Summary: God has a plan for healing and restoration, and He chooses to use imperfect people like you and me to help restore those who fall away.
James 5:17-20 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! 18 Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again. 19 My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back again, 20 you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
-As we have worked through this letter, remember some of the lessons James has offered us.
1. Don’t give in to the temptation to quit when you face trials. Instead allow God to use them to shape you into who He wants you to be.
2. Put your faith into action and do something in response to God’s grace.
3. Be very careful not to treat people unfairly based on who they are or how much money they have. Treat everyone with love.
4. Don’t let your tongue get you into trouble. Instead turn it over to God and let Him set the standards of your speech.
5. Use the resources that God has given you in a godly fashion, and don’t take advantage of others who don’t have as much as you.
6. However, if you are taken advantage of, don’t retaliate. Be patient in your suffering and God will reward you richly.
7. Don’t try to make it through this life on your own, but involve God in every aspect of your life. If you do, you will be blessed and God will be glorified. [Tim Bond]
-In James 5:15 James says that the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise them up – and if that person has sinned he or she will be forgiven. Sometimes the healing a person needs is more than just physical. Sometimes we need healing in relationships and emotions. God has a plan for this to happen, and He chooses to use imperfect people like you and me to bring about healing and restoration. How does He do this? Let’s look at 2 approaches we need to balance for restoration to happen.
I. Restoration through Prayer
-I know that vv.17-18 primarily serve to show us the power of persistent prayer, esp. as it relates to praying for the sick. However, I believe Elijah’s example also prepares us for the last 2 verses in James. When one of us wanders off course- away from the truth (selfishness, pride, lust, being offended, greed, etc.) it is so important that there are people around who care enough to go out of their way to bring us back. However, such an effort must be bathed in prayer. But it takes more than just a prayer. It might take praying again for the person who has wandered away from the truth. It might require praying again and again and again. Prov. says a brother who is offended is harder to be won than a city - but it can be done!
-What was the setting when Elijah prayed and prayed again? In 1 Kings 18, Israel had wandered away from the truth and had begun to worship the false god Baal. King Ahab and his wife Jezebel had led the people away from God and headlong into idolatry. So Elijah’s first prayer was a wakeup call, a call to repentance. There would be no rain, no growth, no crops, no blessings or prosperity for the next few years because of Israel’s sins against God. 3 and ½ years later, Elijah has a showdown with the prophets of Baal, and when God answers with fire, the people fall on their faces and cry out, The LORD is God, The LORD is God! The prophets of Baal are put to death and then Elijah says, “It sounds like heavy rain is coming!” I wonder what he heard that nobody else heard? Was it the sounds of repentance, people turning away from worshiping a false god and destroying the things associated with it? We don’t know, but we do know that Elijah went to the top of the mountain and began to pray. This time he was praying for rain, for new life, for crops and blessings on Israel.
-But one prayer was not enough. Six times he poured out his heart to God and nothing happened. It wasn’t until the 7th time that his servant reported a small cloud on the horizon. Elijah said, “Let’s get out of here before we get stuck in the mud!”
-How many times are you willing to pray for someone who has wandered from the truth? And here is a thought – What if God wanted you to pray for a drought on that person’s life until they repent and turn to Him? It doesn’t sound very nice, but it does sound kind of Biblical. Lord, please do not bless that person’s life until they repent and turn to you with their whole heart. And when they turn to God, pray blessings on them in abundance! As Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36