Summary: Whenever one speaks of healing in Christian circles, it brings to mind a well know passage of Scripture in James chapter five. This passage outlines steps of obedience the Christian is to follow in offering God the opportunity to heal if He chooses. God
Whenever one speaks of healing in Christian circles, it brings to mind a well know passage of Scripture in James chapter five. This passage outlines steps of obedience the Christian is to follow in offering God the opportunity to heal if He chooses. God is The Healer and Scripture is clear on this point but God does not always choose to heal even when the steps in James have been followed. We must always remember God’s ways are higher than our ways but He never makes a mistake. He is always to be trusted. Now, listen to the Word of the Lord in James 5:14-16:
“13. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him 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.”
Notice that James, the Lord’s half brother, gives the same advice for both the one “suffering” (vs. 13) and the one doing well (“cheerful”); take it to the Lord. That is really the key in all we do as Christians. Our entire life is to be centered in the Lord. He wants us to share our sorrows and joys with Him. He longs for our fellowship and daily communion. Further, He is the God who can transform troubles into triumphs, scars into stars and sicknesses into heath. He can find a way when there is no way. Prayer can remove the problem we face or give us the grace of God to endure it. Job 35:10 says God “…gives songs in the night…” And Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” Certainly this was the case of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25. In prison, they sang praises to God after being severely beaten for their faith. God had taught them how to sing while in the midst of suffering. Thus, James answers his own question in verse 13: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.” James is saying if you are experiencing calamity, hardship or trouble in your life right now you are to pray. Notice, he does not say we are to complain which is often our tendency—we are to pray.
But notice in verse 14, the steps of obedience for one who is sick are more involved. Why? Because healing often involves much more than the eradication of a physical illness. For example, disobedience to God can lead to sickness. In verse 14, the Greek word for “sick” means “weakness produced by sickness” or “to be without strength.” The Apostle Paul certainly implies this in 1 Cor. 11:30 when he says, “for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” because of sin. Listen to the words of David in Psalm 32:3-4: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Therefore, realizing the impact of sickness on the physical, emotional and spiritual body, James puts into place steps of obedience, which offer God the opportunity to heal if He chooses.
The first step in the healing process is TO CALL. James says earlier in his book, “…yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:2-3) In verse 14, James clearly puts the initiative on the person in need (“….he must call for the elders of the church”) of healing. It is the sick person’s responsibility to “call for the elders” who are the spiritual leaders and those in charge of discipline in the local church. They are to pray for the sick person anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. This also tells me this is the function of the local church not a faith healer. I cannot find in the Bible where God instructs the believer in the church to send for a faith healer.
The second step in the healing process is TO CONFESS. The confession of sins is vitally linked and essential to the healing process. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). Listen again to James’ words in verses 15-16: “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.” The reference to sins being forgiven seems to add to the idea that James is considering a spiritual work and healing, not necessarily a physical and emotional healing. It is intimated that some particular sin was the cause of this person’s sickness.