It is not uncommon for us to hear something like this: “I take power and authority over the spirit of infirmity and decree that Jesus sets you free and the healing is permanent.” This raises a few questions.
First, who is in charge? It looks worryingly like I am ‘the commander while God is the slave’ (Adeleye, Preachers of a Different Gospel).
Second, are we making the mistake of jumping into Jesus’ shoes? Looking at the Gospels the other day we were struck again by Jesus’ power to rebuke a fever (Luke 4:39). The amazing thing here is Jesus talks to blood vessels, to cells, to a virus… and they obey him! The same thing happens when Jesus rebukes the wind and waves (Luke 8:24). Surely we’re not meant to think, ‘I can do that.’ Surely we’re meant to gasp, ‘Who is this man?’ (Luke 8:25) The attention is all on Jesus, the Creator talking to his creation. When faced with illness we are not to jump into Jesus’ shoes but into those of the disciples who simply and humbly ask Jesus to help (Luke 4:38). In contrast to animism which sees each illness as the work of a spirit of infirmity which must be overcome by invoking a greater spirit, this is about a Creator completely sovereign over his creation and incredibly merciful and good to his creatures.
The third question is deeper still: Am I willing to see the illness as an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified whether he heals me now or later or at his coming? I know many of us have found John Piper’s ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’ absolutely revolutionary (you can replace ‘cancer’ with any form of suffering). I recently came across another example of this in practice in the lives of David and Becky Black working with the church in Ethiopia. You can read their story here and here where they talk (in 2010) about praying not only for a miracle of healing for Becky’s cancer but also, and much more, for the greater miracle of obedience, trust and joy in Christ even in the darkness of the valley (Becky ‘entered the presence of the One she loved’ about 6 months ago).