I am a Christian, and I fully believe in the power of God, God’s word, and prayer. However, there are some very dangerous misconceptions about the word of God in Christianity, especially, I find, in Charismatic circles, that I think need to be cleared up.
I grew up on teachings about the power of prayer. “You’re got to claim your healing,” “speak the word,” and “All of God’s promises are yes, and amen,” were phrases I knew very well. But somehow, the emphasis of the power of the word of God that I was taught eclipsed the explanation of how and why His word was powerful, and unfortunately, that is the important part of the teaching.
I remember reading about the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19. When they attempted to cast out devils “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches,” and the demons did not acknowledge them. “Jesus we know,” they said, “and Paul we know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). The principle at work here is that it isn’t the name of Jesus alone that carries the power of God. It’s His name and His presence.
What I have noticed in church is that we are taught to pray in the name of Jesus, speak the word of God, and expect mighty things to happen. But this teaching without the principle of relationship and knowledge of God reduces both God’s word and Christ’s name to a magic formula. It is almost no different than expecting power to manifest by using spells from Harry Potter. That may seem like a strange thing to say, but it’s true. The power is not merely in the “name” or in the “words,” but in the reality they represent. If the person praying does not know Christ, or does not know the significance of what he or she is praying, the power is not really there.
I have personally experienced the difference between speaking the word from habit or rote and speaking it from a position of understanding. I was very angry with God for a long time because I felt like He wasn’t answering my prayers because He didn’t love me. If He loved me, why wouldn’t He honor His word for me when I saw Him doing so for other people? I was so mad at God that I stopped believing in Him (or tried to). I see this happening with many young people raised in church. We are raised on principles of practice, but not taught how to seek and know God himself, and because of that, we speak things we know not of and end up having Sons-of-Sceva experiences that make us question if God is real or good.
To anyone who has been angry with God over unanswered prayers, I would say this: ask God to show you what His words really mean. The power is in the reality, not simply the words. I didn’t begin to see the reality of my prayers until I got honest with God, even angry with Him, and began to say things like “God, I can’t see how you love me. I don’t know that you are good. You have to show me.” The revelation of Jesus Christ is the access point to all of those principles related to speaking the word of God, not the words themselves. Without that, we Christians become cult-like superstition worshipers who think more about how to “activate” God’s words than how to connect with God Himself. You can’t have the former without the latter.
Feel free to comment below if you know what I’m talking about, or if you have questions about my observations or experiences. Be blessed!
Love Regina, the Pensive Ponderer