The Book of James – It is Well

Today, we delve into the very last passage in James, thereby concluding our study through this book. It has been a wonderful time of deeper learning, and to do it with all of you who have joined me on this has only added to the whole process. As I studied this book, it has sometimes left me feeling how short I fall in my ways, but then I am reminded that it sure is a tall order if we try to live out our faith in our own strength. The key is to remember how much we need the Lord and the importance of abiding in Him. As he is our vine and we are his branches, we are to remain tethered to him so that our lives honour and glorify Him. And one of the vital ways we stay connected to Him is through prayer.

James here ends his writing with an emphasis on prayer.

James 5:13-16Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Prayer of Faith

Prayer, our privilege, and our responsibility, through which we commune with our Sovereign loving God, taking to him our worries, cares, mistakes, thanks, and praise. It keeps us focused on Him, it prevents our hearts from feeling overwhelmed, it helps stop our tendency to stray for temporal comfort and most of all reminds us that we need him every single day. These above verses are such a wonderful reminder of the importance of prayer, both personal and corporate. And the importance of repentance and forgiveness to be able to stand before God with clean hands and a pure heart.

But verse 15 can be easily misunderstood “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”

At first glance, the verse might read like God promises healing to the one who has prayed in faith. But we read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 of Paul pleading with the Lord for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, yet God didn’t grant his request. Instead, God supplied Paul with His all-sufficient grace, so that Paul would learn to boast in his weaknesses as he depended on God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Sin and Sickness

Sin can lead to consequences manifesting as sickness but not all sickness is the result of sin as we see in Job’s story.

In sickness, we are to pray, we are to pray with faith. It is not so much about mustering more faith on our own but knowing that we can go to the Lord with anything, and everything, even to help with our unbelief, as the father of the sick child did in Mark 9:23-25. It is also knowing that we do not have to be sinless to petition to the Lord and be heard. The Lord is willing to hear our hearts, but we are not to treat his mercy and grace with an attitude of callousness to achieve our momentary need and then forget about him because the Lord will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6).

It is Well

The surety in the verse is that the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. I think we often interpret ‘well’ in the way we wish for the prayer to be answered. It can definitely mean a physical answer to the prayer. But as scripture reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), so ‘well’ can be more than just physical.

Horatio Spafford the man who penned the famous hymn ‘It is well with my soul’ wrote those words after immense personal loss. He lost his four-year-old son, and the Great Chicago fire of 1871, ruined him financially. And shortly afterwards, His wife and daughters travelled ahead of him to England, all four of his daughters died as their ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford travelled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died. Looking at Spafford’s words, what did it mean to be well, it was more than physical restoration of what he lost but a spiritual restoration, to find peace, comfort, strength, and rest in the Lord.

In Daniel 3 we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; they knew God could save them from the fiery furnace that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to throw them in, but they said, even if he does not, we would not worship you. In other words, it would be well with their soul with how God chose for their story to go.

Earnest Prayer

We go on to read in James that ‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.’ And it is then James gives us the example of Elijah. James 5:17-18Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

We can lessen the value of our prayers because we might not think they would be as powerful as Elijah’s, but James words here tell us that they can be. Elijah had a nature like us, he was a sinner too, someone who fell short, but he believed in the power of prayer and led a faithful and righteous life being diligent in prayer.

Our daily living may not be perfect, but we have to reflect on our pursuit and abiding in the Lord for a righteousness that is pleasing to the Father. It is not about having a legalistic approach to how we live but a genuine intent for righteousness that finds its grounding in Jesus for then our hearts too will be aligned to His and so will our prayers.

James finishes with a focus on helping a sinning brother/sister in Christ.

Restoration

James 5:19-20 “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

We are not to turn a blind eye and quickly exclude someone who wanders and at the same time if we find that we misstep, we are to be open to correction. There is a blessing for the one who loves a brother/ sister enough to confront them in love and help bring them back from the error of their ways.

With these parting words reminding us of the Lord’s heart towards restoration of those who sin, may we too be encouraged to live out our faith even when we do stumble. It is God who enables and empowers, let us abide in Him to effectively live out our faith.

God Bless. 

36 thoughts on “The Book of James – It is Well

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  1. Thank you for your encouragement Manu! I love the hymn It Is Well With My Soul and it is even more special when I think of the circumstances in which Horacio Spafford wrote this song. Truly the Holy Spirit came alongside him in the most difficult of circumstances and allowed him to keep trusting in God despite everything. I also love your reference to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I am challenged to pray more with the attitude that I will be held in God’s hands no matter how He chooses to answer. Blessings to you!

