It was a nondescript letter piled in the midst of bills and catalogs, with an address heading of only “To Our Dear Friends At…” and then my address. You perhaps received the same letter and immediately tore it up and threw it out, or perhaps you would at least give it a moment of thought and read what it had to say. The front of the letter promised that, “Two homes are about to be blessed…then it must go to another dear friend.” On the back of the envelope, above the small line saying that whatever you have received came from “Saint Matthew’s Churches,” the following prayer was written:
Dear Jesus, we pray that you will bless someone in this home spiritually, physically & financially [sic]. And please dear Lord, bless the one who’s [sic] hands open this letter. Make good changes in this one’s life and give them the desires of their heart. We pray over and bless this letter in your holy name. Amen
If you then proceed to open the envelope and read the enclosed letter, you would think that this is your lucky day! The nice folks in the “St. Matthew’s Church,” which they assure you is a “very old” church, one that is 53 years old, want God to bless you! They have sent you a “Church prayer rug,” which has been anointed and blessed with prayer, so that you may have your family saved or your body healed or your money problems ended! After all, they say that “God’s holy blessing power is in the enclosed anointed prayer rug we are loaning you to use!!!”
They tell you that all you need to do is take the “prayer rug” they have given you and look at Jesus’ eyes on this “prayer rug.” They are closed, but if you keep looking into His eyes, you will see that they will open! This means that Jesus is ready to help you with your problems. You then need to put both knees on this “prayer rug” or the rug over both knees and pray for your needs– either for your family to be saved, or your body healed, or a new car, or $50,000– whatever you “need!” After this you need to put your “prayer rug” in a Bible at Philippians 4:19; if you don’t have a Bible, you can just put it underneath your pillow for the evening. For the blessing to work, though, you must send the “prayer rug” back to the good people at St. Matthew’s Church along with the back portion of the letter indicating what needs you prayed for and, of course, a seed gift for this great ministry of God. You are assured that when the good people at St. Matthew’s Church send the prayer rug to others, pray for your needs, and accept your seed gift, God will bless you greatly; after all, this He promised in Deuteronomy 28:6 and “St. Matthew 9:29.”
But this is not all. There is included a whole page of people talking about how wonderful God has been to them thanks to this “prayer rug.” One woman’s husband was saved; another received $5,000. Another man was blessed with a six room house, another with 17 acres of land, another with a new car and job, another’s throat was healed, and another received $10,000! This is all confirmed by appealing to “St. Mark 10:27,” which they say says that “God can do anything.”
Then you may find this “Church prayer rug” under discussion. It is a piece of paper– mine is curiously fresh and new– with a purple and gold colored rug printed on it with a picture of Jesus not unlike the Shroud of Turin. The bottom contains words telling you that you will see Jesus’ eyes open and the instructions we have spoken of above. The back of this “prayer rug” contains the following assurance:
“This Prayer Rug is Soaked with the Power of Prayer for you. Use it immediately, then please return it with your Prayer Needs Checked on our letter to you.” It must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing after you use it. Prayer works. Expect God’s blessing.
You might think after reading all of this, “This is too good to be true!”
And you would be absolutely right. Everything this material purports is “too good to be true.” What has God said about this type of thing in His Word? Has He promised to bless us with healings and great financial blessings if we only ask it of Him? Are these things truly of God?
The New Testament is clear regarding the kinds of blessings God bestows upon His children. The only promises God has given the Christian regarding his state on Earth is that his physical needs– not wants– will be satisfied, as Jesus has told us in Matthew 6:25-34:
“Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
It is interesting to note that Jesus uses this discussion to conclude the following thought in Matthew 6:19-24:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Should we, then, pray for thousands and thousands of dollars for our own benefit? Are we storing up treasures on Earth or in Heaven when we do such things? Are we truly serving God, or do we serve Mammon– riches?
To further examine this question it would be profitable to look at the examples of the Christians in the New Testament. If the New Testament presents to us the true revelation of God regarding His Son Jesus Christ to us, surely we can learn from the examples provided therein of the power of God for our salvation. This is all to say that if God’s intention was to bless Christians with great wealth and physical health whenever it was sought that the Christians of the New Testament would all be wealthy and in strong health. Yet we read that Stephen was stoned to death in Acts 7:54-60, and we read about the trials and sufferings of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 and about his own physical sufferings despite prayer for relief in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, and that Paul had to leave a brother named Trophimus in Miletus because of his illness in 2 Timothy 4:20:
Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said,
“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”
But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches.
And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me,
“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Erastus remained at Corinth: but Trophimus I left at Miletus sick.
Every Christian ought to learn from the example of Paul regarding one’s station in life, whether rich or poor, famous, infamous, or unknown, or any such thing in Philippians 4:11-13:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.
Can we say, then, that the Christian is guaranteed health and wealth on this planet if he asks for them? Stephen carried the message of Jesus powerfully to the Jews and he was stoned for it. Paul preached the Gospel throughout the Eastern Mediterranean world, and did God give him thousands of denarii and heal all of his illnesses? Paul received beatings and constant trials and tribulations and was even given physical suffering in order to keep him humble because of the revelations given to him! If God did not heed Paul’s prayer for relief and told him that “My power is perfected in weakness,” why would not my physical suffering perhaps be for the same type of reason? I may pray to God and He may see fit to heal me; this is not, however, because of some “prayer rug” or because it is guaranteed by God! I am to be content in whatever station I may be in, for this is the sure commandment of God!
