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Monday: Prayer for the Sick — 31 Comments

  1. James 5:14 - 15
    V14 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:
    V15 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.

    We've already seen the power in prayer and praise in V13. We must, in faith, utilise this means but alongside the physical or human provisions God has availed. James shows that there's a place for both prayer and human means such as hospital or herbal remedies. In this all glory still accrues to God being the creator of herbs and medicines and the giver of knowledge applied in medicine. So even wen we get well thru hospital and/or meds, let's glorify God.

    Additionally, is the impt issue of confession of sins in prayer for any sickness but more so for sin-related sickness. It is impt for us to confess as a way of acknowledging our waywardness yet weak to save ourselves and ultimately acknowledging the power of God who made us and is able to re-make us.

    Commentaries on James 5:14-15 in Pulpit Commentary Homiletics

    In our Lord's public healing, prominence was given to the fact that all healing is of God, but there was the recognition likewise of the use of proper means.

    Symbolized in his miracles: thus, "looking up to heaven," he "touched his tongue," etc. (Mark 7:33, 34).

    ...recognition of fact that only God can heal, but also of fact that God uses human means for effecting his healing work
    ...prayer and ... anointing with oil
    ...today human means may be medical skill
    ...but in and through all recognize God's working.

    Praying for sickness as a result of some sin:
    ... If the intercession is to avail, it must not proceed upon a total misunderstanding of the case,

    ... the sick man...if he desires their (elders) prayers, he must make at least some general acknowledgment of the character of the case.

    ...let this, at least, be a time for frank acknowledgment and mutual pardon.

  2. Even when we seek for physical healing, we should struggle to have good spiritual health. In spiritual health there is hope of having to live a glorious life where death will have no power nor sickness nor any form of physical deformity. So let us struggle for this kind of annointing even as we seek for physical healing.

  3. There are a couple of things I would like to say concerning this lesson. The first is that over the years I have noticed that there are two extremes when dealing with this subject. One of them is the position that atheists take that says that prayer is useless and silly so they will never use it and rely solely on what man can do. The other is that of some who feel that the hand of man is sinful and cursed and that it should never be sought after. Those people will deny all medical attention and resort to nothing but prayer which in some cases has resulted in unnecessary suffering and death. To me the best position is somewhere between the two.

    I think God gives knowledge to man to use for good and even though a person may deny Him there is a certain amount of blessing that God gives to him anyway. God has given us a brain to use for good and at least to some reasonable extent that gift should be used.

    The second has to do with what we should expect of prayer and anointing. The lesson says, "The reference to the forgiveness of sins shows that God will not, by means of a ritual, restore a person physically who does not also desire spiritual healing." To me that statement flies right in the face of the many times Jesus healed when there was no faith. Many previous comments have noted the attitude of Jesus in blessing in spite of a person's spiritual state which I think is a valid point to make, however, as I have said before, there are circumstances that will short circuit that and I think we should be aware that such things exist. Besides that, there are times that God, for whatever reason, will not heal. To me that is His choice - not ours. So I think we should pray that whatever is done be according to God's will and leave it at that without the usual demands we make on God.

      • Wow, Norma, you're nailing me to the wall. Let's see. First, there is what happened in Gethsemane, "When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?' And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, 'Permit even this.' And He touched his ear and healed him" (Lk. 22:49-51 NKJV). Now I realize this is a special case but the question still is whether or not the servant had any faith in Jesus to do such a thing or even if he was thinking about healing at all. I don't think he had any real faith in Jesus or he would not have been in the crowd that sought to arrest Him as a false Messiah.

        Probably a better case is the man at the pool of Bethesda, a Jew, "who had an infirmity thirty-eight years" (Jn. 5:5 NKJV). Now look at the man's reaction to Jesus' question about healing him, "He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' The sick man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.'" (Jn. 5:6-7 NKJV). Obviously, he wasn't even thinking that Jesus could heal him but only wanted to be carried to the pool. His faith, if one wishes to call it that, was in the belief that, "an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had" (Jn. 5:4 NKJV) which is nothing more than superstition, a voodoo of sorts but certainly not in the Son of Man who was the great physician.

        Now let's broaden this whole thing out and include the real healing. "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts" (Rom. 2:14-15 NKJV). What those Gentiles showed was the action of the new covenant (Heb 8:10) in their lives but the people Paul was talking about weren't those that had a Judeo-Christian faith but that of paganism. So here we see a healing ministry to those without a specific faith in God but who had a yielding to the Holy Spirit for they were given a new heart to do His will and that is the greatest healing of all. In other words there will be people in Heaven that never heard of Jesus, even those that never had a real faith in God but they all are safe to save and to me that is the real issue concerning salvation.

