Faith healers – are they genuine? I attended one service at the request of my parents-in-law and I have to admit that God did something! My husband’s dear mother was in great pain, dying of cancer. The preacher identified her area of the auditorium and she felt a wave of heat go through her. From that day to her death, 3 weeks later, she never experienced pain again. I cannot deny the facts. Neither can I support those who turn their attention to human beings and away from God himself.
Jms. 5:14-15 “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”
There is no mention of faith healers in this passage. There is mention of God responding to the prayer of his child. No intermediary is really necessary at all but James prompts us to seek the prayer of the elders. Why is that? These are the leaders of our own church, those who know us and love us – not some famous stranger known for healing. The benefit of involving our own elders who know us is their ability to confront sin in our lives if, indeed, sin is complicating the illness.
Most definitely, not all sickness is the result of sin in the individual’s life but that may be what James had in mind when he penned these words. In the following verse (16) he says we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, so that healing may result. Putting it all together, it looks like the directive is for a Christian to repent of sin that may be causing illness, confess to the church elders and ask them to pray for healing of body and soul.
When I read Dr. McMillan’s book “None of These Diseases” I was astonished at the multitude of damaging effects and outright illnesses that can result from harboring bitterness and anger and engaging in other behaviors that are rebellious to God. If a follower of Jesus becomes ill and the Spirit of God brings conviction to bear that sin is at the root of the illness, James has in these verses provided the appropriate action to be taken.
I reiterate: not all sickness is the result of sin in the person’s life. Much emotional damage and even spiritual abuse has been propagated in the assumption that there is insufficient faith or unconfessed sin at the root of someone’s serious illness. We can pray and trust the Spirit of God to convict of sin. That is his department (Jn. 16:8) and he’s very good at it.
Appropriate behavior is tenderness and mercy extended to those enduring lengthy and serious illness. God forbid that we heap weight upon them by playing Job’s friends and assuming there is sin at the root of their illness!