As someone who spends at least some time most days on social media, I have seen a handful of times when someone will announce an illness or disease on social media that will often garner many responses. Most recently, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh posted something regarding his lung cancer which he has now deemed a “death sentence.” Invariably when someone posts something like that, there will be at least several who will respond with a prayer. And while we certainly appreciate anytime there is a focus on prayer, often times the prayer will be some type of rebuking of the illness and claiming some promise of God’s healing. As we sometimes call it, “name it and claim it” type of prayer. “God, this man has cancer. I rebuke the cancer in Jesus’ name and claim the healing you offer. Thank you for healing this man!” is a common type of prayer.
That said, those of us on the Baptist side of things understand the error of this type of praying and will often quote times when God did not answer the specific prayer of great men in the Bible. We often point towards the Apostle Paul who prayed that God would remove his thorn in the flesh. And what was God’s answer? No. So clearly the idea of just naming the problem and claiming the answer to the prayer, as we want it, is unbiblical teaching.
That said, we must acknowledge that Matthew 21:22 is still in the Bible. It reads, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” As is often the case in Christian circles, when we see one group taking a teaching to the extreme on one side, we often swing way over on the other side. While we reject naming it and claiming it, I think often times our prayer lists become nothing more than wish lists. Month after month, year after year we pray for different situations and people with the attitude of just wishing God would answer our prayer. There is no faith, no belief that He actually will. Nope, just a prayer we pray with no expectation for God to answer. So today let me challenge you, do you pray with any faith that He will actually answer those specific requests or are you just sending up a wish list to God?