        This whole thing gets a bit tangled theologically so I think we should stop there but to me it is interesting what God is willing to do even for those whose mind is not set on God.

        • It is likely that Malchus did not exercise faith in Jesus before having his ear placed back. But that is a unique situation in which Jesus reversed the action of one of his enthusiastic followers.

          However, the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda is one of the best illustrations in Scripture of how faith works. The man had to exercise faith in Jesus to obey His command to "get up and walk." (John 5:8-9) The healing occurred as He obeyed in faith, not before.

          Jesus does not ask this sufferer to exercise faith in Him. He simply says, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” But the man’s faith takes hold upon that word. Every nerve and muscle thrills with new life, and healthful action comes to his crippled limbs. Without question he sets his will to obey the command of Christ, and all his muscles respond to his will. Springing to his feet, he finds himself an active man. {DA 202.3}
          Jesus had given him no assurance of divine help. The man might have stopped to doubt, and lost his one chance of healing. But he believed Christ’s word, and in acting upon it he received strength.{DA 203.1}
          Through the same faith we may receive spiritual healing. (Desire of Ages, p. 203

          What a wonderful illustration of "faith that works"!

          Along with Norma, I believe it is difficult to find records of healing by God that did not include faith of the one healed.

        • For the man at the pool of Bethesda the quote clearly states that he had faith only after Jesus gave the command, not before it so technically Jesus initiated the process and I suspect that there was more operating there than blind faith. I could also bring up what Ellen White had to say about Jesus healing everyone in the towns He went through (except Nazareth of course). In Galilee most of those towns had very significant populations of Gentiles and I doubt very much that the majority of those Gentiles had any faith in Jesus (or the God of Israel for that matter), at least before they met Him and saw what He could do. And then when they did they came to him for all the wrong reasons (Jn 6:26).

          Then there is the incident with Paul casting out the demons that possessed the slave girl in Act 16 which was never asked for but again I guess we could call that a special case because her owners became rather angry over the thing. And there is much more that could be said.

          That being the case I have to agree with you that generally we need faith for God to heal but not always just as I also believe that there are things that will stop God from healing but not always. God loves His creatures in spite of their rebellion so I can't see God requiring us to have some great amount of faith for God to act mercifully as though He turns away from the cries of the hurting. And that also goes for those that are honestly ignorant for which God overlooks sin in mercy (Acts 17:30) in spite of what Paul says in Rom 1:18-20.

          • Tyler, doesn't Jesus always "initiate the process"? Even those who come to Him in faith respond to the drawing of His love.

            It seems to me you were thinking in terms of healings requested by faith. In that case, I agree that there are examples of healing that those in need did not request. The man at the pool of Bethesda was one of these. Yet his is one of the best examples of "faith that works" that we can find. He believed Jesus, and as He obeyed, he was healed. In the same way, as we believe Jesus and obey, we are healed of our spiritual maladies.

            I don't see Jesus healing every person in some towns as evidence that people did not request healing or that there was no faith involved on the part of the Gentiles. Jesus Himself said that a Roman centurion had more faith than He had found in Israel. (Matt 8:8-10)

            In my mind's eye I see long lines of people waiting to be healed by the great Healer, and Jesus taking time with each one, just as He did with the man at the pool of Bethesda. In these cases, the people who came for healing had to have some measure of faith in Him just to come to Him. So their coming was an expression of faith and thus fits the context of our lesson in "requesting" divine intervention.

            I don't believe in "blind faith," by the way.

            You also mentioned,

            I doubt very much that the majority of those Gentiles had any faith in Jesus (or the God of Israel for that matter), at least before they met Him and saw what He could do.

            Isn't that always the way with faith? Do we not need to meet Jesus and see what He can do before having any faith in Him? Wouldn't God be rather arbitrary and unjust if He demanded "blind faith" of people who knew nothing of Him or what He could do?

            In the previous comment you mentioned persons who will be saved in spite of never having heard the name of Jesus. You suggested that they could not have faith. But I would like to suggest that if they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, then they develop a relationship with God whom they may not call by the same name as we do, but if they obey His promptings, then they are acting in the same kind of faith as we do.

            I don't see faith as a commodity but as a relationship term - something that cannot exist outside a relationship, even though that relationship may be very brief - as for the man at the pool of Bethesda.

          • Am in total agreement withh Inge. Tyler, in and of ourselves, we've nothing. We entirely depend on our Saviour. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance and the faith we exercise comes after we encounter Him like Inge has said. Infact that faith is also a gift from Him.

            Eph 2:8
            For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

            Rom 2:4
            Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

    • I agree with what was said however one thing was left out. When ever we pray we must always ask for God's will to be done, reason why is that we ask for healing for some who if the are made well will be become a snare or curse glorifying Satan or Self instead of God. It is better at times for that person to be laid to rest according to god's will in order for that soul to be saved.
      On the issue about healing some one who has no faith, yes Jesus healed people who did not have faith but there were people with faith who stood in the gab for that person. God cannot intervene unless we or the person of faith ask for the Lord to step in and help. That's why we should always pray for one another, for the country, for the sick, our neighbours,our leaders ( Spiritual & secular ).

    • Tyler, I believe the lesson author's intent can be seen by emphasizing the italicizes portion:

      God will not, by means of a ritual, restore a person physically who does not also desire spiritual healing."

      Note that the context of James's counsel is the membership of the church. He is not making a general statement regarding all healings. He is, in effect, saying that the act of anointing a person with oil is not a magic ritual that will give guaranteed results, no matter what.

  4. To me the last verse of the text for today is interesting, "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Jas. 5:15 NKJV). This places the entire purpose of prayer and anointing on a spiritual plane rather than a physical one. The main purpose seems to be eventual salvation which in many incidents in the past has also included others beside the sick person.

    It seems to me that God will allow things to happen with an end result in mind. I am here thinking of people like Job and Jonah and Lazarus and of course Joseph. With these people there was something better at the end of the ordeal. And as it happened others were blessed along the way because of their experience.

    • Tyler is commenting on the statement:"The reference to the forgiveness of sins shows that God will not,by means of a ritual (I suppose like anointing oil), restore a person physically who does not also desire spiritual healing". James is referring to the church family so we know the body of believers are always desiring spiritual healing and forgiveness of sins. He says that if that person has committed sins they will be forgiven. But even among the church family those who are sick their primary need and desire is physical healing. The majority of Jesus' healing was done on people who didn't have much concern for spiritual healing or forgiveness of sins. Jesus primary purpose for healing was to reveal His power to save. So healed people who didn't even ask for a miracle but who needed deliverance from their physical ills.

  5. Amen Moturi and Cluthe. Thanks for that dimension. Spiritual healing and salvation are truly the ultimate in a life of a christian. That's the whole reason why my Saviour came to die. This is catered for in the confession aspect of that "prayer for the sick". When we confess we are acknowledging One greater, we demonstrate faith in Christ's ability to save us spiritual and hence physically too (if He wills). He may not will that I get well rather He may allow that I go to sleep but He definitely wills that I receive eternal life.

  6. I praise God for the comfort He alone can give in the hope of the resurrection day. I do not understand why we should call the elders when we might not know them at all or the elders have never made an effort to get to know us . This to me would be very uncomfortable. I go directly to God and try to approach the person I have wronged in person...if possible. I am not trying to be difficult or cynical here. I am just trying to put myself in a situation of need.

  7. I therefore understand the essence of prayer in cases of sickness, wether physical or spiritual, but,still left with some lingering questions that I desire somebody to give me insight into. 1)what's the position of the anointing in the 21st century? 2)why only elders during anointing 3)can our prayers arm-twist God into doing our will at death point in relation to the Hezekiah's case?

    • The way I see it, while we cannot "arm-twist" God, He sometimes gives us what is not good for us because we demand it. He gave the Israelites the answer to their prayer when they said to HIm, "Wish that we had died in the desert!"

      Hezekiah's case is an interesting one. We read the account recently in our journey through the Bible, and we noted that several bad things happened during the extra 15 years:
      1) Hezekiah showed all his riches to the Babylonian visitors and thus put in motion the events that resulted in the Babylonions carrying off all the riches of Judah.
      2) His son Manasseh was born, and he became one of the most evil kings that ever ruled the nation.

      We can avoid having our prayer answered in a way that is not good for us by keeping a submissive spirit of "Your will be done, Lord."

  8. I agree with Tyler that there are cases were healing was done without faith of the patient.I think the faith needed is that of the servant of God, or the family of the patient.Look at the extreme case of the resurrected dead, like Lazarus, as the bible says the dead no nothing.Lazarus was resurrected through the faith of his Sisters.I think the greatest challenge of the church is discouraging people to go for the miracle gospels that promises physical healing without spiritual healing.If the world is majoring in physical healing without spiritual healing, then we the adventist are majoring in spiritual healing without physical healing.I think we should pray to offer the wholesome package like what Christ did.Imagine if Christ had simple said your sins are forgiven and yet left without healing the physical infirmity.
    On the issue of God's will being done, I think it is also used as a scapegoat for unanswered prayers.We are playing it safe that we can claim that whatever transpires is God's will.

