Divine Healing Has Not Passed Away
James 5: 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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. 15 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. 16 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.
I was just reading Tim Challies blog where he was quoting a commentary on the book of James by Daniel Dorian on the subject of Divine healing. As I understand it, there are extremes on both sides of the cessationist v. continuationist issue. There seems to be just as much error on the part of the extreme cessationist as there is in the extreme continualist camp. Whatever our stance, I trust we can all agree that it is entirely biblical to continue to expect great things from a great God. He still answers prayer. I could add to the testimony below having seen countless answers to prayer as God has graciously intervened to heal. - JS
Here is the quote: During the autumn when I first studied James in earnest, a friend suffered a viral infection of the heart. While it was not a heart attack, it mimicked many of the symptoms of one. My friend felt listless; he looked gray and lifeless. One day at church, I told him that James 5 instructs elders to lay hands on the sick and to pray for their healing; I suggested that he call the elders for that very purpose. Two weeks later, he told me he wanted to proceed. No one in our church had done this before, so we did something very Presbyterian: we studied the matter another six weeks and hoped he didnâ€™t die in the meantime.
At last, we appointed a night for prayer and the elders gathered. Our churchâ€™s pastor (I was a college professor at the time) summoned the elders. Before we prayed, he told us not to expect a dramatic physical healing, since God heals in many ways. I appreciated his motive, but there was no need to restrain my enthusiasm; my doubting heart was already skeptical enoughâ€¦
â€¦My friend knelt down in the middle of a circle of elders. We anointed him with oil, laid lands on him, and began to pray. Since I had started the process, I was appointed to offer the closing prayer.
As soon as we began to pray, I had an overwhelming sense that God was, at the moment, healing my friend. My arms felt what I can only describe as bolts of fire pushing through them. As I grasped my friendâ€™s shoulder, heat and energy burned my hand. I felt that my one hand could lift all of his 230 pounds to the ceiling or push him through the floor if I wished.
I knew God was healing him. I wanted to shout, â€œWe must stop praying that God will heal John and start praising God that he has healed him.â€ But I was too astonished, too unsure of my sensations, to say a word to anyone that night. For four days, I kept my experience to myself.
Four days later, after church, my friend beckoned me with a wild grin, â€œDan, watch this.â€ At once, he dashed up a flight of steps. I dashed after him and met him at the top. He smiled, â€œAnd Iâ€™m not even breathing hard.â€
â€I knew it,â€ I exclaimed, and told him what I had felt a few nights earlier. And he told me, â€œI knew it too.â€
Since that day, I have joined elders to lay hands on the sick and pray for them. I have never again felt the fire. And while I occasionally feel a flood of warmth and emotion, I have learned that my feelings and Godâ€™s healings have no connections. A small number have experienced immediate healing from serious illness. More have recovered gradually and under the care of physicians. Many have found spiritual healingâ€”great peace and spiritual renewal in times of crisis and suffering, whether they recovered physically or not. And some have apparently gained no physical or spiritual benefit at all.