The Blessing of a Tzaddik
Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful. – James 5:14-16 HCSB
As an elder of Yeshua’s church, some people have deeply desired my prayers when they were hurting. Some have crossed the line to where they believed I had some mysterious, “magical” power.
Others have questioned the value of receiving a blessing from a tzaddik stating that a lesson learned from the story of Sodom is that even Abraham could not save others with his petitions. “Each of us must save ourselves” they state. “A tzaddik may guide, teach, model and influence, but in the end only Sodom can save Sodom. Each of us are children of God and thus may advance boldly into the throne room to pray to our Father.”
Like all the best fallacies, there is an element of truth in both of these errors – putting either too much faith or too little faith in the prayers of a righteous, scripturally minded person. The Bible does say that all those who submit to the lordship of Yeshua ben Adonai are children of God. As such they not only are granted an intimate familial relationship but they also become royal priests. Because of the Master’s sacrifice we may advance boldly into the throne room. And if people would place as much faith in their heavenly Father’s love as they do their elders’, if they would invest in their personal attempts to improve themselves in their daily tzedekah they would probably receive even greater blessings.
But the fact of the matter is that Lot was saved on Abraham’s merit – not his own. Yacov ben Yosef, the half brother of our Lord also clearly states that there is a difference when a righteous person prays. And not just every righteous person but specifically an elder!
Why is that? First, because though I love my children equally, I am more likely to acquiesce to the petitions of the one who is in right standing with the family. I’m not likely to grant favors to the child who is habitually lying.
Second, God has always maintained a strong chain of command. He dogmatically stated that there were serious consequences to a person who failed to submit to it.
Some demonic forces are tougher to remove than others. Some of us have more disciplined minds and thus more focused prayers than others. Some don’t yet know how to ask properly.
We should all pray in faith – but we should also be humble enough to get all the available help.
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