Is 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. And 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. James 5:14-15
Have you ever seen or heard of a person who was sick being prayed over and then healed? I have been part of that happening several times, but I have also been a part of situations where healing did not come. When that happens, it is tempting to believe that maybe this Scripture is not to be taken literally. Maybe the prayers were not right. Maybe there was not enough faith. These verses can seem confusing because many people follow these steps and are not healed. James makes it clear that it is not the oil, the elders, or the sick person who do the healing. It is God—in his response to the prayer of faith that is offered—who heals. This highlights the fact that all true prayer is mindful of the sovereignty of God, whether stated or not. To be certain, this passage talks about actual physical healing—not the type of healing that comes when the believer steps into glory. It is healing in this realm that is being sought and given! Doug Moo’s quote is helpful for our understanding: “Prayer for healing offered in the confidence that God will answer that prayer does bring healing; but only when it is God’s will to heal will that faith, itself a gift from God, be present.” God gives the faith needed to the prayer offered, in line with his will, in his sovereignty. We are called to obedience. We are called to step into these times fully believing that God can heal, and we are to pray that he does, trusting that he will answer according to his sovereign will. These prayers offered will also bring a forgiveness to sin that may have been the cause of the sickness. It is not that every sickness is caused by a specific sin, but the Bible does reveal that some sicknesses are the result of sin (1 Corinthians 11:27-30). Think about God’s sovereignty today and consider that faith itself is given by him. How does that impact your understanding of your faith?