In this article, we look at how prayer has to be based on the character of God, and on the promises He has revealed to us in His word. We look in particular at the term “prayer of faith” in James 5:15 to see what is meant by the term.
1]. THE PRAYER OF FAITH.
The term “the prayer of faith” is mentioned only in James 5:13-15.
James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The Greek structure of the phrase is simply as follows
|and||the||prayer||of the||faith||will save||the||sick|
We look at some interesting aspects of verse 15 in that passage.
i]. The word for “sick” in 5:14, is the verb astheneo, which is used in various forms to denote illness or weakness. (See also Matthew 10:8, Luke 13:11, Acts 9:37, John 4:46, 5:7, 6:2). In verse 15 “sick” is another word kamnonta from [kamneo] meaning tiredness or weariness leading to physical weariness or illness.
The sick person is to call for the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
ii]. “To pray over him.” The word for “pray” [proseuchomai; προσεύχομαι] is always used of prayer to God. God’s healing power is being sought for the sick person.
iii]. “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” This word “anoint” [aleiphō; ἀλείφω] is used in association with oil, such as in Mark 16:1, Luke 7:38, 46, John 11:2, 12:3 where it is used for anointing Jesus, and in Mark 6:13, where it is used of the 12 anointing many sick people with oil, and healing them. (We notice in passing, that when the 70 were sent out later, there was no reference to anointing, nor in Mark 16:18, “they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”).
iv. “In the name of the Lord”, indicates that ministry is offered on the basis of who Jesus is, and on what He has done. It is never on the basis of our name, who we are or what we have done. Jesus has established the kingdom of God and healing is one of the blessings coming from His kingdom power.
v. “The prayer of faith”. 5:15. The NIV, translation “the prayer offered in faith” is probably a very good interpretation. Faith is seen in the sick person, and in all those involved in responding to the sick person’s need. The latter identify with the sick person in seeking God’s help for him. They are also identifying with God in His promise to answer prayers offered in faith for the man’s healing and showing their willingness to be used as instruments through whom His healing may flow.
2]. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAITH AND ANSWERS TO PRAYER
In the teaching of Jesus.
Matthew 18:19-20. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” The dual promise of the promise of His presence and the promise of answered prayer when two or more agree together in prayer.
Mat.21:21‑22. ...22. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” [In Mark 11:22‑26, “and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” ] 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, (literally ‘pray’ and ‘ask’) believe that you receive it, and you will.” Prayer has to be based on the character of God and not on the character of our faith. It is faith in Him and in His promises and not faith in our character or faith in our faith.
John 14:12‑14. The context is doing the works of God by the disciples of Christ. “… Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, … if you ask anything in my name I will do it.”
John 15:16. This is in the context of Jesus stressing the need for His disciples to live in an intimate relationship with Himself. “… so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.”
John 16:23,24.“.. If you ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” God delights to answer the prayers of those who trust in Christ and who pray in His name!
In other New Testament writers.
St Paul. Ephesians 3:20-21 encourages us to raise our expectancy as to what God can do in us by His power, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly [hyperperissōs; ὑπερπερισσῶς is the only occurrence in the Greek New Testament] than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
No matter what we can ask for, or even imagine in our wildest imagination, God can do infinitely more.
St John. (Some conditions for receiving answers to prayer).
1 John 3:22. “And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. God intends His people in every generation to submit to Him and to follow all His commandments. He is pleased when they do so!
1 John 5:14‑15, “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of Him.” John writes here of two assurances we can have in our relationship with Him. Firstly we have the assurance that He actually hears us when we pray according to His will. Secondly we have the assurance that those prayers will be answered.
Recent writers and the Prayer of faith.
Colin Urquhart. “You are to speak with faith to the mountains of opposition and need, and command them to depart. .. If we do not allow the Spirit to guide and lead our praying, then we shall often pray in the wrong way and meet with a negative response from the Lord.” (In Christ Jesus, p.162 )
Canon John Gunstone warns, “We’re called to believe in God, not to have faith in our faith!” (The Lord is our Healer p.181)
Canon Jim Glennon. ” when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (Your Healing is within you, p.168).
The Prayer of Faith is based on the premise that healing has been made available, and in faith we learn to draw upon the resources for healing that exist in Him, in His unsearchable riches in Christ. [Ephesians 3:6].
Blog No.440 posted on Thursday 27 October 2022