COMPASSIONATE LOVE AND HEALING
James 5: 13-18
Vs.16 “The Prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”
Wholesomeness or well-being is of paramount importance in the minds of people. Illness leading to weakness or immobility is dreaded by everyone whether believer or non-believer. When sick, our thoughts are directed towards one goal i.e., get help from any one or any source including, medicine, mediums, miracles or self-help. When everything fails we turn to God, our last resort!
James 5:13-18 is a compendium on faith and healing. This perhaps is the only passage in the entire New Testament that deals with healing involving the Faith Community. Prayer is to be offered in all circumstances, good times and bad times said the Apostle Paul, “Pray at all times” (Ephesians 6:18). James exhorted the believers to pray when suffering; sing when cheerful; pray when illness strikes (James 5:13-14). The believer is to take the initiative to pray or sing. When he is sick he is commanded not pray for himself, but to summon the elders of the church who would pray over him and anoint him with oil, as a prelude to prayer for healing. Healing prayer is the responsibility of the faith community and conducted by the elders as representatives of the local church. This should be a model for all of us when we confront sickness in our own community. It is not binding on the elders unless the sick person summons them.
From James’ teaching on healing prayer we are not to assume that healing results from anointing or the prayers of the elders. The elders have to seek the will of God before they venture into the act of prayer for healing. God will not heal all the sicknesses for which we pray, but healing takes place when we diligently seek His will in each situation, acknowledge His sovereignty and pray in His name. There is a pre-requisite to be met by the “prayer-warriors” and the one to be healed. They have to confess their sins, one to another and pray for each other (James 5:16). Prayer of a righteous man (forgiven person) approaching God in faith believing that He is able to heal the sick and restore him spiritually is the powerful and effective prayer James envisioned. The result of such prayer is manifold. The sick person is healed, his sins forgiven and those who prayed for him are forgiven, justified and made righteous. What is meant by “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much?” Matthew Henry said, “The prayer itself must be fervent … …It must be a pouring out of the heart to God; and it must proceed from a faith unfeigned, such prayer avails much.” This prayer helps the one prayed for, and those who prayed for him.
Lord, teach us not to say a prayer, but to pray in prayer.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Prayer is the key which opens and shuts heaven” Matthew Henry
Dr. Mathew T. John, New Jersey Mar Thoma Church, Randolph.Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church