James 5:13–20 NRSV – Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 5:14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 5:15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 5:17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 5:18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. 5:19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 5:20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Summary – James teaches that the community of believers, along with their elders, is the place of healing. This healing comes as we confess our sins to one another and pray, since “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” As we reach out to those who wander from the truth we can save others from death and cover a multitude of sins. Three principles arise in this passage: 1) Patient Endurance is required for the faithful in congregational life. 2) Prayerful Confidence is needed in pursuing our needs of wisdom and healing in the context of the Christian community. 3) Penitent Restoration brings salvation to wayward members of the Church.
Insight – What needs do you have? Are you suffering, sick, down, hurting, feeling at a loss? James responds to needs in this final passage in his book. Congregational life is redemptive. God uses many means of grace which come through other believers. Centrally, we are required to be faithful and endure in the body of Christ. There is no Lone Ranger salvation in the Bible. This last passage closes the book in parallel with the opening verses: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials … produces patience.”
Catechism – What is taught about prayer? The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Discussion – How does God use other believers in your life?
Prayer – Heavenly Father, we thank you that you provide your grace through the sharing, singing and praying of others. Answer our prayers and grant to us healing from the inside out and cause us to be faithful to pray for others and seek their healing that we may rejoice in all that Christ has done for us. In Jesus Name. Amen.