the cults like NAR, or crazy revivals like Pensacola, if the gospel is mentioned, people may be genuinely saved, or indeed came to the meeting(s) saved and zealous for God. So the organisation gets undeserved spiritual credentials, with its prophets and heresies. Baxter (I read) had a good grasp of Reformed doctrine – the other stuff was mixed in, and he failed to see that it did not arise from the Bible.

      And (b) after two generations of mixing this unbiblical Pentecostalism with Evangelical doctrine, it’s a mountainous task for folks to realise that their tongues of fifty years is not a real spiritual language, that false prophecies, healings and miracles are simply that, not anything more subtle, or that they have their doctrine of the Holy Spirit completely upside down (like trying to invoke the Holy Spirit when he is already present in every believer).

      By the way, skimming the biography of Ern Baxter, I see the ubiquitous name of William Branham comes up yet again – Baxter was his associate for six or seven years before the inevitable falling out. Baxter was part of that “Heavy shepherding” movement that caused so much harm, and his teaching lives on in Britain through the New Church Movement and New Frontiers. And as you say, if the Prince of England is bound, Satan appears to manage the nation perfectly well without him.

  2. Ben says:

    I am in the weird circumstance of having grown up in a charismatic ‘fellowship’ in the UK, but now attending a French-speaking church (in Switzerland), while continuing to roughly keep abreast of what’s going on in the English-speaking world. This means I see some things coming into fashion here decades ‘late’.

    The ‘background chords during prayer time’ has just hit our worship team. I’m still waiting for an opportune moment to gently suggest that this is not a net positive. The problem with passing decades is that one risks becoming a grumpy old man, so the gentleness is necessary.

    • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

      Fashion is the thing. I was on close terms with a French-speaking Swiss church back in the early 1990s. It began through a Pentecostal evangelist, but would have passed for a lively conservative fellowship: a couple of hundred members, a (quiet) band leading, very contributory open prayer times (in French, not gibberish!) and a focus on the word. No music during prayers, no excessive praise times, genuine conversions from drug addicts to children of Calvinist pastors.

      I wonder if they’re now swallowed up by the NAR culture too?

      But your wide input is, I’m sure, necessary as an attempt to “nip in the bud,” and I pray it won’t fall on ears deafened by synth pads!

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