Title: Healing

Bible Book: James 5 : 13-15

Author: Michael A. Guido

Subject: Healing; Prayer; Hope in Suffering



James 5:13-15

A man was sick, very sick, and a specialist was called in. Tearfully, the wife asked, "Is there any hope, doctor?" "It all depends," he said, "on what you're hoping for."

Everyone hopes for health and happiness. No one hopes for sickness and suffering. Yet man is frail. His days are few. They are full of trouble. He blossoms for a moment like a flower and withers.

Often in times of trouble one asks, "Why? Does God know? If He knows, does He care?" God does know and He does care. For He became man, a real man, who knew our passions, experienced our temptations, and felt our pains. That's why it's written in James 5: 13-15, "Is there any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

I. Look at the Passionate Things

Our emotions go from one extreme to the other, from being "afflicted: to being "merry." For the affliction, there's praying, and for the merriment, there's the praising.

A. Mark the Affliction

The word "afflicted" signifies "suffering in difficult circumstances." The suffering could refer to despair or depression, pain or peril. What are we to do in our suffering? Pout? No, pray.

John the Baptist was beheaded in prison. The disciples came for his body and buried it/ Then what? They "told Jesus." That's prayer. It turns trials into triumphs, and scars into stars!

A pastor visited a woman who was in trouble. She was pacing the floor, wringing her hands, and asking, "What shall I do?" "Do?" asked the man of God. "Tell Jesus." Her despair turned to delight as she exclaimed, "Yes, I must tell Jesus." Hurrying home, and thinking of the transformation of the woman, the minister wrote:

I must tell Jesus all of my trials,

I cannot bear these burdens alone;

In my distress He kindly will help me,

He ever loves and cares for His own.

B. Mark the Merriment

James wrote, "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms." That is, "sing praises to the Lord." There's just one letter difference in the words sin and sing. It's the letter G. It stands for God. Those who love God sing in their merriment. Those who don't, sin. What do you do?

In the merriment or in misery, God gives a song. Think of our Lord. He was facing the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter, the cup of Gethsemane and the crucifixion of Calvary, yet Matthew reports in chapter 26, verse 30, "they had sung a hymn." After being stripped and beaten, and thrown into prison, Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord. Hearing their song, the jailer wanted their Savior. No wonder he asked, "What must I do to be saved?"

II. Look at the Physical Things

James 5:14-15 says, "Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

It may be that you're asking, "Is the Lord able to heal?" He is! And He's able to heal with or without medicine. When the Lord does heal, it's because of His desire and not our demand, His grace and not our goodness.

You may wonder, "Does the Lord sometimes use a doctor or a druggist for the healing of our bodies?" He does. If the Lord can use a minister, with his sense and skill to win a soul, surely He can use a doctor or a druggist with his sense and skill to heal the sick. And it's not a contradiction to prayer or a lack of faith for a Christian to go to a doctor or a druggist for healing. If they are to be avoided, why did Paul associate with Luke, a member of the medical profession? Paul referred to him as, "Luke, the beloved physician" in Colossians 4:14. Paul wasn't a doctor, but he did on one occasion prescribe medicine. Timothy was suffering from stomach trouble, and Paul advised in 1 Timothy 5:23, "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."

But our Lord solved this problem nicely. He clearly stated that sick people need a doctor. For He said in Matthew 9:12, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."

You may inquire, "Does the Lord always heal?" No, not always. Think on two of Paul's companions. One was Epaphroditus. The other was Trophimus. Both became sick. The Lord healed Epaphroditus, and Paul sent him as his representative to the Philippian Church. What of Trophimus? Paul wrote of him in 2 Timothy 4:20, "Trophimus have I left at Mileturn sick."

Think on Paul. One Sunday he preached a very long sermon. As he spoke on and on, a young man, sitting on the window sill, went fast asleep and fell three stories to his death below. According to Acts 20:7-13, Paul took him into his arms and revived him. But in 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh, which tortured him like a stake driven through his flesh. He asked and kept on asking that the thorn be removed. But it's not always the Lord's will to heal. He didn't heal Paul.

Instead He gave him grace for his grief.

You may be saying, "Since it isn't always the Lord's will to heal, shall we ask for healing?" Yes, indeed. But let your petition be a desire, not a demand; a request, not a requirement. Take our Lord for your pattern in praying. He said to His heavenly Father, "Nevertheless, Father, not as I will , but as Thou wilt."

When I was a student at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, I heard our beloved president, Dr. James M. Gray, tell of a woman whose husband was awfully sick. In her anguish she demanded, 'Lord, Thou must spare him." The husband was spared but only to remain hopelessly deficient. Many years later, while enduring his vacant stare, the wife cried out:

"My Father, Thou hast taught me how To suffer and be still;

And bowed my rebel spirit down To Thy unerring will.

"Hast taught me that there is a pang Greater than death can give;

And punished my idolatry, Bidding my idol live."

James 5:13-16 is the most plain and most pointed pronouncement of bodily healing in the New Testament. Let's think on it as we go from word to word in this promise.

It's certain. It's written, "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," "the Lord shall raise them up;" and "if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Aren't you glad the word of the Lord says, "shall" and not "may!"

It's Comprehensive.

Our text says, "Is any among you afflicted...Is any merry...Is any sick?" it's not a provision only for the minister, but also for members; not only for the full-grown believer, but also for the newborn babe in Christ. No Christian is excluded. Everyone is included. Aren't you glad!

