Monday, October 12, 2015

Persist in prayer for the sake of receiving your healing, whether immediately, in the near future or ultimately in Heaven. P6 A Study on James 5:13-16

James 5:13-16 (NASB) "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."


We have considered thus far in this study:

1. The need for prayer when seeking God for healing

2. God's concern for those who are physically ill in the church.

3. We looked more closely at the act of anointing with oil and the manner in which God promises healing in James 5:14-15a.

4. We then focused attention on the spiritual benefits that are offered by God in the act of anointing with oil in the name of the Lord in James 5:15b.

5. In the last post we studied James 5:16, with particular interest in why practical, pastoral ministry needs to emphasize God's provision and power to heal.

Today's post continues on our study by noting the importance of persisting in prayer following the act of anointing with oil in the name of the Lord. Oftentimes when I have been involved in an anointing with oil of a fellow church member, there have been no visible healing effects. Why is that? Below will answer this question and suggest why persistent prayer must continue following the event of anointing of oil in the name of the Lord.

Persist in prayer for the sake of receiving your healing, whether immediately, in the near future or ultimately in Heaven. 

So then, why would James be speaking of continual, ongoing, fervent prayer?  This third question requires connecting James' final set of commands in 5:16 to his illustration of Elijah in 5:17-18. The final clause of James 5:16 reads: "the personal prayer of a righteous man has abundant mighty effects that continue working"). 

It is at this point that James consults the life of Elijah the prophet in James 5:17-18 as an example of a man who persisted in prayer. It is in 1 Kings 18:42-46 that we read of the Prophet Elijah and his assistant atop Mount Carmel after the mighty defeat of the prophets of Baal. No rain had fallen on Israel for over three years, and now Elijah was telling his servant to scan the horizon. Seven times he told his servant to go while he crouched on the ground with his head between his knees. After the seventh time, 1 Kings 18:45 states that: "In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower and Ahab rode and went to Jezreel."  

So then how do the commands pertaining to effectual fervent prayer in James 5:16, the illustration of Elijah in 5:17-18 and the verses on healing fit together? This writer suggests that the emphasis on persistance in prayer may be given in instances where instantaneous healing does not take place. That is, when a person is anointed with oil as prescribed in James 5:14-15, three outcomes are possible: instant, later or ultimate healing. I glean this point from the simple fact that if James 5:14-16 was guaranteeing instant healing 100% of the time anyone was anointed with oil, then there would be no need for "ongoing, fervent prayer".

There could be those instances where for reasons only known to God, the timing of the healing may not be in the event of the anointing. God may very well have additional purposes such as working forth a prayer life in the life of the sick person or the church members. Does a delay mean a denial? No. Because the text never leaves in doubt whether or not God wants to effect a healing. The only detail that is uncertain is whether the healing will take place in the anointing, at some point and time after the anointing or ultimately after the person has went on to be with the Lord. The point of the Elijah illustration is to underscore the need for persistent prayer, and to not give up on God nor His word.

More next time...

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