The Seven Great Prayers is indeed problematic. Although it sounds Christian, it reduces prayer to a series of magical incantations that are supposed to change our attitude and, in turn, our fortunes. This is vintage New Age!
For those of you who have never read the book, it was authored by Paul and Tracey McManus. The couple’s bio mentions no religious affiliation. Another bio describes Paul as having studied religion, philosophy and self-development, and describes him as having been “always spiritual”.
The book originated at a dark moment in their lives when Paul lost his job and they were left destitute. On the verge of losing their home, they were laying awake one night when Tracey suggested that they thank God for all the good things in their life rather than what they were on the verge of losing. The prayer helped them so much they decided to write six more to help them cope with rough moments.
In doing so, “Tracey and I discovered the secret of the ages, which is that you become what you think about most. Great thinkers such as Robert Collier, James Allen, and Earl Nightingale wrote much on this subject. Tracey and I applied this miraculous formula with prayer to our own lives and things soon got much better in all areas of our lives,” Paul writes in the book.
They began to share the prayers with friends who were also helped. They eventually self-published a book on what they call The Seven Great Prayers which is now being read all over the world.
The suggestion is that if you are in need of “hope or change in your life in regards to better financial security, improving relationships with family and friends, and addressing health matters, depression, stress, anxiety and more” if you just repeat the prayers several times a day for 21 days you will begin to see blessings flow into your life. (The theory behind this is that you need to practice something for 21 days in order for it to become a habit.)
The book outlines seven steps for a lifetime of blessing such as setting goals, tapping into your talents, living in a state of gratitude, deciding to live in the “now”, learning how to ask with faith, to bless others and to be alert for signs from God. Also encouraged in the book is tapping into the subconscious – in the power of “I am” – and in believing that you have already received the blessings you have asked for.
If not for the absence of any Christian concept of God, I would call this is a classic example of the Prosperity Gospel but at least that New Age fad refers to the God of the Bible. This one simply uses the repetition of happy talk as a way to make things happen in our lives.
It would be one thing if they encouraged people to begin reciting certain daily prayers for the sake of teaching them how to pray, then urging them to move on from there. But this stops at the so-called Great prayers, as if they have some kind of power in themselves.
The prayers encourage people to keep their thoughts focused on the positive, so what's wrong with that? Nothing - if it's done with the right intention. For example, the bible specifically directs us to keep our thoughts healthy: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8) However, this is so that we can learn how to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5), not so that we can reap a windfall or win the love of our life.
Always remember that the hallmark of the New Age is the “self” – it’s always focused on “me, myself, and I.” It’s all about your happiness, your goals, your needs. It’s never about giving oneself to God or others, or about learning how to cope with the realities of life (aka crosses). New Age gods don’t require suffering; there’s no sin, and, therefore, no need for Our Savior, Jesus Christ. All that’s needed is a benevolent caricature that makes no moral demands upon you and whose very existence is centered around making you happy – a state more commonly known as “La La Land”.