This past week we walked through James 5:13-16 which talks about prayer in the life of a Christ-follower throughout different circumstances. James main idea is that prayer is the key to power and effectiveness in our lives.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16
There are several very difficult questions that arise from this text and I’ve interacted with a few of you on at least three of them, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on these questions. I’ve done so on the following video…you know if you’re more of a “watch a video” kind of person than a “read a blog” kind of person.
3 difficult questions from the text:
- Is sickness caused by sin?
- There was a common belief in the 1st Century that sickness was the product of sin. John 9:1-2 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
- However, Jesus’ reaction shows that from God’s reaction this is not always an accurate belief. See John 9 to catch the rest of the story.
- Some illnesses may be divine corrective chastisement for a failure to deal with known sin in our lives (1 Corinthians 11:30-32) and others may simple be for God’s glory and our spiritual productivity. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) God is more concerned with our fruitfulness than our bodily comfort.
- So, when we become sick with a debilitating illness – we should first examine our hearts. Otherwise we should commit our way to the Lord and recognize that much of sickness is an opportunity to suffer well and trust God.
- Can we heal people today?
- First, James goes a great distance to make sure that we realize that it is God who accomplishes any healing.
- Second, God does not always heal the sick – Paul did not receive healing in answer to his prayers (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). At times God uses the sickness for greater purposes than we immediately see.
- Therefore an imbalanced focus on healing may prevent a believer from involvement in the purpose that God intended.
- But we can seemingly pray for and trust God to heal if He see’s fit – however the ability to heal resides with God.
- What is James saying about confession?
James talks about confessing our sins – “Therefore confess yours sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) While many different faith traditions utilize some form of confession, James seems to be talking about simply confessing to those closest to us. Is that correct? Should we confess our sins to those closest to us or should we confess now to a “priest” or someone who can mediate between us and God? I will only leave you two thoughts on this.
First, James seems to calling us to confess our sins to those who we have either sinned against or to those who know us best. This truly seems to help provide the best accountability and life change. That is exactly what we are looking for.
Second, we no longer have the need for priests to mediate the way between God and man because Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice provided open access for all to approach God through the blood of Christ. This is why the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can boldly approach God’s throne – in prayer.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16
These three questions that arise from a difficult text are very important questions. But remember, the Bible is not just for our information but for our transformation, so let me leave you with 2 questions:
- How can you use this information to improve your interaction with God through prayer?
- Is there anything that you need to confess in order to grow in your walk with God?