Dr. Bill Beachy was a medical doctor during World War II. When the war was over, he began another field of medicine – prayer for the sick.
Bill attended seminary, entered the ministry, and served for many years as the chaplain of St. Luke’s Hospital.
As an Episcopal minister, Bill traveled the world conducting healing services through the church.
I remember talking with Bill about his ministry. He told me that he initially began praying for the sick to grow his faith.
We see the immediate power of God when he heals someone in response to prayer.
With Bill’s story in mind, let’s turn to what James taught about healing prayer.
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up, and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (James 5.13-16).
What James taught is consistent with what Jesus did on earth. Healing the sick was one of three central key aspects of Jesus’ ministry.
The other two involved proclaiming the kingdom of God and deliverance from evil spirits.
The last sentence of verse 16 needs examination for healing prayer and also all other aspects of prayer.
You may be familiar with the King James Version translation of verse 16: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
You may also have heard sermons that emphasized “fervent” prayer as essential to effective prayer.
When I read the New American Standard translation, I noticed that “fervent” was not in the verse.
The NASB reads, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
I decided to study this verse because it seemed to provide a key to effective prayer for the sick and other needs. Here are some thoughts.
(1) The word “fervent” is not in the Greek text.
(2) Righteous people are aligned with God’s will. We don’t do this on our own. It is only possible through what God has done for us.
What Jesus said is true of coming to God as righteous people and every other aspect of our lives.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15.5).
(3) The Greek word for “effective” is always connected with the work of God through the Holy Spirit.
Here are the three references to God’s work that makes his power effective in our lives.
— There are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates [makes effective] all of them in everyone (1 Corinthians 12.6).
— Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work [make effective] miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard? (Galatians 3.5)
— For it is God who is at work [being effective] in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2.13).
(4) Conclusion: Holy Spirit-inspired prayer in the life of a person whose will is aligned with God’s will accomplishes much.
I learned as much from how Bill Beachy lived his life as I did from what he taught me about healing prayer.
Bill lived in a gentle and joyful relationship with Jesus. He was led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
He didn’t presume anything about God when he prayed for others. He sought to be aligned with the Spirit before he prayed for someone.
I love how Bill used to say, “Let’s see what the Lord wants to do with you.”
I hope these words help you as you pray for others. Let’s see what the Lord wants to do with us, as we are aligned with God’s will and made effective by the Holy Spirit.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.