Summary: There is nothing more powerful and effective than the power of prayer, and as powerful as it is and as glorious a gift as it is, as Christians we fail to thank and listen to God.
Sermon Title: The Motives of Prayer
Scripture: James 5:12-20
Wesleyan Community Church
Sunday Morning - January 6, 2002
This morning we will be looking at the final section of Scripture out of the Book of James. Just as a fireworks display ends with a grand finale, so does this Epistle of James. James concludes with the most important requirement for any Christian and that is their obligation to lift their voices to the Lord in Prayer. Prayer is a privilege, I think of the song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and the words that are written:
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.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
And a fourth verse that I didn’t even know existed
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
These words written by Joseph Scriven in 1855 to his mother that was separated from him in Ireland. These words were first written anonymously and were not credited to Scriven until thirty years later. Scriven graduated from Trinity College. After his fiancée drowned the night before they were to marry, he moved to Canada in 1846. There he taught in Woodstock and Brantford, Ontario, and was a tutor for the Pengelly family near Bewdley. It was there he met and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of the Pengellys. In what seems too amazing to be coincidence, Eliza died shortly before their wedding. Following the death of his second fiancée, Scriven joined the Plymouth Brethren, helping the aged members of the community.
Without the power of prayer, Scrivens life would have held less meaning and the same holds equally for us each day as well. Please join me in reading James’ words in this final section of his epistle.
Scripture Reading: James 5:12-20
12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. 13 Is any among you afflicted let him pray Is any merry let him sing psalms 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
James brings out a very serious ailment that affects the Christian community today, and that is the fact that what we have in mind and what we actually say are usually quite a bit different. We are afraid to say what is on our minds, and at times that is a good thing. We have a hidden agenda as the reason behind what we say and do being different. As Christians, honesty is a necessity and not an option we must Say what we mean and mean what we say.
Another problem that confronts us today is that we are either fair weather Christians, or we only allow God out of the box that we have put him in unless we need Him.We have duties unto the Lord in times of good and not just bad. We only pray when we are in need and many times we only testify about our relationship with Him when things are going good.