10 Ways People Try to Manipulate God… and Fail

Before I tell you how people try to manipulate God, I feel it’s only fair to warn you:

  1. It won’t work. Only dependent, trusting, and obedient faith pleases and moves God. God is not obligated to perform His Word to a manipulator.
  2. Manipulation will only hurt us in the end. Power can make us feel alive with a sense of accomplishment, but the real power comes from knowing God in surrendered relationship.
  3. God knows our life comes from Him.
  4. God knows manipulation is a form of control and pride. He knows when we are striving to make it on our own. He’s been dealing with the fallen human race for thousands of years.
  5. We may not be aware we are acting in a manipulative way. We may consider ourselves to be in real faith due to our performance of God’s Word.

With that in mind, let me write about what we shouldn’t do, to attempt to manipulate God. My purpose is to uncover manipulation and encourage surrender.

To manipulate is to negotiate, control, or influence something or someone cleverly, skillfully, or deviously for one’s own advantage.

Do we want things from God that will benefit us? Of course! God made us to benefit from knowing Him. He loves to benefit us! How does God benefit us?

  • Something in our hearts is missing without knowing God in an intimate relationship. When we experience Him, then we an awakening, “I was lost! Now I’m found!”
  • In God, is everything we need for life and living. There’s salvation and wholeness. There’s restoration and transformation. There is joy, peace, and love. There is companionship and fellowship. There is healing, prosperity, and deliverance, and so much more!
  • In God, we find purpose and calling. We also find equipping and empowering.

If you find that you have been guilty of manipulation or control, you are not alone. Control is the essence of the fallen nature of the human race. Control is something everyone has experienced at one point or another, whether it has been straightforward or passive aggressive. Here are ten ways manipulation operates:

  1. Performance to earn. We live in a world where we earn our paychecks and our promotions. We can’t imagine that we can do good works and earn God’s favor.
  2. Performance to please. We live in a world where if I give you what you want, then you give me what I want. It doesn’t work with God.
  3. Performance to trick. Why do we think we can fool God? He knows everything.
  4. Performances for appearances. If I help God or His church look good, then God will bless me.
  5. If God wants us happy, then He will give in.
  6. If God wants to get on our good side, then He needs to give in.
  7. Withdrawal, denial of affection, neglect. If God wants the person’s relationship, service, or giving, then God needs to give in or get the silent treatment.
  8. Nagging and whining. These are attempts to wear God out and get Him to give in. It can work with people, but it can’t work with God.
  9. Debating using intellect and reason. Some even use God’s Word to debate God in order to put Him in a corner and hold Him to His promises.
  10. Blame Shifting. Blaming God for not getting what is needed. Shaming Him into action.

Real Faith is the only Real Way to Receive from God

  • Learn the joy of surrender. Know God will not manipulate you. We can’t trust Him if we don’t experience His love. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • Be confident that God wants to act on His pure love and His pure Word. Then invite Him to have His way.
  • Read the Bible and find out how God does things and line yourself accordingly. In the position of a surrendered one, believe His Word, receive the Word, speak the Word and do the Word.
  • Instead of performing, try obeying. The difference is that one is self-sufficient, and the other is response to God’s-sufficiency. Another way to say is to stop trying and start trusting, then act on that trust. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

In conclusion, I encourage you to read the stories in both testaments of people who received from God, and take notice of their surrendered obedience. I suggest you read about Naaman in 2 Kings 5, Abraham in Genesis 22, Moses’ mother in Exodus 2, the Israelites in Joshua 6, Peter in Acts 10, and Paul in Acts 28. These are just a few.

If you can see the areas you are attempting to control, I encourage you to turn them over to Jesus. Sometimes the things we care about the most are things we put the tightest grip on; however, God is worthy of caring for the things we care the most about. He is trustworthy. He is sufficient. And He loves us more than we can comprehend.



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