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 Although singing psalms when we are cheerful is self-explanatory, what James counsels us to do when we are sick requires more explanation. James places suffering and sickness in two categories and prescribes separate remedies for each. When we are suffering, we are encouraged to pray. When we are sick, depending on the severity of the sickness, we may find it difficult or even impossible to pray for ourselves, and so we must reach out to the elders of the church.

How long we should pray is another discussion unto itself, but prayer is like clean water or your favorite food; you can never have too much of it. I’ve known men who prayed for three, four, even five hours per day on a regular basis, foregoing sleep for the privilege of spending time in God’s presence, and others who spend an hour with God, but what all of them have in common is the consistency with which they come before God. The length of time may vary, but consistency is the running theme among all of them.

It’s funny how when we find ourselves in the midst of suffering, we somehow find the time to fellowship with God that we couldn’t otherwise pencil in to save our lives. We’re all busy little bees, after all, so finding an hour or two per day to be in the presence of God is a non-starter until the suffering pops out of a birthday cake unbidden. Then we find the time.

I heard a brother say once that the minimum time you should set aside for God on a given day is an hour, divided into three equal parts. Twenty minutes for you to talk to God, twenty minutes for God to speak to you, and twenty minutes for you to talk to others about Him. If nothing else, it’s a good rule of thumb, and chances are if one were to poll the modern-day church and the participants were honest, a significant majority would fall short of that sixty-minute mark. Somehow, though, we’re still the greatest generation of super-spiritual, power-having, rod of iron wielding, binding, and loosing believers ever to walk the earth; at least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

Anyone who’s ever been sick, and I’m assuming all of us have at some stage in life, knows that whatever the sickness is, it’s always accompanied by weakness, lethargy, and the absence of will to do much of anything other than be bedridden.

I was a sickly child. I’ve mentioned this once or twice. You couldn’t tell it by looking at me today, but I was skin and bones with a propensity for going on long, drawn-out illnesses that had me doing not much more than sipping the tea my mom insisted I should drink or tossing and turning in bed. I was frail, weak, and lethargic, and the great mind of the alcoholic doctor who was our resident physician couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.

His answer was always that my mom should feed me more; if I refused the food, she should be forceful in her attempts. She tried to force-feed me once, but I bit her finger, and she stopped trying.

What’s the point? The point is that weakness can be physical as well as spiritual. The lethargy of the spirit is just as real a thing as the lethargy of the flesh, and James insists that calling for the elders of the church, being prayed over and anointed with oil in the name of the Lord, is a remedy for both.

James 5:14-15, “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 sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

It’s worth noting that James says the prayer of faith will save the sick rather than heal them, and only afterward would the Lord raise them up. Words matter, especially when it comes to rightly dividing the Word, and because of his usage of save rather than heal, we can conclude that James is referring to physical as well as spiritual issues.

Before the “God Doesn’t Do That Anymore” choir starts their warm-up set, argue with God because I’m not going to take the bait. If the Bible instructs us to call the elders, pray for the sick, and anoint them with oil, insisting that the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise them up, I’m just going to have to believe the Bible over you or anyone else.

If the Lord no longer heals, why would He instruct us to pray for the sick? If the Lord no longer moves among His people, why would we be encouraged to desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

God’s not a bully playing keep-away with your lunch box in the second grade. He won’t make a promise and then go back on His word just so He can watch you squirm. What loving God would promise to equip you only to snatch away all the tools you would need to withstand in the evil day?

Armor? What armor? We’re fresh out! Go grab a colander from the kitchen and find a broomstick somewhere because we’ve got nothing else for you. Maybe sharpen the broomstick on one end. I’m sure it won’t be that bad; the devil wouldn’t pummel a defenseless person, would he? Now, go make war against the darkness.

There is a natural progression to spiritual warfare that will culminate in the last days. Since we are living in the last days, albeit the beginnings thereof, the attacks of the enemy will only grow, intensify, and become more refined as his time draws near. For the stalwarts who don’t believe that God still works among men or that the Holy Spirit is still active within the household of faith, I have one question: why would an omniscient God leave His people defenseless during a time when they need Him most?

Although they will never allow for the possibility, perhaps you have not because you ask not, and if that’s the case, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Posted on 22 March 2024 | 12:22 pm

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