Wednesday, September 23, 2015

James 5:13-20 Ministry of Healing & Restoration

KEY TEXT: James 5:13-15 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is 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. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 

KEY THOT: Prayer & Praise is the cornerstone of Christian ministry—because both activities attract God’s presence and power to act on our behalf. James says that if anyone is suffering because of personal trials, he should pray to God for His grace to endure the trials. If anyone is happy, he should sing praise to the Lord. However, if someone is sick, he should call for the elders (pastors/leaders) to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of Jesus Christ. James’ clear promise is this: “the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” Furthermore, if the sickness is a consequence of personal sins, his sins will be forgiven as the healing is holistic, restoring not just our body, but also our spirit and soul. 

The prayer ministry by pastors and elders should be a normal and regular ministry of the church as much preaching and teaching God’s Word is. It’s the basic function of church leadership to provide the opportunity for the sick to seek healing through the “prayer of faith” by elders/pastors of the church. This is basic to the ministry of elders/pastors of the church of Jesus Christ.

Healing ought to be normal and regular part of any church ministry. There is nothing “charismatic” about it. But unfortunately, some churches associate healing with “charismatic” churches and therefore stay clear of it because they don’t want their purity to be contaminated by such vile charismatic practices. In the process, they deprive their people the opportunity to grow and experience God's grace in their lives. 

I always find it unnecessary to make healing antithetical to character formation. It's like: "you can have your healing, but I will have my character formation." It's as though you can have character formation apart from healing. Unfortunately, these two processes are inter-linked: in many situations, the Christians cannot grow because their sicknesses (spiritual, emotional, mental and physical) prevent them from gaining their true freedom in Christ. They are held in bondage by their own sin, sicknesses and even evil spirits. But without first helping them get rid of these spiritual burdens, there is no way we can help them grow into Christ-likeness. So it is not a matter of choosing healing or character formation--we need both to help believers gain full maturity and freedom in Christ.

Healing, in fact, is one of the major ways believers can “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Salvation is like a bank account that God has given every believer in Christ. And He wants them to draw out God's riches daily to use now—not later, after we die, for by then there would be no more use for it. Praying for sick helps believers experience God’s saving grace now and grow in their faith in Him. 

I need to make healing and deliverance ministry a regular and normal part of my ministry--as regular as my teaching and preaching is now. This could happen through Alpha, church prayer meetings and during Holy Communion. In fact, the Communion Table should always be a place for the sick to seek for the prayer of faith for healing whenever a believer is sick. 

James mentions “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” The use of anointing oil is a powerful point of contact for “prayer of faith”. Faith is not measured by how I feel—faith is defined by what I do. I find the act of anointing someone before I pray for their healing takes the focus off from how I feel towards an objective reality represented by the anointing oil. The anointing oil is a symbol of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It reminds me that this healing ministry is not my ministry but the Lord’s, released through His Holy Spirit. So my “prayer of faith” is not based on how I much faith I feel but what I do in obedience to God’s Word.

Father, thank You that You have allowed us to be partners in Jesus’ ministry to the sick. May Your Spirit continue to empower and embolden me to proclaim Your salvation and help others experience it in their lives. Amen.

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