Summary: Closing message in a series through James dealing with the power of personal prayer.

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OPEN: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.

So here we are, the first Sunday in a brand new year. We’ve made the transition from celebrating the joy of Christmas to facing the reality of a new year and all the uncertainties it holds for all of us.

As you think of all the potential things that might come your way in 2011, what you are most focused on? Do you face this New Year with joy and anticipation and hope, or dread and anxiety? What’s on your mind as you plunge into this year? From my experience most people will have three things that will preoccupy their thoughts today. It seems like it’s the same three things every January:

Fat, Finances and the Future.

It may not necessarily be in that order. But chances are you are worried about one or all of these this morning. Now if that’s what’s on your mind this morning, we want to let you know that we’ve got you covered on all three bases as you head into 2011.

If it’s fat that you’re worried about, we have a group that meets weekly called Divine Design. God has a Divine Design for everyone, but if your design has gone a little beyond God’s original blueprint, this group is tailor made just for you. It meets every Saturday at 10:00AM starting on the 15th Now if the issue is finances -- we’ve got a class, which meets every Sunday morning to help you understand how to get your finances back in shape. Gary R. will be leading a class on Developing a Biblical Perspective on Money downstairs at 9:00AM each Sunday. Now if it’s the uncertainty concerning future that you’re fixed upon -- well there’s a great resource that we can offer you in that area this morning. And that’s what we are going to be talking about today in the book of James -- the greatest resource that we can offer in that area is to remind you of the power and the wisdom of being a person of prayer. Martin Luther said, "As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray." What is prayer all about?

Prayer Is First And Foremost An Expression Of Our Love And Trust In God

So often we can reduce prayer to a task or a duty that we perform for God. Prayer is supposed to be an expression of our love for God -- an expression our devotion for God. The most natural part of a love relationship is demonstrated by just wanting to spend time together and talk with one another. You want to talk with the one you love. Is prayer about that for you? Are you just so in love with God that you can’t help but talk to him all the time?

- When something great happens to you or something tragic happens to you during the course of your day, who do you call? You call the person you love, right? Let’s just say you were heading out to run some errands and you pull up to a stop light and when you begin to pull out, another car runs the light going in the opposite direction and rams you right in the middle of the intersection. You’re shook up but not injured. You pick up your cell phone. Now who are you going call? The person you love the most right? Whenever there is good news or bad news, the first person you want to tell is the person you are in love with. Let’s take a look at what James teaches us about prayer.

Pray For Yourself: When You Are Suffering

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. (James 5:13)

Depending on the translation you are using the word "trouble" might be translated as "suffering," it might be translated as "afflicted." (that’s how the KJV translates it) Now this is the only place in the entire N.T. where this word for "trouble" is used. Now the question that needs to be asked here is this: What kind of trouble is he talking about? The key to the interpretation of any passage is always the context. Context is the environment of thought in which a given passage is contained. Without context, there is no way to understand each other as we communicate, right? I can say, "I went over." You have no way of understanding what I am talking about. I might have gone over to the neighbor’s house, I might have gone over the hill. I might have gone over to another political party. I might have went over my allotted time to speak. The only way to understand what I mean is to have a context. Every passage of Scripture has an environment of thought in which it exists and makes sense.

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