Once upon a time, a famous faith healer ended a rousing service by bellowing through his microphone, “And Lord, because we get everything we ask for in Jesus’ name, I declare and consider it fulfilled that You will remove every sickness, every weakness, and every pain from every single believer within the sound of my voice!”
And then everyone there dropped dead.
Recently, I read a note from a self-proclaimed faith healer sent out over the social network Second Life to various Christian groups. In the note, the faith healer chided fellow believers for praying that the Lord bring peace and relief to the suffering of a Christian friend of ours who was dying. That evening, the believer went home to the Lord, and the self-proclaimed healer took it upon himself to rebuke everyone who had prayed for a peaceful passing with little suffering.
The rebuking man strongly implied that our fellow believer would have lived had people prayed in the right way. In effect, he suggested, those who prayed the wrong words were guilty of pushing one of our own into death.
Apparently, if you get the magic incantation wrong, you’re a killer.
Everyone dies. Everyone. That is the rule, and any exceptions – Enoch, Elijah, or the ones twinkle-changed at the final coming – are special cases set aside in Scripture as violations of the norm. The rest of us through all of history, the hundred trillion who have ever been born, we have an appointment set up by the Lord, a specific time at which we will shuffle off this mortal coil.
The days of my life are appointed, all scheduled, Job 7:1 teaches me. The moment of my death is appointed as well, Hebrews 9:27 confirms. No man, not even a really, really confident faith healer, is going to change by one nanosecond the time God has appointed for my death. I will de-incarnate, my flesh will be left here and I will be declared Alive On Arrival in His presence, thanks to the saving power of His grace.
Everyone dies. Yes, everyone, even those Jesus Himself healed when He walked upon the Earth. Those He raised from the dead, they also died again, their first sleep appointed to bring Him glory and their second appointed to fulfill the reality of The Fall. Can faith change that? Can it force God to shift the time He appoints? No. Even Elisha, who had a double portion of faith, came to the end of his life and passed through “the sickness from which he would die,” according to 2 Kings 13. Read how that is phrased – the sickness from which he would die. The death was appointed, and the sickness that brought it about was appointed as well. God was not taken by surprise when Elisha fell ill.
Everyone gets sick, like Paul’s companion Trophemus in 2 Timothy 4 who had to be left behind to recuperate, and the devoted servant Epaphroditus in Philippians 2 who came close to death in his sickness. These men traveled with a paragon of faith, the Apostle Paul, yet for neither did Paul demand or receive in Jesus’ name instantaneous healing. Paul knew the will of heaven, and prayed only in that will. He learned to do that from his own three failed attempts to pray away the thorn in his flesh – and Scripture clearly calls that affliction a matter of the flesh, using the word “buffet,” the pounding of a fist, a physical messenger of Satan to give Paul physical weakness. I point this out because you can rest assured that a Magic Faith believer will try to soften that Scripture and say it had nothing to do with physical sickness, that maybe it just meant a whole lot of persecution.
Anyone who says that to you is either lying or denying.
“But wait!” I hear a Magic Faith Wielder claim in my imagination. “Christ promised us that anything we ask in His name, He will do for us! He said it in John 14:14, and then, to show how true it was, He repeated it in John 16:23!”
Yes, He did say that, and yes, He will do anything we ask in His name.
But you, self-proclaimed Magic Man, are focused on the word anything.
I recommend you now focus on the words in my name.
Without making too long a lesson of it, Christ’s name is His essence, His power, and the fullness of His will. There are things you simply will not get when you pray for them, since those things are outside His name and His will. I don’t care how much faith you have or how passionately you declare “In Jesus’ name!” You simply won’t get “anything” you ask for. For example:
- It won’t work if you pray, “Dear God, please change the appointed time of the Second Coming and send Jesus back riiiiiiight …. NOW!”
- You won’t get what you want when you pray, “Oh Lord who gives me anything I ask for, please turn my grumpy boss into a koala bear. Literally.”
- You certainly won’t get what you want with the prayer, “Father who promised me I get anything I request, please travel back in time, stop Eve from being tempted, erase all of The Fall from history, and make it so Jesus never had to die for sin.”
- And you don’t get this: “God, make people not die any more.”
People get sick and die, according to the will of God and despite the will of self-proclaimed faith healers. Notice how some faith healers misuse the words “in the name of Jesus.” They proclaim them at the end of their healing prayer, raising their volumes as if punching home the power words that make the wish come true. They have declared their “anything” and now BAM, like chef Emeril slamming down a spice, they fiercely spurt, “in JESUS’ name!” as if that were the power flex in their enchantment formula.
Advice to the wise: the words “in Jesus name” are not there to trigger or compel the power of God. They are there to guide and humble the asker. You don’t get anything you ask for. You get anything in His name, in His will, and that is what you should ask for.
Look at it this way – if I freely offer you any red car in my lot, any red car you ask for, you don’t get to leave with the black van. You get a car, you get a red one, and that’s in my generous will.
Those who focus exclusively on the “anything” word in Christ’s promise are obsessed with getting. Those who focus on the “in My name” are obsessed with His will, and with getting what is best.
And in conclusion …
Dear Faith Healer: Everyone dies. When our fellow believer passed away and went into the presence of the Lord, it was not because people neglected to pray the right magic words. The time of that death was appointed, and a miracle happened … a miracle you didn’t notice.
This was the miracle: Throughout Second Life and into the real, non-virtual world, members of the Body of Christ received a Word of Knowledge that you did not. That Word of Knowledge was an insight into the will and appointments of God, the spiritual understanding that it was the appointed time for our fellow believer. And acting on that miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit, those who were given that Word of Knowledge prayed for ease of suffering and a gentle passing from the flesh and into the presence of the Lord.
While you prayed to thwart the appointed time of God, others prayed in His name and for His will. And I firmly believe those prayers were answered. One more of us is away from the body and at home with the Lord, in accordance with His schedule.
One day I will join the ranks of the dead, dear Faith Healer, and one day so will you. I serve my Lord happily wherever He wants me and in the state He judges best. I know that in the Magic Faith world, people see me as cheating myself out of miracle door prizes I’d be getting if I knew some special Faith School rules or if I named it and claimed it just so. And I know the Namer-Claimer types look at me, the actual me, Yolanda Ramírez, with pity – the inner city girl born deaf and left mute because of that deafness.
And I smile. If only their eyes could see the blessings brought to me because of the minor inconveniences I endured for a few decades. And if only they could see that even if my worldly blessings fade, I have Him. So nothing else matters. I have anything in His name, even when I have nothing in this world.
Along with my brother Job of Old, I declare:
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
YoYo Rez, who is Cosmic Parx, who is God’s Yolanda