James 5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

James indicates that faith is the key to answered prayer. Calling the elder and anointing with oil from verse 14 are symbolic acts of faith. The Lord is the one who brings healing. Our sickness may not be physical. Sin is the greater sickness because it has eternal consequences. Few people can be honest enough to confess their sins and receive spiritual healing through the prayers of others. I remember as a child seeing people gathered around altars of prayer praying for a sinner who came forward seeking forgiveness. I realize that these events were highly cultural but it is not often that we see this type of prayer today in our churches. We do not need to model what was done in the 1970s or 80s, but we miss something in our spectator worship services today which provide little opportunity for deep prayer for those in physical or spiritual need. How can we experience these times of prayer in our own lives, churches, or families? It will take a conscious decision to gather together in humility and dependence upon God and a willingness to be open and honest with one another. We must realize that all of us are in deep need of God’s forgiveness and healing.

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