  9. enlighten me please on how anointing tends to represent human effort, ( medical assistance, hospitals etc) unless i got that wrong.
    And thank you Tyler , your comment was a heads up for me.

  10. And God hears prayer. Christ has said, “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” Again He says, “If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.” John 14:14; 12:26. If we live according to His word, every precious promise He has given will be fulfilled to us. We are undeserving of His mercy, but as we give ourselves to Him, He receives us. He will work for and through those who follow Him. – {MH 226.3}

  11. In this discussion I should like to return to the question: When Should Someone ask to be Anointed? After reading related texts, it seems to me that no dividing line can be drawn. The term astheneo in James 5:14 has different degrees of meaning as the author of the lesson already has shown.

    I have had a special look at the the second term kamno in James 5:15. In the New Testament this word occures in this text and in Hebrews 12:3 (to be weary in your soul and fainting). This would fit any type of deep soul depression, without drawing any dividing line.

    In another place, where kamno occures, David is said to have fought the battle against his enemies, the Philistines, the whole day, getting extremely weary in the evening, having faced death all day long (4 Maccabees 3:8).

    In the Old Testament itself kamno occures in Iob 10:1. The Septuagint is translating the text: I am deadly tired in my soul...(to paraphrase in relation to context). The state of mind that Iob is afflicted with can be seen in Iob 3:3.11 and the whole chapter. Iob feels like standing at the brink of death.

    This corroborates with the usage of kamno in stone table inscriptions as found in greek grave yards in memorial of loved ones who have died. The word kamno also occures in greek literature with the meaning of dying as used by writers, such as Diodorus, Crinagoras and others of the first century B.C. to the first century A.D. Sallustius of the fourth century A.D. has the sentence: If you die (kamaes), that is the end. (NT Dictonary, Walter Bauer Page 794)

    Summing up: Any grave illness that may be bordering on death is coming up with this term. Christ, our great healer and physician will no one turn away because he is either not sick enough or even too sick to be healed. All are invited to receive heavens rich blessings, power from above to be carried through. The cross turns out to be a power that is carrying all of us into His kingdom to be partakers of the first resurrection as the ultemate goal (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Philippians 3:10-11).

    Winfried Stolpmann

  12. From Bible demonstrations of healing and restorations, we must first ask; "How did it all happened? But we need not look too far for answers, as Christ Himself taught them and all of us a great lesson; "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Mathew 6: 6). The great lesson Christ was teaching is this; prayer is not a ritual, it is a very intimate and heart felt confession from a humble child to his/her Father. It is a presentation of genuine and honest and truthful heart longings to God without questioning or doubting; "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt." (James 1: 5, 6). Prayer is trusting, and knowing that you are precious to your Father who have every pride in calling you, His child. God is moved with joy and pride when His Holy Name is uttered from a trusting faithful longing child; "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Mathew 7: 11). As a father, one thing that moves me to want to spoil my children is whenever I see their love and joy and pride in recognising me as their hero daddy!! My heart melts with utter love that I could not help but wrap my arms around them with untold pride. But think of how much it moves our Almighty God the Father when His fallen children of flesh recognises Him and uphold Him as our Only pride and joy. Oh yes; God will move mountains just to wrap His Almighty Arms around us. This is God's Pride and Joy! Even all creations will submit to us if God truly is our Only Love and Desire.

      • Although I'm not Villa, I am a parent, and, certainly parents give their children all sorts of things for which they do not think to ask. And, of course, so does God who makes his sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike.

        However, there are some things parents may not give unless asked - for good reasons. And there are many things parents do not give even when asked - because they know better than their children what is good for them.

        Likewise, God wants His children to ask for things, and many times we do not receive because we do not ask. And He is too wise to give us all we ask because we often to not ask wisely.

