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James 5:13-20 - Praying for a miracle

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

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Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, 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 the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.


My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


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This is the Epistle reading to be read aloud on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 21], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow either a Track 1 or Track 2 pair of readings, depending on the church’s schedule. Track 1 will present Esther 7 and her making a wish for her king to save her cousin-father figure, Mordechai, whom Haman planned to execute for being a Jew. The Track 2 offering will feature Moses and Yahweh becoming angry at the constant grumblings of the Israelites, causing Yahweh to fill the elders with His Spirit, so they prophesied. The accompanying Psalms sing of the protection Yahweh brings His wives [“elohim”] and the rewards that come from divine marriage of a soul to His Spirit. All will accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, when disciples reported a stranger casting out demon spirits in the name of Jesus; so, Jesus told them, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”


I wrote about this selection the last time it came up in the lectionary cycle [2018] and posted it on my website then. That commentary can be read by clicking on this link. In my observations then, I focused on the terminology of the Greek text and explained James’ focus on prayer. I stand behind my views expressed in 2018 and I welcome all to read that article and compare it to what I will add here today. I will try not to rewrite that already said, as I plan to address this reading selection from a position that links it with the other readings of the same Sunday.


When this Epistle selection is seen as relative to the readings from Esther and Numbers, the element of “prayer” presented by James must be seen. Even the Gospel reading from Mark must be seen as the prayer written of by James as being present. Those readings need to be reviewed now, in order to see how James wrote words about divine prayer, which manifest in the other readings.


In the Esther reading, one must assume that Mordechai and Esther were not typical Jews, but those whose faith in Yahweh made their souls be married to Him. They were his “elohim,” as both a male human being (Mordechai) and a female (Esther). In essence, when King Ahasuerus asked Esther what he could give her, she offered her prayer. She said, “Let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request.” Her prayer was answered. That was not because she was a Jew and that was not because she was a queen. Her prayer was her love of Yahweh and those who also loved Yahweh; so, she had not given deep thought about what she wanted, as much as she cared for the freedom of all Jews to worship Yahweh.


In the Numbers reading, we read how the Israelites selfishly prayed, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Yahweh heard those prayers and was angered. Moses heard weeping from every tent, which made Yahweh angrier and Moses displeased. The answer to the prayers of the people was not to bring them all the foods of Egypt, but instead to bring the Holy Spirit upon them. After all, they were not on a forty-year camping trip that never ended in order to get what they wanted. The Israelites were learning to give up all the worldly pleasure of the past and find the love of Yahweh that would unite His Spirit to their souls. That is the lesson of the wrong kind of prayers being sent forth by Yahweh’s children, where the answers to those prayers is a ‘Come to Jesus” experience.


In the Gospel reading from Mark, where disciples came complaining to Jesus that someone was casting out demon spirits in the name of Jesus, when he was not one of Jesus’ disciples [who had been given the soul-spirit of Jesus for intern ministry], Jesus told them whoever is not against us is for us. Obviously (in my mind), the person seen by the disciples had been previously in contact with Jesus, where that contact was the answer of his prayers. That says prayers are a matter of faith (more than belief), such that faith is a statement about one’s soul having married Yahweh. Prayer is then an instrument to be used by the wives of Yahweh, who are empowered to be Christs in the world.


With these connections to prayer seen, then when James asked, “Are any among you suffering?” the question is about persecution because of one’s faith. Ministry means being sent as Jesus out to do the works of faith; but Jesus knew rejection would be a typical result. The answer James offered is to talk to Yahweh.


When James then followed his first question with another that asked, “Are any cheerful?” this speaks of the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit with one’s soul and the resurrection of His Son in one’s flesh, which is an amazing reason for rejoicing. James then said to sing songs of praise. This can be the Psalms of David that Jews typically memorized [like 'Ole Time Religion' favorites], but David was moved by the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit, so David made songs that Yahweh spoke through him. Thus, James was saying prayer is being able to be the voice of Yahweh, for all to hear.


In my 2018 analysis, I pointed out the meaning of the Greek that says “sick.” I do not need to restate that now. However, James advising that the “sick” should “call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” That needs more understanding.


People called “charismatics” have long existed. They were around before Jesus was born. There is much that can be said about the powers of enthusiasm and positive thinking. There are courses that can be taken [at a price], where one can train oneself to be ‘the best you can be.’ That works until is doesn’t. These days there are no “elders of the church” who can “anoint” anyone with anything more than “oil.” No oil purchased from a store will make one be “in the name of the Lord.” There are plenty of people [some even well-intentioned] that like the idea they can “anoint in the name of the Lord,” but when James said have them “pray over them,” this means the “oil” is spiritual, not physical, coming from prayer.


