This passage made me think. This section of the letter is where some current religions get the idea that prayer equals manipulating God for physical healing and that staying sick or continuing to suffer is the fault of the sufferer for a lack of faith. But this teaching is wrong. It is not in context with the rest of James’ letter and it defies other parts of Scripture.
Jesus said that suffering would be part of living (John 16:33). Paul wrote about a thorn in his flesh that no prayer relieved (2 Corinthians 12). I think this passage is about drawing near to God in the hard times so that our relationship with Him is fully reconciled and we can endure whatever the affliction with confidence that God will be glorified even in our suffering.
Paul wrote about this concept to the Corinthians where we wrote, “This light and momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” ( 2 Corinthians 4).
An eternal weight of glory, made possible by the prayer of the righteous. And the righteous are those who confess and turn away from whatever sins entangle their hearts and minds (Hebrews 12). To be raised up is eternal, not temporal.
We may feel crushed and perplexed, confused, and lost, but with our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and protector of our faith, we can be at peace. Prayer, fervent and righteous, is the path to joyful reconciliation with the Father.