Daily Devotional

James 5:14-15

“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.”

Have you ever wondered why people sometimes don’t get healed when we pray for them?  Especially in light of the promise in James 5:14: “the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”

In the context of this verse, there are a number of possible explanations.
Perhaps the elders praying didn’t have faith.

Perhaps the sick person concealed his sin and lacked true repentance. It’s clear in Scripture that sometimes sickness is a form of God’s judgment against sin (E.G. Jn 5:14; 1Cor 11:30).

Or perhaps the lesson is that this verse must be balanced with the rest of the teaching of Scripture: namely that God’s promises about prayer always presume we ask according to his will.  In my opinion, this is the overarching principle for making prayer requests.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
If this is correct, here’s the point James is making.  When a believer is sick, sometimes God will give the elders a special leading, conviction or discernment that it is his will to heal.  He will give them a certainty of faith to heal, which James refers to as “the prayer of faith.”

But clearly that is not always the case!  (See Romans 8:26.)  Sometimes it’s not God’s will to heal miraculously, and this is evident from both personal experience and the express testimony of Scripture (2Cor 12:7-9; 1Tim 5:23; 2Tim 4:20; Phil 2:25-27).
So what do we do with a verse like Psalm 103:3, which states that God heals all our diseases?

Personally, I believe that statement is absolutely true!  But it doesn’t mean God always heals us when we expect… in the way we expect.  Sometimes he uses our natural immune system.  Sometimes he uses doctors.  Sometimes he uses advancements in medical technology.  And sometimes he chooses to take us home.
No matter how God chooses to work, as believers we can declare with the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
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