  13. My brother in Christ Tyler, I know you know, love cannot be measured nor can it be quenched. Love is a lifestyle, a passion and a miracle. What I meant to say in my comment above is this; there are special moments when my children would surprise me in my quiet moments, whether it is after work, or may be in my room studying or even just relaxing in the sitting room; when without notice, one of my children wraps his arms around me and kissed me on my head saying with loving heart compassion, "I love you dad, so great to see you". These are miraculous moments where even if my day has been very long and challenging; gives birth to fresh new fountain of untold joy. These to me are timeless moments where being dad is the greatest of all. These are the moments I am reminded, how my Heavenly Father must feel; when in His quiet moments; a fallen flesh sinner like me recognises His Almighty presence. The story of the healing of the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years,(Luke 8: 43); illustrates the power of fallen sinner's true heart longing, true act of faith and wholly trusting in the Power and Love of the Almighty; and the reaction of the most loving, most compassionate and most kind God when His Divinity has been recognised. When the apostle John, moved by the Spirit of God wrote; "See what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God," (1John 3: 1); God wants every fallen being to know, that He is our Father and He will do anything to unite us with Him. So just think that whenever we fallen mankind recognises Him as our Father; Jesus Himself assures us, my Father will give you whatever you ask." (John 11: 22). When we whole heartedly recognises Him as the One and Only True God, Creator of the Universe, King of kings and Lord of lords; and with every passion and love of our hearts reach out to Him in truth and honesty, God will move even planets just to reach us and lavish us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm.

    • Vula, yes, I think I found what you say here also in your last comment as well and found it to be an uplifting testimony both to your relationship to your family and to God who is the source of all love, however, I really wasn't asking about that.

      Maybe it might be clearer if I reword the questions I asked: At those times of the year or at special occasions when you feel so moved, when you desire to give something to your children do you wait until they specifically ask you for a gift? Or assuming that you follow the traditions of culture at Christmas time, do you withhold gifts from your children because they don't ask you first? Do you withhold gifts even to one of your children if they have been about as bad as a child can get?

      All of this has reference to what Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:11 NKJV). While we can focus in on the prayer aspect of the text what I am asking has to do with the attitude of God in giving "how much more will your Father who is in heaven give." If not this then think of the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-24) and look at the relationship between the father and the younger son who essentially rejected his father. Does the father do what he does because the son begs him to take him back? - no, the father ignores the son's confession! - he gives him even more because he is back home.

      • I agree totally; Gods love is unconditional. He loves us regardless; "that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Mathew 5: 45). My love for my kids is similar; whether they behave or not, I will never stop loving and providing for them. However; there are times when not expected, they did me acts of heart felt true sincere emotions; a recognition of my place in their heart, this floods me with untold willingness to lavish them with special treatments; not because they are my children, but because of their sincere honest expressions of their gratitude towards my love for them. This is what I was talking about. Our God will always care for mankind; but God's big heart is moved in a very special way, when any of His fallen defeated children of flesh whom Jesus died for, comes to Him with a genuine sincere heart of praise, recognising His everlasting unconditional love as the Only Father. This are the moments where God will open the flood gate of Heaven to acknowledge His child's sincere love. As parents, of course we consider carefully our children's requests of particular wants. With my children, when it comes to them asking me for things, if I see it as a need I would try and get it for them; but if it was bigger than any usual request, I would discuss it first with them to see if it was necessary. We would reason together, till we both agree on our decisions because I want my child to know how I see his/her requests. At one time, my thirteen year old son asked me for a mobile phone. As a parent, my first reply was, why a mobile phone? He lay down his views as a child, then I explained to him my views as his father. We reasoned together to the pros and cons from his view as a child; then I expressed to him my deep concerns as his father. Then at the end, we both agree that he was too young to have one, and that it may be more harmful than good. But when he turned sixteen, I gifted him with his very first mobile phone; a gift my son treasured. Again when I handed him his phone I explained to him my views to which his mature mind appreciated. I have seven brothers, one of whom a complete mess, everyone deserted him. He was not only a mess, he was just wicked. Whenever any of my brothers speak to me, all they say were evil against him; his immature lifestyle, his but I was moved with great compassion as if, I was him.

  14. Whenever I see him, my heart soaked with longing, my desire that he may recognise his situation. Instead of criticizing his problems, I prayed with him and share with him, helping him to provide for his family. At the same time, I began teaching him the love of God who regardless of what we are, we are precious to him. This brother became the closest to me because he is like a prodical, one who do not know how to return. Last year, I visited him again and spend nearly three months with him and his family of five; praise God he got baptised with his wife and the youngest daughter. All his children started going to church and what a joy. I am totally convicted by what Paul said; "While we were dead in our transgressions and our sins, Christ died." (Ephesians 2: 5). No one deserves God's grace, but He loved us even when we were dead. To me this I cannot fathom and it is the Nature of the God we serve.


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