When praying for healing, what is the basis for COMMANDING in Jesus name versus ASKING in Jesus name for healing?
On the face of it there isn’t much difference between:
1) Commanding healing in the name of Jesus
2) Asking God if He will heal the person in Jesus name
However, though the difference looks subtle there is a vast difference between these two acts of faith. The first is a statement based on my God-given spiritual authority over the power of the enemy (in this case sickness and infirmity). The second statement is based on the teaching of Jesus that if we ask Father God for anything ‘in Jesus name’ that He will grant it. (John 14:13-14) – but when should we command and when should we ask?
Understanding spiritual authority
In order to know when we should use the COMMAND ‘in Jesus name’ and when we should ask the Father ‘in Jesus name’ we need to understand about our spiritual authority.
Let’s take a look at how the early believers used their God-given authority:
When Peter and John saw a lame man begging at the temple gate, the man got more than he was expecting:
“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk.” Acts 3:6-8
Peter did not ask God to heal the man in Jesus name, he commanded the lame man to walk in Jesus name. He did this because that is exactly how Jesus had taught His followers to heal the sick:
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:1-2 (Also Matt 10:1, Mark 6:7)
Note that Jesus did not send them to ‘pray for the sick’ but to ‘heal the sick’ – that was the assignment.
How were they to do it? By the power and authority He had given them. This was a transaction which delegated authority from the one sending to the one who was sent. When we operate in authority, we are answering this command and taking responsibility to make sure the job gets done on behalf of the one sending us.
A wise man once said, “You can’t give someone responsibility; they can only take it”. Jesus gave them authority but it was up to them to use it. In the same way, it is up to us whether or not we want to take the gift of this authority and use it – God won’t force us to use our spiritual authority.
One time, the Apostle Paul delivered a young girl from a spirit of divination:
“… he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.” Acts 16:18 NIV
So again we see, not a request to God but the command directed at the evil spirit in the name of Jesus.
Nowhere in the New Testament do we see an example of a Christian asking God to bring healing or deliverance in Jesus name. To worship and pray to God in the name of Jesus is appropriate in many circumstances (for example we are told to give thanks in everything in the name of Jesus – Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 3:17) but it is not a Biblical model for ministering healing and deliverance to the sick and demonised.
Why is this? Because the scriptures plainly designate sickness and tormenting spirits as being the work of the devil. We are told that Jesus went around “healing all who were under the power of the devil” Acts 10:38. We don’t need to ask God if we can destroy the devil’s work because we already have his wholehearted permission – more than that, we have his command and authority to do so. (Matt 10:8)
A Military Metaphor
Imagine a new soldier who has been given all the training and equipment he needs to fulfil the assignment he has been given. He arrives at the front line and gets himself into position for action. He sights the enemy and gets ready to engage them, but instead of doing so, he radios back to the commanding officer at HQ, “ Sir, I have the enemy in my sights, so, I know you’re busy but if you wouldn’t mind coming down here to take care of things I’d be so grateful… but I quite understand if you’ve got better things to do…”
That Private is going to get a pretty heated response that likely involves some rich language! Why? Because he has been given the power, the resources and the authority to do the job himself – it’s his assignment and he needs to take responsibility for it.
Obedience not pride
Using a command of authority in Jesus name is not big-headed or ‘stealing God’s glory’ because, as Peter pointed out after he healed the lame man:
“When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” Acts 3:12
It was the power of God that healed the man but it was released through the authority that Peter had been given – it was Peter who stepped out in faith and lifted the lame man to his feet- but it was the power of God released through that act of authority that healed him.
Look at these other instances of healing from the book of Acts:
““Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. Acts 9:34
“He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” Acts 14:9-10
We don’t even hear the mention of ‘in Jesus name’ in these examples but the command of authority is still there. Paul and Peter act as ambassadors of Jesus to heal – the spiritual powers already know who they are and what power and authority they wield – they simply have to command the healing to come.
Jesus told His disciples that as the Father had sent Him, He also was sending them (John 20:21). So as the Father sent Jesus with authority (John 17:2), Jesus also sends His followers with authority. However, just as the authority of Jesus was based on obedience to His Father – we only move in authority to the extent that we submit to Him too.
Not just words
In the book of Acts, Dr Luke very helpfully tells us about some men (the sons of Sceva) who tried casting out demons in the name of Jesus without the Holy Spirit. It ended badly for them: they were beaten and stripped naked by the demonised person (Acts 19:11-20). So as we can see, our authority doesn’t come simply by having self-confidence or saying the right words. This obedience comes from a living relationship with God through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit – it flows out of a lifestyle of worship.
So, can any believer use the name of Jesus with authority against sickness and demons or do they have to attain a certain level of maturity? Well, all I can say is that I’ve seen little children command healing and seen the most incredible miracles take place. If you are a worshipper and follower of Jesus, the next time you are praying for God to heal someone, why not try speaking to the sickness with authority? Say out loud, “I command this sickness to go and wholeness to come in the name of Jesus, the one I serve” and see what God will do through you today.
NOTE: There is another clearly identified principle for healing in the letter of James that specifically addresses healing for believers in a church community:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14
In this context the directive is that the elders of the church should anoint the church member in Jesus name. Again, this is not a request for God to heal, but an act that symbolises the healing power of the Holy Spirit upon the believer. The elders have a relational authority to minister like this to one over whom they have pastoral care and over-site. The command of authority can also be used, but there is a responsibility on both parties to also come into agreement and submission to that authority.