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The Prayer of Faith.
pp. 47 - 51
Over the past fifty years or so, it has become fairly common to hear comments to the
effect that in the past `the church has neglected the ministry of healing'. It has taken for
granted that the church of today has such a ministry.
A recent occurrence raises some doubts concerning this view point. A patient was
admitted to hospital for a fairly serious operation; during the next few days little, if any,
real progress was made. On the sixth day following the operation the `laying on of hands
with prayer' was administered. The next day the patient died. Had those involved been
questioned, they would doubtless have answered that through the ministration of the
laying on of hands, or anointing, God does one of three things: He either heals, or gives
grace and strength to live with the disability, or He delivers through death. Probably the
`main plank' for those who believe that the church has a ministry of healing today is
James 5: 15, where it is clearly stated that `the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the
Lord shall raise him up'. Perhaps we need to be reminded that to `save' has a wider
significance than is often given to it in Christian circles: Dr. Bullinger's Critical Lexicon
gives the definition "to make sound, to save, preserve from danger, loss or destruction.
To save in a Christian sense, is to save from death and judgment, (as the consequence of
sin), and to bring in all positive blessing in the place of condemnation". Liddell and
Scott's Lexicon states ". . . especially to keep alive . . ."--especially to keep alive!! What
then went wrong in the instance mentioned above? Who, of those taking part in the little
service, lacked faith? Was the rite of laying on of hands wrongly administered?
According to James `the prayer of faith' should `keep alive' the sick person.
The problem is not lessened if we look further into the passage in the epistle of James.
In the previous verse (James 5: 14) we read "Is any sick among you?" The one `sick' is
literally one `without strength', not necessarily someone who is ill. The passage has very
much in mind the thought of `bringing in all positive blessing'. In verse 15 the word for
`sick' is rather more specific signifying those who are really sick--from the same root
comes a word meaning `the dead'. Yet the prayer of faith shall `keep alive' such sick
folk, `and the Lord shall raise him up'. The word translated `raise up' occurs 141 times
in the N.T., 70 times referring to resurrection. It would seem then, that we should be
justified in saying that this passage (James 5: 14, 15) refers to those who are `off colour'
(as we should say), and to those who are very sick indeed, possibly `nigh unto death'
when, if necessary, in response to the prayer of faith, the Lord will resurrect the patient.
Let us turn, in this connection, to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, spoken
to Martha in John 11: 25--"I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall
never die". Clearly this latter statement has been a problem for hundred of years: in a
prayer used in the Funeral Service the compilers of the Book of Common Prayer altered
it to read `and whosoever liveth, and believeth in Him, shall not die eternally'. In other
words he will die, but he is assured of resurrection. But the Lord has already made that