Dangers of “Name It & Claim It”
Many years ago, I knew a family who left the church they were attending at the time. One of the reasons for leaving was because they had fallen into the “name it and claim it” trap, and the preacher’s wife had surgery. They questioned her faith as to why she was not healed. A few months after leaving the church, their son broke his arm. I’m guessing after multiple prayers and positive confessions, they found themselves at the doctor’s office anyway. He had to have a cast.
Words have power. There is no doubt about that. Harsh words can tear someone down. Gentle and uplifting words can build someone up. As a parent, it’s easy to see how gentle and harsh words have an affect on the human spirit. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And in Proverbs 18: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (v 21).
The Bible specifically tells us that there is power in the name of Jesus. God’s name is so holy and so powerful that Jews, even today, will not write the full name of God. When Jesus pronounced himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, speaking the very words “I am” caused his soon-to-be-captors to fall back. A single sentence spoken by God ignited this universe.There is no doubt that words have power on both the spiritual and physical planes.
So if words, and calling upon Jesus, have power, then it would, by simple logic, indicate that if one speaks the right words, with the right power, a person could receive a financial windfall or could be healed. Name it. Claim it.
If Name It Claim It worked the way it’s often taught and interpreted, every Powerball winner would be a Christian.
When Jesus’ disciples attempted to heal someone, they were unable to. Jesus said that they didn’t have faith and then said that even a small amount of faith can move mountains. We don’t know exactly what the disciples did, but I think we can take an educated guess and say they did EXACTLY what Jesus did. They called on God. They laid hands on the sick man. And they proclaimed him healed. They had some kind of faith, otherwise, they wouldn’t have done it. They wouldn’t have even attempted such miracle if they didn’t have faith that it would work. And when it didn’t they were discouraged, confused. The same power Jesus had, they could not replicate.
Fast forward just a few years, and in the book of Acts, we discover an interesting story. There’s a man that would sit at the Beautiful Gate in the Temple. He could not walk and his family would bring him here each day so he could beg for money. Because he had been sitting next to this busy gate for so many years, we can draw a simple conclusion – he was sitting here when Jesus passed through these gates when he was visiting Jerusalem. This poor man was not healed during those times when Jesus walked by. This crippled man may have seen the commotion around Jesus, and heard about His healings. He may have been trampled as the hordes of people reached out to Jesus. But it wasn’t until Peter and John entered the Temple that healing came. Peter told the man to stand up and he was immediately healed. Why was this man not healed years before by Jesus? Why now? What changed? What changed with the disciples? Did the man finally come to the point of ultimate faith that he could be healed? Or was it just his time?
Positive confession has been around the charismatic circles for many years. It started in the 19th century and has continued to flourish, particularly from televangelists today. The problem with positive confession theology is what happens when the prayer request is not answered to the satisfaction of the person’s request. When people talk about name it and claim it is often in association with either healing or obtaining wealth. In my life, I’ve seen the healing version of name it and claim it to be the most dangerous.
When I was a kid, we had a neighbor named Alvin Koym. Mr Koym was a sweet, gentle man who was a former teacher. He was caring for his aging mother when I was in middle school. Sometime around 1990 or so, Mr Koym discovered he had cancer. Dad and I went with him to a televangelist service where many people were reportedly healed. For Mr Koym, no healing came. On the way home, I remember Mr Koym asking my dad, “Why does God heal some people and not others?”
I don’t remember the answer that my dad gave at the time, but the question still still sits with me.
If I was to listen to those who teach positive confession, I would hear them say the following about Mr. Koym:
1) Mr Koym didn’t have enough faith and would point to the Scripture above as proof
2) Mr Koym wasn’t a true Christian
3) Mr Koym did something in his past that doesn’t allow him to be healed
All of these conclusions are judgement calls from fellow Christians with zero knowledge of the man or his history or even his heart.
The problem of positive confession is when it becomes personal. When it’s a family member that the family so desperately wants a miracle and yet none comes.The idea of naming it and claiming it, in denouncing an evil spirit of sickness to leave an individual creates a scenario in which the faithful ultimately find themselves questioning their faith when their family member passes. Or when a persons’ debt grows so high even though one tithes and prays and does everything else that the prosperity doctrine says you should do. Maybe, just maybe, it’s something I did wrong in my past, one might think.
When an individual is not faced with a personal tragedy, positive confession is easy. It’s when the personal tragedy is directly in your face, and about to stand before God or facing bankruptcy, that the concept of positive confession falls apart. Because the only answer that can be provided is that someone wasn’t a Christian or didn’t have the faith of a mustard seed, or it was “just” God’s plan.
These answers often become stumbling blocks to individuals now suffering from pain and loss when they are not provided the full context of Scripture.
