In the old days, we used to call this sympathetic magic, but that term has fallen out of favor in the last thirty or so years. I don't recall what they call it now, but it's still the same: Like begets like.
Makes sense, doesn't it? As one of my seminary professors used to say, when you reason from the given to the divine, you end up with magic—the attempt to control your circumstances by manipulating them symbolically, i.e., magic.
Unfortunately, some of that thinking has invaded Christian thought, theology, and behavior. Now, I'm not trying to minimize or deny the effectiveness of acting out some things, such as the writing of offenses on a piece of paper and then burning the paper—we are embodied beings and actions help—but, to think the action in and of itself is effective? Well, no. Emphatically, no. It only becomes effective through the power of God in the Holy Spirit, working in and through you and your circumstances.
And as for the practice that I've seen of placing a Bible on someone as if the book is magical? That's just plain wrong. The Bible is just a block of wood, thinly sliced—unless the Holy Spirit quickens it. Nothing more; nothing less. And there is nothing magical about reciting scripture over someone either.
"Guard your thoughts" means more than just watch out for mean or sinful thoughts; it also means guard your thoughts (and practices) against sub-Christian ideas. You can't manipulate God, and that's what is happening in the above scenarios. Pharaoh was trying to manipulate the gods into striking his enemies. It didn't work! The Old Kingdom fell.
What's interesting is that this practice of destroying prisoner statues was prevalent at the end of the Old Kingdom, as it was getting weaker. Think about that for a minute.
Magic tends to run rampant when we feel like the world around us is out of control. But, if you really believe that God is in control (or as some prefer, in charge), then why should you need to perform magical actions?
Could it be that, as J. B. Phillips's 1952 book put it, Your God Is Too Small?
Consider that in you New Year's Resolutions…