James 5:13-16a “Prayer and Healing”


Intro: We live in the world of Wireless – Cell phones wifi –

A) PP can conduct business send emails from Cell phones PDA’s, laptop computers – Starbucks / Panera / Hotel in Israel


B) Even sitting in their car in Traffic – Wireless wonder – Hooked up


C) You know who was the first to go wireless? God –  Prayer


James ends this letter to these suffering saints by talking about Prayer

A) Tradition tells us that James knees were callused because he spent so much time in prayer.


B) He has been nicknamed, "Camel-knees" for his persistence in prayer.


C) Prayer is the obvious theme of verses 13-18, with the noun pray or

Verb prayer occurring in every verse.


I begin this message with a disclaimer that I do not consider myself to be an expert on prayer – a prayer warrior –

A) In many ways – prayer has been one of the weakest parts of my Christian life –

B) Although I have been liberated in the last few yrs – started seeing prayer rather than an invent – or even a discipline –

1) but more of an ongoing conversation – Prayer life has gotten much better


C) See there was a time when I viewed prayer as a part of devotions

1) Get up in the morning Devos – and I pray: Talk to God –


D) I pour out my heart pray for the Church – family – staff – friends needs –


Then I read my Bible – like ok God now it is your turn to talk to me  Talk….talk ….talk / Listen / Listen / Listen

A) You know that is not how any of my other relationships work – Denise – I don’t sit her down and talk……… / Ok now it is your turn – Listen


B) Nor do I have a set time each day where Denise and I sit down for 30 minutes or an hour – talk / listen

1) No our communication is throughout the day – cell phone – car – office


C) Then we have moments where we will sit down significant time together – really share

1) My relationship with God is very much that same way!

The other day: Woke up family freezing – Furnace broke again Fuse blew – Ok – options

A) Got to have my prayer time – I fix it in an hr – Pray in the car – in the store – off to find a fuse


B) So encourage you in your prayer life – Ongoing conversation with God


Today 3 Things:

1.) What to do when you are suffering?

2.) What to do when you are satisfied ?

3.) What to do when you are Sick?


1.) What to do when you are suffering?

RD V. 13

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.


The Greek word for “suffering” refers to any difficulty.

A) James’ readers were suffering because of their Christian testimony.


B) But the word may refer to all types of problems that we encounter in life, whether spiritual, physical, emotional,  financial, or relational.


C) If you’re going through trials of any sort, James’ answer (a single word in the Greek text) is like a rifle shot to the bull’s eye:    “Pray.”


It’s easy to sit here and nod in agreement, but the question is, “When you encounter difficulties, is prayer your first response?”

A) How many of us are guilty of our first response being to worry, or complain, strategize, make some calls


B) We often pray as the last resort, after we’ve done everything that we can do to try to fix the problem.

1) We scheme, we plan, we work hard, and then maybe we remember to pray, “God, bless my efforts.”


C) I was thinking the other day – studying for this message –

1) furnance broke wife sick a few other problems  I hadn’t stopped to pray about one of them – BUSTED


D) Listen Problems with your spouse: Pray / Children Pray / Financial problems – Pray /Car problems – Pray


Been said

“You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you shouldn’t do anything until you’ve prayed.”


E) Prayer acknowledges that you are totally dependent on God.


So when we are going thru a difficulty our first response needs to be to pray – go to our Father who is in heaven.

A) All the fathers here understand this – You love your kids – you want them to come to you with their problems


B) Hurts when they don’t – hurts when they try to do things on their own or worse yet – go to someone else for help


C) God is the same way: He loves you and is interested in every aspect of your life – Hairs on head – thoughts like the sand


D) SO go to Him! – Pray – “Cast all your cares upon me because I care for you!” 1 Peter 5:8


E) So when we are suffering we need to pray – What about when we are satisfied.   Sing !


Now I understand why James would need to remind us to pray when we are suffering – But why does he need to remind us to sing when we are Satisfied ?



Our tendency when things are going good is to forget the Lord and start walking in the confidence of our flesh.

A) That is why Moses warned the Jews as they were about to enter the promise land – not to forget God. Deut 6:10-12



B) For the same reason, David talks to himself in

Psalm 103:2,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.”


C) So first off James wants us to understand that whether we are suffering or satisfied – we need to have a God ward focus.


Next James instructs us what to do when we are sick! RD V.14-16

14 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. 15 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. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.


Now this is not an easy passage to interpret – for one reason at first glance it makes it seem like James is saying –

Those who are prayed for will always be healed – and yet we know that God doesn’t always heal everyone.


Now a few commentators that I really respect and enjoy reading in an attempt to lessen the confusion have tried to say that the word – sick in v.14 and v.15 should really be translated weak.


So that those who are weak when they are prayed for will be refreshed and built up

Now that is a Biblical concept

Galatians 6:1-2


“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”


Romans 14:1

“Receive one who is weak in the faith……”


1 Thessalonians  5:14

“Now we exhort you, brethren…. comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”


So that is a Biblical concept – but I don’t think that is what is being talked about here for this reason A)when the verb weak is used to refer to spiritual weakness it is usually made clear by some qualifier ie


Rom 14:1 Weak in faith

1 Corinthians 8:7 weak in conscience.


B) Also we have seen that James derives most of his theology and vocabulary from the gospels –

1) and in the gospels the word sick is always used speaking of bodily illness


So I believe James is speaking about Physical illness and Physical healing in this passage!