What, then, of the Scriptures they provide? Let us examine Deuteronomy 28:6, Matthew 9:29, Mark 10:27, Luke 6:38, and Philippians 4:19:
“Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”
Then touched he their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done unto you.”
Jesus looking upon them saith, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible with God.”
“give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”
And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
What shall we say then? God certainly promised the Israelites that He would bless them; Jesus while on Earth certainly performed miracles according to the faith of those receiving them, all things are possible with God, we will receive as we give, and God will assuredly supply all of our needs. Nothing in any of these verses promises that God will bless anyone with thousands upon thousands of dollars merely because we ask for them; as we have seen from Jesus in Matthew 6, God’s blessing extends to our physical needs, and no promises about what we want. It was stated in Matthew 9:29 that Jesus healed people when they had the faith to be healed; does this apply to us today? Where is the evidence? Are we to believe that the only reason that people are not healed is because of their lack of faith? Many in this “faith healing” business– and I fear that this “St. Matthew’s Church” organization is no different from the likes of Benny Hinn, Tilton, and many others– will assert this very thing. They will say that if you aren’t healed it’s because you didn’t have enough faith in God to be healed. Would they say the same thing of the Apostle Paul? His faith was the reason for his physical suffering! We can see, therefore, that these Scriptures are no proof-text that proves to us that we will receive whatever we ask from God in regards to people being saved, being healed, or receiving financial assistance. This is precisely because there is no such promise given in the Scriptures.
What, then, about this “St. Matthew’s Church” organization? They want to assure you that they are “very old.” They define “very old” as 53 years. My earthly parents are older than this and I most assuredly would not call them “very old!” In terms of Christianity, 53 years is insignificant– barely above 1/20th of the time since Jesus died for our sins. Would it be better for you to be allied with the church of our Lord, which has been around for almost 2,000 years now, or with an organization possessed by, as they say, “St. Matthew” that boasts only 53 years? Which body did Christ die for? One that would come into being 1,920 years after His death or the one instituted with the arrival of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, a mere 50 days after His resurrection? In these matters it is best to be a part of the church of our Lord, not a later organization with the name of another.
What of the “Church prayer rug” itself? Is there any Biblical precedent for the use of such things? The concept itself would first strike someone as Muslim, since that faith utilizes such things in prayer, but this of course does not mean that Christians cannot pray on rugs if they so desire. Nothing is said for or against the idea of praying on rugs specifically, yet the idea that the rug is “anointed” and “blessed” somehow is tantamount to idolatry, condemned as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 and to be thoroughly avoided per 1 John 5:21. What power does a “rug,” in reality a piece of paper, have? They say that it has been given “power,” even that it is a “Holy Ghost rug;” how different is this from the belief that a piece of wood carved into the shape of a “god” has power? Does God have anything to do with Belial? In the Scriptural discussions of prayer– Matthew 6:1-13, James 5:14-18, and 1 Peter 3:12, for example– no physical agent is ever said to be the reason for the prayer’s fulfillment! The power of prayer is not imbued in a piece of paper but in the obedient faith of the one praying that God hears his prayer and will consider it. But, it may be contended, would not the power of the “Church Prayer Rug” be evident if Jesus’ eyes open? Hardly, for did not the “Magic Eye” book craze of a few years past demonstrate that many things can happen to the eyes if they concentrate on a picture long enough? Is the power of God found in some mental eye trick? By no means! Will the Holy Ghost be found in a piece of paper purporting to be a rug? By no means! Let none be deceived; no Christian must allow a piece of paper called by some “holy” to interfere with the prayers he or she offers to God Most High.
What do we say to these things? Let it be known that we do not deny that God can providentially heal people by means of prayer, for James has said this to us in James 5:13-18, nor do we deny that God blesses His people, for His promises of salvation are many for us. God has promised that our physical needs will be met and that our giving and our obedience will lead to treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-34). God has not, however, promised us that we will always be healed, or that our wants– a new car, a raise, a better job, whatever– will always be satisfied. No quantity of “testimonials” or any such thing will change these Gospel truths. They may say that God will heal you if you pray; God told Paul, however, that His power was perfected in weakness, and sometimes we must recognize that sickness is a part of our testing (Hebrews 12:3-13). This “St. Matthew’s Church,” an organization admittedly not founded in Jesus Christ but purportedly the organization of the Apostle Matthew, is promoting a false gospel that only lines their own pockets and may provide a few nuggets of benefits to those whom they have deceived. It is despicable that they aim their deception at those who are most prone and least able to afford being defrauded: souls in desperation along with widows and other elderly persons. This type of letter fills them with hope and they eagerly do everything they are told to do and send everything back with their money and expect to be better…and if nothing happens? They are the ones who did not have enough faith. The greatest travesty of this whole charade is that the blame for failure is not placed on the greedy organization but upon the poor souls whom they have defrauded. Will these persons be able to trust in God and the Lord Jesus Christ after some have defrauded them by that name? Maybe some, but others shall be disillusioned and believe that Jesus is merely a fraud. The condemnation for those who orchestrate such designs will be just. Let no one be deceived: “St. Matthew’s Church,” an organization founded by men and not God, is preaching a false gospel, and comes under the condemnation of Galatians 1:6-9:
I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.
You may have received your “Church Prayer Rug” in the mail recently, or it may come soon. If it does, give it no heed, since it is not of God but of the Father of lies. If you hear anyone speak about this “Church Prayer Rug,” give them this article and/or warn them from the Scriptures about this deception. Let us work to help bring people to the true faith in Jesus Christ and not allow them to fall prey to greedy, money-making schemes of the hypocrites.