I covered some of this in the miracles post, so let me add a short story and additional thought at the end.
Just after my wife and I were married, we served in a little church in a little city in the middle of
In the process of signing on we learned that the senior pastor's wife had cancer... something that was very sobering for many in the church. It was obviously something that at times was conversation, while on other occasions very much an elephant in the room. It was rare that we would see her on a Sunday morning, even though the house/parsonage was located on the property.
One day in the middle of it all, the pastor proclaimed that his wife would be physically healed - that her cancer would go away and she would come back to a normal life as she had before. Well, let me tell you something, sir... suddenly that little country church seem to take on a life it never had as his loud voice echoed a hope that we all wanted to taste the reality of... "certainly God will do this."
We prayed... we believed... we prayed some more... we believed some more. If only we would have enough faith... "certainly God will do this."
We busted out the oil... the elder board came and prayed over her... we sang songs about God's healing... "certainly God will do this."
Only... He didn't.
One day Carol passed away and on to be with God.
For quite a few, there was this nagging question... "Why?" Those older in the faith had an "I knew it," in the spirit, while others younger in their faith asked, "Does God even care? What does that say about prayers and faith?"
Then the explanation came.
God "had" healed her, but it was by taking her on to be with Him in heaven.
This messed with everyone even more.
By the way, this wasn't a Pentecostal church. (Maybe that was our problem.)
I share that story because the running theme I see in this area with God is that whether it's the issue of miracles or grace, God always gets to make the final call. That doesn't mean He doesn't desire the dialogue or our request in prayer, but we have to remember that there is a goal He has in mind for all of creation and at times someone's loss may mean another's gain. We see this in everything from how one person's death who is a biological donor can save many, many lives to how those attending a funeral can place their faith in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the difference is instead of saying, "God will" we should say "God can, as He wills." For instance, I "can" drive my kids to Disney World today... will I? That's another story. Even if my kids claim that I am with all the passion, I still get to make the final call. Sometimes their persistent asking wins out (mostly for Chuck E Cheese and Smoothie King - we haven't yet been to Disney World with them). This happens not because they guilt me into it or nag me, but because I love them and truly do want to see them maximized in all their joy.
Sometimes, though, that money/effort is earmarked for something else... something better, even if they can't see it, and so as a loving father I have to say no.
Many who argue the "name it/claim it" stance often quote this passage from Matthew 18:18:
I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.Another way it reads in the original Greek, though, is as follows:
I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.You will often find the former listed in Bibles with a footnote that the latter is "another way" of reading it. So whether or not the original language indicates the tense here as periphrastic-eternal (meaning, all that's been "bound" already has) or should be taken as literal-present (meaning all that is to be bound is dependent upon us asking for it), in either case the intention is to say that Peter is to act according to heaven's instructions.
By the way... yes, that's a Bible verse involving something said to Peter.
Perhaps we can still pray in the same context with the same hope and God-empowered/Jesus-provided/Spirit-guided authority, but that was a conversation with one disciple in particular.
Perhaps a whole other topic just started right there. ;)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)