This also is where I believe “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” comes in. A righteous man will always be seeking to position himself rightly with the Lord, which is why he is considered righteous! He will be praying for the Lord’s will to come about!
The example that the Scriptures gives of Elisha is due to his righteous plea, that God show himself to Israel and Elisha prays that God will do this in shutting off the rain. This is a righteous prayer, because Elisha was positioning himself to receive what God had for him; God desired to reveal himself, Elisha just prayed the how!
Let me also say that God can and will heal however, whenever he wants! James 5 is by no means a “box” for the healing of Christ! I have seen numerous healings and heard from friends of mine of healings that definitely happened outside of the elders praying for the infirm of their flock! I will get into that a little later.
First though, one cannot talk about James 5 and not mention the two other huge aspects, which bring about the healing God desires for us. The first is the anointing of oil by the elders and the second being the confession of sins.
The anointing oil goes back to the beginning of the Old Testament (OT). We see the idea first appears in Exodus, in which the priests are supposed to be bathed in this oil in order to set them a part for the ministry, which God has called them to. Exodus goes on to tell how the oil is made, what goes into it, the amounts etc. It is a part of the consecration process for Aaron and all the priests that follow him.
Here is the passage: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels [c] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin [d] of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lamp stand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. Say to the Israelites, ‘this is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people’” (Exodus 30:22-33).
If we will be cut off from all people by putting this oil on anyone other than a priest, why would God ask the elders to anoint the sick with oil?
I believe that after the death of Christ, when the temple curtain ripped and tore down the middle, this is another thing that “changed”.
The oil as was stated before was a symbol of consecration. It was admittance that I need covering; it was the covering of God! As I study this concept, I see a great correlation to the anointing oil and the Holy Spirit, which was sent to us AFTER Christ’s death.
Christ mentions the coming of the Spirit several times (John 14,15 and 16) and the correlation of His coming to his own death.
I believe that the anointing oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit covering the person who has sought out prayer, consecrating them to the will of the Lord. Further positioning them for the will of God to come about in their lives.
Keith Bailey in his book Divine Healing: The Children’s Bread says it this way “The anointing oil symbolizes the direct and immediate work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, not the oil gives life to the body” (pg. 135).
Also, the coming to the elders doesn’t say that the elders are more holy or that they are sages or healers, but when they pray and position themselves and the member before the Lord, the Lord is the receiver of the glory!
The second huge aspect about healing in James 5 is the confession of sins. If we are sick, we’re supposed to call the elders so they can also pray for us. However, we not only have to admit this sickness to God, and ourselves but to the elders of the church, so they too can pray on our behalf.
James 5:15 gives both hope as well as a shock. Here it says that the sick person will become well with the prayer of faith but it also says: “If he has sinned, he will be forgiven”. The shock here is that the scripture is saying that this malady may have been caused due to sin. Not saying that all illness is a result of sin, but saying for a fact that sin can and sometimes will cause you to become sick. (We also see this in Matt. 9:2 when Jesus heals a sick person, but doesn’t just say OK, now your body is better, he says now your sins are forgiven!)
This concept brings our health in a whole new perspective doesn’t it?
It to me says that God cares more about the healing of my soul than the healing of my body and in fact they may coincide with one another!
James 5:16 goes even deeper in the first portion: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”. The therefore is saying: since you now know that sin can also cause sickness, and prayer can cause healing confess to each other as well as pray for each other so that you may be healed!
This is TRUE healing, both body and soul.