A) But, that leaves us with a difficult problem, namely, that this text seems to guarantee healing for those who follow the procedure.


B) We will answer that question as we go along – What do we do when we are sick


C) 1st Call for the elders! Note this is the sick person’s responsibility!

1) The elders are not omniscient. –


Also note these verses intertwine physical illness with sin.

A)James does not assume that the person is sick because of sin, but he indicates that it may be a cause (“if he has committed sins”).


B) In Mark Ch.4 We have the account of the man with palsy – who was lowered thru the roof to Jesus.

1))Palsy was a sickness that was connected to Syphilis – and so the tradition has been that this man was sick because of sexual sin


C) Which seems to be supported by the fact that Mark tells us seeing their faith – Jesus said to the man son your sins are forgiven

1) Disappoint to his friends – but the greatest thing this man could have heard – YOU TODAY ! JESUS FORGIVES SIN

So Sin can cause sickness – but is not always the cause of sickness

A) So before the sick person calls for the elders, he needs to search his heart and confess all known sins to the Lord.


B) He should be prepared that the elders may ask,  “Are you aware of any unconfessed sins in your life?”


C)Which I believe is why James mentions confessing our sins to one another in v.16 in this context

1)We confess our sin we are being real about where we are at.


1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”



2nd  James directs the elders to “pray over him” (“over” may imply laying on of hands),


3rd “anointing him with oil in the name of  the Lord.”


Now there has been some confusion over the purpose of this anointing oil.

A) I can tell you what it doesn’t mean.


B) This verse provides no basis for the Roman Catholic Church’s sacrament of extreme unction,

1) wherein the dying is anointed with oil with the purpose of removing any remnant of sin and strengthening the soul for dying.

C) A simple reading of the text makes it clear that the anointing with oil is to promote healing, not to ease dying.


So what does it mean There are several possible  interpretations suggested.

A) Some say that it refers to the ancient medicinal application of oil to wounds, such as the Good Samaritan did with the wounded traveler (Luke 10:34).


B) They think the verse means, “Pray and use medical means.”

1) While I agree that we should use medical means, I am not convinced that James is saying that.


C) Others say that the oil was a physical expression of concern that was used to stimulate the faith of the sick person, much as

1) Jesus used mud to anoint the eyes of the blind man in healing him  (John 9:6-11).


D) Paul’s sweat bands


That is possible, but I prefer the view that the oil is a

symbol of the Holy Spirit, who is the divine agent in healing.


 But now we must deal with the questions, “What is the prayer of faith?”

A) And, “Is James guaranteing healing in every case?”

B)Best commentary on the Bible is the Bible – In the Bible Elisha was one of the great men of faith in the Scripture


C) Probably the man in the Old Testament, through which God performed more miracles than anybody else was Elisha, the prophet. 

He had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s mantle.  And it fell upon him. 


D)And there are twice as many miracles recorded in the ministry of Elisha than there was with Elijah. 

1)But you have that interesting passage of Scripture, that says now Elisha felt sickness, of the sickness whereof he died.


E) And yet the tremendous power that this man possessed in prayer!


Paul was another great man of faith who moved in the miraculous and who healed many pp and yet Paul was not healed of his thorn in the flesh and he did not heal Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25-30)  or Trophimus (2 Tim. 4:20).


He urged Timothy to drink a little  wine for his frequent stomach ailments (1 Tim. 5:23), not to claim  his healing by faith.


I am sure in all those situations Paul prayed in faith


So what is the Prayer of faith that heals the sick?

I believe the answer to that is found in the manifestations of the HS found in 1 Corinthians 12 


There Paul talks about 2 gifts – or manifestations of the HS that can come on believers at specific times of need.

A)There are times praying for those who are sick – that I have been filled with faith in knowing – God was going to heal them


B) I love the story PC tells – a family that came up after service pushing their crippled dad in a wheel chair

1) Asked Chuck if he would pray for their Dad – without even hearing what they wanted prayer for – he began to pray for healing


C) What Chuck did not know is they simple wanted prayer because Dad had a cold – Pastor Chuck prayed – heal him – crippled

1)Pulled him right out of the wheel chair because he was healed


D)I have always wanted to ask if God also healed his cold


Next week another family – father in a wheel Chair

A)Prayed but didn’t pull him out of it – sent them on their way


B)Someone asked – Why didn’t you pull him out of the Chair ?

1)Simple answer God didn’t give me the faith.


C) I believe that this is what the prayer of faith is that James is referring to there.


A supernatural confidence that God is going to heal – Pray with  an assurance


So lets put this all together: People are sick – call on the elders [ PLURAL] I need prayer.

A)After every service – Sunday night prayer times – we go to house or hospital


B) The elder is to anoint with oil a symbol of the HS

1)Lay hands on the person and pray


C) Are only the Elders qualified to pray in this way?

1) No – If you don’t know who to call on –


D) We can all pray in this way!  Prayer team pp


C) I want to encourage you – Pray confidently – don’t make excuses for God

1) Pray confidently – believing that God can heal


D) And there might even be times where God gives you that gift of faith that God is going to heal that person – right then !


Passage reminds us!

A) God is there – Suffering PRAY


B) Satisfied: SING


C) Sick – Call for elders


Also reminds us – God’s heart is to heal and to forgive


Today: Not right with the Lord – sin

Confess – Humble yourself


Saved !