Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James ends his epistle with a discussion on prayer. Prayer is communication or communion with God. It can be a petition or an appeal to Him confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. It can be conversation with Him giving Him praise for showering us with blessings.
It can be an outpouring of thanksgiving from the innermost part of our heart. It can be a request for help or assistance for us or for someone else. It is talking to our Heavenly Father just as we talk to people around us.
Sometimes when we pray to God, we might think that He is not listening because we do not get immediate response or answer to our prayer. The Old Testament tells us that David was praying to God for help because his enemies were fighting with him, but he felt his prayer was not being heard. David said, “When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother” (Psalm 35: 13, 14).
God does hear each and every one of our prayers; however, some of them are denied for reasons we do not understand. Maybe the timing is bad or the request can be met in a better and more beneficial way. We must realize that we do not always know what is good for us.
It would be wonderful and our life would be so simple and non-stressful if we could only accept God’s answers the way children do. If we could only have the faith of a child and accept when we don’t get our way, through faith, believe God has something better.
There are times we pray for ourselves and there are times we pray for other people. We are not being selfish when we pray for ourselves. God knows our needs and He knows our wants. These two things don’t always match and many times our wants are not good for us, therefore, we don’t get what we ask for.
Should we stop praying when we don’t get results as we think we should? Are we to believe in our heart that God is not listening; He doesn’t care, the request is too small or too big, we are not worthy, or we are asking for the impossible?
The truth is that we should never stop praying just because our prayer is not answered on the first go-around. God is always listening and in fact He knows what we are going to ask for even before we ask. He cares about every facet of our life and nothing is too small or too big.
Since He created us, we are His child and He cares for us just as we as earthly parents care for our children. We should never be concerned that our request or prayer is impossible because “….with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Some people feel that it is not proper for them to pray for themselves. They believe that it is a selfish act so they ask others to pray for them or to keep them in their prayers. James penned these words: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” (James 5:13). People face different mountains of suffering. One could be suffering from a sickness or an illness of some nature. The physical body could be hurting or the mind could be confused.
James goes on to say, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (v. 13). As a child of God, we are blessed in many ways. First of all, God has given us the breath of life. He keeps our heart beating 24 hours each day. He has given us an earthly family who loves us and cares for us. We have food to eat, clothes to wear, a shelter in which to live, a means of earning a living, numerous material things to enjoy, and a Savior who loves us so much He took all of our sins and placed them at the foot of the Cross.
All of us have been sick at one time or another, but how many times have we called the elders of the church? James said, “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” (James 5:14). People should request the services of the minister when they are in need. In some churches, the minister and the elders will respond to a call from the sick person. It is the duty of the sick person to notify the church of their condition so that they can be placed on the prayer list and prayed for during the service or prayer meeting.
James says, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” You might ask about the “prayer of faith” as to what it means. Prayer is talking intimately with God and “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). It is mandatory that the person praying and the person being prayed for have a lively faith.
Faith in itself does not heal, but it is God who does the healing. Our prayers are the beginning of the healing process. God waits for our prayers which are asked “….in the name of the Lord” (v. 14) before he steps in to take care of our requests. He answers our prayers according to His will.
James goes on to tell us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (v. 16). Who is a righteous man? The word righteous indicates that the man is honest, good, upright and honorable in the sight of Almighty God.
No man or woman is perfect “….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but Jesus made it possible for us to talk to God and ask for forgiveness. A righteous person who has sinned will ask for forgiveness either privately or publicly. A righteous person reflects the image of his Creator. God can and will work through a righteous person and bring about marvelous happenings.