Jas 5:13-16 “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The questions asked in verse thirteen are there to make a point more than to look for an answer. When is there ever a time when there are not some among us who are afflicted? The word translated as “afflicted” here means to be burdened with hardship (see Strong’s). Whenever we are burdened with hardship we have access to immediate aid. The remedy for being burdened with hardship is for us to pray. Note that the one burdened is the same one who is praying here. There is nothing selfish about realizing that we have burdens we cannot handle on our own and turning to God for aid.
While there are always some among us that are burdened, there are also some that are merry. Those who are merry should praise God with melody. The word “merry” implies to “be of good cheer.” Sometimes the melody we make may be audible and other times it may be in our heart. Either way, when we are of good cheer in the things of God it is going to show in our countenance and our actions. Again, the same one who is merry is the one who should be singing psalms.
We always have those in our midst who are sick. The word translated as “sick” means “to be feeble (in any sense)” according to Strong’s. We may be physically infirm, emotionally torn, spiritually weak, or in mental turmoil. The enfeebled one calls for the spiritually mature of the called out assembly of Jesus Christ. When the one who is sick calls, the elders called for are to come and pray (supplicate, worship – see Strong’s) before the Lord and anoint the one who is sick in the name (according to the authority) of the Lord. This is not something men can do outside of the authority of God. It is never meant to cause men to be sought after, but rather for God to be glorified.
There is an assurance here that the prayer (petition to God) by faith shall save the sick. I am a firm believer that God still performs healing miracles today. Sometimes that miracle removes the physical malady, and sometimes it strengthens the individual to be able to bear the malady for purposes known only to God. In either sense, God has raised up (quickened) the sick. If the sickness be one of remorse for sins instead of a physical malady, God is still in the healing business. While we know that Christ put away our sins when He died on the cross, there is still a sense in our service here that we need to feel that forgiveness. Again, God has promised that the prayer of faith and anointing according to His authority will bring the needed relief from God, not man.
There is a wonderful relief that comes from being able to confess both unintentional error and willful transgression (see Strong’s definition of “faults”) to one another. In order for this type of confession to be made, there has to be unshakable trust in the ability of those to whom we confess to love us and pray for us. This is not a circumstance where we should be “lying in wait” to ensnare a brother or sister in some sin. This is an opportunity to see the amazing healing power of Almighty God even over the sin in our lives.
The mighty, efficient (fervent) prayer of a holy, innocent (righteous) man is able to prevail (availeth) abundantly (much). No natural man is innocent or efficient, so this cannot be talking about the natural man. Jesus Christ, who dwells in us, is our righteousness (Jer 23:6). Only in Him (according to the authority of His name) can we pray such a prayer. Through the intercession of the Spirit our prayers are made acceptable because we do not know what to pray for as we ought (Rom 8:26-27).
May we learn from the Spirit that only through and by Him are we able to pray regardless of our condition: when we pray through the Spirit, God will raise us up!