In reference to James 5:16: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
I have a rare genetic condition that causes hearing and visual impairment. They are incurable and my vision is deteriorating and might lead to blindness. Many pastors and people in my church have prayed for me but I have not been healed.
I have past sins that I am not proud of. I have confessed them to God and asked for forgiveness. However, I have not confessed them to anyone before for fear of being judged and bringing dishonor to my family.
I recently attended a healing ministry in my church and an elderly volunteer prayed for me. About a week later, he called me to ask if I would like to go through a deliverance. If yes, I must complete a checklist of my past sins and submit it to him. I will also have to provide him and his wife with the details of my and my ancestors’ sins as far as I can remember. He and his wife will then perform the deliverance on me.
I feel uneasy submitting the checklist to him. I do not know if I can trust him and his wife well enough to keep them confidential. I am also unsure how they will judge me.
I want to be healed and believe that God still heals today. For a long time, I wondered if James 5:16 was the reason why I hadn’t been healed. What do you think? Do you suggest that I should go for the deliverance?
"Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:13-16).
In this passage, James is talking about the power of prayer. Prayer can accomplish much more than we give credit for when it is done by a believer. Not just someone most people call a Christian, but one who truly believes that God listens! (James 5:16). James proves his point with the example of Elijah (James 5:17-18). You might be inclined to dismiss it because Elijah was doing what God wanted, but that is the point. All prayer is answered in accordance with God’s will (I John 5:14-15). But reverse that thought. Would the drought have come if Elijah had not prayed?
God listens to the prayers of the righteous (I Peter 3:12). The elders of a church ought to be such people who can approach God and have their prayers heard. We are not talking about older people, but the qualified older men who are selected to oversee a church (I Timothy 3 and Titus 1). When God answers their prayers and the person recovers, it is an indication that God heard and answered those prayers, but His answer is not in the form of a miracle. There is still recovery time. The person's health is not stated by James to be restored instantaneously.
While the elders are there out of concern for a person's physical health, James states that they should also attend to the person's spiritual health. "And if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him" (James 5:15). The person's illness is not necessarily due to sins on his part. Notice the "if". Job's friends assumed that Job's sufferings were due to some hidden sin on Job's part. They argued long with Job to confess his sins so that he could be restored to God's grace -- yet, they were wrong and chastised by God. "It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has'" (Job 42:7). I believe that this is the same mistake the people you are talking are making. They assume that you are losing your health because of unconfessed sin on your part. Worse, they are also falsely claiming that it might be due to some sin committed by one of your ancestors. That is not how God operates. "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).
What James states is that when a person sins, he can ask a righteous person to pray for him. He confesses his sin so that person knows what he needs to pray about. The prayer for physical health will restore the person's health if it is God's will. But more importantly, the prayer for spiritual health will definitely be answered.
You sinned in your past, but it is clear that you repented of those sins. You took them to God, and God promised to forgive His children (I John 1:9). He faithfully carries out His promises.
I'm sorry that you are losing your eyesight. I understand how difficult it is. My youngest brother also suffers from an extreme loss of vision. Often, we are not told why we suffer. Job suffered, but when you read through the book, you realize that Job is never told why he suffered. When the disciples asked Jesus why a man was born blind, the answer was not what they expected. "As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him'" (John 9:1-3). The only one who knows why you are losing your eyesight is God. But we can't demand an answer from God. We can only trust that He knows best. We can ask that the problem might be solved, but regardless of whether God's answer is "yes" or "no," you can lean on Him.
"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
The joy in life is not having everything perfect and without suffering. It is finding out that I can be happy despite imperfections and hardships.