Meditations on James 5:13-18

“Anyone” is not actually literally anyone. This letter is originally written to anyone IN the church, specifically Christians with a Jewish background, anywhere within the civilized world of the 1st century. So we shouldn’t point this message to the world, but rather we should ensure we apply it’s point to ourselves. Whether or not we as a Christian have a Jewish background or not, the Holy Spirit has preserved it’s message to every and any Christian in any generation until Christ returns. It is the Father’s will that Christians who are suffering in ANY way should pray to our Father and any of us who are cheerful, we should praise our Father. This is not congregational prayer and praise, but personal prayers and praise. We are at liberty to pray and praise Him in ANY way ANY Christian can. We should never discourage any Christian from praying or praising our Father in ANY way they can! Whatever suffering means to you, may not be suffering to someone else, and whatever makes you cheerful, may not make the next person cheerful, but we should still be encouraging prayer & praise, see Psalm 71:14 & Hebrews 13:15. Do you pray to our Father when you are hurting? Do you praise Him when you are happy? If not, why not?

v14-15, this is all about a personal request for spiritual help while undergoing a physical problem. Notice how James describes the effect of Elder’s anointing and praying with the individual Christian, using words like, “save”,  “raise up”, and “forgive”. The word “save” can be translated “restore” and it is the Lord who does this. If it is His will, He will restore them partially, or completely, or physically, or spiritually, but they will in some way be restored! This verse does not talk about eternity or physical utopic conditions, God is talking about what He chooses to do via an Elder’s anointing and prayer.  It’s not always, nor necessarily what we want, but what He wants! The mere idea of a Christian receiving forgiveness via an Elder’s anointing and prayer makes it obvious that it is possible for Christians to be unforgiven. Being unforgiven is worse than being sick or disabled. Being physically sick or disabled or in any kind of physical or mental pain, isn’t as bad as being eternally lost and suffering in hell. This fact should encourage us all to request that Elders pray and anoint us, but rarely do we see this happen by my experience in the church for the past 30 years. Why? It better not be because we have more faith in doctors and less faith in God! By all means, do what your doctor says, but at the same time, keep God’s word and will at the center of your heart and the highest priority in your mind, as you deal with the complicated problems of pain & chaos in this world. 

v16-18, the great power Christians experience in prayer is equated to what Elijah experienced when praying for both a drought and rainfall. In order to fully appreciate the power of God through our prayers from men or women in Christ is to carefully read the story of Elijah during this ordeal, see 1st Kings 17:1-7 & 18:1-2 & 41-46. When we believe what God’s word says and follow through trusting and obeying Him, then His will is performed, no matter what!

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