Prayer is powerful and effective. It is the key whereby every true believer expresses their faith in God. The scripture admonishes us to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonian 5 verse 17)
We are required to be a praying people, joined to the Godhead and fellowship with Him in prayer. As Christians, we are to pray about everything and in all situations. Our songs of praise and singing are a form of prayer to God for who He is when speaking to Him.
God is our source of help and He has said we should come to Him when we are weak or sick. He wants us to cast all anxiety and fears upon Him because He cares for us in 1 Peter 5 verse 7
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”.
Sometimes we don’t receive from God or find relief from our struggles it is because we have not asked from Him and when we do, we do for our self-motives.
However, for much prayer to be answered, we need strength, grace, and faith to stand.
1 John 5:4 says,
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith”
Our faith must be in place for us to be victorious over the challenges of life. The truth is that God does powerful things through faith. When He finds faith, He forgives sins, heals weaknesses, and gives strength.
Who wrote James 5:13-20 and when was it written?
James 5: 13-20 was written by James, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was written in Jerusalem between 48 and 61 CE.
What is the context of James 5: 13 – 20?
The context of James 5: 13- 20 is about prayer, confession, and the redemption of the souls of those who have wandered from the truth.
When there is no confession of sins, healing cannot take place. No remission of sins, no repentance, and no purging without prayer.
The two occasions for prayer in this context are suffering and cheerfulness.
2 Corinthians 1 verses 3 and 4 mention,
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”
We are to pray when we are suffering and sing praises when we are cheerful. James admonishes us to respond to all of the struggles or difficulties of life with prayer. This is what people who trust and have faith in God do because our actions prove what we believe in. It could be emotional, spiritual, or physical prayer. They are all significant.
Anyone weak, sick, suffering, or in trouble should be willing to pray because the trials of life have no timetable. They show up at any time. When they come, it is an avenue to be intimate with God and remain dependent on Him.
Calling on the elders of the church to pray is calling on the representatives of the congregation and not only the elders. The elders were instructed to pray for the sick person and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14
“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:”
We also have the power to invoke God’s presence and authority through His name.
We read in the New Testament Luke 10 verses 33 to 34 where the Samaritan poured oil on the man who was robbed on his way to Jericho
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him”
Also in the Old Testament, in Exodus chapter 30, verses 22 to 25
“Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
God went further to give Moses specific instructions on how the task will be done.
And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 30, verses 26 to 30)
In the early ministry of Jesus, the twelve disciples anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6 verse 13).
“And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”
Today, many denominations use the anointing oil on the sick and they get healed while some don’t. Nevertheless, it will be helpful to encourage this practice in these last days.
John 14 verses 12 to 14 says,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it”
This passage is teaching us the power of prayer. Only the effective prayer of the righteous man avails much. James tells us that prayer is a powerful tool indeed both for our physical sickness and spiritual needs.
Philippians 4 verse 4 admonishes,
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice”
We are likely to forget God when we are at ease while we pray more when we are in the sorrow of hearts. He wants us to appreciate His mercy, love, goodness, and power. Demonstrating our gratitude to God gladdens Him, blesses us, and inspires others.
Having called on the elders to pray over the sick, applying the anointing oil, and calling the name of Jesus, when all is said and done. It is the prayer of faith that will bring about healing because it is the prayer of faith that is set to “rescue”.
There is a place for confession.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”
( James 5 verse 16a)
If there is no confession, there will be no forgiveness.
Confession of sins can be to God or man (friends, fellow believers, neighbours). This is the first process to take before prayer. We must confess our sins to God and others whom we have sinned against so the time of refreshing may come.
This has to be done with all seriousness and sensitivity. It might be difficult but important for our healing both physical and spiritual.
Dear Christian brothers and sisters, are you ready to make amends? It will begin the healing of your close relationship.
Prayer changes things and people. It is our link to the power of God and the channel through which doors are opened, healing comes, and the confidence that you will make it today and the hope for a brighter tomorrow.
This is why the scripture said in James 5: 16b
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”
Prophet Elijah displayed this in verses 17 to 18 of James chapter 5
“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 shows that the prayers of the righteous have great power. The emphasis is on the word “Righteous”.
