Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 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. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
James is beginning to wind down towards the end of his Epistle as he heads off in another direction. James is preparing to discuss prayer, a subject he apparently had much experience with. According to tradition, and some ancient writings, James spent so much time on his knees praying that his knees became tough and leathered; they were so much so that he apparently was referred to as “Old camel knees.” That is serious prayer time, for sure.
James is about to share with us one of the strongest passages in Scripture regarding prayer. He has not, however, taken any sort of U-turn in this section, as he is still seemingly addressing patience through the trials and tribulations of life; now he is simply telling us the best way, ultimately, to deal with those trials.
As we launch into this section, I ask readers to read with an open mind. Not all things covered during the next few days will find agreement with all readers. Please, disagree if you find a cause; however, let us keep it nice! I raise that point because it seems this section has a wide range of interpretations from many different quarters.
Many questions come to mind as we begin to study this section of scripture. Are there different types of suffering and sickness being talked about here? Does God promise that prayer will always result in healing? Why the elders? Are we supposed to be anointing people with oil? What does Elijah have to do with all of this?
As we head into this passage remember the old maxim; A scripture without a context is a pretext.
Anybody care to take a try at some of our questions?
Anyone have any brief thoughts they want to share on this section before we start our study?