“Those who belong to Christ are sheep. . . . Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.” — Charles Spurgeon
“Let those be your choicest companions who have made Christ their chief companion.” — Phillip Brooks
“Man is made for society and Christians for the communion of saints.” — Matthew Henry
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (James 5:14–16).
Here is an explicit directive for Christians who become sick. The word “sick” includes those who are feeble, diseased, or weak. Should a child of God find himself in poor health, he should call for special prayer from the elders of the church. Elders, or pastors, are to anoint (smear) the sick with oil in the Lord’s name and pray the “prayer of faith.” Note that it is not the prayer of doubt, nor the prayer of statistics, but the “prayer of faith” that will save (heal, restore) the sick. This is a vital ministry from the local church to believers.
Incredible strength is imparted when pastors agree in believing prayer. It means so much to the suffering when God’s people verbalize their confidence in God as they pray the prayer of faith. During this process, time is allowed for confession and counsel. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (5:16). Leaders cans assist as you open your heart to them. Tell them your struggles, admit your needs, confess your faults; then they can pray intelligently for you. The wisdom you stand in need of may be found in those very leaders. It is your responsibility to “call for the elders of the church.” Don’t hesitate to request this privilege.
The oneness in the Early Church was amazing. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32). In the Book of Acts, the Church was not an institution — it was a fellowship. There was such a sense of community that comforted the saints, and this closeness baffled the world. Over and over we read of the incredible unity: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:46, 4:24). “One accord” means they were of one mind. Their hearts were knit together in love — bound in supernatural unity.
When you belong to a vibrant faith community, you are not alone in your adversity. The “one another” commands in the New Testament are a fountain of life in times of great trial. “Exhort one another” (Heb. 3:13). “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). “Pray one for another” (James 5:16). “Comfort one another” (1 Thess. 4:18). These are only a few of the horizontal commands that are so helpful in times of difficulty.
The body of Christ can be one of the greatest encouragements when life is pressing in on you. Showing support through visits, acts of kindness, texts, cards, calls, gifts, and prayers brings immeasurable comfort to the hurting. I remember friends who drove two hours to be present at my father’s funeral. Their emotional support was deeply felt. The cards and expressions of concern were a source of strength. Often Christians feel more of a kindred spirit with fellow believers than blood relations. The bond of Christian love is profound. The path to wholeness is greatly helped by the ministry of God’s people to each other in times of adversity.
The day will come when you will be the one in need of ministry from your brothers and sisters. You can appeal to your church for the “prayer of faith.” You can reach out to your leaders and confidants for company, counsel, and comfort. Reaching is the evidence of desire. Difficult times call for reinforcement, not isolation. Seek out those individuals whose company you enjoy. You know the people who lift and encourage you, and these are the ones you should call upon. They will assist you as you “find your feet” again. Life sometimes brings things our way that cause us to lose our equilibrium. Godly people help us regain our footing and a proper perspective.
- Have you called for the “prayer of faith” in your adversity?
- Are you — as you are able — finding yourself in the public gathering of the saints?
- Is there someone you need to reach out to today to invite into your life?
Taken from “Extraordinary Strength in Adversity” by Harold Vaughan.
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