Verse 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
After discussing the need to pray for each other and how prayers of faith can heal the sick, James sticks in a little comment that may seem strange to us.
We mentioned yesterday that these prayers from the elders would be a calling out to God to take away the illness and bring to light anything that may have led to a particular illness. It was a common belief that sin was the cause of all illness and while some ailments are a result of our sinful actions, not every sickness is the result of sin. And while they knew that not every sin was the cause of illness these men of God knew that they were first charged with maintaining spiritual health among the members of the Church and so while they were praying over the person they would also address any spiritual issues that needed tending to.
To address any issues that could be there the men needed wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit. These prayers would not be flippant prayers but rather would be deep loving prayers for the person in need. This may be unfamiliar to us as this isn’t something that is often given much thought these days, although the Church as a whole would be healthier spiritually and physically if it were the case. We can see the truth of the love of the early Church by their willingness to pray for more than just each other’s physical ailments.
Praying for one another’s sins may seem like a foreign concept to us but that makes it no less a need in the Church. (We, of course, should also be praying about our own sin issues, not just those of others.) Just as we mentioned yesterday about how we can feel lonely and isolated when we are going through some horrible health crisis, we can also feel like we are disconnected from each other if we are dealing with unconfessed sins in our lives. Jesus calls His people to holiness.
The spiritual cancer of sin is of more danger to us than any of the other illnesses out there. While physical illness attacks our organs and saps life of its vitality, sin attacks our soul and ruins our relationships with God and each other. And sins like bitterness and uncontrolled anger can actually start attacking our physical being and cause many illnesses that will drain us of spiritual and physical strength. And this is the reason that the elders would pray for both the physical and the spiritual sickness.
Making It Personal
Have you had any sins that caused physical illness? Why is it harder to diagnose when a physical ailment is caused by sin? What sin do you need to purge from your life to keep from getting physically ill?
Making It Personal Kids
Have you ever told a lie or done something you knew you shouldn’t and then had a sick feeling tummy? Why do you think you felt sick afterwards? What do you need to say you are sorry to Jesus, and maybe someone else, about today?
Father, we all know those times when we have felt the physical results of our sins. Please help us to be more honest with ourselves and each other about the sin in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.