What Is the Prayer of Faith in James 5?
- Hope Bolinger Author
- Updated Sep 27, 2019
The “prayer of faith,” mentioned in James 5, is a method of prayers where believers pray over someone who is sick and needs healing (the focus of this article)—and, also, to pray in all circumstances.
In some cases—through the body of believers praying for healing—God will allow for the sick person to be healed. One must note that this doesn’t always guarantee the sick person will be healed, otherwise, as mentioned in this article, no believer would ever die.
This prayer of faith, however, encourages believers to exercise trust in God. Healing may come in a physical healing, or it may result in a peace felt by the believers and the sick person.
We pray this prayer to lean on God in his wisdom and understanding and know that all healing comes from him, should he choose to heal the sick person in our lives.
Where is the Prayer of Faith in the Bible?
This specific prayer is mentioned in James 5:13-20. The passage walks believers through the methodology of this specific prayer. Believers will:
- Call the elders of the church (church leaders) to pray over the sick person (James 5:14)
- Anoint the sick with oil, a sanctifying and cleansing action (2 Corinthians 1:21), also linked to medicinal treatment during the New Testament times
The passage says this will raise up the sick person. Now, raise up doesn’t always indicate an instant healing. As stated in the Barnes’ Commentary on James 5:15, this promise does come with the restriction that the healing has to come from God’s will.
We see instances of this prayer of faith in Scripture in passages such as Mark 6:13, where the disciples cast out many demons and anoint sick people with oil, healing them.
What is the Context in Which the Prayer of Faith was Given?
The preceding verses in the passage talk about patience in the midst of suffering. One cannot tackle the book of James without encountering the theme of suffering. Christians, during the time Jame wrote the book, experienced enormous persecution and suffering.
This article on the book of James suggests his main audience would’ve been poor Christians, who didn’t have many means. Oppressed by “rich unbelievers” these Christians would not have had access to advanced medicinal care, and many would’ve endured common illnesses of their day.
Considering the start to this chapter contains a rebuke to the ungodly rich, this would make sense with the context. Those who are rich may sometimes feel a need not to depend on God, as indicated in this article, so a passage at the latter half of the chapter compelling Christians to rely on God through this prayer of faith makes sense.
Does the Prayer of Faith Guarantee Healing?
As mentioned before, healing in the physical sense isn’t always guaranteed through this prayer of faith. We have to consider God’s will and timing.
Also, sometimes healing doesn’t mean healing in a physical sense, but a spiritual sense. When Jesus heals a paralytic, he first tells the man that his sins are forgiven (Mark 2:1-12). Although Jesus does heal him later in a physical sense, he draws attention to the fact that spiritual needs have to be met prior to physical ones. Although we may have physical ailments in this life, spiritual wounds require the healing of a Savior.
However, if God wills the healing, a prayer of faith can be a means by which God works to orchestrate that healing.
How Do I Pray in the Way James 5 Encourages?
Although there’s debate in the church about whether one needs to anoint the sick with oil, we can modernize this prayer in a number of ways.
First, the passage in James 5:13-14 indicates we should pray at all times, in all circumstances. The passage doesn’t just cover praying for a believer who is sick, but this article does focus on that aspect. We should also pray for forgiveness of our sins and pray when we find ourselves in lowly circumstances where we need to rely on God and when we’re happy.
Second, in the case of praying over a sick person, we should reach out to as many believers as possible, including church leaders, and ask them to pray over a believer who is sick.
Third, in all prayers, we need to assert our reliance on God, knowing he’ll fulfill his will and promises for believers.
What Does the Prayer of Faith Teach about Faith?
The passage is clear that in any circumstance, we need to pray. Whether we’re praising God or praying for a loved one who is on the brink of passing from one live onto the next, we need to fully rely on God.
Sample Prayer of Faith:
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are the Creator of all things and You sustain all of life. I come to you, acknowledging that your will is best, and that your plan is far greater than any I could ever ask for or imagine.
Lord, I come to you with troubles that are weighing on my heart and the hearts of many believers. God, I know that you carry all burdens, and I ask that you share your yoke with us know during this difficult time.
God, you are a God of healing. If it is in your will, I ask that you heal (fill in the blank), but I know that whether you choose to heal them or not, that everything will work out according to your purpose.
May I seek you in good times and difficult and learn to trust you more every day. May you increase, and I decrease, as I learn to become more like you.
In Jesus’ holy and powerful name, Amen.
Whether we’ve entered an abundant period of life, or whether one of our fellow believers is gravely sick, this prayer of faith can help teach us to rely on God. Instead of leaning on riches or anything the world may try to tell us will help navigate us through life, we know that trusting in God alone is the only way to bring about true healing, in both a physical and spiritual sense.
Hope Bolinger s a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
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This article is part of our Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
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Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Protection
Prayer for God’s Help
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Prayer for Strength