Since I was a child, I have seen persons within the church anointed for healing as instructed in James 5:1316. When I accepted my call to ministry, I followed what had been modeled for me by my pastor and the leaders of our church. Even as a teenager, when asked to pray for someone, I would quote this passage, anoint the person with oil, and pray for Gods will to be done. In the intervening forty-five years, I have prayed thousands of times for individuals seeking healing of body, soul, or mind. I have not kept a statistical account of how many were healed in the moment, some later, and some never. Yet all received the best I had to offer in that moment as I requested a mighty outpouring of Gods grace and power.
Often, people outside the church, and sometimes inside, make disparaging remarks about praying and fasting because they have not seen evidence of results. At the core of any type of prayer is the fact that you are addressing the Creator of the world, the holder of all destinies, and our ultimate adjudicatorasking for his will on this particular subject or issue. At times, our own understanding of the situation may be clouded by our own desires and biases. The text from James places in proper perspective the attitude of the one praying: the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
It is critical to understand what it means to be a righteous person. As I understand it, a righteous person is one who seeks the will of the Father in all situations and circumstances and has his or her life and lifestyle committed to living out the perfect will of God (Rom 12:2). The solution we envision in any given situation may or may not be the will of God. It can be very difficult to separate our personal viewpoint from the will of God. This is where fasting and praying intersect. There are times when we need to get our own wishes out of the way so we can hear from God. An extended time of prayer, an interruption in our normal schedule, or some other change in our normal routine, may provide the opportunity for God to speak into the situation in a fresh way.
A moment from my first pastorate illustrates how God may take our humble efforts and bless them. I had been called to the home of an elderly lady who was near deaths door. The family wanted me to pray for her before she died. She had been a faithful servant of the Lord for many years. As I entered her bedroom with other family members, I saw a very frail person having difficulty breathing and barely conscious. I prayed for Gods will to be done in her life, for support for the family as they walked this journey with her, and that God would be glorified through this experience. We all left the bedroom to let her rest. Later, as I was eating dessert with the family in the kitchen, she appeared in the door and asked if they had any more pie. We were pleasantly shocked and immediately gave thanks to God for her recovery. Some months later, I preached her funeral, but for that night, the prayers of the righteous were heard.
In our praying, lets keep God in the proper perspective as defined by the Bible and recognize that we are vessels made of clay. Praise God for the opportunity to pray. Transforming Hearts Transforming Lives!
Lord, empower me to be a righteous person seeking the will of the Father in all situations and circumstances; a person whose life and lifestyle are committed to living out the perfect will of God. Then, empower me to speak powerful and effective prayers that escort people into your presence to be touched, healed and transformed. Amen.
-Dr. Ronald V. Duncan, General Director, Church of God Ministries