Daily Reading: James 5:13-16:
” Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James makes it clear in this verse that he is talking about more than everlasting life. Throughout his letter he lists things we can ask God for such as healing, deliverance, wisdom, every good and perfect gift which comes from the Father. Why should we ask? So that we might be His firstfruits, His trophies of grace, His living testimonies of transforming power (James 1:18).
Afflicted, Merry, Sick.
One of these things is not like the others. It appears we have two bad things and one great thing. I have never heard someone proclaim they have the ailment of merriness. I believe the second one (merry) is sandwiched between the two ailments (afflicted, sick) as part of the prescription.
Let’s See what Dr. James is writing on his prescription note pad.
Afflicted (kakopatheō) to suffer hardships, trouble
Prescription: Pray, and join the celebratory praises of God in song from the merry.
Merry (euthymeō) joyful in good spirits
Sing in the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song
Sick (astheneō) sick, to be weak, without strength
Prescription: Prayer from church leadership, and join the celebratory praises of God in song from the merry.
“Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Why the elders? Does that mean if I did not pass my church leadership 101 class I shouldn’t pray for the sick? No. What is so special about the elders? Well, for starters, hopefully they will be fully persuaded that God wants to heal you! Elders lead by example. Elders should have faith and faith is simply agreeing with God. Faith is saying yes to the Lord who heals. That is why the elders are usually the best chance in any given gathering to be the people who believe the promises of God, but it is not always the case.
Those that are not fully persuaded when they pray, people don’t get healed and their doubt becomes self-fulfilling. James writes about this: “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).
What limits our faith? James declares that it is doubt and uncertainty. To the degree that you are uncertain about God’s will, to that degree, you are handicapped by unbelief. The devil wants you to remain uncertain, but God wants you to be sure about His good will (Romans 12:2). If you’re not sure, then James says, “Pray, ask God for wisdom – and ask confidently! – receive what God gives you, then act on it.”
“Call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…” Why did they use oil? According to Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible- Oil in the East, and especially among the Jews was a sign of the divine grace. So, we know that it is all about the grace of Jesus Christ bore our infirmities and by His stripes we are healed. The oil reminds us of this powerful truth.
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” We haven’t been called to do works for God, but to do the works of God. The work of God is to believe in Jesus (John 6:29). He who believes Jesus saves will be saved and will save others. He who believes Jesus heals will be healed and will heal others. If you are fully persuaded that Jesus is our wisdom from God – that He is our righteousness, our holiness, our redemption, and our victory – it will be evident in how you live. Our role is to rest in Him, trust Him, and reveal Him. When we do that His kingdom comes, the blind see, the lame leap, and the dead rise.