Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. James 5:14-16a
Dealing with sickness, especially sickness that is life threatening can be some of the most difficult experience we go through in life. James describes here a specific situation about how we should pray for those who are sick. Warren Werisbe makes this statement about the following verses that I agree with: “I do not think that James gave us a blanket formula for healing the sick…” He then goes on to talk about the specific circumstances of the case that James has written about.
First, the person who is sick and needs prayer in this scenario is sick because of sin. (v.15b-16). James is describing a person who is sick because He is being disciplined by God. (1 Corinthians 11:30). He must call the elders of the church because either he is too sick, or is under church discipline and must do this as a next step to be restored. To understand church discipline look at Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthains 5.
Second, the person confesses his sins. (v.16) This was the point and expectation of church discipline, that the man would come to a place of confession and repentance.
Third, the person is healed by “the prayer of faith”. (v.15) Anointing someone with oil (14) in the Bible was symbolic of cleansing. The “anointing” could also be interpreted as “rubbing” or “massaging”, which may indicate a medicinal element to this scenario. Either way, the “prayer of faith” is the important element here, that this man has confessed to God and man, and that this prayer is a prayer of hope and belief that God can heal, and will heal if it is his will.
There are some who teach (especially the “name it and claim it” prosperity preachers on TV)that God is obligated to heal us if we have enough faith. They would say that if you are sick you don’t have enough faith. They take this phrase–“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick”–and apply it as a promise that God is obligated to no matter what the scenario.
What we really see about this phrase is that the person who is sick because of the discipline of God has only one hope of getting right. There must be confession of his sin and prayer for healing. If that person wants God to heal Him, that is the solution.
Application: The Bible says that God does discipline his children. Is there something that you need to confess today? Pray. Get right with God! He will forgive.