Questions and answers
Doctrinal Commission – International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
Among some Christians, there is a practice of “claiming” particular blessings from God in faith: “I claim this healing” or “I claim that I will get this job.” What are Catholics to understand about the “name it and claim it” approach to the gifts of God?
The answer depends on what one is claiming. If we are claiming a blessing that flows from our identity and inheritance in Christ—for instance, claiming that our sins have been forgiven (Col 1:14), or that God will fully provide for our needs (Mt 6:30-33), or claiming our authority as sons and daughters of God (Lk 10:19)—then it is right to claim these things. After all, they belong to us in Christ. In contrast, if we claim a specific blessing from God that has not yet been given, such as a physical healing or a financial gift, then we can run into problems.
Consider the example of praying over someone for healing. We can boldly expect that Jesus will manifest his power through us, as he promised: “These signs will accompany those who believe:… they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover” (Mk 16:17,18). But how and when a particular healing may occur in someone’s life depends on many factors, including timing, the faith of the prayer minister, the faith of the recipient, the removal of interior obstacles, and God’s mysterious will. We should pray with boundless confidence, but without thinking that we can somehow force God’s hand by claiming a particular answer to our prayer.
There is an essential difference between boldly leaning into the Lord for a particular grace and dangerously presuming on the Lord for that grace in a way that disregards the mystery of his sovereign will. Presumptuousness is dangerous because it replaces a genuine trusting relationship with God with a superficial and superstitious faith that uses impersonal formulas to get what we want. Instead of pursuing the heart of the Lord by asking, seeking, and knocking (cf. Lk 11:9,10), we are attempting to manipulate God. Instead of putting faith in the Lord, we are putting faith in our own faith. It is evident that such misguided faith is present when people lose faith in God because they were not granted what they claimed.
Promises given through a prophetic word
What about a situation where God has promised a specific blessing or healing through a prophetic word? It is right to have a confident expectation and even to thank God ahead of time for what he has promised. If the prophetic word was genuine, the blessing will be given, often precisely when we respond with faith. This is particularly true if we have the charism of faith (1 Cor 12:9), which produces a supernatural certainty that God is about to act in a powerful way. The results of exercising this gift are often miraculous.
However, we have to humbly admit that our prophecy and knowledge in this world are imperfect (1 Cor 13:8,9). Sometimes, we are mistaken about prophetic words and/or their interpretation. If our
faith is truly in God and not in ourselves, he will greatly reward our faith, even if what we receive is not exactly what we were expecting.
Healings that have already occurred
What about a healing that has already occurred? Should we claim that healing if we feel the symptoms start to come back? Often, the evil one will try to steal back from us ground that the Lord has won, or convince us to doubt a healing or miracle the Lord has worked. In this case, it is right to claim the healing in faith, because we are not manipulating God but standing in faith on what God has already done.
To sum up: we can pray expectantly for specific blessings from God, keeping a posture of thankful receptivity for God’s gifts. However, we should be careful of claiming anything other than what God has already done for us in Christ. Our faith must always leave room for the mysterious action of God’s love that is greater than we can imagine, and for the sovereign activity of the Holy Spirit who blows where he wills (Jn 3:8).