February 11, 2020

Gathering for Prayer

James 5:13-16

Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

—  James 5:14

When I learned that my cancer had returned, it was just a few days before a significant youth event that I was coordinating at our church. So I decided to keep the news close, in a small circle, and not distract people from the ministry event. My colleague, however, pleaded with me to let the elders and the church family pray.

For many people who receive bad news about serious illness, their first instinct is to try to handle it on their own. But that is not God’s design for the body of Christ. Instead, James instructs us to call the set-apart leaders, bring the people together, confess our sins, anoint with oil, and pray for healing.

The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective, and the prayer of faith can help make the sick person well. We believe God can heal—and often does—and yet we also know that faithful people can become terribly sick and die. How do we reconcile this reality with the promises of this passage?

Perhaps the wellness of the sick person and the effectiveness of the prayer go deeper than the physical condition. When I allowed the elders to lead a healing prayer service on my behalf, I felt loved, secure in God’s presence, and comforted that I had partners for the journey ahead.

You do not have to endure your suffering alone; reach out for prayer.

Lord, thank you for the family of faith. May we pray in faith for you to work mightily in whatever way you will. Amen.

About the author — Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Bonny Mulder-Behnia is a pastor in Bellflower, California, with 25 years of experience in church staff, educational, congregational, and pastoral ministry. She is married to Jahan and has two adult children and a grandson.

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