It's Concise.

It tells the sick person what to do. He's to call "for the elders of the church." Who are they? The men of God chosen to oversee the church. What are they to do? "Pray over him, anointing him with the oil in the name of the Lord." Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The anointing of the oil honors the Lord in acknowledging Him as the Healer as well as the Creator of our bodies. For it is the Lord who heals, not the Lord's servants.

It's Conditional.

There must be "the prayer of faith." What is that? 1 John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." "The prayer of faith" is a prayer in which the Lord gives the petitioner an inward assurance by His Spirit that the thing he prayers for is according to the will of God.

There are some who read this promise and exclaim, "There you have it! The Lord will heal, if only you have enough faith." If that were true, what will you do with the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews? After dramatically telling about those who won battles, overthrew kingdoms, were kept from harm in the den of lions and the fiery furnace, and were wonderfully healed, it tells of others. They had their backs cut open with whips, some died by stoning and some by being sawed to death. They had  great faith. In fact, they were commended for being men and women of faith in verse 39. Yet they weren't delivered. Then too, if all were healed, none would die. All must die in some way, seeing we're in this body. Hebrews 9:27 teaches us that, until our Lord returns for His own, "it is appointed unto men...to die."

It's Cleansing.

Our text continues, "if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." Sin is the root cause of suffering. Had there been no sin, there would be no suffering. While not all sickness comes because the sick one has sinned, sometimes sickness is the direct result of sin. David suffered because he had sinned. But when he admitted what a sinner he was, according to Psalm 32, he was made whole. When suffering comes, it's a wise prayer that asks, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" If it's to prepare you for greater service, then prepare prayerfully and persistently. If it's for purging, then ask the Lord to point out the sin. When He does, accept it, and then confess it to Him. When this is done, claim the cleansing promise of 1 John 1:9.

"But," you may ask, "are we to confess our sins to one another?" Sin not only hurts the believer, but also the body of believers. When sin affects the body of believers, then the sin must be confessed to the body of believers. No on is asked to confess his sins beyond the circle of that sin's influence.

Private sin requires private confession. Public sin requires public confession.

III. Look at the Personal Things

It's written in James 5:16, "Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Every Christian has the privilege of praying. It's not reserved just for the elders or evangelists, the ministers or missionaries, the preachers or prayer specialists. It's for every believer. Anyone can pray, about anything, anywhere, and at any time.

The servant of Abraham prayed for a wife for Isaac, and Rebekah appeared. Moses prayed, and the sea was divided. Hannah prayed, and a son was given. Daniel prayed, and the mouths of the lions were muzzled. Elijah prayed, and no rain fell for three and one-half years. He prayed again, and down it poured. Asa prayed, and his life was lengthened. Prayer is the key to all the treasures of heaven.

A. Mark the Earnestness

Our text reads, "The effectual fervent prayer." The two words, "effectual fervent" encourage an earnest, energetic prayer. Many people don't pray in their prayers. They use a wealth of words without a mite  of meaning. Some appear to be flattering the pastor or the people, or they seem to be giving God information or instructions, or they seem to be giving God information or instructions, or they seem to be praying as a duty and not as a delight. Don't you recognize this? Perhaps, like the writer, you have been guilty of such praying. But let's resolve to really pray when we pray.

The Lord wants the heart and the whole heart. He gives Himself to the wholehearted believer who gives himself wholly to Him. James, the writer of the book of James, had an interesting nickname. It was "camel-knees." It has been said that both of his knees were as hard as the knees of a camel. He was on his knees praying constantly that they had been worn hard. And there wasn't a listlessness or a lukewarmness about his prayers. He prayed when he prayed. Let's look at our knees. Have they been worn hard by passionate praying?

B. Mark the Earmark

Our text continues, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man." Is he a colossal Christian or a super saint? No. A prayer-specialist? No. A righteous man is a person who has entered into a right relationship with God. A Christian, any Christian, every Christian, is a righteous person; not because he prays or pays, works or worships, but because he has received the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior.

The apostle Paul brings out an interesting thought in 2 Corinthians 1:11, "helping together by prayer." The word "helping" comes from a word that signifies work. Prayer is work. Haven't you heard some Christians say, "If only I could do some work for Christ and my church?" You can pray. That's a very fruitful work. Some of the finest and most fruitful Christian work is done by bedridden believers.

But there's another thought in this verse that's interesting. It's written, "helping together." Prayer is work, and when you pray for one who preaches, you are cooperating with him in his work. You see this in Moses and Joshua in the 17th chapter of Exodus. Moses instructed Joshua to fight the Amalekites. Joshua was in the valley, and Moses was on the hill. Joshua was fighting. Moses was praying. They were working together. As long as Moses held up the rod in his hands, Israel was winning. Whenever he rested his hands, the Amalekites were winning. So prayer partner, your work is powerful!

C. Mark the Effect

The text says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." There are two sides to every prayer, the asking and the answering. Our part is to ask. God's part is to answer. If we do our part, God will do His part.

You can't bring a burden too heavy for God to lift, or a problem too hard for Him to solve, or a request too big for Him to answer.

God does things which no one else can do. He asks in Genesis 18:14, "Is there anything to hard for the Lord?" No, there isn't. He says, "Bring Me your biggest problem, your greatest need, your hardest situation. Nothing is too hard for Me!"

Expect the unexpected. For "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Posted in


Scroll to Top