Use Your Authority

by Gordon Dalbey
Fall 2014

Note from the editor: Author and speaker Gordon Dalbey offers his findings on authority while praying for healing. At Christian Healing Ministries, praying the prayer of authority for healing is one of many techniques we teach. As many people are just learning about their authority in Christ, we are pleased to present Gordon's article to you.

  Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal every disease and every sickness. — Matthew 10:1  

"Jesus didn't tell his followers to pray for the sick," Healing Prayer Rooms California director Rick Taylor has noted; "he told them to heal the sick."

Now, there's a concept!

For the record, Jesus not only gave his disciples authority, but in fact, "instructions" to "heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, heal those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases, and drive out demons" (Matthew 10:8).

What would it mean for us to exercise this authority as Jesus' followers today? Why, indeed, have we balked at doing so?

This issue became dramatically clear to me some years ago when a local young ministry intern told me that his father was sick and the doctors couldn't find what was wrong with him. A few weeks later, I asked how his father was doing.

"Not so good," he sighed. "Dad's been in the hospital awhile now and just keeps getting worse. The doctors still don't know what to do. They're worried he's not going to make it."

I asked him if he had organized others to pray for his dad.

"Oh, yes," he declared. "I've got the whole church praying, and all my friends everywhere. But Dad's still getting worse." Sensing something amiss, I prayed quietly. Lord, do you want me to push this? Gently, I eased ahead. "How are they praying?"

"What do you mean?" the young man snapped, knitting his brow. "They're asking God to heal him, of course!"

"That's a good prayer," I allowed, "but it may not be the best prayer. Has anyone taken authority over his sickness?"

"'Taken authority'?" he echoed, puzzled.

Commanding Sickness to Leave

"Yes," I said. "Has anyone gone to the hospital, laid hands on your dad and spoken to the sickness in the name of Jesus and commanded it to leave him?"

Taken aback, the young man hesitated. "Well, no, not really. I mean, I never thought of that."

"It's a very biblical way of responding to illness," I noted. "Since nothing else is working, I suggest it be you who prays this way!"

A few weeks later, I called him and asked for an update.

"Well, I did go and do like you said and took authority over his sickness," the young man replied matter–of–factly. "The doctors never did figure out what he had, but Dad's out of the hospital now and doing fine."

"Hallelujah!" I exclaimed. "What a great experience for you to minister to your dad like that!"

"Well," he scoffed, "I don't think my prayer really had much to do with it — we're all just thankful that he's better."

Astonished, dismayed, I realized that this Christian man, about to go into ministry had no context in which to affirm this authority Jesus had given him, even to save his father's life. They could all ask God to heal someone (commonly referred to as a prayer of petition), but to speak healing in the name of Jesus — as the Lord Himself exhorted His disciples — didn't occur to the group. Even when the young man did exercise that authority and his own father was healed of a life–threatening illness, he did not connect his father's healing with a change in the way he prayed.

Little children beg their parents to do everything for them. But if the parental relationship is intact and vital, a child grows up and takes responsibility to exercise his/her own gifting and the accompanying authority. To do so honors the parents, as evidence that they've done their job well.

Father–Son Authority

When I was teaching my son to drive, I told him not to be intimidated by tailgaters who would push him over the speed limit, endangering himself and others. "Let the other guy get the ticket, not you," I told him.

Later, I was riding with him as he drove within the speed limit, and watched as a car behind us sped up too close for comfort. Without asking me what to do, he glanced in the rear–view mirror and maintained his proper speed. As the other driver eventually pulled out and gunned ahead in a huff, I sighed with satisfaction.

"Good move, son!" I declared, patting him on the shoulder. In effect, my son communicated to the tailgater, "By the authority of my father, I tell you: If you want to speed, that's fine — go ahead and pass me. But I won't be intimidated to risk myself for your haste."

Similarly, as new, "baby" Christians, we typically present the Father with lists of what we want and are genuinely encouraged by His often gracious responses. In fact, when I especially want God to move in a particular area of need, I confess that I'm tempted to go find a brand new Christian to pray for me. Sometimes, the Father seems more willing to act on a child's cry, to preserve and reinforce their budding faith!

