DOES GOD ANSWER ALL OUR PRAYERS

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Leslie M John

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

As the widow at Zarephath and her son continued to live happily with the blessings from the LORD through Elijah the prophet, there came the days of sorrow, when her son fell severely ill and died.  

The widow was sore depressed and vexed with him. She questioned him as to what wrong she had done to him that he came to their home, and if that was to bring to her remembrance her sin, which may have caused death of her son. Perturbed by the question from the widow, Elijah said to her to give her son to him, and when she gave the child into his arms, he took the child to the room where he stayed. He laid her son on his bed and cried to the LORD saying “O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 

After submitting his supplication to the LORD Elijah stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this child’s life come into him again.”  The LORD answered his prayer and the child’s life came back and he lived.

Elijah brought the live child to the woman downstairs and gave him to her and said “See, your son lives.” The dead son of the widow was raised to life, and when the woman saw her son live she was exceedingly happy. In her remorse she said to Elijah that she, then, believed that he was a man of God, and the Truth, which was the word of the LORD, was in his mouth (cf. 1 Kings 17:17-24 ESV)

Elijah’s prayer teaches us that God grants answers to our prayer provided it is according to His will. He gives us that which we ask if it is in His will. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14)

Much controversy is heard in our circles from a passage from James (James 5:13-20), which refers Elijah’s prayer. It poses serious questions as to whether sick will be healed when he is prayed over. James who was half-brother and servant of Lord Jesus Christ writes that if we pray to the Lord in faith He will grant our prayers. Controversy is seen because most of the times we read such passages without understanding what they are really saying. 

There are few points that need our attention.

Firstly, it is an admonition for the sick himself to pray over his sickness. It is personal relationship of an individual with God that matters more than someone else or elders praying for the individual. God and the individual only know clearly whether the individual does or does not have right relationship with God.

Secondly, the sick has to call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him. Notice, here it is the not the elders of the church who need to take initiative to pray over him; but it is the individual suffering who is sick should “call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him”.  The text needs to be read as it is presented to us; and not the way we want it to say. 

Elders or church members might visit the sick as a courtesy or love and affection toward the sick, but the onus of calling the elders or the church members to pray over him or request for prayers rests with the individual. Additionally, even as the manners of this world demand, no one would like to gate-crash into the house of the one who is sick, but would like to visit the sick at his/her invitation.

Thirdly, it is by anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. What does anointing with oil mean here? The word “anointing” is a translation of the Greek word Strong’s# 218 “aleipho”. The word here does not mean consecration of an individual or vessels for holy purpose as was done in the Old Testament period, or anointing kings such as the one performed on Saul or David, or as Lord Jesus Christ quotes a prophesy about His anointing as we read in Luke 4:16-20.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18)

The anointing that James referred was like applying oil for medicinal purposes.  Olive oil was used for medicinal purposes and the intention was using this word here was in the sense of applying oil to look fresh and have the medicinal effects of the oil or in reverence to the Lord (cf. Mar 6:13; Lu 4:18; 7:38,46; Joh 1:41; 9:6,11; 11:2; 12:3; Ac 4:27; 10:38; 2Co 1:21; Heb. 1:9)

“When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” (John 9:6)

Fourthly, it is clearly addressed to the individual that his/her prayer in faith will save him/her and the Lord will raise him up. The phrase used here is “the prayer of the faith will save the one who is sick”. Fifthly, if the individual who is sick has committed sins he will be forgiven when he prays for himself.

Sixthly, “confess your sins” or “faults to one another”, does not mean an individual has to confess his sins to any pastor, priest or to any individual. It only means if we have offended someone we have to seek forgiveness from him of that particular offence that we caused to him. Secret sins should be confessed only to God through Lord Jesus Christ. We have only one mediator for us; and He is our Lord Jesus Christ, who justifies us before the Father.

Jesus said: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:22-24 ESV)

Citing as to why many are weak or sick among us or die, Paul warns us to examine ourselves before we eat of the bread and drink of the cup during Lord’s Supper.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ESV)

It is imperative that we obey the commandments of Lord Jesus Christ and instructions of Apostle Paul in order to be healed of our sickness. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”.

The prayer of the righteous person and his fervent supplication has great power and it surely works in the way God wants it to work. Not every prayer is answered according to the wish of the person praying and this secret is known only to the Almighty God; but surely it is worth noting that everything works for good for those who believe in Him.

“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Paul’s prayer was not answered in the way he wanted it to be, but was answered the way the Lord wanted. Paul prayed three times to remove the thorn in his flesh, but the Lord said in his weakness the Lord’s name was glorified.

“And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

The mother of James and Zebedee asked Lord Jesus to seat them one on the right hand side of the Lord and other on the left hand side of the Lord in eternity; but her prayer was denied by the Lord. (cf. Matthew 20:20-24)

James quotes prayer of Elijah, who was a man like us and yet prayed fervently that it might not rain for three and half years and his prayer was answered by God. It did not rain for three and half years; and when he prayed again that it might rain God answered his prayer and it rained and the earth bore fruit. 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18 ESV)


MY REDEEMER  MY REDEEMER

O, what a blessed assurance our Lord Jesus Christ gave us that we will see Him face to face when comes again. He is coming again soon! It is not by silver and gold by which we are saved but we are saved by the precious blood of Lord Jesus Christ who gave us salvation free of cost. He saved us from perishing and gave us everlasting life because we believed in Him that He is the Son of God, very God Himself, incarnate in the form of servant in the likeness of man and dwelt among us. It is indeed amazing that such a great God at whose command storms calm down came down and dwelt among us and gave His life for our sake in order to justify us and reconcile us unto Himself.

Our first parents in the garden of Eden were curious to know as to what happens if they ate fruit from the forbidden tree and such curiosity never ceased even among the present generation who become the date setters for the coming of Jesus in spite of the assertion of Jesus that none but the Father only knows His coming again. Until He comes may we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of finding the probable date of His coming?