James 5:13-20

Talks for Growing Christians

God Answers Prayer

James 5:13-20

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Lesson Number 10

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Prayers for the sick are answered.
  2. Prayers of the righteous are effective.

Practical Application

  1. Let’s save souls and cover sins.


  1. The theme of this portion of Scripture is both encouraging and controversial. Explain.
  2. What does this passage teach in general about sickness and healing?
  3. Is sickness the direct result of some specific sin in a believer’s life?
  4. What is disciplinary sickness?
  5. Whenever you see a Christian who is sick, is it disciplinary sickness?
  6. Does God heal people today?
  7. What should we consider when we think about healers?


  1. We believe that God is able to heal the sick, but we would ask, “Is this promise for healing good for today, or was it only good for the early church when the sign gifts were still in operation? Is the promise of healing good for every illness or only for sickness associated with God’s discipline of the believer?
  2. Sickness is the result of sin in a general way. If sin had never entered the world there would be no sickness. Sickness and death are the result of sin.
  3. Yes, there are some cases where sickness is the direct result of some specific sin in the believer’s life. See 1 Corinthians 11:27-30. This is called disciplinary sickness.
  4. Disciplinary sickness is when a Christian sins and the Lord disciplines him in reference to that specific sin.
  5. No. There are many biblical examples where individuals are sick and it has nothing to do with a specific sin in their lives. See, for example, John 9:1-3.
  6. Yes. Usually the means that God uses today is natural. Medical doctors can prescribe medicines and remove obstacles to that the human body which God has marvelously designed can do its natural work of healing. But God can heal supernatural as well, both then and today.
  7. Consider the source and power of their healing. Is it of Satan or is it of God? Beware of occult and pagan healers.


  1. Re-read James 5:15. Consider, “Does this verse mean that if you pray for healing and the sick person is not healed, then you and the sick person didn’t have enough faith?” No. There are numerous biblical examples where people prayed with great faith and were not healed. It is not God’s will to heal in every case. Actually, this verse refers to disciplinary sickness. That is, sickness because of a specific sin. In context, note James 5:16. Consider disciplinary sickness as a “Time-out” from God, so that the believer will look up and repent of his sin. Do you believe that you have ever been under God’s hand of discipline in this way?
  2. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Elijah’s prayers were based on the revealed word of God and he prayed in faith. Do you want to see your prayers answered? Then base your prayers on the revealed word of God and pray in faith. Challenge: pray this week for a specific opportunity to share the gospel with a specific individual that you know. Then watch God work! He loves to answer those kinds of prayers!


  1. Re-read James 5:19-20. The saving of souls here and the covering of sins does not refer to eternal salvation in this passage, but the context is the disciplining of the wayward believer. Do you pray earnestly for fellow believers who have wandered from the truth? Do you reach out to them and love them back into the fellowship? Pray specifically for a prodigal fellow believer, then reach out to him/her in love.

Key Verses

  • “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” James 5:13
  • anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name
  • “Is of the Lord.” James 5:14
  • “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
  • “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20

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