Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV)
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)
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. (NASB)
By way of encouraging both elders and Christians to this kind of intercession for those in spiritual weakness, James reminds them that such prayer is effective. Effective translates energeō, from which our English word "energy" derives. The prayer of a righteous man (cf. 4:3; Ps. 66:18; Prov. 15:8; 28:9), James notes, can accomplish much (literally "is very strong"). Weak prayers come from weak people; strong prayers come from strong people. The energetic prayers of a righteous man are a potent force in calling down the power of God for restoring weak, struggling believers to spiritual health.
To further demonstrate the power of righteous prayer and provide an illustration that captures the essence of his discussion, James turns to one of the most popular Old Testament figures. Elijah, he reminds his readers, though a prophet and man of God, was a man with a nature like ours. The Bible records that he was hungry (1 Kings 17:11), afraid (1 Kings 19:3), and depressed (1 Kings 19:3, 9-14). Yet when he prayed earnestly (lit. "he prayed with prayer"), incredible things happened: It did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. Elijah's prayers both created and ended a devastating three-and-one-half-year drought (cf. Luke 4:25). While 1 Kings 17 records the drought, only James gives its duration and links it to the prayers of Elijah.
MacArthur, J. (1998). James (280). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.
Did you know?
In the Old Testament, the priest was also the physician. It was he who diagnosed leprosy, and it was he who pronounced it cured, for instance.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jas 5:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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