How often do we pray and truly expect God to do what we ask? When there is someone terminally sick, would we be surprised if they recovered back to their previous health? If we cannot pray to God boldly and bring our petitions before him with confidence, then why even pray? Why do we have a “prayer list” with the sick and military on it if we do not ask God for specific blessings on them? James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…Is 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 of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (5:13-15).
It is easy to pray generally instead of specifically. We hear prayers to help families deal with the coming loss of their terminal loved one. If we pray that way, we are putting the wisdom of man above the wisdom of God and that is foolish (1 Cor. 1:25). Why not pray that the terminal loved one be healed? Do we not think that God can heal the cancer? If not, then stop mocking God by asking for him to guide the one who is suffering into “peace.” If you are not going to pray with faith, then do not pray at all! “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18).
Do we try to protect God in our prayers? If we ask God to “do what is best for the situation” instead of “heal the sick,” we can protect God if the person does not heal. Do not pray “thy will be done” instead of “take the cancer away,” so you can protect God if the cancer remains. Realizing it is God’s will and not ours when we pray is essential (Matt. 26:39), but stop praying generally in order to protect God. Instead, pray boldly, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 1:15a). Here is a tough question: If the sick do not heal, did God have something else in mind or did we not bring “the prayer of faith” before him? I know and believe that “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” (Heb. 9:27), but do not use that as an excuse for a lack of faith.