Summary: Pray for one another.
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being like us, 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 the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Three Prayer Answers
One day, three men were hiking and unexpectedly came upon a large raging, violent river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how to do so. The first man prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength to cross this river."
God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across
the river in about two hours, after almost drowning a couple of times.
Seeing this, the second man prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me
the strength ..and the tools to cross this river."
God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about an hour, after almost capsizing the boat a couple of times.
The third man had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he also prayed to God saying, "Please God, give me the strength and the tools... and the intelligence ... to cross this river."
God turned him into a woman. She looked at the map, hiked upstream a couple of hundred yards, then walked across the bridge.
The passage from James the morning talks about prayer, and particularly he emphasizes 3 important situations that we must exercise our gift of prayer. Paul taught us to pray unceasingly, but in these particular situations the power of prayer is the most evident, and that it is a must that we pray.
First, I must
1. Pray When I am Suffering
"Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise."
Life is a not a bed of roses, there are good times and there bad times. Christians are not excluded, but the differences it that we go through suffering in a different way.
The day after 9/11, Emil Brandes came to the presbytery office and I ran into him at the front door. We talked about the tragedy, and he commented as we walked away, "I don’t know how people are dealing with it. For us we have the Lord’s shoulder to lean on." That’s the difference.
Every now and then, when I saw a new Christian and I asked him or her, "Why do you become a Christians? What had drawn you to Christianity?" The majority of times, they answer was, "I came to know this group of Christians and I sensed an indescribable cheerfulness in them."
On the surface, James seems to be talking about two different conditions "if you are suffering, pray, and if you are cheerful sing songs of praise." But, if you look into the context of the entire Bible, a Christian can be cheerful during suffering, if you pray and unload your burden to God. I believe what James was trying to say is, "When anyone is suffering, they should pray, and then if they become cheerful, you should sing songs."
A good example is Paul and Silas’s story in the book of Acts:
Acts 16:25, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."
According to the Book of Acts, they were beat up and thrown in to the innermost cell of the prison, and have their feet fastened in the stocks. They must be in a lot of pain. But they were praying and singing. So pray when you are suffering and sing when you are cheered up by the prayer.
The second situation is that I must
2. Pray for the sick
14 "Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord."