Summary: The prayer of faith in James 5:13-16 has the power to heal the sick and cleanse the sinner from sin. We must become powerful prayer warriors for the sick that they may be healed.
In my last post, I guided you through praying the Lord’s Prayer and how it applies to your own prayers. In this post, we will talk about the prayer of faith found in James 5:13-16 and how it has the power to heal the sick and forgive your press sins.
I am an example of a person in need of prayer. I don’t consider my spinal cord injury is sickness. It is an ongoing disorder that my body caused by an antibody that attacked my spinal cord. But every opportunity I get, I ask for prayer at the altar and readily accept requests to pray for me.
I still believe, and will never stop believing, that Jesus can heal me completely. And He will use the prayer of faith to accomplish His healing in me. The prayer of faith as described by James has great power to heal the sick and restorative body from all kinds of illnesses (James 5:13-16).
As we look at the prayer of faith and apply it to sickness and bodily afflictions, we will see how Jesus heals people by His power through the Holy Spirit. Let’s dive in and go deeper into the prayer of faith and its power.
For Those Suffering Sickness
James first talks about the prayer of faith by applying it to those who are suffering and sick in body. He starts with the general question, “Is anyone among you suffering?” He prescribes praying for yourself.
But then he asks specifically if anyone is sick. Here, he prescribes receiving prayer from the elders of the Church (James 5:4). The word for “sick” has a wide range of meaning, such as “sickness, weakness, illness, disability, and disease.” Translators translate it as “sick, ill, weak.”
James’ call for the sick includes anyone who has sickness, bodily affliction, disabled in body, has an illness (longer than a momentary sickness), and those with weakness in their body, perhaps referring to paralysis.
He gives the prescription of going to the elders of the Church and asking for prayer, followed by the elders anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord and praying for you. As they pray for your sickness, James gives no sign anything other than your healing will happen.
We like to nuance this when people don’t receive healing from our prayers. There are several reasons for not being healed. As Jesus’ disciple, you will need to know how to pray for the sick. It is part of growing in Jesus and becoming a mature Christian.
Anointing with Oil
Why does James call the elders to anoint the person with oil in the name of Lord? Anointing a person in the Bible shows the power of the Holy Spirit’s working through prayer and faith. As we pray for the sick, the Holy Spirit is working to do what we ask in our prayer.
We accompany anointing with oil with the laying on of hands (Mark 6:5; 8:23, 25; Luke 4:40; 13:30). We provide a physical connection to the person we pray for and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Please understand that the Spirit of God is intimately involved in the healing of everyone we pray for.
The Need for Faith
We call this the prayer of faith because it requires the person praying to have faith that as they ask the Lord for a person’s healing, that healing will happen. If the person is not healed when you pray for them, that does not mean you did not have faith.
The many reasons a person does not receive healing when you pray for them is too large a subject to cover here. Jesus recognized the faith of many when He healed the sick in the Gospels (). It is best if both the person you pray for and you have faith that Jesus can heal the person.
Faith gives power to your words. It is like the engine in a car that makes it move. So many times throughout the Gospels and Acts, faith was necessary for Jesus and the apostles to heal. Only in one instance was faith lacking, and Jesus could heal only a few (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5).
Our faith is the power behind the prayer. We must not be concerned with being able to pray exactly what the Lord must do to heal her person. For example, my condition is called Transverse Myelitis Acute. There was an inflammation, now a scarring of the tissue (called myelin) around the nerves at the very top of my spinal cord. This has prevented me being able to move and feel completely.
You don’t need to know all that to pray for me. Just praying generalized prayers for my neck and spinal cord to be healed is all the Lord needs. His power only requires faith on our part as we pray for others sleeps and as we receive healing.
Saving the Sick?
James describes what happens when we pray with faith. Our faith prayer will “save” the sick person and the Lord will raise the person up (James 5:15). But why did James use the word “save” instead of the words for “heal”?
The Greek word behind the English word “save” is swsw, pronounced sowdzo. The New Testament uses this word for salvation, healing, and deliverance from evil spirits. Most Bibles translate this word based on the context of the passage.
James notes that if the sick person has committed any sins, he or she will be forgiven (James 5:15). Jesus does a complete work in a person. He saves the soul, heals the body, and delivers people from evil spirits. He protects the Christian from evil spirits and gives that person authority over sickness and demons.
That’s why you see the word “save” instead of “heal” here. It’s a matter of preference. The translator could use either word. Your prayer of faith is powerful for Jesus to do all of these things. That’s the amazing power of faith.
The Need for a Righteous Person
James uses the word for healing in the next verse. He calls for saints in the body of Christ to confess their sins to one another and pray for one another. The result is that we will be healed. This word has the range, “heal, cure, make well, restore” and is used of physicians.
Jesus is the one who heals, saves, and delivers. But He uses our prayers of faith to do it. Our only responsibility is to pray for the sick. We cannot heal them. But our prayer of faith gives all the power needed for Jesus to heal them.
Faith is not the only thing we need to see the sick healed by Jesus when we pray. James further clarifies that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16). For our prayer of faith to be powerful, we must also be righteous.
A righteous person lives of holy lifestyle and gives justice that pleases God to every person in every situation. That sounds like a tall order, but Jesus gives us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means we do our best to be obedient to the Spirit and seek His result in every situation. We don’t always get it right, but we seek to obey the Spirit.
Jesus’ righteousness through you,, accompanied with your faith, makes the prayer powerful and effective. We might better understand these words for “powerful and effective” as “having great power as it is working.”
James speaks of the prayer of faith with healing. But there is no reason your prayer faith cannot have other applications. We need to walk by faith no matter what situation we face. Our faith must be active every moment of every day.
Do not be afraid to pray the prayer of faith over people who are sick. Even if you don’t see any visual signs of improvement or healing, you have fulfilled your obligation. Use the prayer of faith for everything in your walk with Jesus from healing to believing in Jesus for the salvation of unsaved ones. Walk in faith and righteousness, and pray in faith, and it will be powerful and effective.
Now that I have described the prayer of faith and how powerful it is to heal the sick, let us talk about the often untried spiritual discipline of fasting. Then we will begin talking about Bible reading and meditation.