One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Wed., Nov. 21, 2012: James 5:1-20
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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.15 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 5:13-15 (ESV)
There are those who believe that James 5:14 is not for today, but is rather a part of the bygone apostolic era of the early church. Such folks are called cessationists because they believe that all the miraculous acts of God ceased with the death of the Apostles.
But I believe that James 5:14 IS FOR TODAY. The miraculous in general and divine healing in particular still does happen today! This passage, along with many others in the New Testament, places prayer for the sick in the midst of other ministries such as praise, confession of sin, and compassion for the suffering. It is part of our New Testament arsenal of ministry.
The problem surrounding healing is not really theological as much as it is practical. The question is raised: Why does God heal some, but does not heal others? Since, there seems to be no simple answers concerning healing, many have just walked away saying God does not do that any more.
I do not know all the answers concerning healing. We probably will not get final clarity until we stand before Jesus. But, we still are faced with the clear instruction of Scripture. So, why do we pray for the sick?
Very simply, we pray for the sick because:
1. We serve a BIG GOD. He is able to heal cancer. He is able to restore sight. He is ABLE. He has not changed and He loves us.
2. We have the PROMISES of God. He declares that His name is Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord Our Healer.
3. We understand the PRINCIPLES AND POWER OF PRAYER. Prayer is not a divine credit card. It is the avenue of communion through which God increasingly releases His power.
4. We are OBEDIENT. God tells us what to do. We call for the elders and we anoint with oil not because it is magical, but because GOD SAID DO IT. We lay hands on a sick person because throughout Scripture it is regularly done. We do not have to understand or even agree. We just need to OBEY.
Jesus is the healer. He is the One who answers prayer. Elijah did not stop the rain for three and a half years. GOD DID. But God used Elijah's prayers as the avenue for the release of His will.
We are not called to figure this thing out or control it. We are called to move in child-like faith, allowing God to use us in extending His gracious hand of healing and deliverance. May that reality grow in each of us today!