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. (ESV)
We have all been sick. I wish that is was not so, but sickness is a part of every person's life. In fact, ultimately our bodies will give in to decay and sickness and we will pass from this life into the next. What do we do when we are sick? We pray. There are many passages that talk about praying for sickness. However, this verse is a bit different. It suggests calling for the elders to pray.
Who are the elders? The elders are spiritual overseers of the church. You can read about their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3. They are to be men of very high character. They are to be above reproach, humble, gentle, pure and righteous. These trustworthy men are there to serve the body of Christ and are available to pray for those who are sick.
Now, we need to look at the context of this verse for a moment. James has been addressing a group of believers in Jesus Christ who have faced very serious persecution. It is possible that the sickness James is referring to is in reference to the persecution that they have received. They may need physical healing. They may also need to be renewed spiritually, which is why it makes sense that they are anointed with oil, representing the Holy Spirit.
Whether or not this passage is originally intended only for the elders to pray for persecuted believers is up for debate. What is not up for debate is that godly men who lead our churches well should be available to pray for those who are sick. In fact, elders should be available to pray for any and every need that the body of Christ is struggling with.
Are you in need of prayer? Talk to the elders of your church. (Your pastor is one of them.) Ask for prayer. If your elders are biblical they will be happy to pray for you.