The Cult of Personal Experience

Father God, I want to believe in you when I feel like it and when I don’t. I want to triumph in you when the fig tree buds and when there is no fruit at all on the vine. I want to love you when times are good and when times are bad. I want to rejoice in you even when the crop fails and there are no sheep in the pen, no cattle in the stall, and no money in the bank. I want to worship you not primarily to bring pleasure to me, but to give pleasure to you, and to give the glory that is due your name (Psalm 29:2).

Deliver me from the cult of personal experience, and help me to learn anew how to worship you and enjoy you forever, in Jesus’ name, amen.

(the prayer that closes chapter eight, "The Cult of Personal Experience," in my book, American Idols)


Anonymous said...

Amen to that prayer! Interesting title, "Cult of Personal Experience". Can you give me a bit of what you mean by this?

Hoss said...

Thanks for the comment, Alicia! I'll try to do the concept justice, though I explain it in more depth in my book, American Idols. But basically, the "cult of personal experience" is our tendency to seek BLESSINGS more than God. I say in the book, "We long more fervently for an ecstatic experience than for the One who comes, sometimes in whirlwinds and sometimes in a still, small voice. We seek a rush of emotion more than we do God himself. We seek the gift, and not the Giver." We worship EXPERIENCE, FEELINGS, and HAPPINESS more than God. We show it when our love for God ebbs and flows with the come-and-go of pleasant circumstances. But I want to cast down that idol, and love GOD more than his blessings, and be faithful to him even when (as Satan tempted Job) there SEEMS to be no reward or advantage for doing so. "If he slays me, yet will I trust him!"

Tor Hershman said...


Anonymous said...

Amen and Powerful and TRUE words! I had a feeling it was along those lines, but really wanted to be sure.

We should long to fall deeply in love with our creator and not the things of this world, which all belong to him anyway. Oh yes, this is definitely the heart of the Father and anything else is surely an 'idol'.

I am in total agreement with you on this one, total. We are constantly looking for feelings and experiences more than the one who gives us ALL things to enjoy anyway. God knows our hearts should be more with just being in his presence and just experiencing the Lord himself.

Thanks for sharing that with me and everyone else who will come along and read your Prayer Blog.