Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. —James 5:16 ESV
What is the most important thing that a persecuted and suffering church can do? The answer is so obvious that we easily overlook it. Pray! In the final verses of his epistle, James wraps up with an exhortation to the suffering Christians of the Dispersion to seek the power of God through prayer. James reminds them that prayer is the means through God sustains his people, especially during times of great trial. Sadly, many in our day have turned James’ exhortation to pray for healing into a mantra through which God will supposedly heal all of our diseases–if only we dare claim what I rightfully ours. Instead of seeing James’ exhortation to pray as the means through which God sustains us in the midst of our trials, faith-healers have turned James’ words into the magical “abracadabra” enabling us to “claim our miracle.” It always amazes me that persecuted Jewish Christians to whom James is writing never understood James in this way, yet prosperous Americans, who have never known a moment of persecution in their lives, take James to be promising them health and wealth. What James is doing is reminding persecuted Christians that God has heard their cries, and he stands ever ready to help in time of need. All they need do is ask.