Prayers for Healing: Commanding Prayer
Not only are we invited to command the invisible spirits, we are also invited to command the natural realm. Disease can be commanded to leave. Creative miracles can be commanded to come. Even the kingdom of God can be commanded to come. We all know that Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom, come!" (Luke 11:1-4). Less well understood is that in the Aramaic the language is quite emphatic: "Kingdom come!" Of course we leave it up to the Lord to determine in what way and at what time His Kingdom should best arrive. Even so, He leaves it up to us to issues commands under His authority and leadership as needed.
Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 AM
The What and Why of It
In speaking forth prayers of command we certainly are not presuming to issue commands to the Lord. Nevertheless, the powers He gives us include doing what He did. Jesus commanded healing and he commanded even storms to cease. He is in us still seeking by His Spirit to do more now than He did then, more even than "we could ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 ESV
The prayer of command is real; it is also really hard to get right. Let's take these points one at a time. First, we have been given the prayer of command and it is expected that we will use it. Jesus and the disciples almost always commanded healing. We go at it differently and our results don't match up with theirs.
Normally, we rely on prayers of petition which are also used in the Bible, but which are not nearly as much in evidence under the New Covenant as direct commands. The way Jesus healed the ruler of a synagogue's daughter is typical of the way He healed everyone in the gospels.
Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. Mark 5:41-42 ESV
How did we miss this? It seems to me that we have been overwhelmed by a religious appreciation (which is thoroughly correct) that Jesus is Lord and can still heal today just as He did then. Therefore, we place ourselves in the position of the people who came to Jesus for healing during His earthly ministry and we bring our petitions to Him. We seem to have missed the point that He has long since ascended to heaven, having committed to us His authority and given to us His Spirit by which to do His works. Jesus is not only our Master; He is also our Example. During His time on earth, Jesus was demonstrating how to live by faith, how to walk in the Spirit and how to pray for healing - among other things.
The disciples may have been slow to understand that Jesus had to die on the cross, but they seem to have quickly grasped that they were now to do what He did in the same way He did it. Shortly after the ascension and the great events of Pentecost, the disciples commanded healing just as they had observed Jesus doing it. When leaving the Temple one day, Peter and John stopped to hear the petition of the man born crippled - just as Jesus would have. Then they took that petition and turned it into a command - just as Jesus would have.
And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Acts 3:4-7 ESV
During the three years of their apprenticeship, Jesus trained the disciples in the ways of the prayer of command. At one point Jesus was asked by His disciples why they had been unable to command a demon to leave a person (for the difference between rebuking demons and commanding nature see rebuking prayer). He used the opportunity to explain that unbelief can block faith, even faith for rebuking spirits. Then He added that we could actually command the natural realm to obey us ("tell the mountain"), if we only had just a little faith! There is plenty here about the interplay of unbelief and faith: Passive (inactive) faith is almost certain to be cancelled by active unbelief, but even passive unbelief can block active faith (the disciples weren't aware of having unbelief, only faith). That's a lot to chew on, but then comes the part about moving mountains!
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, "Why weren't we able to cast it out?" He said to them, "Because of your unbelief. For most assuredly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:19-20 WEB
We expect that God can command nature, but the reality is that under the New Covenant, God is now inside of us ready, willing and able to act through us in any legitimate way that is in accord with His will and purposes. In a very real sense the New Covenant has created a new "reality" for those of us who believe. Not only are we "new creations" (2 Corinthians 5:17), we also have access to new ways of praying. What can we command? By the example of Jesus and the disciples, we can command disease to leave ("He rebuked the fever"), healing to come ("little girl, arise"), the kingdom to come, winds and seas to be calmed, even mountains to move.
If this kind of praying feels strange and seems strange that's understandable. But we are called to live by faith under the leadership of our Lord. Just as He trained His first disciples in the prayer of command, He surely desires to pass the blessing on to us. In fact He didn't say "pray for the sick," He commanded us to heal the sick - that's a very different thing. Evidently, the responsibility is on us to learn how to do what He did!
"Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" Luke 10:9-10 ESV
The second point from above, is that this is hard to get right. Fortunately, there is abundant grace to cover us as we seek to learn and prayers of petition can always be made when prayers of command don't seem to work. Don't expect people not to be healed (that would be "active" unbelief), but don't be shocked when they aren't (that would be naive).
There are perhaps two main errors to guard against. One would be thinking that we can command anything and everything based on our own sense of what needs to happen. No, this is a thing that requires being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and the leadings of the Lord. God certainly isn't going to stop the sun just because you feel it necessary to sleep late! That is the error of presumption. The other is the error of blaming others for their lack of faith when they aren't healed. That would be the error of shifting blame. It is always better to cover people with mercy, grace and compassion, than reproach or condemnation. At least give people comfort, if you can't give them healing.
The objection could be raised that only God can heal anyone. This is absolutely true, but it is also true that we are the ones He wants to work through.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
Scriptures with Commanding Prayer
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. Psalms 106:9 ESV
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" Matthew 8:23-27 ESV
In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." Matthew 21:18-22 ESV
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." Mark 11:20-25 ESV
And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. Luke 4:38-39 ESV
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." Luke 11:1-4 ESV
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." John 14:12-13 ESV
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10 ESV
Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]. Ephesians 3:20 AMP
Next Healing Essential
Submitting Prayer Our final place to stand is in the position of entire surrender to His sovereign will. When you have done all, stand. God is not asking us to accept disease as His desire for us or as His best for us. Never! He is the giver of every good gift and the sworn Enemy of all that is dark, fallen and evil. This is no faint-hearted, resignation-wearied fall back position, as if yielding to God's mercy was the last and worst alternative available to us. Sometimes it is the best way from the beginning, but only if you have the faith-confidence to believe that the Lord's desire is to liberate you. Then, the release of your spirit into His may be the very thing He needs to effect your release from the illness.
Interested in Going Deeper?
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