Lesson 12 For
December 20th 2014.
Prayer, Healing, and Restoration.
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Four Quatter 2014
Prayer, Healing, and Restoration
Read for This Week's
1 John 5:14;
1 Cor. 15:54;
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so
that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can
accomplish much (James
People are fascinated by the miraculous and the
magical. They often are drawn to such things as spectacles or matters of
curiosity and nothing more. So, when Jesus was asked to perform a
miracle merely for entertainment (Luke
23:8-9) or as a sign of His Messiahship (Matt.
12:38-41) or even to satisfy a legitimate need of His own
4:2-4), He refused. The Spirit, by which Jesus taught
authoritatively and effected miraculous healings, is not simply a power
to be used; we are to be instruments in His hands. God
would gladly heal everyone who is sick, but He is interested in a more
substantial, lasting healing.
Thus, in this context, we will look at some crucial questions: how do
we understand the words in James about the healing of the sick? Is there
a relationship between healing and forgiveness in answer to prayer?
Elijah is presented as an important model of prayer in a time of
widespread apostasy. What can we learn from his life of prayer and his
work of calling Israel back to God and true worship?
*Study this week's lesson to
prepare for Sabbath, December 20.
The Essential Christian Toolkit
James 5:13. What interesting contrast is he presenting here? How do
we apply these admonitions to our own experiences?
Though dealing with two different things (suffering, cheerfulness),
James links them with prayer and praise: pray when you are suffering,
praise when you are cheerful. The two practices are not that different
from each other, however, because many biblical psalms of praise are
also prayers, and James begins the epistle urging readers to
it all joy when falling into various trials,
knowing that the
testing of your faith produces endurance (James
1:2-3, NASB). The time to pray and the time to praise might
be more intertwined than we generally think.
The word for
James 5:13 (NASB) is from
the same root as the word used earlier to refer to the suffering of the
5:10). It refers to both physical and mental suffering-
and foremost for the danger and toil of war (Ceslas Spicq,
Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 239), but also
to exhausting manual labor and costly effort. It is used in
2 Timothy 2:9 and
4:5 too, to describe
the hard apostolic labor that is not
deterred by any difficulty or suffering-Theological Lexicon of
the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 240. As Christians, we instinctively
turn to God when trouble comes. Prayer is especially essential in facing
difficulties, but singing or playing sacred music (the word used,
psalleto, can mean either) is also helpful.
Singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a
song is prayer.-Ellen G. White,
Education, p. 168. How many of us
have been depressed or lonely only to have the words of a hymn come to
mind and lift our spirits? There are many among us who are suffering or
need encouragement and would be cheered by a visit filled with prayer
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who
12:15, NKJV). It may lift our spirits, too, as nothing else
The book of Psalms especially is a treasure house of prayers and
songs that can provide inspiration, encouragement, and direction when we
do not know where to turn for help.
We all know how suffering can draw us closer to
the Lord and how it can drive us to prayer. What, though, are the
spiritual dangers that come when things are going well for us? Why,
especially in those times, is praise so important? What does it help us
never to forget?
Prayer for the Sick
James 5:14-15. What are the essential elements James prescribes for
anointing the sick, and what important spiritual components are found in
The fact that the sick person calls for the elders of the church to
come and anoint him or her
with oil in the name of the Lord and
pray expresses the spiritual desire of the individual and the collective
conviction that divine intervention is needed for healing
6:13). The reference to the forgiveness of sins shows that
God will not, by means of a ritual, restore a person physically who does
not also desire spiritual healing.
To those who desire prayer for
their restoration to health, it should be made plain that the violation
of God's law, either natural or spiritual, is sin, and that in order for
them to receive His blessing, sin must be confessed and forsaken.-Ellen
The Ministry of Healing, p. 228.
The request for divine intervention and the summoning of the elders
of the church suggest that the illness is incapacitating and, perhaps,
also too urgent to be done in connection with a regular church
gathering. Two different Greek words are used for the sick here: the
first (astheneo in
verse 14) is also used of Dorcas who
became sick and died
9:37, NKJV); the second (kamno in
verse 15) refers generally to the patient, but it is also
used of those who are dying and, in this context, seems to mean someone
physically worn out or wasting away. The desire for healing requires
full surrender to God's will, whatever it is (1
John 5:14). However, the references to
rais[ing] the sick (compare
shall save . . . from death in
James 5:20) point unmistakably to the resurrection as representing
the only complete healing, the time
when this corruptible shall have
put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality
Many of us have known about anointing services,
or have even been involved in them, in which the sick are not healed but
in fact die. Why, then, is the hope of the resurrection, implied in
these texts, our only surety?
