Jesus’ work in our lives has always been a display of divine authority. He washed us clean by the power of the cross, and raised us up by the power of the resurrection. He claims authority over all areas of our lives, and as we yield to His will, He transforms us into the people He uses.
Claiming authority in our walk with the Lord has been confused by the false notion we can control God through prayer. One verse used to support this practice is 1 John 5:15 where the apostle writes, “And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” Certainly, scripture doesn’t lie, yet there is wisdom in seeking the whole counsel of God before jumping to theological conclusion. For example, in 1 John 5:14 we read, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” In truth, while God hears our prayers and answers us, if we really want His authority to be displayed in our lives we must be completely subservient to His will.
This means claiming authority in our prayer life is not a magical formula for getting what we want, but rather an admission God may or may not give us what we want. It is also an affirmation we will work with His will, regardless of the outcome, to let His light shine in our lives.
I have met people who believe a “word of faith” (claiming something in Jesus’ name), guarantees a specific outcome. I have also walked with some of these same people through the valley of depression when God didn’t perform the miracle they were expecting.
Can we say Stephen (Acts 7:55-60), who was stoned for his faith, had less of God’s authority in his life than Paul, who was left for dead after a stoning, but stood up to preach another day (Acts 14:19-20)? No. Indeed, both men had great faith, and both relied on the authority of God over their circumstances. It can also be said both brought glory to the name of Christ through their respective circumstances.
We do a disservice to our brothers and sisters in Christ if we discount the providence of God when they face trials. I don’t mean to suggest there is anything wrong with questioning God’s methodology, or grieving over unwanted loss. Yet, through our tears we should pray for the confidence to accept God’s wisdom and the personal wisdom to know how He needs us to respond. This is the true “name it, claim it” approach to faith: the courage to ask God for what we want or need and the willingness to claim His answer as His authoritative will for our lives. While we may not have a perfect understanding of how God’s strategy during Jesus’ ministry differs from our own, we can be assured His will is perfect, and if we remain submissive He will lead us.