James 5:14-15 Is any one 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. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
Having been associated with the Charismatic Movement since 1973, this is a very familiar passage indeed. I have seen many people healed through prayer, and I have seen many people who didn’t seem to benefit from prayer. What I haven’t seen much of is people following this specific pattern, of the sick person calling for the elders of the local congregation and asking for their prayer. I believe it was Yongi Cho who wrote that only about 30% of the people they prayed for were healed, but they knew that if they hadn’t prayed, those people would not have been healed. Something that struck me just now in reading this passage yet again was the element of the will of the sick person; they were personally to call for the elders to come and pray. Also, this isn’t a matter of going to “a healer,” someone with a special gift of healing, (1 Corinthians 12:30) but rather of asking for prayer from the elders of the local congregation, with whom the sick person is already in relationship. Paul is clear, as was Jesus, that elders are not to “lord it over” those in the flock, but they are acknowledged as having spiritual authority and responsibility. Calling for them to come and pray is specifically acknowledging that authority. Far too many people today are really submitted to no authority, and the ill effects of that reverberate throughout society. Just as the Roman centurion recognized, authority is of great importance. (Matthew 8:5-13) If we aren’t submitted to God, and by extension to His representatives, then we have no hope of resisting the devil (James 4:7) and walking in all the blessings God has prepared for us. Another element here is the matter of sin. The Bible is clear that not all disease is the direct result of sin, but some of it is, and we must never rule out that possibility. Receiving healing often calls for repentance, of unbelief if of nothing else. In it all, we must remember that the healing power is from God, and not from any human agent He might use. Too much healing ministry focuses on the minister, and God will not honor that.
I don’t know what my “success rate” is, but I am not to let that stop me from praying for people, for healing or for anything else. I am sharply aware that the power doesn’t come from me anyway. I am to remember that some cases take longer than others, and not give up. Dramatic healings are spectacular, but they aren’t necessarily the most effective. My wife’s health has been an issue for many years, as it is even this morning. I’m not to give up! For that matter, I’m in the middle of a medical procedure myself, and I’m not to be anxious. It is all part of the mystery of prayer. After all, why would the Creator of the universe listen to prayers anyway? However, the Bible and experience tell us that He does, and He is more than gracious. I am to be a ready channel of that grace, anytime and to anyone the Lord directs.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I do ask for Your wisdom in dealing with Cathy’s dizziness, along with everything else going on today. I ask for Your guidance in things related to my health today. May I be focused on You, Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and not on anything less, regardless of how demanding of my attention it might be. Thank You. Praise God!