Recently, I saw an Internet posting about a man named Rife, who theorized cancerous tumors emitted electromagnetic frequencies, which could be determined and a counter frequency applied [called “radionics”] that would kill the microbes and viruses, thus curing one of disease. He invented what is called a “Rife machine,” which his application said had a high cure rate, with no dangerous side effects. Unfortunately, tests since have not been able to duplicate his success rates, causing the machine to be deemed a hoax by the American Medical Association. People have continued to show faith in his ‘science’ and died due to rejecting normal cancer treatments, leading to lawsuits against those selling the Rife machines as legitimate treatment.


The point I want to make about this is people told they are going to die [the reality of the Greek word meaning “sick”] will do anything to stay alive as long as possible, with many seeking ‘miracle’ cures. Faith healing is something that falls into the category of a Rife machine, in the sense that it becomes fear of death that is known to exist in all human beings, so there are those who take advantage of those willing to pay anything to stay alive. Medicine can find no reason to verify prayer as having more positive effect than a Rife machine. Still, the industry that makes trillions of dollars treating disease, knowing treatment (without cure) keeps business booming, has no interest in furthering the concepts from which the Rife machine was born [he ran out of money and went bankrupt, going to his deathbed stating his belief that radionics would indeed cure cancers], because there is no money to be made from real miracle cures. Thus, there are few supporting James’ suggestion that prayer by elders of a church is something those with terminal disease should consider seriously.


Prayer must be realized to be only of true value when it is a communication between a soul married to Yahweh. Jesus said Yahweh will know one’s needs, before one can formulate the words to express that need in prayer. What James is saying in verse fourteen should be heard as the truth of last rites. While this seems to be some institutional work of clergy [the same with “Confession”], if the clergy is not a soul truly married to Yahweh and if the soul in a body of flesh about to die has not been a Saint [marriage to Yahweh brings this state of being to be], then it is much ado about nothing. James is referring only to those souls that have become Yahweh’s wives and given rebirth to His Son. To have Jesus be “an elder of one’s church” [of true Christians], then death does not necessarily mean the end. One can be resurrected, like Jesus raised Lazarus, because bringing in Jesus for last rites can mean resurrection [if Yahweh needs one to serve Him some more in the flesh]. That becomes a true miracle, which can only come when prayer is more than some tossed around word.


James wrote, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” The key word there is “righteous.” That word is impossible to realize by a soul unmarried to Yahweh. That state of being can only come by Jesus being resurrected within one’s soul-flesh, so one’s soul submits to the Will of God and His Son then directs one’s flesh so it rejects all influences to sin. Being “righteous” can only come when Jesus has been truly reborn into the flesh. Thus, prayer is “powerful and effective” when it is Jesus doing one’s praying. This can be done by all who seek that power and effectiveness; but only when one’s self-ego has been lowered, in submission to Yahweh, when a soul unites with His Spirit. That death of one’s ego allows for the new ego – that of Jesus – to possess one’s body of flesh and lead it down a path of righteousness.


Lately, I have monitored a Facebook group page, where Episcopalians routinely pander to others in that group for prayer. They are free to ask others to pray for those sick [mentally and physically] and dying. In between asking for prayer assistance, they ask questions that condemn any and all who do not think the way they think, belittling anyone of true faith that sees the Episcopal Church as effective as a Rife machine in bringing souls to marry Yahweh. This means that prayer, as the Apostles wrote about it, is wholly misunderstood and really does not want the truth to be discovered. That reason is also, “There is no money in it.” Churches would all go out of business if the people seeking truth from Yahweh to lead their lives were taught that prayer means marrying one’s soul to Yahweh and submitting one’s flesh to being Jesus resurrected. Then, after eternal life has been gained, there can never be any worry about what happens to mortal flesh [it all dies eventually].


In the last verses [19 & 20], James wrote, “If anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” This focus begins with finding the truth, with the truth being the knowledge that comes from a soul’s marriage to Yahweh. The world is mostly lost and far from the truth, especially when it comes to understanding the meaning of “prayer.” The roots of “sinning” are based on a self [“self” equals a “soul”] being alone in its decisions regarding its flesh. Self-worship forbids one from marrying Yahweh. A soul must sacrifice self and submit to the Will of Yahweh. Being brought back from wandering means being reborn as Jesus. That resurrection means death is meaningless, when one’s soul has been assured eternal life. Sins will forever cease when one has become the Christ reborn.


As an Epistle reading to be read aloud on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson is to understand “prayer” as one being able to hear the voice of God, and thereby tell God how one feels. Ministry cannot bring back any lost sheep, when oneself is just as lost. Ministry should not promote “prayer” as some Rife machine that usually does not work, but “Man, when it works, Wow!” One must know “prayer.’ Then one must become the answers of other’s prayers, so one has been sent by Yahweh, as Jesus reborn, to make contact with the seekers of faith.

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