By Bethany Verrett, Crosswalk.com
The Book of Ecclesiastes states there is nothing new under the sun, and many heresies, sins, false doctrines, and lies get recycled. New age spiritualism is often a combination of bits and pieces of other religions and spiritual practices smashed together.
Manifestation has been gaining in popularity, promising people they can bring into their lives whatever they want in order to create their best possible life, hurt people they don’t like, and increase their material wealth. It is an appealing idea, and one that some people claiming to be Christians have promoted. But it is also a deception.
Manifestation, the act of willing one’s desires into reality, is not found in the Bible, potentially taps into the realm of the demonic, and ultimately allows someone to set themselves up as their own god.
What Does "Manifest" Mean?
From witchcraft, to voodoo, to meditation and chanting, various faiths and religious practices have promised practitioners that through their own actions or force of will, they can bring what they want into reality. Some require exchange of some sort, but manifestation as it has become popular in the 21st century is an exercise of will.
Essentially, in new age spirituality, manifestation is the practice of making one’s desires a reality by practicing focus, affirmation, and clear thinking. Sometimes energy channeling through a medium such as crystals is also involved. Generally, practitioners of this style of manifestation identify as spiritual, but it is often put into the framework of other religions to make it appealing to a wide range of people.
Practitioners claim a wide variety of things can be manifested including:
- Good things for other people
- Bad things for other people
- Desired physical objects (a car, a house, etc)
Manifestation asserts that someone can bend the universe around them to their will. It is important to note they do not assert that one should set a goal for something and then work for it, or ask for something from a deity and have faith it will be answered in the affirmative. The person with the power to make something happen is the individual, and it is through thought and will, not labor or gifting.
Can We Manifest Things by Believing in Them?
Biblically and scientifically speaking, there is nothing to suggest that human beings have the ability to manifest anything. The ability to make things happen in the world through sheer force of will has no scientific backing. It is also not seen as something done in the Bible, or hinted at in the Bible.
What is addressed in the Bible is witchcraft. In witchcraft, someone gives an exchange for something to happen in a supernatural way. Manifestation is similar, except there is no expectation of exchange and it is the power of the individual that brings on the desired change. While they are different, witchcraft and manifestation are a similar type of sin, in which one is setting themselves in the place of God by trying to usurp God’s will and power. The reason the Bible says, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23a) is because the root of rebellion against God and witchcraft is the desire to exercise one’s will over God’s will.
In the Bible, God makes it clear that He wants to take care of His children, to bless them, and to provide for their needs. He also is clear that He knows what is best for someone, and that sometimes He says no because a request or desire is out of His will, and not in the best interest of the individual. Instead, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” (1 Peter 5:6). When someone decides to begin manifesting, they are putting their faith in themselves, rather than God, in defiance of what He may want for them.
There may be people who can claim that manifestation worked for them. From a Biblical standpoint, there are couple of explanations for why someone engaging in this practice may be getting what they want. First, they could be faking it. There could be other reasons something is coming to them, and they are crediting it to manifestation. Second, the Bible says that Satan is “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), and the demons do try to influence people, particularly non-believers. Satan can work in the world because he has some power temporarily, so he could be working in the world to make something manifest to keep that person in delusion.
What Makes Prayer Different from Manifesting?
When someone prays, they are going to God and pairing thanksgiving, worship, and requests in an earnest conversation. It is a relationship, and a Christian is relying on God in His wisdom and power to provide. While it may be difficult to wrestle with, a Christian also needs to be submitted to God if He denies someone something.
In a prayer-based, appropriate relationship with God, people make requests and understand that it may not be God’s will to grant it. Even Jesus said during His earthly ministry, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). If He does, it is a blessing, and God receives glory because it was done in His power.
Christians are called to have an attitude that is continually being sanctified to be more like Jesus Christ. Paul described Jesus in this way, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). In someone’s prayer life, they are to have this mindset. Jesus submitted His will to the Father. When Christians pray, they rejoice when God grants the request, but ultimately they do not pray only to get what they want.
Manifestation is not a conversation with God; it is self-focused, and is based on the premise that individuals have the power to make things happen in the universe around them through pure will or psychic force or energy. Only God can make something from nothing, and can bend the universe to His will.
Christians should not merely believe that God will always grant them whatever they want. There are false doctrines that teach ideas like “name it and claim it,” visualization, or that if you have faith in God, He will give you any materialistic desire you may want. The Book of Job is an entire book of the Bible that serves as a case study against this idea. The lives of the apostles too. They had faith in Jesus Christ, but all were martyred for their faith, and had to make significant sacrifices.
While one could argue that manifestation is a kind of faith, the faith of a Christian is built on fundamentally different foundations. The basis of manifestation is that a person has the power to make something happen. Christian faith is rooted in the belief that God will fulfill His promises, and that He can do anything, so if it is His will, He will answer prayer in the affirmative; if He answers in the negative, He has another plan.
What Should Christians Do When They Want Something to Happen?
If Christians want something to happen, or they would like something specific in their life, they should go to God in prayer. While someone who has a relationship with God should not be focused just on the things of this world, it is okay to ask for things in this world. Christians can pray for a house or a family, for food, for a car, for a job, for blessings, for the welfare of others, and all the things that someone who believes in manifestation may try to will into their lives.
However, the Apostle James does have an important message to consider when praying, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). In other words, if Christians are praying for things and God is constantly saying no, it is because they are asking for things that are not in God’s will. Maybe they are asking for something sinful. Maybe God wants to give them something else. Regardless, the point is Christians can find themselves asking for things that are not in God’s will to grant.
It is okay to ask for blessings from the Lord, and to want them. Christians should go the Lord and talk to Him. But be willing to accept that we don’t always get what we want in this life, but there are greater blessings we will enjoy for eternity. Avoid the temptation to try to manifest, as the Bible says Christians should rely on God, walking by faith, and trusting the Lord know best.
Groothius, Doug. Confronting the New Age. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 1988.
Lewis, James. The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of New Age Religions. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2004.
Sproul, RC. Surprised by Suffering Discover your loving Father’s call to Endure Suffering. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1968.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God, reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry. She has a blog on graceandgrowing.com.