Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: James 1:19

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Faithful Prayer

James 5:13-18

13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.  Is any merry?  let him sing psalms.
14 Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he haved committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

James refers to someone who is incapacitated physically.  In Scripture, oil was both a medicine and a symbol of the Spirit of God.  Thus oil can represent both the medical and the spiritual spheres of life.  Christians should not separate the physical and the spiritual- Jesus Christ is Lord over both the body and the spirit.

People in the church are not alone.  Members of Christ's body should be able to count on others for support and prayer, especially when they are sick or suffering.  The elders should be on call to respond to the illness of any member, and the church should stay alert to pray for the needs of all its members. 

"and the prayer of faith" does not refer to the faith of the sick person, but to the faith of the church.  God heals, faith doesn't, and all prayers are subject to God's will.  But our prayers are part of God's healing process.  That is why God often waits for our prayers of faith before intervening to heal a person.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

"Confess your faults" can be translated "Confess your sins." Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God for forgiveness, but confessing our sins to one another still has an important place in the life of the church. 
1) If we have sinned against an individual, we must ask him or her to forgive us.
2) If our sin has affected the church, we must confess it publicly.
3) If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin, we should confess it to those who are able to provide that support.
4) If, after confessing a private sin to God, we still don't feel his forgiveness, we may wish to confess a sin to a fellow believer and hear him or her assure us of God's pardon.

In Christ's Kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers (1 Peter 2:9).  We must help others come to Christ and tell them of Christ's forgiveness.

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 

The Christian's most powerful resource is communion with God through prayer.  The results are often greater than we thought was possible.  Some people see prayer as a last resort to be tried when all else fails.  This is backwards.  Prayer should come first.  Since God's power is infinitely grater than our own, it only makes sense to rely on it- especially because he encourages us to do so. 

Prayer is an area that I struggle the most with.  I sometimes can have these conversations with God in my mind while I am doing things like the dishes.. but to actually sit and focus on talking to the Lord.. that is where I have trouble.  It isn't that I don't have faith.. I think it is more because I don't feel worthy.  Something I have struggled with for a very long time.  I want to feel comfortable talking to the Lord.  I want to feel his presence throughout the day and always be in communication with him.  This is something I will continue to work on. 

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