A Missing Component in Righteous Prayers for Healing

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anointing with oil

Today’s Bible reading from James 5 includes a verse that people frequently read incompletely. When someone quotes James 5:16, they are referencing the second half of the verse regarding the power of prayers from righteous people. Again, read the context. In the first half of the verse, James links the prayers of righteous people with the possible cause of their illness, hence the need for righteous people to pray.

James says that if anyone is sick and needs healing, call the local church leaders and have them anoint the sick person with oil. Then he says that the sick person should confess their sins to others and pray for them. That’s the part we miss.

In this case, I don’t think the verse divisions are the cause of the problem; I think our problem is our theology. Protestants, like myself, don’t believe we should have to go to a priest to confess our sins, so we bristle at the thought of confessing our sins to anyone but Jesus. And that’s a problem. And that may be the reason believers aren’t healed.

Now, before you brand me with a “heretic” label, let me say that God is still in the healing business. Not all sickness is caused by sin. Sometimes God uses miraculous means and sometimes God uses therapeutic means to heal people. (Acts 28:8-9) And sometimes God heals through physical death.


If you’re sick or suffering from any physical or mental ailment, by all means, seek medical care. There is — or there should be — no shame for a believer to take medicine or have surgery. And by all means ask God for healing, enlisting others to join with you. Both of these healing methods are mentioned in Acts 28:8-9, where Paul instantaneously healed Publius’ father and Dr. Luke used medical therapy to restore others to health.

But don’t neglect asking if yourself if your sickness may be sin-related as well. Faithful believing friends may be able to help you determine if you may be blind to your sin. If you see that your ailment is sin-related, confess your sins to your brothers or sisters, have them pray for you. Ask someone to anoint you with oil.

And trust God for healing by any of the three methods I listed earlier.