Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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. 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. 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. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. James 5:13-18, ESV.
Today is April Fool’s Day. Even in our social isolation, I imagine that there will be some pranking going on today. This may be a difficult day for French children, though. The traditional prank performed by many of them is to stick a paper fish on someone’s back and cry out Poisson d’avril! That will be harder to accomplish while staying two meters away. So, let’s grieve with the pranksters who will have to save their paper fish for next year and rejoice with the children who would have ended up walking around with a back that looked like an aquarium.
While not promoting pranking, James does tell us that we are to share in one another’s lives, in the ups and the downs. Pray for the suffering. Sing with the cheerful. Get the elders to pray for the sick. Pray for the one who confesses sin. And expect results! There are precious promises associated with living life this way. Sick people saved and raised, and sinners forgiven!
It would be poor Bible interpretation to read this as though James is offering us some sort of “name it and claim it” promise regarding physical healing. The intensity of your faith is no guarantee of physical healing. That kind of reading ignores the nuanced way James uses the words “saved” and “raised” and how he mingles the physical and the spiritual without clear distinction. Even so, James’s example, Elijah, is an example of a man who trusted God and received a genuine answer to his prayer. This is a call to pray boldly and expect results.
Even if the promises seem complicated, we can know this: God has promised to hear and answer our prayers and we are commanded to do life together. Pray for the suffering; sing with the cheerful; call for the elders to pray over the sick for their healing; confess sins to one another; pray together for forgiveness. Why don’t we do this today: obey God’s commands and patiently watch as God keeps His promises. We won’t be disappointed!
I am praying you know God’s blessings this very day.