Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.

Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Prayer of Faith

Our Sunday school class and Wednesday night small group has been studying the book of James over the past several months. We concluded last night with chapter 5, verses 13-20. A father in his late thirties in our church is dying of brain cancer and we began bible study with an update on his condition. In light of his failing body we began reading this text. 

13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? 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. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17Elijah was a man  with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 19My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Is anyone among you suffering or cheerful or sick? Let him bring it in praise and prayer before the Lord. When our lives are going well, our depraved hearts often do not see a need for salvation or the Lord. We pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. When things don't go our way, friends die, jobs are lost and lives fall apart, we turn and shout in anger to God without praise or supplication as we are directed to do. In all things give praise. 

Psalm 7:17  I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

James continues on to say that if anyone is suffering let the elders come and pray over him. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up.

Woah, back up. Save the one who is sick and raise him up? Does this mean that if we pray hard and long enough with enough fervor God will always heal the sick? Should we be having "heal-a-thons"?

At first glance I couldn't comprehend this passage. We always pray if it is God's will for Him to heal. The bible is God's infallible word and does not lie. Yet clearly many Godly men have succumbed to disease even after the elders have prayed over them. If this passage was talking strictly about physical healing, a good supply of oil and elders and we'd never die! While Christ raised Lazarus from the dead once, Lazarus eventually went to be with the Lord. 

James never actually says will "heal him". He write "will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up." God will save us and raise us up from our sin and depravity, not simply from our physical woes. God does heal people in miraculous ways, but more importantly, He is the Great Physician who heals the great wound of sin in our hearts. We will be raised up and united with Him after death. The wounds of our heart are deeper and make us sicker than any cancer ever could. Praise God He heals not only our earthly bodies but our souls as well.   

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