Examples are the stories of the healing of the widow of Zarephath and the example of the great man of God Elijah, on Mount Carmel over the priests of Baal. You and I are sinners like Elijah.
We can do more! We have the responsibility to pray for healing and wholeness for others who are sick, who are in need, or separated from God.
James’ letter concluded with action, as believers and soldiers of Christ, one of our responsibility is to bring back to God those who are still in the valley of decision or wandering. It is work and a gift of God.
The instruction was not given only to shepherds- pastors, apostles, evangelists, etc . We are to join them as co-labourers in the vineyard. One plant, another water, it is God that gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3 verse 6)
When people wander away from the faith and we help them to find their way back to God, we have helped and saved their souls from perishing, and in doing so, you have covered a multitude of sins.
However, this cannot be achieved through the energy of the flesh but by the help of the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer and fasting.
We must ask the Lord to open our eyes to see who is weak and straying away from the faith so that we can stand in the gap for them. We are ambassadors of Christ reconciling the word as seen in 2 Corinthians 5 verses 18 to 20
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
Hold fast to active faith and prayer. It is the path to life and freedom from sin.
What is the message of James 5:13-20?
The message of James 5: 13-20 talks about prayer, the profession of sin, and the importance of redeeming those who are still in the valley of decision or drifted away from the truth.
The scripture tells us in James 1 verses 2 to 4,
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”.
The letter of James is to the Christian community experiencing some kind of pain, either suffering or sick, wandering away from the truth, and being joyful in some circumstances with the challenged ones.
The place of prayer cannot be overemphasized. As difficult as our challenges may seem, they should not distract us from rejoicing. God will always make a way of escape for us.
However, in our prayers, we must confess our sins to align ourselves with Christ so that the times of refreshing may come. The devil does not give good things.
The devil has come to steal, kill and destroy but God has come to give us life in abundance. The abundance of life in good health and wealth. ( John 10 verse 10)
Some people think when they pray, their prayers will not be answered but James proves this otherwise in the case of Elijah. Elijah was like a man like you and me. He had confidence, believed in the prayer of faith, and produced good results.
Therefore, his insistent prayer became effective and yielded a good increase. God answers prayers. Although He may not answer us the way or time we want, we can always trust that He will answer according to His perfect will.
One of the hindrances to answered prayer is sin. Sin separates us from God. It is through confession that our connection with God is restored and strengthened. The Greek word for confession is “exomologeo” while “hamartia” means sin. Confession of sin could be to God or whom you have sinned against.
1 John 1 verses 7 to 10 says,
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Confession of sin must be done with all sensitivity and we must turn away from them. Sin stinks and sin sinks. Sin cannot be undone but God can forgive us of all our sins when we drop the act.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that confession or reconciliation is a sacrament which is instituted by Christ. While the orthodox believe that confession is a form of spiritual healing.
Confessing our sin is walking in the light. We must repent of them and realign ourselves to the truth. The profession of one’s transgression to God through prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. When we confess our sins, He will forgive us a cleanse us through His blood.
As ambassadors of Christ, we are to reconcile the world back to God. We all have been given the ministry of reconciliation as mentioned by Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 verses 18 to 20
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”
We have the responsibility as believers to help others be reconciled to Christ. Salvation launches us into that ministry.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ( 2 Corinthians 5 verse 17)
You become a new creature through the Holy Spirit who resides in you. All we desire in life can be found when we choose God through salvation and serving Him and by bringing others to the knowledge of Him. This is the Ministry of Reconciliation.
What is the importance of James 5: 13-20?
The importance of James 5: 13-20 is prayer, patience, healing, and confession.
James is admonishing us to get specific in our prayers. God does not answer general prayer. He knows what we desire but He wants us to be specific.
Mark 10 verse 51 depicts where God answered the blind Bartimaeus what he requested.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.”
Our God is all-knowing, but will not answer all prayers exactly as we expect. Our expectations might not be His plan for us. Remember, He planned to give us an expected end.
