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Bible Reading: James 5.13-18

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 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. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:13-18

I think it is clear that James is telling us in all circumstances, we are to pray. As he referenced in the story of Elijah. All prayers of a righteous man or woman accomplishes much; even though much may not be what we think is best.

James further instructs us to call upon the elders when we are sick. This is a fascinating passage of Scripture that has been a challenge for interpreters through the years. Is this in fact the promise for physical healing? Because people have prayed for the physical healing of many in the church, the elders have prayed and perhaps even anointed with oil and people don't get well, just exactly what is this passage about?

According to John MacArthur the Greek verb “astheneo” is translated sick eighteen times in the New Testament (e.g., Matt. 10:8; 25:36, 39; Mark 6:56; Luke 4:40; John 4:46; Acts 9:37). But it is also used fourteen times to refer to emotional or spiritual weakness (Acts 20:35; Rom. 4:19; 8:3; 14:1–2; 1 Cor. 8:11–12; 2 Cor. 11:21, 29; 12:10; 13:3–4, 9). Significantly, in all but three (Phil. 2:26–27; 2 Tim. 4:20) of astheneo’s appearances in the epistles it does not refer to physical sickness. Paul’s use of astheneo in 2 Corinthians 12:10 is especially noteworthy, since it there describes weakness produced by the sufferings of life. So perhaps instead of physical sickness, James is instructing those that are weak in spirit.

Either case, physical or spiritual, The Ridge elders count it a great joy and responsibility to be able pray and anoint with oil.  Let us remember that James also said, “We should SING PRAISES when we are cheerful”, so let your friends and the Lord hear your joy each Sunday.

Weekly Memory Verse: A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Luke 6.40