James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray" ...... 14 Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
This passage of scripture describes for us some of the conditions that are necessary in order for us to have our prayers answered. They include the confession of any known sin, praying for one another so that there be no obstruction to our prayers ascending heavenward, and anointing the sick with oil, if prayer for healing is being made. Whenever any known sin is cherished in our hearts, it hinders the answers which God would otherwise be pleased to give, for if He were to honor our requests whilst we were living in conscious disobedience of any known law or statute, He will be virtually confirming a sinful course of action in us, thus making it more difficult for us to see our need of cleansing, both spiritually and physically, hence the reason why confession and repentance are given where applicable, as a required precursor for our prayers to be answered.
This sacred truth was confirmed by Christ Himself as He was just about to heal a crippled man from a debilitating disease. Before Jesus healed this particular individual, He first forgave the man his sins, thus clearing the way for the physical healing which he sought, to be given him. This sequence of forgiveness and then healing is very important for us to observe, especially in our day, because many Christians have the sequence in the reverse order, which often leads to disappointment, and a questioning of God's goodness. Let's read:
Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.
However, there is one more condition that is given in the passage in James that is of the utmost importance in our day, and it says that where applicable, the sick one should call for the elders. By calling for the elders the sick person demonstrates his or her faith in the means whereby God often works to bring healing to a benighted soul. God has put certain agencies in place for the manifestation of His grace and healing power to be manifested amongst the body of true believers, and we should be willing to comply with the conditions laid down, even though we know that God can heal anyone, at anytime, and in any place.
But here again on this point is where many in the Christian community have gone contrary to the teachings of God's word, in that instead of the sick person calling for the elders, many televangelists are now calling for the sick ones, thus putting the sequence which God has established into reverse gear, and that's one of the reasons why the many faith healings that are occurring across the land are spurious in nature, and do not bear the signature of heaven.
When prominent televangelists call for the sick ones to be healed, then the "Sick" are not required to exercise faith, for faith in God no longer needs to be exercised if healing is being given as a gift without asking. Christ Himself taught us to ask so that we may receive, and the reason for this sequence is that faith is exercised by asking. When Santa "Claws" shows up at the local mall with gifts, children exercise faith by coming to the mall where it was previously advertised that he would be present. But when as folk lore has it, he decides to come down the chimney and leave gifts under the Christmas tree, no faith is needed or exercised, for in the majority of these "cases" the children are fast asleep when the gifts are given.
As Christians we should be aware that when God gives us directions in His word on a particular point, we cannot reverse or alter any of the conditions to suit our own ideas, for when this is the case, the answers we get do not come from God, and we are made the subjects of deception by the enemy of souls. It's therefore imperative that we follow in detail every instruction given to us regarding the receiving of answers to our prayers, so that when we pray we will receive from God those petitions that were asked, according to His good will.
We therefore end with a passage of scripture which calls on us to pray intelligently, with the understanding, and to press our petitions to the throne of grace in faith, knowing that God will respond by hearing and answering according to His good purposes. Let's read:
1st John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
May The Lord add His blessing to the study and practice of His every word. God bless!