September 3

Christian Friends Pray For Each Other

“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. 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.” (James 5:15-16)

Have you ever been a victim of a scheme where someone tried to get you to give them money for a promise? It is unfortunate that there are so many schemers today, robbing people of money for the empty promise of a prize, a financial windfall or even physical healing in a church setting, with false hopes of an improved life. God’s Word never tries to draw us in with false hopes or manipulate us to obey for a reward. The Lord does not need to make empty promises or use clever words to convince us to follow him. The Bible’s statements of fact are just that—dependable, reliable declarations of certainty—dependent upon God’s superior power and character. A prayer of true faith works because God works in it; the prayer of a believer has enormous power because the Holy Spirit inhabits our prayers. But there are many misinterpretations about the faith of a believer, which can lead us down a dark trail that ends up right back where it started—with our inadequate efforts. For example, Christian Scientists believe that the burden of healing is on the sick person, to have faith in their own faith. (1) This passage clearly shows that it is the Lord who will “raise up the sick person, through the prayers of the “righteous” believers. The faith mentioned is not that of the sick person, but that of the one praying. Do you want your friends to be healed of illness? Pray in the strength of Christ. Do you want your friends to know Jesus? Pray in his power.

Praying for physical or emotional healing is easy compared to praying for a friend who has possibly fallen into sin, because we’re all sinners. But thankfully, we don’t commit sins all the time, not even in our minds and hearts. When we do sin, we are commanded to confess our sin and repent.  Praying for a friend who may be sinning can help her repent, to be reconciled to God, healed, or be helped in other ways. If we are the ones who have hurt a friend with unkind, judgmental, or cutting words, we must confess our sin and pray for our friend. Yes, pray when we have been the one to sin, and pray when we have been hurt—praying “for one another.” And, having learned from Job’s friends, we must not make assumptions about our friends’ hearts and God’s work in their lives. Many commentators view the phrase “save the one who is sick” to mean that if (big “if”) the ill person is sick as a consequence of sin, prayer will be effective to bring him or her to repentance. (2) Our perspective should be that God is at work in them as he is in us.

Believers’ friendships are meant to be an integral aspect of our sanctification, so that we may become more holy through our associations. Nonetheless, true humility and vulnerability in friendships is not for the fainthearted. It takes courage to admit our faults and sins. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins of commission (hurtful words and actions) and omission (our neglectfulness). How do you pray for your friends? How would you like them to pray for you? Are you willing to confess your sins to your friends so they can pray for you?

(1)  Christian Science does not teach that Jesus Christ is a Savior and misinterprets much of the Bible. It is very alluring to a determined person, which is probably one reason why I joined the cult before I came to true faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. For a brief, objective overview of Christian Science beliefs see http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/2001/06/what-christian-scientists-believe.aspx

(2) Geneva Study Bible, online edition, note on James 5:15, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/geneva-study-bible/james/james-5.html

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