Summary: This passage not only gives us some indication of how to pray, but it also helps us determine when we are to pray. There are four distinct times that we’re to come before God. We’re to look to Him…1. When we’re suffering. (13a);2. When we have succes
How to Pray for Healing
It’s amazing how many bad things can happen to people. Bill Flick, a columnist for The Pantagraph, compiled some true stories this past week…
—In Connecticut, a man driving a stolen car inadvertently stopped a police officer to ask for directions out of the city.
—A man in England, who sneezed several hundred times each day for 35 years, was told by health officials that he was allergic to himself. He was cured after another doctor discovered that he simply had a reaction to the oatmeal he’d been eating for breakfast since childhood.
—And, in Thailand, an elephant ate 110 pounds of dried rice and then drank 65 gallons of water and, within a half hour, exploded.
In our passage for today, James starts out by asking a question: “Is any one of you in trouble?” While none of us have ever eaten that much rice or been sneezing for 35 years, most of us have had more than one bad day in our life. In fact, some of you are right in the middle of some pretty tough stuff right now.
As we wrap-up our series called Prayer Passages, we’re going to take a look at How to Pray for Healing from James 5:13-16. Please follow along with me as I read. [Read]
3 Kinds of Praying
I see three different kinds of prayer in this passage.
First, we are to pray for ourselves in verse 13: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray…”
Second, we are to call for the elders of the church when we are really sick in verses 14-15: “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him…”
Third, we are to pray for each other in verse 16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…”
When to Pray
This passage not only gives us some indication of how to pray, but it also helps us determine when we are to pray. There are four distinct times that we’re to come before God. We’re to look to Him…
1. When we’re suffering. (13a)
2. When we have success. (13b)
3. When we have sickness. (14-15a)
4. And, when we’re in sin. (15b-16)
James is recognizing that life is made up of triumph and tragedy, of sorrow and joy. Illness and sickness trip us up and sin entangles us. We never know what to expect. Life is totally unpredictable. Anyone who has had an accident or has had a family member suddenly get sick, can attest that life can change radically in just a matter of seconds. In addition, we all know firsthand how sin can devastate and destroy lives and some of us are living today with the consequences of wrong choices.
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these.
1. Pray when we’re suffering. The first part of verse 13 asks a question: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.” The word James uses here refers to suffering of any kind. It can include sickness but also covers death, disappointment, and persecution.
When we’re in trouble, we are to pray as Psalm 34:4 reminds us: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” When we’re in a mess we should pray for wisdom, strength, and for the removal of the suffering, if it is the Lord’s will. We have the privilege of prayer where we can go to God at any time, in any situation with whatever is on our hearts. Frankly, I don’t know how people can go through hard times without the Lord in their lives.
The Bible is clear that suffering is the normal expectation for every believer. Peter puts it rather bluntly in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” But, even though we know life is never easy, we can give way to self-pity or get resentful and discouraged. When we sense that the pressures of life are greater than we can bear, James says, “Pray.”
2. Praise when we have success. Look at the last part of verse 13: “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” James is saying here that not everyone goes through troubles at the same time. God balances our lives and gives us hours of suffering and days of singing. Praying and singing were important elements of worship in the early church, as they are in ours.
The word “happy” means to be of good cheer, and suggests a state of mind that is free from trouble. When we’re happy we’re to sing songs of praise. In Psalm 96:1-2, David calls us to, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day.” We are called to sing songs of praise when we’re going through times of success because good times can lead to spiritual indifference.