James 5:14-16 – Is Any Sick Among You?

by | Updated July 23rd, 2020

James is addressing those who may be sick among us. When you find yourself sick there is a remedy. James gives clear cut instructions what we are to do if we find ourselves in a bed of affliction. Jesus, during His earthly life here, never once turned any away who were sick. He always met them with compassion and divine intervention. Jesus is still doing so today through His church.

James 5:14-16 – “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: 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. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”

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Though divine health and healing is provided for in the atonement (Isaiah 53:5), we are not exempt from sickness and disease. There’s still a law of sin and death working in our members. This is why Paul said, “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

Our Claim to Divine Health and Healing

Divine health and healing is provided for in the atonement. This has to do with physical, emotional, mental, relational, natural and spiritual healing. When you find yourself sick and in need of healing we must apply the blood of Jesus and God’s promises of divine health and healing.

Exodus 15:26 – “I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians – the world: For I am the Lord (Jehovah Rapha) that healeth thee.”

Psalm 103:3 – “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases.”

Isaiah 53:3-6 – “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:24-25 – “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

Divine healing is a touch of future resurrection power:

Romans 8:23 – “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Romans 8:11 – “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

The Remedy

Healing here refers to both physical and spiritual healing. “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.” This has to do with the healing of the entire person. That’s God’s design and will for His people. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2).

A six-fold prescription for healing:

  1. Call for the elders of the church. The first step toward healing is to call for the elders of the church. There’s power and authority in a properly structured church. The two places where Jesus said we have the authority to bind and loose were in the context of the church. Yes, it is the universal church and body of Christ but that can be very abstract. The power and authority of the church is released through local bodies of believers.

    Matthew 16:18-19 – “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    Matthew 18:18-20 – “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them.”

    It’s significant to note that we must “call for the elders of the church.” Many in the church complain saying when they were sick no one called upon them. Church leaders don’t automatically know when people are sick by some kind of osmosis or word of knowledge. Sure God can do that but it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect such all the time. God says we’re to “call for the elders of the church” when we are sick.

    This can happen by requesting prayer in the public worship services. Typically a church should have a time set apart in its services to pray for the needs of its people. During these times any who are sick can request prayer. Church is about gathering together for prayer, fellowship, worship, teaching the Word, and to minister to the needs of the people. This should never be left out. Without this the service incomplete.

    At times parishioners may be sick enough that they must stay home from church. At such times they must call the church office and request for the elders and/or Pastor to come pray for them. It’s their responsibility to call. On the other hand, the leadership of a church should be so structured that when someone is absent it’s noticed, and the person is called upon. This applies to those who may be admitted to the hospital as well. However, James places the responsibility for calling on the individual.

  2. Let them pray over him. This assumes elders are praying elders. God help the church that has leaders who are not prayer warriors. If you are not a praying person in communion with God and for the needs of your people on a regularly basis you will not be equipped to pray over them when they come with a specific need. Both elders and deacons must be praying men and women.

    1 Samuel 12:23 – “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.”

  3. Anointing him with oil. The anointing of oil in prayer for the sick is something that should be practiced in every Bible believing church. It’s a command of scripture and therefore must be implemented in the church. This is not just for Charismatic, Full Gospel, and Pentecostal churches. It should be the practice of all God fearing churches everywhere.

    The purpose of anointing with oil is two-fold:

    1. It symbolizes or is a type of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We desperately need the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost in our churches today (Acts 4:23-31). To many are depending on man made ideas and formulas to accomplish the work of God. For God’s work to be accomplished it takes a moving of the Spirit of God. God can do more in a brief moment under the unction of the Holy Ghost than all the programs and works of men can do in a lifetime. “The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27).
    2. Point of contact. Often there’s a point of contact whereby people’s faith is released. It’s more for us than it is for God. We believe that when we do such and such happens God is going to act. In scripture we see this taking place in touching the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:20-22), the laying on of hands (Mark 16:18), and the anointing of oil here in our passage. The laying on of hands in scripture seems to be the most frequently used.
  4. In the name of the Lord. We must pray in the name of the Lord. There is power in Jesus’ name. So much so that God “Bestowed on Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Praying in His name is not simply a blank check that we sign to get whatever we want. Praying in the name of the Lord Jesus means the following things:
    1. We receive power of attorney. If you are given power of attorney over someone’s estate, you are to use the assets for their purposes only. That said, you can use it however you choose. However, there will be a day when you will have to give an account as to how you used the funds. Likewise, there will be an accounting of how we used His name.
    2. We pray in God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Praying in His name means we are praying for His purposes (will) to be implemented in the affairs of men (our affairs and life) on earth (Matthew 6:10).
    3. We pray in His merit (Romans 5:1-2, Hebrews 4:16). When we come to Him, praying in His name, we come in His merit and not our own. We come in His righteousness, having been made worthy by His finished work on the cross for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    4. We pray for God’s glory (John 14:13-14). When praying in His name we should be praying for that which will bring Him glory. Judge what you are praying for and if it will bring God glory then you are praying rightly and if not don’t pray for it.
  5. The prayer of faith. “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.” “The prayer of faith” is a powerful force in the economy of God. God moves in response to the faith of His people. It’s significant that faith here is on the part of the one praying. Often when someone isn’t healed immediately it’s blamed on the person being prayer for not having enough faith. The contrary is true. It’s dependent on the one doing the praying.

    Those praying must be men and women of faith. They must believe God on behalf the one they’re praying for. We must not only believe God can heal but that He will. “All men believe God can do anything but few believe He will” (Finis Jennings Dake). Faith is the key to answered prayer on behalf of the sick. Those we appoint to be elders in the church must be full of faith.

    Matthew 21:21-22 – “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

    Mark 11:22-24 – “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

  6. Confess your faults. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” The prayer of faith for the healing of the sick is not restricted to elders alone. “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed” seems to indicate anyone who is part of the local body of believers. The ones are to be called upon are the “elders of the church.” At those times when the elders are not readily available we are encouraged to “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” All who believe can “lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).

    “Confess your faults” brings in the spiritual component to the equation. Sin was often believed to be the cause of some sickness and disease. When the disciples saw one who was blond from birth they asked Jesus, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:2)? James seemed to be covering all his bases. Just in case there might be sin causing the sickness or preventing the person from being healed lets make sure it is dealt with. Thus bringing about both spiritual and physical healing.

    The Roman Catholic Church use this passage in support of the confessional. However, this passage has nothing whatsoever to do with confessing our sins to a priest to have them resolved. “Confess your faults one to another.” “One to another” make it clear it refers to brothers and sisters in Christ, those part of the local body, or the body of Christ. And it has nothing to do with the resolving of their sins except by God alone.

    This has to do with accountability. If there is a particular sin that someone is struggling with, they confess it to a brother or sister in Christ. When they do so they are asking them to hold them accountable. This is not to lord it over them but to pray for them and now and then to ask them how they’re doing with it. In prayer and confession they are committing themselves to letting that person know whenever they are being tempted or have slipped and fallen. If committed to such ongoing confession it acts as a restraint mechanism in their life.

    James 5:14-16 – “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: 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. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”


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