James on Prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
James 5:13-18

This passage is chock full of spiritual truth - and application.  Here are some things I see in here:

1.  Prayer is called for in all situations. In tough times - pray.  In good times - praise.  In sickness - pray and get prayed over!  (vs. 13,14)

2.  Praying in community.  Prayer is not a "magic potion" nor is it an attempt to persuade God to do something He doesn't want to do.  But unmistakably there is power in praying together with God's people.  Somehow God chooses to work through the prayers of the saints to release His power and work out His plan.  Perhaps part of the design of praying together is that it builds bonds among people.  Our hearts are knit together when our knees share the floor over a common concern.  And, it takes humility to share our needs with others.  And, where there is humility, God promises His grace.

3.  This passage does not preclude the use of medicine for healing.  Very likely, the use of the oil here was for medicinal purposes and is portrayed as being administered in the name of the Lord -- seeing Him as the ultimate healer.  (vs. 14)

4.  What about "the prayer of faith"?  I do not believe this means that we can "claim" a verse and declare that God owes us the answer we want.  "The prayer of faith" is one in accordance with God's will.  And faith "comes from hearing and hearing the Word of God".  Vs 15-18 show the link between prayer, God's Word, and obedience.  Not emotionally working ourselves into a certain belief.  God's answers do not depend on how much we believe - rather our belief rests on His Word.  I love that passage in the book of Mark where the father asked Jesus to heal his son.  23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”   (Mark 9:23,24)  This Dad desperately wants his son to be healed and declares his belief....and then in a heartfelt burst of honesty, he admits his inability to believe.  That must have been scary - he feared he was the block to the health of his son!  But when he realizes that he can't even believe on his own and turns to Jesus.  And Jesus heals the boy.  Not because of the strength of the dad's faith.....but Who his faith was in.
And Elijah didn't get his prayers answered because he was a super saint - James makes sure to remind us that he was just like you and me.  But he knew God's Word.  And he knew what God said in Deuteronomy 28 - the consequences of disobedience would be no rain.  So when he prayed for God to withhold the rain, he was doing so in accordance with what God had already declared.  And when the people repented and returned to the Lord, Elijah could proclaim God's promise of blessings for obedience...so he asked God to send the rain. 

Prayer.  It's God's means of accomplishing His will on earth.  Not our avenue to get our will done in Heaven.

Prayer.  God wants communion with us so he designed prayer as the way to connect us with Him. 

Prayer.  It's an exciting adventure to discover God's Truth in His Word and then to return it to Him in prayer.

Prayer.  It's for all times, in all situations, for all of God's people.  Not just a select few.

Prayer.  Pray now.  Without ceasing...one delightful unending conversation with the King!