Ordering God what to do
One thing that has been bothering me for quite some time, listening to a number of Christian songs and quite a bit of preaching from certain, especially TV and online, evangelists is that they spend a lot of time telling God what to do, to the point where it sounds like they are ordering God to do things. “Give me a blessing!” “Heal this person!” “Resolve my financial situation!” “Do a miracle!” Sometimes the way these and many other “demands” are stated, I wonder who is the God and who is the servant. It sounds like God is becoming their servant, waiting and ready to do their bidding.
Just think of it, the Almighty, the all powerful, the all knowing Creator, Who is Eternal and Holy, being treated like He was a peon. I never hear those who talk/preach this way say “please”. This disrespectful way of talking to God is not the way the Bible tells us to talk to Him. “…in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). It is good to ask God for things, to “present our requests” to Him, but not to order Him around. Even Jesus, the night before He was crucified, said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.”
As saved followers of Jesus we have an open door to the presence of God. Many times we are hurting, beaten-down, in despair, deeply concerned about someone or some situation. We can come boldly before God and “present our requests”, to ask, to plead with God, to cry through the night, to quote Scripture of His promises to His people. But at the end of the day, we give ourselves and the situation over to Him. We got it off our chest, the burden off our back, and have given it to Him. And if now we truly trust Him with the situation, well that is one of the biggest benefits of prayer. It is all in His hands now.
In Jesus’ name
Some people will say they can make these demands to God by praying in Jesus’ name. Unfortunately, many people use “in Jesus’ name” like a religious formula. Just say that, and “magically” everything will be OK, and what I told God to do will happen, He “has” to do it. No, that is not the biblical use of Jesus’ name. When we say “in Jesus’ name”, we are speaking of Jesus’ authority and Jesus’ power to overcome and change any situation. (That is how it comes out in Mixtec.) But maybe more importantly, we are giving the situation into Jesus’ hands. It is an acceptance that it is now Jesus’ responsibility, and may He do what He knows is best. It is bowing down to Jesus’ will for the situation. We must never use Jesus’ name as a formula to try and manipulate God to do something. When we say it, may it be because our heart is bowing down to His will, and having done that, we are at peace.
We have authority, just not to command God
This is not to say that we Jesus people do not have the authority to order something done, it is just that it must not be directed toward God. In Mark 9:25, Jesus said this: “When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
Jesus gave us the example that we can rebuke evil spirits, diseases and even the wind and the rain. Jude 14 implores us to keep it simple when we do this. We have authority, but the devil still has a lot of power as well: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Besides rebuking sickness, the devil and nature, Jesus even said that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Again, none of these rebukes or commands are directed toward God. We must never try to rebuke God, to order Him around or try to manipulate Him. Remember His promises, come before Him and say please with a humble heart.
Can we, should we “claim” things so that we never suffer or have hard times?
I am also uncomfortable with the modern trend to “claim” things, which to me sounds like another way of trying to manipulate God and trying to force Him to do something. Yes, the Bible is full of promises, but again, God has the ultimate say if such and such a promise applies in this situation, and how things should work out. It is a fact that all the faithful people in the Bible suffered terribly and many died, some dying horrible deaths. Did they lack faith? Why did they not claim their healing or salvation from awful circumstances?
2 Corinthians deals with this question a lot. In 1:8-9 Paul states: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 4:7-9: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Note that “we” refers to Paul and his coworkers, as it does in the whole book. And finally in 12:7-10, some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I could go on and on, but one more Paul quote from Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” This last part is so often taken out of context. Paul is saying that he can “put up with”, go through, even “rejoice” no matter the circumstance because Christ gives him strength. In plenty and in want, full or hungry, sick or well, in jail or out, dying or living abundantly. It is all good because Jesus is there helping me.
God’s people in the Bible faced difficulties all the time, and while many were delivered, many others were not. It was not because of a lack of faith. It was and is because we live in a fallen world, where the majority of people are under the deception of the devil, and as such, those who surrender to God through Jesus, who are “not of this world”, are very susceptible to difficult times. This may be hard for some to hear, but it takes much more faith to remain faithful to God in suffering and difficult times, especially if they linger, than the faith needed to experience a miracle. God will never leave us nor forsake us. He always give us His peace, His joy, hope and comfort, no matter what is happening to us.
So much more that could be said about these things, but in summary, let us come humbly before God, presenting our requests to Him, giving our burdens over to Him, acknowledging that He is God and that He will deal with it in His way and timing, which is always perfect. To start out saying “please” and to end saying “thank you,” whatever the outcome. No need to “claim” something before God. He knows. Remember His promise? Yes. Ask for this promise to apply to me or the situation I am concerned about? Yes. Claim it? No. We can pray in Jesus’ name so that Jesus’ perfect will may be done. We can rebuke or command the devil, sickness and even nature, but never God. We can remain faithful no matter how much we or loved ones are suffering or how many difficult times we pass through, because God never changes. He is always with us, and will give us a peace that passes all understanding.
He is worthy!
Why is God worthy of all glory, honor and praise? Is it because He blesses us? Heals us? Provides for us? Makes us happy? Watches over our family? Loves us? While all those things are good, God is worthy because of Who He is. Revelation 4:11 says: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” He is worthy because He is God, He is the Creator, regardless of all that is happening to or around us. Yes He loves us and shows it, but no matter how we feel or interpret our circumstances or what’s happening in the world, He is worthy. May we constantly praise and thank Him because of Who He is. All the other good things that happen are just gravy. It is all about Him, not about us, and He deserves all that we are, complete surrender.