Summary: James calls us to pray in all circumstances ... for ourselves as well as for each other. This is a means by which we can help each other not wonder from the truth
You Can Listen to the Full Sermon Here:-
In our modern age of instant messaging, information technology and the i-gadgets it is fast becoming obvious that skills from the past are becoming a dying art.
Talk about the fact that no one knits.
My mum and her knitting
• woollen jumper with cables picture
• knitting machine … “lovely patterns” picture
In hindsight maybe it is good that it is a dying art.
Let me talk about another dying art. To see what it is I’ll start with a quote.
I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
3 hours a day … at least.
How many of us would pray for 3 hours a week?
I suspect some would not even make 3 hours a month.
Prayer. It is a dying art. But it shouldn’t be because it is the gift which God has given us to get through any and every situation.
Let me show you what I mean. Turn to James 5:13-20
I like the approach James has to prayer. Instead of making us feel guilty about our lack of prayer, James is trying to motivate us to have a more fervent prayer life. Basically he is saying, “Pray because when you do exciting things happens”.
We should pray when we are going through troubling circumstances.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. The people to who James was writing knew what it meant to suffer as they have been facing much religious persecution against them. It didn’t always make sense. James’ advise is this:-
When God doesn’t make sense, or when it feels like our world is overwhelming, we should be praying.
Not shaking our fist at God.
Not angrily fighting the world.
Not working it out on own strength.
But praying. Praying, as we make our way through the life challenges.
Exciting things happen when we pray.
We should pray when all is going well.
Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
How quick we are to pray when life all of the sudden has a difficult turn, or we find ourselves in great need – and of course we should pray then. But how sad it is that when all is going well our prayer life becomes even less. James says, “Do the opposite … pray when it is all going great”. Now for those of us who are musically challenged let me quickly clarify this verse.
James says Let him sing songs of praise. Does that mean we are now going to have to sing when life is good?
The Greek word used here is psalleto.
That sounds like the word “psalm” doesn’t it?
The text is literally saying Is anyone happy? Use a psalm. Now if you have read the Psalms lately you would know that they are basically prayers. Prayers for all sorts of occasions. Talk to God all the time through all sorts of situations which you face.
So we should pray … even more when all is going well. Using this time to draw even closer to God so you can be spiritually ready for every day.
Exciting things happen when we pray.
We should pray when we are struggling physically and spiritually.
Let me put the Scripture section up on the screen because it has been misunderstood far too often.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
What I don’t want, and what James does not want, is for you to ring me, or Michael, or Brendon this week and say, “Hey I’m feeling a bit sick come over to my place and give me a massage with your oil – and we will pray while we are at it”.
I and the other leaders have no problem coming and praying with you to ask for healing. But what James is talking about here is a very specific context.
It isn’t just about physical healing.
Words like “sin”, “forgiveness”, “confession” and “righteous” are being used.
It is a mixture of spiritual and physical.
Sometimes long-term physical illness can affect us in a spiritually negative way.
Sometimes spiritual rebellion can affect us physically.
In both cases the Lord wants to help.