Life is full of many different moments. There are good days and there are bad days. 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.
Anything can happen in life in the twinkling of an eye. That is why the Bible encourages us,
when you are suffering pray…
when you have success pray…
when you are sick pray…
when you have sinned pray.
Prayer is key…prayer is vital to life.
Healing observations from the Bible:
Exodus 15:26, ““I am the Lord who heals you.”
Healer is one of His titles. God is Jehovah Rapha.
He longs to heal us of our sicknesses…physical, emotional, mental, spiritual if we will but trust Him and walk before Him in obedience.
Observation #2: Healing is one of His benefits.
Psalm 103:2-3, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…”
One of the benefits we have in Christ is healing aside from the many benefits we have in Him (forgiveness, redemption, he crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies our desires, gives righteousness and justice etc.). We receive all these without deserving any of them.
Observation #3: Healing is based on what Jesus did.
Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we consider him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inequities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Jesus left the heavens glory and made Himself nothing. He took the shame, His body was broken and bruised and became obedient to death…WOW! Christ sacrifice on the cross paved the way for our healing.
1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds we have been healed.” The cross of Jesus never ceases to amaze us. He was wounded that we might be healed. He died that we might live.
Now, let’s examine the content of the passage. First…
I. WHO IS INVOLVED?
v.14“Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
1. The CHURCH.
The church is the body of believers, the community of faith. The church is the PEOPLE! It was mentioned primarily to give emphasis on the importance and priority of meaningful relationships – one another-ness!
There are a lot of “one another” commands in the Scripture: Bear one another’s burden, accept one another, encourage one another, forgive one another etc. God did not redeem us to live in isolation but to live in community and to be placed in a relationship with one another.
Christians are expected by God to live in a close relationship…to live harmoniously with one another so that the rough and tough times of life, the things they face – trouble, suffering, sickness or even blessing will be dealt in the community. They are not left alone on their own. They have the community to support them…they have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit and the covering of God that will keep them stronger in the faith. We need one another. No Christian is an island.
Paul when he became a Christian on the road to Damascus was immediately joined to the fellowship of believers. Ananias was sent by God to heal and lead Paul to the disciples in Damascus. In Acts 2, after Peter’s powerful message 3,000 people were saved and they were immediately joined to the church.
We are not just called to be a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ but we are also called to be a part of the local body of Christ. It is a great privilege to be a part of it but it is also a great responsibility. You are here today as part of of the church for a reason….for a purpose. You are called by God in your church to be used by Him for His glory. To be a blessing to the church. It is not an accident that you are here. This is the best place for you to learn, grow and serve the Lord.
2. The ELDERS.
Who are the elders? They are the spiritually mature, the godly in the congregation. For qualifications of an elder you can refer to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Why the elders? Because they represent the church. They are men of prayer. They are responsible for the primary leadership and oversight of the church. They are Jesus’ under shepherds (to care for the flock) under Him who is the Chief Shepherd. Elders are responsible for the people. The responsibility of attending to the flock of God extends in the area of praying for the sick.
3. The SICK.
Read v.14. The Greek word for sick is “astheneo,” simply means“weak or without strength.” It includes any physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual problem that has become heavy to bear. Anyone in the body of Christ may call the elders of the church. Why call them and not go to them?
First, because the person is too sick to come to church so the church comes to him. Second, because the person is too sick to pray for himself…or the person is overwhelmed by a great burden. Anyone of you can call the elders of the church anytime and we would be more than willing to pray for you. Please let us know your situation. We need to know your condition. We are not God to know it. We are not omniscient. You need to call us and inform us.
II. WHAT IS INVOLVED?
The sick calls for the elders. They elders go to the sick person…and what are they to do? They are to:
1. PRAY OVER the sick.
To pray over the sick implies “laying of hands.” This was a very common act by Jesus and His disciples when they prayed for people (Luke 4:40). And Jesus Himself exhorted His followers to emulate this procedure when administering healing (Mark 16:18). The elders visits the sick and lay hands on him. And in their exercise of believing and trusting prayer they are to…
2. ANOINT with oil in the name of the Lord.
Anoint the sick with oil in the name of the Lord. Anointing oil in the Bible should not be viewed as a “magic potion.” Basically there are 3 interpretations here:
1) It is ritual – as used by the Roman Catholics. This is one of the 7 sacraments called “Extreme Unction” or the final anointing to a dying person.
