James 5:14-15 – Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
The Holy Spirit has anointed elders for the body of Christ. True elders carry many responsibilities regarding the care of God’s people. The early church ordained a number of men in each city who gave shepherding oversight to the Lord’s flock. James writes, the sick one “must call for the elders.” This calling for the elders does not seem to be optional. By the same token, the elders have a responsibility to pray over the individual. This seems to have been an ordinance in the New Testament church. The Holy Spirit has been restoring the healing ministry to the church for some time. Many local churches make it a practice to pray for the sick. In those churches where eldership is practiced, the elders lay hands on the sick and anoint with oil.
The anointing with oil is a very old custom which was practiced and adapted in the New Testament churches as they developed in the first century. Oil is seen throughout the Scriptures as a representation of the Holy Spirit. The elders are to pray the “prayer of faith.” Only prayer offered in faith has authority to bring results. To pray in faith means praying according to the instruction of Scripture. Note the strong assurance that their prayer “will restore the one who is sick.” James goes on to say, “the Lord will raise him up.” There is not only the promise of restoration, but forgiveness as well.
Based on James’ instruction and the promise given, we should confess our sins to one another. Sin should be minimal in the life of any believer. The practice of sin is a sure sign that one has not been born again. Open confession of sin provides a twofold benefit. First, there is to be accountability within the community of the believers. Second, it gives a chance of conviction in the hearts of others. Both of these benefits provide an atmosphere for healing, both physically and spiritually.
Whether one is an elder in the Lord’s church or an individual seeking simply to obey and serve their Lord, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b). As God’s people, let us pursue righteousness, confess sin, and be faithful in prayer.
Father, I thank You for Your provisions outlined in the Book of James. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I might walk in righteousness fulfilling Your will. If there is any sin in my life, cause me to become aware and willing to confess openly. Renew me in the ministry of prayer along with Your people who are called to intercede on behalf of the lost and the hurting.