Earlier this month, the minister at the congregation where I attend presented a lesson using James 5:13-18 as his text.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
This post is not intended to critique his lesson (that’s for another time) but to relate what happened afterward.
As the invitation song was being sung, an older lady came forward to ask for prayers from the congregation on her behalf. Having a tumor which may or may not be operable, she was struggling with the decisions she was facing.
An elder was called forward to pray on her behalf. Prayer was offered thanking God for the good doctors who live in our town, the good doctors who are members of our congregation, the good doctors who might be chosen to treat her, etc., and for her comfort and peace with the decisions she would ultimately make. God was thanked for promising to hear both her prayers and our prayers for her.
What is my point? Never once in that prayer was God asked to heal this lady. Not once!
After a sermon which at its climax extolled the power and effectiveness of the prayer of a righteous man, not once was God asked to heal this lady. Not once!
After a sermon that told us if God heard Elijah’s prayers, He would hear ours. Heal this lady? Not once!
Do we believe God will really answer or prayers? Or not?