2) It is literal – “to rub with oil or to massage with oil” (Gk. Chrio). For medicinal purposes as used in the olden times. Example: Dad Cres
3) It is symbolic – it simply means the presence and power of God. Reminding the sick person that “God is here you are not alone and He is able to heal you.” It builds faith on the sick person. To anoint oil is only a simple aid to faith. But the thing that matters is “anointing in the name of the Lord.” It is not just an empty putting of His name on the prayer but it signifies the divine authority with which the anointing is done – The Great Physician! It is a humbling reminder that ALL healing must come from God. What is involved? To pray over…anoint with oil…
3. The prayer of FAITH.
v.15, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”
The prayer of faith is made by the elders in full confidence of God’s power to heal but subject to His will. Putting under our request in the will of God. The prayer of faith is a complete trust in God that He knows what is best whether He answers or not. Unwavering in confidence that God will do what is right. The prayer of faith is putting everything under the sovereign will of God.
God uses many means to heal the sick:
1) The prayer of the caring community of faith – the church.
2) The prayer of family and friends,
3) doctors, hospitals, medicines.
4) Elders of the church. Ultimately ALL healing is of the Lord. As Ben Franklin said, “God heals, and the doctor collects the fee.” Seriously, the elders pray…the church prays and leave the results to God.
III. What now?
The church should PRAY FOR THE SICK. How should we pray for healing? Simply, ASK God! PRAY! It is God who heals through the prayer of faith.
- We should pray…
- TRUSTFULLY. Because God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Yes, He can! He is able…completely able. He is El Shaddai! The Almighty God…Almighty in power…for nothing is impossible with Him (Lk. 1:35). There is no power in the elders. There is not power in the oil. There is no power in prayer. They are just instruments and means. But there is enormous power, omnipotent power, eternal power, in the name of the Lord. He alone can grant the needed healing!
Q. Will you trust God to heal you? Will you trust and give Him room to work in your life today?
- EARNESTLY. Because the earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results, Jas. 5:16 (Living Translation). Pray earnestly…powerful, very strong, passionate, intense, determined and persistent prayer. Paul described it in Col. 4:12 as “wrestling or agonizing” in prayer. In Heb. 5:7 Jesus Himself offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears.
James personally understood this. He was a righteous man. Persistent in prayer. Paul called him as one of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church. Do you recall his nickname? He was called “Camel knees” because he was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and spending hours on bended knees, and interceding for Israel. His knees became as hard as camel’s because of his habitual prayer and kneeling before God. There are no super saints! We are all humans. We are all flawed. But we can be superb (powerful) in prayer! Every Christian can pray and any one saint can be great in prayer.
Q. How earnest/intense is your prayer? Are you developing the habit of vigorous, alive, and heart-rending prayers? Do you pray light or serious prayer?
- UNITEDLY. Because there is power in unity. Great things happen when the church prays in one accord. Matt.18:19-20 (the context is church discipline),
“I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”
gave an added promise of power that comes when God’s people unite in their request to Him.
Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the HS and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Severe persecution caused the believers to pray for great boldness to speak about Jesus and ask for healing and miraculous power. After they prayed God answered. The church has always been at its best when its people knelt together in prayer. The power of God never comes upon the church as it does when the church prays.
Q. What marvelous results or miracles of healing can we receive if the united believing prayers of His church/elders were to ascend to God?
- SUBMISSIVELY. All of life and healing is in the Lord’s hands. He cares about you when you are sick. But God can choose not to heal. He decides to heal or not to heal and when to heal. Our role is to pray and pray submissively.
Luke 22:42, “…not my will but yours be done.”
Never has any human exercised such humble, obedient and reverent submission to the Father’s will than the Son. God doesn’t answer every prayer for healing. The ultimate reason is that He is God and knows best. We can rest assure the He always acts for our good. Pray specifically and boldly, but remember that prayer is a request, not an order. Pray submissively!
Q. How do you respond to God’s “YES” for healing? “NO” for healing…?
God may not cure the believer in this life. But he always heals! Through prayer
we may become agents of healing to those who are sick. Why are some prayers for healing answered and some are not? There is no one answer that can fully explain God’s purposes, but I am content/confident with the words in Psalm 115:3,
“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”
My theology of prayer for healing: We do the praying, and God does the healing, in His own time, in His own way, according to His own will. We are to pray trustfully, earnestly, unitedly, submissively, and with all the faith God gives. If we do our part, God cannot fail to do His.
The Lord is our HEALER – JEHOVAH RAPHA. HEALING is what He does. Jesus provided for our healing in the ATONEMENT and gave the church instructions to pray in FAITH for the sick in the name of the LORD. All BELIEVERS ought to pray for the sick. Praying for the sick is the special duty and privilege of the ELDERS of the church. God may not always CURE but He HEALS! When we pray for the sick, we are doing the work of Jesus in the world. Don’t THINK TWICE, keep praying, keep believing, and keep receiving! Jesus still heals today!
This message based on James 5:13- 16, was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday January 15, 2017. It is third in a 2017 series entitled, “Adventures in Prayer”.