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 sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15
Look at this passage carefully. What does James say will ‘save the sick?’ Notice that he doesn’t say that God will save the sick, but rather that the ‘prayer of faith’ will save the sick.
There are too many churches where the people who attend forget or don’t realize that Jesus was a healer when He was here on earth. And I’m not talking about just healing in a spiritual way, but healing in a physical way. As a matter of fact, the bible says that every single person that came to him for physical healing was healed.
When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. Lk 4:40
And Jesus didn’t spend just a little bit of time healing people. No, it was an integral part of His ministry. As a matter of fact, the bible says that many people came to him for the specific reason of being healed from some sickness
And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Lk 6:19
But when Jesus knew [it], He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Mt 12:15
Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them [the] lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. Mt 15:30
The bible says that great multitudes came to Him to be healed. You get the picture of this being an all day event, where Jesus is one by one laying hands on the sick and healing them. You can see that this was a serious part of Jesus’ ministry that He devoted a lot of time to. He also demonstrated it’s importance when He commissioned the disciples to do the same thing:
And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Mat 10:7-8
Jesus put healing and miracles together with preaching the gospel.
“Yes,” someone may say, “but that was for a special time and place to prove Jesus’s deity and to establish Christianity, but it is not for us today.”
Here is my theological response to that statement: “Says who??”
“Yes,” someone may say, “but God heals sometimes and not other times. Sometimes it is not His will for someone to be healed.”
Once again my theological response: “Says who??”
You won’t find those ideas in the bible. But let me tell you how I think people came up with these unbiblical ideas. I think that someone somewhere prayed for someone to be healed and they weren’t. So instead of searching the bible for answers, they said, “I know! It must not be for today,” or, “it must not be God’s will,” thus using human deduction and reasoning to come to their conclusions. Then they scoured the bible to find passages that they could construe to fit their theology (like Paul’s thorn in the flesh). My friends, this is not the way to study the bible. Rather we should let the bible speak to us and seek God to why our lives are different than the the bible says they should be.
If the honest reader would read the bible without any preconceived ideas they would easily see that Jesus was a Healer, is a Healer, and will forever will be a Healer.
Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever. Heb 13:8
If Jesus was a Healer then, He is certainly a Healer today. And the way He did it then, He wants to do it today.
“Yes,” someone may say, “but I know people today that have prayed to be healed and have not been healed. How do you explain that?”
I think there is more than one answer to that question. But let me give you what I gather from the bible as the primary answer: unbelief. Look what James says in James chapter 1:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8
In context, James here is talking about asking God for wisdom, but he also gives us a key to understanding why some people don’t receive answers to other prayers. He says about the man who doubts: “Let not that man suppose that he will receive ANYTHING from the Lord.” So, whatever you pray for, if you pray with doubt, you pray in vain. You will not receive an answer to your prayer.
Jesus talks about this in Mark 11:23:
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Mark 11:23
Jesus says that you can have whatever you say, but He throws in a qualifier by saying ‘and does not doubt in his heart.’ He goes on to say:
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24
Jesus again shows us that prayer is only answered when we believe that we receive the things that we pray for.
Believe what? That God is able? That God is willing? No, believing this: that we receive the things that we pray for. Believing that God is able is not enough. Believing that God is willing isn’t even enough. No, we must believe that we receive what we pray for.
Look at how Peter and John applied this to the lame man in Acts chapter 3.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. Acts 3:6
And they believed they had the answer before they saw the miracle, for look what happens next:
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength Acts 3:7
Notice how the bible says that only after Peter started to lift him up did the lame man’s feet and ankle bones receive strength. Peter and John believed that those things which they said would come to pass (Mk 11:23), so they yanked the man that was still lame up to his feet. God’s power hit him on the way up.
I love the simplicity. If it would have been a preacher from one of the churches down the street, though, it probably would sound something like this: “Lord, we come to you in the name of Jesus. (long pause) We thank you for the birds in the air and the fish in the sea. We know that you have done everything according to your will. Now we bring before you dear brother so and so. You know that he has suffered from the lumbago for 2o years. We just ask that your will would be done in his life and that you would be glorified. Amen.”
Most people believe that the bible is here so we can follow the example of those in it. If that’s the truth (and I believe that it is), why don’t we pray like they did in the bible? Why you ask? Because we have no faith. We are so heavily baptized in unbelief that we are blind to the fact that we have fallen so far. We need to get back to the bible. We need to get back to prayer and to fasting. And we need to keep doing it until what we are experiencing is similar to what the bible says we should be experiencing.
So divine healing us not up to God. It’s up to us praying the prayer of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit. The variable is not God or His will or His power, but it is our faith. When we don’t receive an answer to prayer we need to examine our faith.
The best example of this in the bible is in Matthew 17. Jesus had just come down from the mountain where He was transfigured. As He arrives to the bottom there is a crowd that is making ado about something. When He inquires into what is happening, a man steps forth and says to Him:
Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him. Mt 17:15-16
Look at this situation and notice that it is very similar to many situations we have today. A man’s son is sick. He goes to the church leaders. They pray for him; he does not get better. If this were the modern church, the disciples would have patted him on the back, told him that God has some grand purpose in his son’s suffering, and that he may not understand it today, but one day, when we all get to heaven, he will realize why. NO! Look at Jesus’ response:
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” Mt 17:17
Jesus named two things for their lack of success in healing the boy: faithlessness and perversity (two things that the modern church is quite proficient in).
We then see in Mark’s account of this (Mark 9) that the father of the boy says to Jesus, “if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us (Mark 9:22).”
When the father of the boy asks this question he is addressing two necessary things: #1 Jesus’ ability to cure his son, and #2 Jesus’s willingness to cure his son. His ability by saying, “If you can..,” His willingness by begging, “have compassion on us and help us.” But Jesus didn’t address either of those issues when He answered the father of the boy. Instead He said this:
If you can believe, all things are possible to them that believe. Mark 9:23
Can YOU believe? If you can, then you can have whatever God’s word says you can have. But if you can’t believe then you won’t have it. Look back at what James said in our title scripture. He doesn’t bring up God’s ability or God’s willingness when it comes to the sick being made well. Those things are assumed. He doesn’t even think it’s necessary to bring it up when he is talking about this. The fact that God is able and God is willing is so elementary by looking at the life of Jesus that James doesn’t even bother to address it. But what does he say?
The prayer of faith will save the sick. James 5:15
Are you sick? Call for the elders of your church, let them pray over you like Peter and John prayed for the lame man, that is, in faith. If your church doesn’t believe in this kind of stuff, then maybe you should see if God would lead you to another church. But even if God doesn’t, you can always pray the prayer of faith yourself.
Seek God to help you to have the bible kind of faith that we are talking about here. It might be hard for you at first if you are a worldly person. There is going to have to be a lot of undoing in your thinking and then a lot of reprogramming in your head to walk in this kind of faith. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived when it comes to this kind of faith, but at least I’ve left. I’m learning myself. Let’s learn together and let’s arise to be the kind of faith people that God wants us to be!
when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Lk 18:8