Prayer to Encourage the Believer

Praying for Healing from Depression

James 5:13-18 (KJV): “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14Is 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: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 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. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel

Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Israel

This passage gives several interesting points on the subject of prayer for our consideration:

  • We should pray any time we have a need, or when we wish to offer praise to a faithful God
  • We can and should pray together
  • We can ask the elders in the church to pray for us
  • The phrase, “The prayer of faith” points us to the important connection between faith and answered prayer
  • Forgiveness of sins can result from prayer
  • Confessing our faults to one another can be beneficial
  • The fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful
  • James then cites for us, the example of the prophet Elijah, a man of prayer
  • He had passions and feelings just like us, that is, he was entirely human
  • He prayed earnestly and persistently
  • God answered Elijah’s prayers that were in accordance with His will

Some people argue that James 5:13-18 is not talking about prayer for physical healing from sickness alone, but about praying for healing from feeling low, depression and discouragement as well. The Greek words for “sick” in verse 14 and 15, and “healed” in verse 16, do allow this interpretation. Notice, also, the word “cheerful” in verse 13.  Cheerfulness is contrasted with depression. This suggests we can have a positive attitude when we pray because we are praying to the One who can do something about whatever difficulties we face in life. God does not want us low, but to be encouraged.

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel where Elijah Prayed in Israel

Jezreel Valley north of Mount Carmel, Israel, where Elijah Prayed