Maturing Christians, meanwhile, often become cautious of asking God to do what He has already given us authority to do. God is not co–dependent. Beyond begging God to heal and to expel or bind the Enemy, I believe we must be prepared ourselves to speak that healing, to command that deliverance in the name of Jesus.

Taking the authority He has given us honors the Father — even as I felt honored when my son dismissed his tailgater — and is entirely in accord with Jesus' teaching. It's evidence that the Father has done His job well, that we're appropriating the full measure of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection by affirming His Spirit's work in and through us. Thus, we become agents of "His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven," speaking it into being as He has called us to do — and did Himself at Creation (see Gen. 1:3ff).

Certainly, no one knows just how much my young friend's prayer of authority contributed to his dad's healing. I'm happy to believe that everyone else's prayers also figured into God's plan. The roots of physical illness, emotional brokenness, and spiritual oppression can be complex, even mysterious; God can heal any way He wants, whether through someone's prayer or not.

Not a Formula

But while authoritative prayer is not the only means for God to heal, it's a powerful and all–too–often ignored part of biblically based ministry. Like all genuine prayer, it's not a formula to get what we want, but a trusting relationship that allows God to get what He wants — and often more than we seek.

Certainly, we need to be sensitive to the Spirit's leading in all cases. But in the absence of a clear word of knowledge on how to pray, I'd rather speak with authority and have nothing apparent happen, than withdraw from it when something of God might have happened — whether in me or the person for whom I prayed.

Many Christians are offended when I say this. Obviously, no one wants to bear the pain of not having done something that might have helped or saved another person, especially one who died from that need. But people in the armed services will say that pride is not tolerated on the battlefield, where even fatal mistakes are not only made, but also diligently faced in order that they not be repeated and other lives might be saved.

In fact, that's why doctors do autopsies. They don't allow the shame of failure to overshadow its lessons and short–circuit their calling to heal.

When at last I meet Him face–to–face, I want to ask God in many instances, "Why didn't you exercise Your saving power?" I don't want Him to respond, "Why didn't you exercise the authority I gave you?"

If you know your father loves you, you follow what he says readily, because you know he wants the best for you. If the security of Daddy's love has been violated, however, as by harsh punishment, shaming, abuse, or abandonment, you can grow up distrusting authority. When you grow up and move into positions of authority yourself, without healing you may simply treat others as you learned from Dad — either by judging and coercing or simply withdrawing and abandoning. If you take this father–wound to Jesus for healing, it no longer becomes an emotional default that can color your worldview. His healing allows you to make the essential distinction between authoritative — as one called and empowered by God to affect His good purposes in others, and authoritarian — as one driven by self–centered desires to coerce or manipulate others for their own goals.

Misled Humility

When parental wounding — and its accompanying pain, fear, and anger — remains unhealed, praying with authority can feel arrogant and egotistical. It is easy to withdraw from it, like my young friend, in order to appear humble.

"Humble, schmumble!" I can imagine Jesus declaring. "For God's sake, pick up the sword I died to give you, and use it!" People do not know that they might be "humbly" rejecting the call of God to restore His Kingdom on earth!

Wounded children often grow up and become angry and unforgiving. In order not to incur the judgment they pass upon their parents, their main objective in life can be to keep from hurting people. This goal, however, can be a recipe for passivity.

I want to encourage Christians to pray with authority, and lay aside their fear of embarrassment if it "doesn't work"! In fact, the enemy plants fear of self–embarrassment in order to lead others to believe our God is not active and effective.

Sure, in this fallen world infected by sin, brokenness and evil abound. Jesus himself declared, "In this world, you will have trouble." But he never said, "So don't pray with authority in case it doesn't work" or "So when it doesn't work, give up." In fact, he concluded his statement with, "But take heart! I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33NIV). As Paul reassured, "There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).

Exercising our God–given authority over sickness and evil can give God something to bless. Certainly, it doesn't always bring about the desired change or "cure." As Francis MacNutt has often said, "Healing is a mystery." In such humble perseverance, we press on after a deeper understanding of how He's working to heal this broken world and with a readiness to join Him.

This article was taken from Gordon's book, Religion vs Reality: Facing the Home Front in Spiritual Warfare.
Contact Gordon Dalbey:
Twitter: @gordondalbey

Gordon Dalbey Gordon Dalbey is a bestselling author and international minister in Santa Barabara, California. 2014 Fall