We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV Discernment isn’t easy, but God has given us two gifts that can help us. The impulse of the Spirit Thank God for the gift of the Spirit....
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. James 5:14-15 (NIV)
Here are four observations about this passage:
- The initiative is with the sick person, not the elders.
- While a sick person is not required to call for the elders, he or she is permitted to do so.
- God may use this occasion to give the elders (or the person who is sick) assurance of the outcome, so that they are able to pray as Elijah did.
- A person should consider calling for the elders if and when he or she senses that it is the purpose of God to intervene with a gift of healing.
Imagine an elderly lady who has been diagnosed with cancer. She asks the elders of her church to come and pray with her. When the elders arrive, they pray, but then the lady begins to pray too. It is evident that God has given her a gift of faith. She prays with confidence and has assurance God will heal her. Then several years later, remarkably, He does.
In situations like this, there is no other explanation than that the Holy Spirit gives special assurance of the outcome to people so that they can pray in the way James describes above. The “prayer of faith” is not an effort that you work up; it is a gift that comes down.
The prayer of faith is not limited to times of sickness. It may be given for a breakthrough of grace in a person’s life, during a difficult matter of guidance, when facing a time of need, or for the advance of the gospel. Where have you seen this?