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Read Introduction to James


“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.”


 And the prayer of faith

The Greek has a definite article before the word “faith,” making it refer to a structure of belief.  The prayer based on biblical faith will save the spiritually sick.  That is why it is necessary to call “elders” (spiritually mature) to pray for the spiritually and physically sick believer.  Prayer should always proceed from faith. 

The “prayer of faith” is always “in the name of the Lord” (5:14).  That is a clear-cut limit to the prayer of faith.  God has no obligation to heal except within His will.  There are two qualifications to this prayer: 1) ask in faith and 2) in the name of the Lord. 

will save the sick,

The prayer of faith by the elders will restore the sick.  The word “sick” does not refer to physical illness but spiritual sickness—to waste away, to suffer, be distressed, fatigued, or afflicted.  It is an unusual Greek word.  The idea is to gradually lose one’s motivation to accomplish some goal – to become discouraged, tired, or give up. 

The only other occurrence of this word is in Hebrews 12:3 and does not refer to physical illness but divine discipline due to sin in one’s life.  This person wastes away due to his sin. 

He 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

The restoration here is the spiritual restoration of defeated Christians.  The word “save” means restore (to spiritual wholeness). 

The phrase “has committed sins” is more substantiation that this verse’s subject is spiritual restoration.  The Word of God does not teach that all physical illness is the direct consequence of personal sin.  On the other hand, spiritual defeat is the direct result of protracted personal sin. 


There is no obligation on God to answer every prayer.


There is no obligation on God to answer prayer in every instance of sickness.  Do we give our children everything they ask?  We do not try to meet all of their demands, for that would not be healthy.  We give them what is good for them. 

Paul could not heal Epaphroditus (Php 2:27), and he left Trophimus at Miletus sick (2 Ti 4:20).  Neither could he find healing for his own physical illness (some think that was an ophthalmic illness).

2 Co 12:9-10, “And He said to me,  ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Christian leaders do not have limitless ability to heal sick believers.  If they did, why would they not heal everyone in sight?