“Was my friend not a Christian? Was he truly not saved? Will I see him in Heaven? ”
“But I tithed regular and even gave more so that God could take away my debt. Why hasn’t He?”
“My sister was the most faithful person I knew. If she couldn’t be healed through her faith, and that was not enough, then what about my faith? I know for a fact that she had the faith of a mustard seed – does that mean Scripture is wrong?”
“It was God’s plan to take my mother from me? HOW DARE HE?! HE MUST REALLY BE AN UNLOVING, HATEFUL GOD AFTER ALL — IF HE EVEN EXISTS!!!!”
I’ve seen pastors struggle with debt because the church they shepherd is small. I’ve heard story after story of fully faithful Christians who give as much as they can monetarily but struggle to make ends meet. They have faith that God will provide but those provisions don’t ever seem to reduce that debt.
I remember a man with cataracts in our church when I was young who was prayed for and his eyesight returned momentarily only for his cataracts to return. I know of a woman who was healed from a debilitating disease many years ago – and still remains healed. My own mother had bone spurs in her neck that miraculously vanished during prayer. I have seen Christians die without healings – Mr Koym, another man I called Gramps when I was a kid, and more recently my aunt. In each case, prayer and request for healing was not fulfilled. Because of lack of faith? Or is there more going on than we cannot see?
The only thing I have figured out is that the sick person’s will/desire/prayer trumps any other person’s prayer? If a person wants to simply die, there is no prayer in all of Heaven or Earth that will heal this individual.
But ultimately, it must also have to do with God’s overall plan. His plan isn’t to take people away from us just because — but because it’s time. Whether that be God or just life as a whole. The Bible tells us that God gives and He takes away. If we are not in line with God’s will, then no prayer in Heaven or Earth will heal. Very few people in the Bible negotiated with God to change His mind or the course of human history.
The biggest story in the Bible has Jesus asking for God to change the course of His future. Jesus asks that God take the cup of the crucifixion from Him IF it was His will. Jesus knew the pain of what was about to happen, and his humanity didn’t want to go through with it. But He knew God’s will trumped His own human desire to avoid a painful death.
The Bible tells us many stories of Jesus healing many people. They are wonderful, lovely stories of faith and healing. The woman with the issue of blood simply touched Jesus’ garment. The garment didn’t save her, but the power that flowed through him and into a woman of faith. The man being able to see again with a prayer and obedience of dunking himself in the Dead Sea. What we don’t hear about are the people who weren’t healed. Jesus may have walked by many sick to heal a single one. We don’t hear of mass healings but rather individual, personal stories of healing. Jesus didn’t walk up to a leper colony and heal every single person with a shout. It may have happened, but I tend to believe that if He had, it would have been recorded. That means 100s of 1000s of people were not healed while Jesus walked this green earth. That crippled man in the Temple was one of them.
We Christians often complain about how non-Christians cherry pick the Scriptures and don’t represent the Bible properly. We as Christians do the very same thing to fit our theology/beliefs without looking at the bigger picture and taking the entire Scripture into context. Name it and Claim It and the idea of positive confession does this very thing. It takes the Scriptures about healing, but ignores scriptures on God’s will, God’s plan, and God’s sovereignty. It also ignores the reality of life — we all die at some point in some way and in some fashion.
1 Peter 4 tells us that those who suffer should still commit to God. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about having a thorn in the flesh and asks God three times to have it removed. God’s response? “My grace is sufficient.” Powerful words from a powerful God.
So that leaves us with the question — what is the point in not healing people. The Bible teaches that it’s for several reasons. The number one reason is that God uses dark times in our lives so that we can be strengthened and molded. The valleys and the climb to the mountain top is hard, but that is where God provides grace, strength, and sometimes healing. In the Bible we do see cases where death and sickness is brought on because God allows it or as a means of punishment. One of the most emotional is the life of King David. Due to his sin with Bathsheba, God said that each of his sons would die, including Bathsheba’s first child. After birth, David prayed fervently that God would save his son, but his son still died. David did everything he could think of – prayer, fasting, etc – and it wasn’t enough. If a man after God’s own heart can’t convince God, then most of us sure couldn’t either. And if a man’s after God’s own heart can’t just name it and claim it to heal his son, then this theology is horribly flawed.
Ultimately, we have to believe that God is sovereign, and He ultimately has everything under control. And He doesn’t always answer the prayer that we want Him to answer. But the most important prayer we have is that of grace, strength and love that we can have through all moments of our lives.
Ultimately, we have to pray to see life through God’s eyes. We have to pray to get on board with His will and His desires. If we can line up our own thoughts and our own minds with God’s, then everything else should fall into place — both on the mountaintops and in the valleys.