A Big Misunderstanding
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
I’ve known some Believers in the past who misunderstand this verse in some way. One girl misunderstood it so much that she deliberately stopped following Jesus. She got really caught up in thinking that God is magical rather than miraculous. She said she prayed in a group for another person’s back problems and that she could feel heat coming off the girl’s back while they prayed. I don’t know what they felt because I wasn’t there, but my friend came away with the idea that it was the power of the group and not the power of God working that day. And she went looking for that experience to repeat itself rather than experiencing a relationship with Jesus. No wonder she doesn’t follow Jesus anymore, she put all her hope in the wrong thing and gave credit to where credit is not due.
Even without any knowledge of original Greek, one can look at this passage of Scripture and understand that it doesn’t claim to allow us to tap into magical powers. It simply gives the directive to pray.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other... Notice it doesn’t say confess to everyone like people tend to do on tv talk shows. Simply have a person or two that you share your heart with. This keeps us from becoming wise in our own eyes and ignoring things we do and say that need to go. It’s called accountability.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
So that you may be healed...Accountability doesn’t have to do with a physical ailment; being accountable address matters of the heart. So, this healing must be taking place in the heart. Lots of people went to Jesus for physical healing, but what did he always say? Not, “Ah, look! You’re all better!” But he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” (See Mark 2) He knows what people really need. Anyone can live with an ailment; ailments are temporary in light of eternity. We can NOT live with guilt, shame, grief, and sin. Those things are eternal and need to get cleaned out of our hearts.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This James 5:16 is not a license to travel the country putting on a faith healing show so people can see what WE can do. This is a passage about getting our hearts right with God so that we can see what HE can do!
I pray for my friend that I’m thinking about who did not properly understand this passage and that she would turn her heart to you once again, this time to be forgiven instead of to get caught up in dramatic experiences. Thank you for the dramatic experiences in our hearts every day as we get to try and be more like your Son that indeed makes us well in every way, takes the focus off of the physical and on to the spiritual, for the spiritual things are what’s eternal. And I thank you for preparing eternity for me and for those who love and trust you. And I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
PS. The Greek word "sozo" (used in James 1:15 for "healed") means made whole, saved, delivered.