James concludes his letter with encouragements to prayer. Some turn inhis words into accusations that if we are not healed by prayer it is because we have unconfessed wrong in our lives or inadequate faith. This is to misunderstand what James is saying. He has told us earlier in the chapter what blessed faith and life looks like in the examples of Job and the prophets. The happy life is the life that endures in its trust in God regardless of the obstacles it faces. Therefore, in this passage, when he says that the prayer of faith will raise up the sick person in the context of confessing our sins he is telling us that it is first our relationship with God that matters. The faith required is trust in God that persists, despite the obstacles and that the resurrection power of Jesus can heal us today but even if it does, that power will still one day have to finally heal us by raising us from the dead. Repentance of wrong and turning to God is essential for our healing because it is our relationship with God that is our ultimate health. Whether we are raised from illness now or from the dead at the end – the prayer of persistent trust in God in the company of reprenting of our wrongs joins to to Christ. If he raises us up now or at the end – either way we win. [Audio | Notes]
For further thought
We act | God acts
In our Praise, Prayer, Healing, Forgiveness and Mission
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well (13-15)
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (16-18)
Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way… (19-20)
Praise, Pray, Healing, Forgive, Mission – do it.
Q: What would it take to confess a wrong to a person we’d harmed? What would it take to forgive someone for wrongs done?
Q: How can our church develop its ministry of prayer for each other?
Q: Why are verses 19 & 20 the final act of caring love that James wants us to do?
Spend time in prayer for each other, praise God for what is good, ask for the wisdom from above for each other to endure the trials we are undergoing, confess the wrongs you have done to those you did them to, pray for healing for those in need, pray for those who have wandered from trust in Christ and discuss ways to approach them that may help them turn back to truth.
Finally, sing together in praise of a God who has given us so much of himself in this world and even more for the world to come.