Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him…
When we remember what prayer is, we cannot possibly deny its prevailing power.
I. WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE HUMBLE IN OUR PRAYERS. The Times, in mentioning petitions which had been presented to the House of Lords, remarked of one, that it was rejected on the ground of an omission — after all, but a simple one — the word "humble" was left out. Doubtless, many a petition is rejected by a higher tribunal for lack of humility in the hearts of those who presented it. "Of all trees," says Owen Feltham, "I observe God hath chosen the vine, a low plant that creeps upon the helpful wall; of all beasts, the soft and patient lamb; of all fowls, the mild and guileless dove. When God appeared to Moses, it was not in the lofty cedar, nor the sturdy oak, but in a bush, a slender, lowly shrub: as if He would, by these elections, check the conceited arrogance of man."
II. IMPORTUNATE EARNESTNESS is another characteristic of successful prayer. A clergyman who had been preaching to the young, closed with an appeal to parents, in these words: About two-and-twenty years ago, a small circle had gathered around the couch of an apparently dying infant; the man of God, who led their devotions, seemed to forget the sickness of the child in his prayer for his future usefulness. He prayed for the child, who had been consecrated to God at his birth, as a man, and a minister of the Word. The parents laid hold of the horns , f the altar, and prayed with him. The child recovered, grew toward manhood, and ran far in the ways of folly and sin. One after another of that little circle were called sway; but two, and one of them the mother, lived to hear him proclaim the everlasting gospel. "It is no fiction," added the minister; "that child, that prodigal youth, that preacher, is he who now addresses you!"
III. The prayers of the Church, when making special supplications for the sick, ALWAYS LEAVE IT TO THE WISDOM OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER TO DETERMINE WHETHER RESTORATION TO HEALTH OR PREPARATION FOR A PEACEFUL DEATH SHALL BE BEST, and we beseech Him to grant the petition accordingly. Nothing could be more proper than this spirit of childlike submission. A father, once praying by the sick-bed of an only son, gave utterance to the rebellious petition, "Let him become what he will; so he may live, I shall be satisfied." Years and years passed by; the child had been spared, grew up to manhood, passed through a course of crime too awful to be dwelt upon, and was tried, and condemned to die. As he went forth from the prison to the gallows, he said to his old, heartbroken father, with a careless air, "Will you see me to the tree?" What a lesson to those who, while beseeching the Lord for the removal of some bitter cup, have not learned to add in the Saviour's submissive words, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt!"
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: