29th June 2017

A call to prayer and to praise

James 5 v. 13 – 18

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.’

As we come towards the end of this chapter and the letter as a whole, James exhorts his readers / listeners to pray at all times
‘Whatever is happening, prayer is the right response’
The whole letter is a call to genuine, authentic Christian discipleship – whole-life, Jesus-shaped living. In that context, James urges us to take everything – our joys and celebrations, and our challenges and sufferings to God, in prayer, alone and with others.

Taken out of context and pushed too far, people will be damaged by either of these two conclusions from these verses:
(i) if I don’t see answers to my prayers, I am not exercising enough faith
(ii) if I am suffering, it is essentially because of my sinfulness (punishment / harsh discipline)

These verses are a call for us to exercise faith, to practice our belief in a God who can and does bring healing to people’s lives (though such healing, or not (as we perceive it) is not reliant upon the zeal or intensity of our praying – simple trusting prayer is all that is required, humbly laying our friends at the feet of Jesus, and letting Him do the rest, in His own way, in His own time.
These verses also encourage us to pray for each other, to confess our sins, our brokenness, to each other, to seek one another’s well-being and shalom-peace.

They are a manifesto for God’s people to watch over one another in love, and to pray, pray, pray for each other.

Be still for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
to minister His grace
No work too hard from Him
In faith, receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.

Lord, minister to us
Your grace,
Your healing,
Your forgiveness,
Your joy,
Your peace,
Your love,
and all in, and through Your name.