From James’ perspective, our aim when we pray should be to locate God’s will. Prayer is the way to get God’s will done on earth and not our own will. This is one of the reasons we must seek the face of God in prayers when faced with challenges.
Let us have a closer look at this example of Elijah.
When Elijah prayed at first, the heaven heard but the cloud withheld its rain. That was a test of faith on Elijah but he never gave up. He endured, he had faith in God and knew his prayer of faith will be answered.
Then he prayed again, the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth increase. He has assurance in the prayer he prayed. He believed something must happen!
The book of James stated frankly that Elijah was not perfect just like us both he was chosen by God due to his submissiveness and obedience to God’s authority. He was the vessel God chose to accomplish His will through his long suffering.
When you pray and you expect instant answers but it’s not forthcoming, do not be dismayed. Commit the matter in God’s hands, He does the impossibility and what He pleases at any time.
He does not grant instant healing to every prayer, not that it was not offered in faith but the answer is best hidden in God’s heart and it’s best to leave it in His hands. The most godly people have also heard God answer “no” to their prayers but they never back out.
Apostle Paul in the book of 2 Corinthians 12 verses 7 to 9 says
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to [b]buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul’s request was not granted. Rather, God supplied Paul with all His grace so that he would learn to boast in his weakness as he depended on God.
Matthew 26 verses 39 to 44 tells us that even our Lord Jesus Christ pleaded to the Father three times to take this cup of suffering away from Him. Still, it was the will of the Father for Jesus to suffer and die so that our sins can be forgiven.
We are reminded that mutual confession and prayer bring healing, both physically and spiritually. When we confess our sins, every burden of sin both physically and spiritually is lifted and it removes hindrances from the path of the Holy Spirit. When you confess your sin to one another, you are also confessing before God.
James tells us that when prayer is fervent and offered by a righteous man, then it will yield results. Many of our prayers are not effective because they are not fervent. The prayer that must be answered must be effective and fervent. Do not pray with a lukewarm attitude because God searches the heart and tries the reins. He knows what is in your heart.
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17 verse 10)
Remember, effective prayer is offered by a righteous person. A man who is not only righteous with God but consistently righteous with Him.
God still heals today! He cannot be more powerful tomorrow than He is today. He is the all-powerful God! He has the power to heal all manner of sickness and disease.
Matthew 10 verse 1
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”
He sometimes heals through the powerful prayers of the faithful. It is worthy of note that all sickness is not a result of sin.
As seen in John 9 verses 1 to 3,
“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.” And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
While some sickness is a result of sin. The drought suffered was discipline from God as a result of their rebellious act in 1 Kings 17.
After they repented and turned back to God, the heavens opened and gave rain.
People sin against each other and God. However, we must confess our sins. Jesus is the mediator between us and God. Therefore, He alone can forgive sins.
When you are unwell, evaluate yourself. If by chance it is due to the multitude of sins, repent and turn to God for forgiveness and ask for the support of the believers to pray for you. Sequentially, pray for other believers who are sick and show compassion towards them.
As Christians, we must help our dear brothers and sisters who are straying away from the truth. We need to share the word of God with love about their present state and encourage them to repent and turn back to God. There is joy in heaven over one soul that repents.
By so doing we will save their soul from eternal death or physical death. That is why it is important to continue to fellowship with one another as it will help us from falling away from God. Even if the sins are frequent and severe, restoration is possible with true repentance.
Our reason for confession and healing is so that we may serve the needs of others. Saving a sinner from wandering away from the presence of God is saving the sinner from death which is a very deep need for eternal life.
What is James 5 -13 – 20 prayer?
Heavenly Father, we appreciate You for Your mercies and faithfulness and the gift of life and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the forgiveness of many sins, be thou exalted in the name of Jesus.
We pray for wisdom and patience by the power of the Holy Spirit to wait upon You in times of trouble. Grant us grace to be able to withstand trials when they come our way and give us peace on all sides.
O Lord, help us to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another so that we may be healed. For the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Help us to live right according to Your words and empower us to turn many to righteousness. May our eyes be opened to give, serve and be willing to help those who wander from Your light. Make us agents of restoration to this dying world in Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN