Does confessing sin bring physical healing?
According to James 5:15-16, “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Yes, it is important to pray for spiritual reasons. Although sin is not always the cause of sickness in our lives, it is mentioned in verses 15 and 16 and in verses 19 and 20 as a possible cause for sickness. So, the possibility should be considered and the opportunity given for confession, but it must not be assumed that sin is always the reason for sickness.
It’s God’s work to convict a man of his sin; you don’t want to do that. On the other hand, if you know somebody who is living in open sin, and they feel the pain and judgment of some sickness in their life, then maybe you have the right to go and say: “You know what? Maybe if you get this straightened out in your life, God will hear and you’ll be healed.”
“If he has committed sins” the text says. This is a very complex clause. It carries the idea of persistence. In other words, it’s not just “he sinned once.” It implies openly, knowingly, recklessly, and rebelliously persisting in sin. And those sins will be forgiven him implies that the sins have been confessed and forgiveness of sin has been asked of the Father.
When a believer recognizes that God has brought a very untimely and severe illness to incapacitate him, he is to call for the elders of the church. And the elders are to come, and he is to confess his sin; and they are to anoint him with oil and pray over him. If sin is the cause of the sickness, and if sin is cared for through confession, there will be no further need for chastisement and God often takes away the sickness.
If God’s going to do it, why should we pray? Can we get God to change His will when we pray?
At this point, we discover one of the most tremendous principles about prayer. God knows His plan; and even when He reveals His plan to us, He expects us to pray over that plan. The Bible says, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15). Sometimes I get the impression that I have misunderstood the meaning of prayer. Prayer is not to get God to change His will. If we really believe that the will of God is perfect, then why would we want Him to change it? Our prayers really ought to be prompted out of our deep understanding of what the will of God is. There are a lot of folks who go to prayer, not to ascertain the will of God, but to ask Him to do what they want. Prayer is not getting God to adjust His program to what we want, it is adjusting our lives to the revealed will of God. When we pray, it isn’t God who changes, it’s us. Maybe we’ve been looking for change at the wrong end of the cycle. Prayer is not only motivated by the Word of God and measured by His will, but it is also manifested in our walk with God. The prophet Daniel not only prayed frequently, he also prayed fervently. He was committed to daily prayer; in fact, he prayed on his knees three times a day, whether he was busy with the affairs of state or whether the king issued a decree forbidding prayer to anyone except himself. When a crisis came, Daniel didn’t change.
Why is prayer so hard for us? How can we change that and become consistent in our prayer life?
Prayer is hard for us because its very existence shouts that God is the only source that can make us what we ought to be. Prayer forces us to admit our own spiritual impotence. God insists through His Word that until we come to Him, we will never know either prayer or power in our lives. Also, the enemy of our souls wants to keep us from developing a relationship that he knows will bring joy and satisfaction to us. Only in the process of praying will we find the meaning of life: a dynamic, personal relationship with the Creator, the living Lord, the Babe of Bethlehem, the Savior of the Cross, the resurrection morning Victor, the only One who is life to us.
Though in a position of great responsibility, Daniel prayed 3 times a day every day (6:10), and God blessed him abundantly. His consistent prayer life was characterized by his personal faith, piety, petition, and praise. Daniel decided what to pray for based on his own study of the Bible. He prayed on his knees with humility. He was a pious man who recognized that he was merely a servant in the hands of an omnipotent God. His petitions, his requests, were specific, related to life, and intense. He knew that God holds all things in His hands, and he was not afraid to ask God to give him some of those things. When Daniel was about to be thrown to the lions, he prayed to God through a window opened toward Jerusalem and filled his mouth with words of praise and gratitude toward God. Daniel continued in his devotion when he was fourteen, thirty, in mid-life, when he got to be sixty, when he reached eighty, and in his nineties. When he was a very old man, he was still a mighty weapon in the hands of God. May God help us to strive to follow Daniel’s example in our own lives. For more information on this subject, see the book by Dr. Jeremiah, Prayer—The Great Adventure and read about how God answered Daniel’s prayers in The Handwriting on the Wall by Dr. Jeremiah.
Is there a wrong way to pray?
The Lord says in Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
This verse means that we are not to come to God repeating the same words and phrases over and over again as if that is necessary for Him to hear us. Spiritual mantras are not biblical. When we pray out of the genuineness of our hearts, then God will hear it, and it will be acceptable to Him.
Jesus is not concerned with us having the right set of words or a certain intonation in our prayers. He wants a relationship with His people. He wants us to converse with Him as a friend.