Abstract: James’ teaching on ministering healing to infirm believers in James 5:14-18 is not traditional healing prayer whereby we pray to God, asking Him to heal the sick and after that leave the results up to Him.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
Instead of teaching us to “pray for” sick believers as we usually do, James uses the preposition “over” instead of “for.” In the original language of Greek, the two prepositions are not interchangeable. “Over” implies superimposition as it can in English, whereas “for” means “on behalf of.” So what did James mean by “praying over”?
To understand let us go to the source of what James taught about ministering healing: his older brother Jesus. It’s clear that teaching about supernatural healing in the New Testament must have originated with our Lord Jesus Christ. What did Jesus teach about healing?
A study of the gospels reveals that Jesus never taught healing prayer as we do it today—by praying to God asking Him to heal the sick and then leaving the results up to Him. Rather Jesus taught his disciples to heal the sick by laying hands over and then and then speaking over them with authority—exactly as he often did as recorded in the gospels.
Could that be what James meant when he taught “praying over” the sick?