Prayer and Healing

May 5, 2013   James 5:13 – 18   Prayer and healing 

   Max Lucado told of a church in Scotland back in the 1940s that was struggling to keep the doors open.    A couple of its members were two older ladies who were invalids and couldn’t get out for worship any longer.    But these ladies refused to allow their infirmities to get in the way of serving their God.    They became convinced that their community needed Jesus desperately and they were going to do something about it.    They were going to pray.    They determined to make their house a house of prayer.    Around the clock they prayed for God do something powerful.   Then one day, one of the ladies became convinced that God wanted a revivalist by the name of Campbell to come and hold meetings at their church.   They talked to their preacher and he contacted Campbell...but Campbell was unavailable. He was booked up.  

     The women refused to give up in their prayers however...and it wasn’t long before--oddly enough--some of Campbell’s other revivals became cancelled and he decided to accept the invitation of that small church.   He arrived and held 5 weeks of meetings.    The Revival was so well received that hundreds showed up each night. And lives were so changed that many of the local taverns had to close up because they lacked patrons.   One might think it was because of the powerful preaching of a renowned revivalist.    But in reality it was because of the faithfulness of two invalid older ladies who dedicated themselves to prayer.   A church leader or pastor may think they are the main deal in the church when in reality it is the prayers of the most unlikely church member.    Sometimes the enemy Satan would whisper in our ear and tell us that we do not amount to much and that our life has little meaning.  These 2 ladies that some folks would discount and not think much about in the scheme of things God used to turn this church around.    Your prayers are very important.   Your life is important. 

    This book is called James after its owner’s name.   James is believed to be the half brother of Jesus and it is believed that he was the leader in the Jerusalem church.   In John chapter 7 Jesus brothers were picking on him and if James was among them he has had a change of heart about who Jesus is.   James was a man of prayer.  He was called old camel knees because he prayed so much.  Since he was considered a person who prayed you would expect that he would bring up the topic of payer in his letter and he does.    James challenges us to pray for wisdom in chapter1.    In chapter 4 we ask God and do not receive because we ask for the wrong motives.  In chapter 5 it is prayer for help in times of trouble and for healing.   James challenges us to be fervent in our prayer life.   The book of James has been called the proverbs of the New Testament.   The book is full of practical advice and counsel on how to live our life.   I was talking with a pastor friend awhile back and he said he did a funeral of a person and a number of people kept commenting about 1 aspect of his life and I think it was drinking but what a shame that was all he was really known for.   That was his whole life.   James is known as a person of prayer.   He has a reputation just like we all do.   In your friends minds they have a certain thoughts about you character traits and likes and dislikes and that is your reputation. 

     There are a number of commandments in the scriptures of things that we are to pray for.  In Matthew 5 we are to pray for those who persecute us.   Jesus taught the disciples how to pray in Matthew 6 and part of the prayer is to pray that God’s kingdom and will would be done on earth.   And pray for our daily needs, for forgiveness, and to overcome temptation in the disciple’s prayer.  Ephesians 6 tells us to pray for all the saints.  Paul asked people to pray for him and that the message might spread rapidly and that Paul could proclaim it clearly.    Boy that is something that we could pray for each other.   Scripture tells us to pray continually and to pray about everything.   God wants us to cast all of our care upon Him.   In James God tells us if any of us are in trouble to pray. 

      I just want to say that many people get in some kind of trouble and they seek for God and when things are going easy for them God is the last thing on their mind.   Many times folks will come to church and we pray for them and then things improve and for them and they do not come back.   Trouble keeps us pointed toward God.   The Jews were told in the Old Testament that when they go into the Promised Land a land flowing with milk and honey that they might turn back from following God.   It points out that there is a tendency for man to be self centered, shallow and drift form God.    In Isaiah we are likened to sheep who have gone astray.   There is the tendency to just wander around do our own thing.       

     What kind of trouble can this be?     Well it can be emotional, physical, financial or mental issues.   There are all kinds of trouble out there.    The world is not as safe as it once was.   We see people flipping out in our communities with guns, bombs and vehicles.   Probably the person who thinks that he or she does not have trouble may the most needs.   James says when there is trouble we go to God.   Some go the God but do not really pray.   We need to seek God with all our heart and He can be found.      Because we seek him it does not mean that will end the problem.   There is no promise of instant relief.   God does promise to provide help and comfort.   He promises to support and to sustain us.   God also tells us that we grow in character in these trials.   Sometimes we do not want to change.   We pray in our affliction and when that passes then we praise.   It is not a life of all suffering.   We can experience the joy of life also and we appreciate it more after we have struggled.     Praise is a form of prayer.  So we lift everything that happens in our life to God the good the bad and the ugly.   All life is from God and we bring all of our life back to God.  

    Then the Holy Spirit moves us into the topic of sickness.  The real author of the book of James is the Holy Spirit.  As Christians we know that sin brought disease and death.  Sin caused brokenness in health and wholeness.  Society tends to glamorize some sin today but sin brought brokenness and disease upon mankind.   All sin is wrong and destructive.   We believe that just because a person is sick that may not have anything to do with them sinning.  .   Job is an example.  He was righteous man who suffered.   Jesus was sinless and he suffered.   Some people are born with things before they became accountable for sin.   The blind man in John 9 is an example that we preached on last week.   He was blind for the glory of God.    Paul had his thorn in the flesh that God used to humble him but it was not the result of Paul sinning.   Paul had his thorn in the flesh that God did not remove for a season.  Paul had to live with it.  Some believe it was Paul’s eye sight and Paul’s attitude was if it builds the kingdom of God I welcome it. 

       Jesus at times would heal and then warn them not to continue in sin.   The sickness could have something to do with their sin.  The bible is clear that we reap what we sow.    Paul tells the Corinthians that some of them were sick and some had fallen asleep or died because of the way they acted at communion time.    But God’s goal is to restore wholeness to his creation and that also means man.   That includes our bodies and full restoration and redemption will not come until the end time.   I do not believe that believers can always expect perfect health.   Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul were passed to sick people who were healed and evil spirits left them.   But to Timothy he encouraged a little wine to help settle his stomach.   As Christians we certainly believe in God’s ability to heal and we claim that in many cases.   God desires to heal.   But God looks for faith and without faith it is impossible to believe God.  

     If the person is sick what is he supposed to do?   Well there are several things mentioned here.   He calls for the spiritual leaders of the church.   There is a team concept here.   It is not just one person.    If it is an emergency of course you go to the hospital.   God often uses natural means to accomplish his plans.  God uses doctors and medicine.   There is prayer and anointing by the leadership of the church.   There are different kinds of anointing.  There is anointing in the bible for dedication and setting apart.   There is the dedication of temple utensils.   There is anointing to be a king.   David was anointed.   There is also the anointing that the Samaritan gave to the wounded man in the ditch in Luke 10.   That is kind of a healing anointing.   Jesus was anointed for his forth coming death.   Then he says the prayer of faith will heal him.  If he has sinned and confesses it, the sin will be forgiven. 

    This is a tough passage here.   Does that mean that God wants every person healed?   Does God want all deformity to be restored?    Does God want every blind person to see?   If so we are dropping the ball because it is not happening.  Warren Wiersbe tells of 2 sick people who were in his church and they were prayed for in the same week.      One of them was restored almost miraculously and the other had to have surgery and later passed away.     I know Marcy is waiting for God to heal her of her cancer.   She will not take treatment that destroys the immune system and she believes that God is leading her.   There certainly is a timing issue.   God moves in the fullness of time.   Certainly it is not the elders who heal the person.   It is not the oil that heals the person.   It is not the prayer that heals the person.   It is not the doctors or the medicine that heal the person.   I would say that doctor’s assist but ultimately it is God who heals.  While these things may help first and foremost we look to God.   I go the chiropractor and he aligns the bones in my spine.   But do I look to God every time knowing and believing it is God who heals me?  In this culture the doctor is looked to.    It is God the body and life that heals a person.   We can do things to assist but it is God and there is no life without God.  

    Well it is interesting that James talks about sin here.  James talks about confession.   If the sickness is the result of sin and the sin is confessed and repented of and people pray in faith then God will restore the person.   The prayer of faith will be heard by God and God will restore them.  If you remove the situation (sin) that is causing the sickness then healing and restoration should come.   Perhaps at times God may have something else in mind.   We like to put God in a box.  I think we need to discern what God wants us to do.   I have a skin condition and the doctor said it would be with me the rest of my life.   I have 2 prescriptions for it.  What do you do when that happens to you?    Do you say Lord what is up with that?   Do you fast and pray Lord what should I do?    Is there sin to confess and should I have the elders anoint and pray over me?  

     Mike and Cindy Jacobs taught their child to claim things in Jesus name.   One day there a=was a storm and they heard the child taking steps outside and then they heard I told you in Jesus name to stop.   Jesus calmed the storm.   I think God notices faith like that.  Are we failing our children by not teaching them to walk in the power and authority fo the Holy Spirit and in faith?    Are we failing?   Jesus said greater things shall we do.