Is anyone among you suffering? Is anyone among you sick?
James 5 From the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Prayer is many things for the believer. It is communication with God. Jesus taught us to pray: “‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” So our prayers then are to the Father, the holy God in heaven. The purpose of our prayer is to connect both ourselves and this physical, earthly realm with the heavenly realm. It is to bring the realities of heaven to the circumstances of earth. In today’s text James says: Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. We are to go to God with both our difficulties and the things which bring us joy. Praise is also a form of prayer. The practice of praising and offering thanksgiving to God is not for God’s benefit. God doesn’t need His ego built up hearing about the good things He has done. Praying prayers of thanksgiving and praise reminds us of how good God is. It builds our faith when we remember and acknowledge what He has done for us. When we neglect to thank God and praise Him for what is good, we begin to attribute those outcomes to ourselves or other human sources. God then becomes our last resort and since we have not trusted Him for lesser things, our faith to believe the greater things is diminished.
James continues: Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up… If every believer has the Holy Spirit and the power and authority of Christ given and supplied through the cross and the resurrection, why is that the one who is sick should call the elders of the church? It is not that the men themselves are greater, but rather that God is a God of order and authority. The elders are earthly, human representatives of God’s authority. Additionally, there is a powerful spiritual principle which applies when we come together with other believers. In Leviticus 26:8, God says: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand. There is an exponential increase in the power and authority of believers who come together. James says: the prayer offered in faith will restore… In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus says: “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” So again this comes back to where are faith lies. Jesus says, have faith in God. It’s not the elders or other believers we have faith in. Even those who have gifts of healing, do all that they do by the hand of God, through the power and authority of the cross of Christ, by whose stripes we are healed.
We also need to acknowledge another key element in our prayers being answered. James says: if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. In Mark 11:25-26 Jesus says: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” In the prayer Jesus taught us, He says: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” There is power in the confession of sin. 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When we confess our sins, our sins are forgiven. We are cleansed of unrighteousness and we are instead given the righteousness of Christ. James says: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. It is not the righteousness of the man which makes the prayer effective but the righteousness of Christ in the man.
Is anyone among you suffering? Is anyone among you sick? Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (Heavenly Father You are holy, Jesus
Your name is above all names, Yours is the only name by which men can be saved, the name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord.) ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. (By the authority that You have given me, the authority to bind and loose in heaven and on earth, may I truly see the realities of heaven manifested here on earth. May I see the results of the finished work of the cross here, in the circumstances and situations on earth.) ‘Give us this day our daily bread. (You know my every need, grant it according to Your love, Your mercy and grace.) ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (I continue to struggle with sin as long as I am in this human body, but Your mercies are new every morning and Your grace is sufficient for my need. Thank You for Your forgiveness of all my sins, past, present and future, through the Holy Spirit in me, may I too forgive others as I have been forgiven.) ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (As the psalmist says, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. In Your presence no temptation can affect me because as I delight in You, You will give me the desires of my heart.) For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Amen)