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    1. I love that hymn too and feel the same way about it knowing the circumstances that led him to write those words. I am with you in having that attitude when I pray, to be ok with whatever God has in store, easier said than done I know but that is what is best for us.
      Thank you so much Joy.
      Blessings to you too 😊

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  2. “It Is Well With My Soul” is one of my favorite hymns. And the story behind it is so powerful. I complain about much smaller things. Yet Spafford wrote those words under such terrible circumstances. This is so convicting to me and my attitude.
    I love the way James focuses on prayer in these verses. And I love the way you explained that prayers might not always be answered in the way that we think they should. Such as with healing. But God is faithful to answer in the best way. Lately when things don’t go the way I want, I am trying to remind myself of the words of Jesus – “Thy Will Be Done.”
    Your words in this post really touched me. Too often I beat myself up when I make a mistake. You reminded me that God loves me more than my mistakes and He can see my heart. I need only learn to abide in Him!
    Thank you so much, Manu, for walking us through this study in the book of James. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have gleaned so much insight. (And I think this would make an amazing book. 😁) Blessings to you, dear friend! 🤗🦋♥️

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    1. I love that hymn too and like you it truly is convicting when we grumble about smaller things.
      Thank you for being on this journey through James with me. You always encourage me and the thought of making it into a book did cross my mind.
      This year is a bit crazy for me and hence I have not attempted anything. I tend to get anxious about things and when I have a lot going on, it kicks in and so I try not to take on something new to me,like the book. I will definitely do it though and will be calling in you then.
      Thank you my friend 🤗

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      1. I understand completely. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have a lot going on. And then something that should be enjoyable turns into stress. So I definitely admire your ability to take it slowly! This year I have been trying to learn to move more slowly with things like that. It’s all in God’s hands and He will work it out in His timing. God bless you, my friend. I hope you a have a lovely weekend.

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  3. Just a note of clarification. Certainly we serve Yahweh-Raphe, the God who heals, and we know that by Jesus’ stripes we can be healed. However, the Pauline reference to his asking for relief from a “thorn in the flesh” is probably not an appeal for physical healing (although we gather from Paul’s other writings that he probably had an optical problem).
    Paul’s reference to this “thorn” is clearly identified as a “messenger of satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” This was more likely a demon who would visit the apostle to accuse, tempt or otherwise harass Paul, to remind him that he had to depend on Father’s grace… and His grace was sufficient the apostle concluded, “for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
    Paul usually referred to “the body” when addressing physical issues, and to “the flesh” when addressing the unredeemed or spiritual deficient man; not always, but context usually shows clearly what he meant.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that. I am aware that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan that was allowed to harass him. I write that in this context not mentioning specifically about physical healing for Paul but refer to the verse as a focus that God might choose differently with healing be it physical or otherwise, using it as a reference to the point I try to make about assuming that healing (physical or otherwise).
      I also wanted to say that I appreciate you sharing this. On reading your comment, I did go back and read what I wrote to clarify for myself . I would rather be corrected and learn than for something wrong to be left as is.

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  4. When I think of Horatio Spafford writing It Is Well, I think of what Jesus said in John 16:33-“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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  5. Manu, I have enjoyed this study on James, especially this last post; It is well. It is such a privilege to be able to communicate to God in prayer. I believe in the importance and the power of prayer. When we abide in the Lord with trust and faith, He gives us strength so we can say all is well during difficult times.
    The book idea is great; when you have time, pursue it.
    Enjoy your weekend! Blessings! 💖💐🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jeanne. I have very much enjoyed you being in this journey with me and sharing your insights and thoughts.
      I agree in the power of prayer and the Lord giving us what we need to sustain us through our trials. Not easy but it draws us to a deeper dependency on Him.
      Thank you about the book idea. The idea is there but to make it a reality feels a bit daunting.

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  6. The hymn, ‘It is Well with my Soul,’ is my favorite. I think of the man who wrote it and am encouraged knowing he kept his faith in God through those fiery trials. The book of James has so many good nuggets of truth. You brought this out so well in this post. Thanks for sharing with us, Manu.

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    1. I agree Renee, it is encouraging to read the author of the hymn kept his faith and cling to God even in his grief.
      Thank you so much Renee 🤗

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    1. Thank you so much Gregory. It has been a very good time of learning through this book. I was encouraged and convicted as I studied through this book.

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  7. Thank you so much for this Manu! It seems God brought me back to blogging on time. I’ve been doing a study on prayer. I’m reading through Spurgeon’s ‘Lessons From The Apostle Paul’s Prayers’ It’s a very good read. 👍 Your post is as well. It is being bookmarked, will be added to my study and I will revisit it again. Blessings. 💙

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  8. I have enjoyed your study of James, thank you. Prayer is so important. Just taking that time alone with God changes things, especially our hearts. At times it is a struggle to stay consistent but as with everything else, praying and asking God to help us pray helps tremendously as opposed to trying to stay consistent on our own. It is well with my soul is my mom’s favorite hymn. Thanks again Manu, blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dawn. It has been lovely to have you journey with me through this and I always look forward to hearing from you.
      It is a struggle to stay consistent in our prayer but like you said when we do it in our own strength it sure os not going to carry on. Thank you again and blessings to you 🤗

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  9. Wow! Thank you for your deep insight into James. I loved what you said about “It is God who enables and empowers”. This is absolutely true. Sometimes we may be tempted to use our own strength or be “righteous enough” but it’s always good to remember that it is God who enables and empowers per what you said. Apart from him we can do nothing. Be blessed! Can’t wait to read your next bible study series!

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