18.   Health Benefit of Prayer

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Source: Psychiatric Services – An analysis of data from Veteran Affairs hospitals showed that among 600 veterans who underwent a substance abuse treatment program, those who were most religious were 34 percent less likely to need readmission for further treatment. Other studies of people who were not veterans show similar benefits.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) James 5:13-16 stated,“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Colossians 3:17 stated, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – There are many responses to suffering from drugs and alcohol, and especially from what’s going on with this pandemic Coronavirus/Wuhan or Chinese Virus/COVID-19. Most of us fear, some of us worry; some of us vow revenge with lawsuit against those who have caused the suffering (maybe against the Communist Party of China); some of us let anger burn inside us. Some grumble of STAY-AT-HOME and/or complain of extreme restrictions by crazy politicians.

Don’t be afraid, fear not. Be courageous, smart and vigilant against this pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19. Together with the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Words, we can overcome and be victorious. Let us cry unto God, and let freedom ring!

But James says the correct response to suffering is to keep on praying about it (see also Psalms 30; 50:15; 91:15).

This is not necessarily a prayer for deliverance from the trouble, but for the patience and strength to endure it. If we are fortunate enough to be happy, we should thank God by singing praises to the Lord (see also 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Because our praise is directed to God, singing is another form of prayer.

One characteristic of the early church was its concern over and care for the sick. Here James encourages the sick to call for the elders of the church for counseling and prayer. The elders were spiritually mature people responsible for overseeing local churches (see 1 Peter 5:1-4). The elders would pray over the sick person, calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for healing. Then they would anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. As the elders prayed, they were to voice clearly that the power for healing resided in the name of Jesus Christ.

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Anointing was often used by the early church in their prayers for healing. In Scripture, oil was both a medicine (see the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37) and a symbol of the Spirit of God (as used in anointing kings; see 1 Samuel 16:1-13). Thus, the oil may have been a sign of the power of prayer, and it may have symbolized the setting apart of the sick person for God’s special attention.

The prayer must be from the heart, sincere, with trust in and obedience to God behind it, and with no doubting, as in James 1:5-8. The faith is the role of the elders who are praying, not the sick person’s (nothing is said about his or her faith). It is possible that the sick person’s faith is exercised in calling the elders. Also, if there is need for confession, the elders will be able to minister to the individual. The process insures dependence of believers on each other.

Not the elders or the oil, but the Lord Himself does the healing.

Does this mean that every prayer for healing guarantees that God will make the sick person well? It must be emphasized here that the prayer offered is a prayer offered in faith – not only the faith that believes God can heal, but also the faith that expresses absolute confidence in God’s will. A true prayer of faith will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in His answer to that prayer. It is not always God’s will to heal those who are ill (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). A prayer for healing must be qualified with a recognition that God’s will is supreme.

Sin may or may not be the cause of the illness, but an opportunity for confession is given, and the elders are there to receive it. No demand of confession is given, but the opportunity is given that anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. This condition is important because all too often we are prone to assume that sin is the cause of someone’s suffering. The Bible teaches that sin can cause sickness (see Mark 2:1-12; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:27-30), but it also notes clearly that this is not always the case (see John 9:2-3).

It is not God’s plan that His people be alone. Members of Christ’s body should be able to count on others for support and prayer, especially when they are sick and/or suffering. The elders and/or spiritual mature Born-Again Christian believer should be on call to respond to the illness of any member, and the small group or home fellowship church should stay alert to pray for the healing of any who are sick. But we are often not only guilty of hesitating to lean on each other in our sicknesses and weaknesses. We are even more liable not to confess our sins to each other.

The recent emphasis on small groups or home fellowships within churches has risen largely from a need to recapture some of these basic features of life in the body of Christ that have been neglected. When Born-Again Christians are really working to “share each other’s troubles and problems,” the world does take note, and we come closer to fulfilling “the law of Christ” (see Galatians 6:2). Loving your neighbor as yourself does include, above all else, praying for him or her.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results because the person who is praying is righteous. The person is not sinless, but he or she has confessed known sins to God and is completely committed to Him and trying to do His will. Again, we can say that the righteous people get what they want in prayer because they want what God wants.

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The Born-Again Christian’s most powerful resource is communication with God through prayer. It is the instrument of healing and forgiveness and is a mighty weapon for spiritual warfare. The results are often greater than we thought were possible. Some people see prayer as a last resort, to be tried when all else fails. Our priorities are the reverse of God’s. Prayer should come first. God is pleased to use our prayers to accomplish His purposes and He delights in answering our needs, but He is never bound by our prayers. God’s power is infinitely greater than ours, so it only makes sense to rely on it – especially because God encourages us to do so.

Earlier Paul in the book of Colossians 3:17, listed a few vices and virtues to give the Colossian believers an idea of what was expected of them in their attitudes toward one another, but he did not want to regulate every area of life with a list of rules. So, Paul gave this general command to cover every area of life.

Everything Born-Again Christian believers said and everything we did (such as praying for the sick) should be done as a representative of our Lord Jesus Christ, realizing His constant presence and bringing honor and glory to Him in every aspect and activity of daily living (see also 1 Corinthians 10:31). To act in someone’s name is to act on His authority; we act as Christ’s representatives and/or ambassadors.

Paul echoed the need for giving thanks, as he had in Colossians 3:15 and 3:16. All we do for our Lord Jesus Christ should be done with the spirit of thankfulness for all He has done for us. We as Born-Again Christian believers are not enslaved to rules about every word people (scientists, virus experts, medical experts, especially politicians) speak or deed they do; instead, we freely put ourselves under the Lord’s guidance, led by the Holy Spirit and God’s Words because we love Him, have accepted His salvation, and live to glorify Him.

We give all thanks to God’s miracles and answered prayers for those who got healed of Coronavirus COVID-19, being treated and prayed by their loved ones and elders and/or spiritual mature Born-Again Christian of their fellowship churches.

We continuously pray for those who lost their loved ones from COVID-19, May we invite you to accept our invitation to meet our Lord Jesus Christ. Please visit our website for more information about the invitation at http://www.trinityblessings.org

Praise the Lord!

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer