Meditation Commentary on James 5:13-16
13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14Is anyone among you sick? 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. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Confess you trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Verse 13 begins by giving simple answers to a couple of simple situations. If I am cheerful, what should I do? As the Greek word “psallo” implies, I should make melody, or “sing!”
Verse 14, however, goes on to address a situation that is a bit more serious in matter; one that we don’t exactly have a natural response to. If someone is sick, what should we do? In this verse, the Lord tells us to call on the elders of the church to pray over that person and anoint him with oil in God’s name. When I read this verse, or any verse for that matter, and see a reference to “elders,” I automatically think of that being synonymous with “church leaders.” This is not true. The Greek word used, literally means old. The wisdom and spiritual maturity that comes with age, is not something that we should lose sight of.
Verse 15 brings to light the supernatural power God offers through prayer. The prayer of “faith” (pistis) spoken of refers to faith unto salvation; complete reliance on Christ for healing, both physical and spiritual.
Verse 16 addresses the importance of accountability with fellow believers, and how it relates to our lives.
This passage certainly leaves me with thoughts to ponder. I have been acquainted with families who have always been firm believers in calling on elders of their church to pray for people in certain situations. My family most definitely relies on prayer in many situations. However, we have usually not gone as far as to have “laying on of hands” from church elders in times of need. I believe that God has placed doctors in our lives for a reason, and it is irresponsible if one does not seek their help in times of sickness. However, God’s healing hand was not left behind in “Bible times.” From meditating on this passage, I have found that I should rely more on God’s power in day-to-day situations. It is God’s desire to “…show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chr. 16:9)