Healing for the Soul
More important than the healing of the body is the healing of the
soul. Our purpose is not, after all, to make people healthier sinners
but to point them to the eternal life found in Jesus. Perhaps that is
why the only clear reference to healing in the passage for this
week is our memory text in
verse 16, which moves away from the hypothetical situations
dealt with in
verses 13-15. The word for healing in this verse (iaomai)
can refer to healing that goes beyond the cure of physical illness
(see, for example,
Matt. 13:15). Having already in
verse 15 hinted at a broader understanding of healing (the
resurrection), James makes the connection between illness and sin, the
latter being the root cause of all our problems-not that every illness
can be traced back to a particular sin but that sickness and death are
the results of us all being sinners.
Mark 2:1-12 (compare
1 Pet. 2:24-25). What kind of healing do these passages
describe, and what is the basis of this healing?
Faith in Jesus brings healing from spiritual weakness and sin. In a
sense, every healing Jesus performed was a parable meant to draw
people's attention to their deeper need of salvation. In the case of the
paralyzed man in
Mark 2, spiritual healing was actually the man's uppermost
concern, which is why Jesus immediately assured him that his sins were
it was not physical restoration he desired so much as
relief from the burden of sin. If he could see Jesus, and receive the
assurance of forgiveness and peace with Heaven, he would be content to
live or die, according to God's will.-Ellen G. White,
The Desire of Ages, p. 267. While God's
healers today should employ all available medical means to cure disease,
efforts should be made also to heal the whole person, not just
for this life but in view of eternity.
Healing includes the healing of relationships, which is why we are
confess your sins to one another (James
5:16, NRSV), meaning those we have wronged
21-22). That is, if you have wronged or offended others,
confess to them. Then the blessing of the Lord will rest upon you
because the process of confession involves a dying to self, and only
through that death to self can Christ be formed within you.
Wednesday December 17
Models of Prayer
James 5:17-18. What do we learn about prayer from Elijah's example?
How is it connected with healing, forgiveness, and restoration?
These verses illustrate the assurance given at the end of
the effective prayer of a righteous man can
accomplish much (NASB). Elijah was a
righteous man and even translated to heaven, but he was not
superhuman. He had the same passions and feelings that we have. The fact
that God heard his prayer should encourage us that our prayers will be
heard too. James says Elijah
prayed earnestly that it might not
rain (a detail not mentioned in the Old Testament), petitioning
apparently for the fulfillment of
Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (alluded to in
Israel's worship of Baal, the god of storm and lightning, could not
go unchallenged on the basis of this prophecy in Deuteronomy. Though we
do not know how long Elijah prayed before his prayers were answered, his
petitions were based on careful study of, and reflection upon, God's
Word in light of his present circumstances. It may be that he quoted
Deuteronomy's prophecy as part of his prayer, just as Daniel's prayer
for Jerusalem is based on his study of Jeremiah's prophecy
Dan. 9:2-3). Our prayers, too, will be more effective when
they spring from thoughtful consideration of our circumstances in light
of God's Word.
The period of no rain lasting three and a half years (also mentioned
Luke 4:25) is a significant time of probation in Scripture (like the
prophetic period of
half a week, or three and a half years of
Jesus' ministry in
Daniel 9:27, and the
three and a half times of apostasy in
Daniel 7:25 and
Revelation 12:14). At the end of this period, God used Elijah to
begin a work of revival and reformation to wake up Israel so that the
people would recognize the depths of their apostasy. It was a work that
typified both the work John the Baptist would do for first-century
Israel in order to prepare the way for Christ's first advent and the
work that God has entrusted to His remnant church today to prepare
people for the Second Advent (see
As a church, we are seeking revival and
reformation. But it must begin in our own lives, our own selves, on a
personal and daily basis. What choices can only you, yourself, make that
will determine the direction and, ultimately, the destiny of your life?
Restoration and Forgiveness
God's Spirit worked through Elijah to restore the relationship
between Israel and Himself. But most of Elijah's work was not on Mount
Carmel. That was just the beginning! He carried it forward in small
villages and homes and in training future spiritual leaders through the
schools of the prophets to multiply his work of revival and reform.
James 5:19-20. How does the work described here compare with the
work done by Elijah, John the Baptist, and others?
Often, we forget the tender and patient work done by Elijah year
after year. John the Baptist's work, too, focused on leading people back
to the truth, inspiring repentance and baptism one person at a time.
