Pray, Praise, Anoint and Confess
James 5:13 ¶ Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
James 5:14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.
James 5:15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
We find in this Scripture a pattern for our spiritual growth and development. First of all, there will be suffering among those who are followers of Jesus Christ. If we are to be like him, then we will also suffer as he suffered. How did Jesus respond to suffering? He prayed! He spent time talking with the Father and we are to do the same. In the midst of the difficulties that life sends our way we are to spend time with the Father. We are to pray and to bring to him our needs and our requests. Jesus was not alone in the garden of Gethsemane, instead he brought his burdened heart and laid it before the Father from whom he received strength and power to move forward and fulfill the purpose for which he had been sent.
What about those who are cheerful? There are times in life when things are good and we are experiencing God’s joy, peace and love. Yes, things can be good and there are times that we need to simply embrace this as a gift from the Lord. In the midst of the good take time to “sing songs of praise.” Praise God and allow him to shine through in the good. Don’t think that you have simply accomplished this on your own, but rather, rejoice and embrace what God is doing in and through you. Be cheerful and let the music roll!
But what happens when someone becomes ill? They are to call together the leaders of the church who are to “pray over them” and anoint “them with oil in the name of the Lord.” This is the community of faith coming together, uniting in prayer over the needs of one who is ill. Something synergistic happens when God’s people get together to pray. Not just synergistic, but also exponential and therefore the community is called together, to be a united front in praying for the healing of the sick. The anointing oil is symbolic, but may also be a form of treatment. Ointments and balms were often used as medical techniques for healing. Could it be that here we see the community coming together to pray while applying the necessary medical treatment and God used the two to bring about healing from ailments.
Miracles would be witnessed by those who prayed. There would be those who would be healed of their sicknesses both physically and spiritually. Again this was something that was happening within the community of faith. The elders were laying hands on those who were sick and the forgiveness of sin was occurring when there were those willing to confess their sins to one another. It was accountability within the community of faith that led to a time of prayer and those leading the prayers were righteous. This is why they saw the results that they did, the powerful and effective prayers of a community of faith. They prayed, they praised, they anointed and the confessed and the result was “powerful and effective.”
This is certainly a pattern which should be emulated today. Unfortunately I’m not sure that we place enough emphasis on our need for corporate prayer. There are times that I attend a worship service and no time whatsoever is given to corporate prayer. Are we really too busy to plan to pray together?
I’m guessing that many who read this portion of Scripture would be concerned that we don’t see many of these kinds of miracles these days. Why would that be? Could it be because we are not practicing prayer, praise, anointing and confessing on a regular basis within our communities of faith? Could it be that we are not genuine “communities,” but rather, individuals who gather together on a Sunday morning to worship but are not genuinely interconnected throughout the week — or throughout life? These instructions are to be lived out within the community of believers. In this we find support and accountability which leads to a powerful and effective prayer life.
Lord, please help me to live out this life faithfully within the community you have provided for me. Amen.