Naming it and Claiming it

Been having some serious soul searching for over a year concerning the idea of "naming it and claiming it," where Christians believe they can speak the right words and God will automatically act.  

A close friend got in trouble with a church like this recently, who hired his company (and several others) to build a grandiose church with the best of everything.  The Pastor built the church in what he assumed was faith, but resulting in a several year long battle now over not being able to pay his builders.  The church is not paying my friend a massive debt that is owed, and is defaming the name of Christ with many other non-Christian companies that are owed similar size payments.  

Yes, God is the God who "speaks things that are not as though they were."  He asks us to pray with faith and believe what we prayed for is ours.  There is also a sense in the Bible where we can change God's mind or persuade him to take our cause and move on our behalf.  However, this kind of power in prayer does not come from simply saying the right word or believing our own prayers.  Power with God comes with our proximity to him - the health of our relationship with Him.

Acts 19 shares the story of God using Paul in some of the greatest known miracles of his ministry.  Hankerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were "taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them."  The timing couldn't be any more perfect to contrast what happens next.  Some others who went around trying to "invoke the name of Lord Jesus over those who were demon possessed.  They would say, 'In the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out' ... One day the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?'  Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all.  He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding." (12-16).  What happens next is wonderful, but you'll have to open your Bible to find out the rest.

Point being that there is NOT MIRACLE POWER IN OUR WORDS.  There is miracle power in our right relationship and closeness to our God.  In fact, for these men aforementioned, their naming it and claiming it actually got them quite a beating.

Also consider Martha and Mary.  Two of the most revealing passages in Scripture on this idea of proximity to God's heart.  One is a short, obscure passage tucked away in Luke 10:38-42, but can have great impact for our lives today: "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!'  'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about may things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.'"  In my own life, being worried and upset is often a direct result of not spending enough time at the feet of Jesus, through worship, prayer and time in the Word of God.

John 11:1-43 follows up this story some time later sharing of the death of Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus.  The sisters sent word to Jesus while Lazarus was still sick asking him to come and heal their brother.  Strangely, Jesus waited several days before he came to them.  His disciples wondered at his delay.  By that time Lazarus had already passed away when Jesus arrived.  In Jesus conversations with Martha and Mary the exact same words are exchanged with both women, but with one difference.  Mary had a heightened level of faith from her time at the Lord's feet.  She wept as she questioned Jesus, culminating in the shortest verse in the Bible in verse 35 - "Jesus wept."  Both Martha and Mary have the exact same exchange of words about Lazarus, but Jesus moved for Mary.  He raises Lazarus from the dead!  What seemed to be a divine delay turns around to bring great glory to God.  God may just have a similar plan in divine delays in our own lives as well.

Even Jesus did only what he saw the Father already doing.  May we never assume that is is OUR words that move the hand of God, rather it is our right relationship.  We must be careful to not live in self focused assumption, but rather God focused trust, depending on our relationship with the Holy Spirit for the impartation of God given faith - which is far different from our own feeble version, called assumption.