Today’s Reading: James 5:13-20
Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe that spending time praying to God about what is going on in your life CAN make a difference? Do you ever question if it does any good to bring your needs before the Lord? Do you find yourself doubting? Listen to these words of wisdom from James.
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:13-16
Hardships, happiness and sickness. The one thing these three moments have in common for me is they are often the times when I can’t figure out what to do next. I have gotten myself in a situation and I can’t figure out how to get out. Or maybe I am so happy and excited that I cannot contain myself and I find myself not knowing what to do next. It reminds me of that moment after an athlete or team has won the championship and they ask them what they are going to do next – “I’m going to Disneyworld!” What James is trying to show us is that we need to shout an exuberant – “I’m going to the Lord!”
Through the words of James, we hear that familiar message again – draw near to God and remain in His presence regardless of the circumstances. Then when something tragic happens in our life, such as a cancer diagnosis or hearing a doctor say “There’s nothing more that can be done,” our first response will be to disagree. There is something we can do. We can pray.
Let’s consider again this quote from Francis de Sales: “Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto and will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” – Francis de Sales, 16th century French Catholic saint
We can be still and know that God is God and we are not. We can trust Him in ANY situation and wait patiently for His response to our prayers. We can count it a joy to face difficult times and submit to God’s will or plan for our lives. We can confess sin and rest peacefully in Christ.
I witnessed two healings in 2010 – Mulu from Ethiopia prayed in her native tongue for my mother-in-law to be healed of her 4th stage breast cancer and Neneye from Cali, Columbia prayed for a young boy who was about to be diagnosed with autism. Both prayed with confidence and passion, unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. Both have committed their lives to spending HOURS every day in prayer, soaking in God’s presence and then remaining in His presence as they live out their lives. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16b). I now know what that means and I long to serve God as faithfully as these women have. I do not want to have to go to God when I’m in trouble or happy or sick – I want to already be there!!!
Let’s step back a little and look at the whole passage together, but this time in The Message –
Are you hungry? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven – healed inside and out.
Make this your command practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t – not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God. – James 5:13-20
How committed are we to the gospel, to winning souls for Christ? What are we willing to become in order to win the weak? There is a sense of urgency in these verses. We were saved to serve God. How does He want to use us or what does He want to do through us today? Are we willing to open ourselves up to whatever He wants us to be for the sake of others or are we going to hold tight to this issue or that, to this right of ours or to this past hurt for which we refuse to forgive.
We cannot give up praying. In every situation, I want to rest in God’s presence – looking to Him for what is next, and for the strength to face it and the peace to rest in it. Lord, only you know what is ahead for me today. Father God, I long to already be in your presence and drawing from your strength so that you can equip me with everything I need. Remind me today of the power of your prayer. Teach me how to be still and know that you are God and I can trust you. Teach me patience to wait for your response and teach me joy in any situation. I submit to your perfect plan. Savior, forgive me for my sins and help me to rest peacefully in your presence.
Dear Jesus, I am yours today. Use me however you wish. Guide my thoughts, stir my heart and fill my mouth with your words that I may be who or what you want me to be. May nothing in my life be a stumbling block to others but may I be a hand extended to those who are lost or in need of my friendship. May we boldly proclaim your love to those around us and count it a joy when we face trials, knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Amen.