Brother Sewell: Please give us your views on James 5:13-15. Is not that portion of his letter as applicable to us in this age as any other portion of it? If not, how can we know where to draw the line? In verse 17 he refers to Elijah’s being a man subject to like passions as we are, and then speaks of the efficacy of his prayer. Is not the want of faith and works on our part the reason why our prayers are not efficacious in cases like those mentioned in the verses referred to above?
Verse 13 is plainly applicable to Christians at the present time. All Christians suffering afflictions should pray to God for help in these afflictions — in fact, all Christians should pray to God at all times, and then when afflictions come their special prayers will be regarded. People that are merry should always sing psalms rather than go into frivolity. But as to the matter of praying for the sick, with the full assurance that they will be restored, there are differences of judgment regarding this. Some think this pertained to the miraculous age of the church, and that the raising up of the sick had special reference to miraculous healing; and to this idea I am inclined. But, at the same time, anointing with oil is a good remedy in many things, and would be no bad thing to do in any case where oil could be beneficial. Calling the elders together and praying for the recovery of the sick, praying that the efforts made to cure the sick may be made effectual, is also a good thing to do at any time. And in all such prayers there should be the meek and humble expression: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Then after all these things are done, if our sick do not recover, we should confidingly submit, Job-like, and still praise the name of the Lord. And while these prayers are going on for the recovery of the sick, if the sick member has committed sins, he should sincerely repent of and confess his sins to God and all pray together for their forgiveness. All this, I think, would be proper and right. But to expect speedy and certain cure of the disease of the sick, I think, belonged to the age of miracles. Prayers for healing, through the general laws of healing, for the success of our efforts to heal, I think, are in order all the time.
Elisha G. Sewell