“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15).
The prayer of faith is born in love for Jesus. It isn’t a product of ritual or the fruit of liturgy. It doesn’t have to express the surgical precision of a seminary professor or the depth of a theologian. It simply conveys a profound love for Christ.
Faith is not a super power the Christian uses to gain the upper hand with God. “If you have faith,” some say, “you can tell God anything you want and He’ll give it to you,” as if He were little more than a cosmic vending machine waiting for you to drop enough quarters. In addition to insulting God’s authority over His creation, that view misses the point entirely. Faith, however is believing what God says, not telling Him what we think. Paul said it this way in his commentary on Abraham:
Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:19-22).
Now, James did say, “the prayer offered in faith will heal the one who is sick,” or did he? Actually, he said, “the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.” The word translated “restore” in the NASB is the Greek word “save.” Salvation is healing – of the most radical kind – but what specifically did James mean about the one who is sick? Was he talking about a head cold or someone succumbing to sin? The word rendered “sick” can refer to illness, but it can also address the weak, powerless, needy, or poor.
The point seems to be that we’re to pray about everything. We’re to bring every need to God, whether physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, or whatever the case might be. And we’re to trust God for the outcome. We’re not to demand our way as little children tend to do. We’re to approach our heavenly Father and seek His will and grace, His provision and outcome.
And what if I pray and God doesn’t give me what I want? After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, God told David that the child she’d conceived would die. As long as the boy lived, David prayed and fasted before the Lord. Once the child died, though, he accepted the Lord’s answer.
Faith isn’t about getting what we want from God. Faith is drawing close enough to God to see what He wants. Faith rejoices in God’s provision, even when it makes no sense to our little minds. Mature faith learns to accept from God’s hand the very thing we prayed against.
It’s okay to weep and grieve when God says, “No.” We often take time to process God’s will, but He’s patient with His children.
Faith begins with a question, “What is Your will?” Then, faith sets out to pray for that which the Father has promised. Therefore, the Lord will grant the prayer offered in faith.
May God grant His children the faith to love the Lord and to seek first His will and His ways.