What Does the Bible Say About Praying for Healing?
If I were to put James 5:14-18 in my own words today, imagined as a pastor to his congregation, I'd probably put it like this...
To My Church Family,
First of all, prayer is a main thing for us. Pray to God in all situations, and together for each other's concerns.
Second, some of you have been away from regular meetings for quite a while because of health concerns. Some of you are even anticipating turns for the worse. You are still part of the family! The elders are standing by, at your request, to come to you and remind you of your important place in our family. It would be our privilege to kneel by your bed and pray for you.
Here is something new; we would also like to anoint you will oil. In the Old Testament, and even with some early Christians, putting a drop of oil on your face or body was a way to show God's special attention to your predicament. We'd like you to know God's special care for you, too.
We would do all this because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. And in some way, hope to be used as his hands and voice of care to you.
I have faith that God is good, and his grace is sufficient in sickness and health. Will God heal you? I don't know yet - but he has healed before in answer to the prayers of those who love him; so I have no problem asking him to do so now. And maybe he'll show us what's in store for you: getting up from your sick bed. We'll trust him either way, right?
Just so you know; sometimes God will send sickness to someone because of their sin; as a way to discipline them and stop them in their tracks. If your time alone has given you reason to think this, you should confess your sin to God. We can help you through this when we arrive, so that sin doesn't stand in the way of Jesus' healing you. If you confess your sin he will forgive you.
In fact, to the church family: we should all make confession and prayer for each other a regular part of what we do together. I'm not talking about being bleeding hearts; but admitting our sins and struggles with evil desires, especially against one another. Practicing forgiveness and putting words to our spiritual care for the body. This will even save some of us from experiencing sickness due to sin, keeping us in that sense, healthy. By all means, let's keep sin from being the reason we're getting sick. God loves to work and move through the prayers of people who pursue his loving-holiness (all of us Christians, I hope!). So let's keep praying.
I know sickness and struggles can weigh us down; but remember the story of Elijah. Here was a man, just like us, facing off against fear, trouble, and suffering. And yet, as he trusted and followed God, what happened? His prayers for drought and rain were answered. God answers prayer, and he can do so powerfully.
Your servant in Christ,