Jesus described His work in very similar terms: leading people out of
error and back to the truth (see
This hypothetical situation described in
James 5:19-20 uses a conditional construction in Greek, making clear
that apostasy is not definitely assumed to exist but is probable.
Departure from the truth refers to apostasy not only in doctrine but in
lifestyle, for very often the first leads to the second. Doubts begin to
form about our beliefs, leading to double-minded behavior, and finally
to outright apostasy. Turning back a
sinner from the wandering of his
way will save his soul from death (James
5:20, literally translated). Summing up all that has gone
before, James appeals for his brothers in the church to do a work
similar to that of Elijah in leading people back to God.
This work requires much patience, sympathy, tenderness, and humility:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should
restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted
6:1, NIV). The work of Elijah is to turn hearts toward
God and His people, not to turn them away. Often the person is
well-aware of his or her sin and does not need it pointed out. What is
needed more is forgiveness modeled by Jesus and provided by His death.
Saving souls from death is possible only through the
sins, by applying the gospel to our lives, and becoming instruments of
Think of someone who has really done wrong and
knows it too. What can you do, what can you say, to help draw this
person back toward the Lord?
Read Ellen G. White,
Prayer for the Sick,
pp. 225-233, in
The Ministry of Healing;
Satan, pp. 518-523,
in The Great Controversy.
"Christ . . . asks us to become one with Him for the saving of
Freely ye have received, He says,
Matt. 10:8. Sin is the greatest of all evils, and it is ours to pity
and help the sinner. There are many who err, and who feel their shame
and their folly. They are hungry for words of encouragement. They look
upon their mistakes and errors, until they are driven almost to
desperation. These souls we are not to neglect. . . .
Speak words of faith and courage that will be as a healing balsam
to the bruised and wounded one.-Ellen G. White,
The Desire of Ages, p. 504.
- Think of a time when you really made a mess of things,
hurting yourself, others, and the Lord by your sin. How much did
it mean to you to have people who, although not condoning your
actions (and who might have generally and rightly been appalled
by them), nevertheless sought to encourage and uplift you? What
do you remember most about those experiences, and how can those
remembrances help you do the same for someone else who has made
big mistakes, as well?
James 5:16 prayerfully and carefully. What important
spiritual lessons are here for us? What does this tell us about
the power of prayer and how important it is for our spiritual
lives? Though prayer can and should be a very private matter, in
class talk about what prayer does for you, how you have seen
prayers answered, and how you have learned to trust the Lord
when prayers aren't answered as you wish. In the end, what would
you say is the most important practical benefit that comes from
effectual fervent prayer?
Under Arrest! Part 1
My pastor was planning to hold evangelistic meetings. He printed some
invitation cards for members to give their friends to remind them of the
meetings. He urged everyone to invite their families, friends, and
neighbors, and we young people of the church wanted to be included.
At that time Cuba's government was more strict about religion than it
is now. People could attend church and worship God, but the government
didn't want churches trying to convert people to their faith.
On Sabbath afternoon while our parents were in choir practice, four
girls and I decided to give out invitations to the meetings. We walked a
few blocks down a side street, giving invitation cards to the people we
passed or to those who sat on their tiny porches. Encouraged when the
people accepted the cards, we decided to give out cards in the
children's park a few blocks farther away.
One man sitting on a bench watched us talking to people and giving
them cards. The man called us over to where he was sitting and asked
what we were giving out. I gave him an invitation card and invited him
to come to the meetings. He looked at the card for a minute, then told
us, "It's against the law to give out religious literature in Cuba.
Where are your parents?"
"They are in church, a few blocks from here," I answered.
"I am going to have to arrest you," the man said as he stood up. Then
I noticed that he was wearing a military uniform.
"You can't arrest us," I told him. "President Castro said that we
have religious freedom in Cuba."
"Let's go to the police office over there," the man said, pointing
toward a small building on the edge of the park. So we followed the
officer to a small building, where the man made a telephone call. "We'll
wait here for the police to come and take you to jail," he told us.
We asked the officer several times to let us talk with our parents,
but the officer didn't respond. To bolster our courage, we began singing
"Side by side we stand." As our courage grew, we sang louder, so the
people walking by could hear us.
Then I saw a woman from the church walking by, and I called out to
her. I explained that the officer had arrested us for giving out
invitation cards, and asked her to please tell our parents back at
church what had happened. The woman returned to the church to tell our
parents. Soon a police officer arrived and took us to a youth detention
center. We began to wonder what would happen to us. Would our parents
Giovanni Zaldivar was a senior in high school at
the time of this writing. He would like to study engineering and help
build churches in Cuba.