Summary: These verses are an appeal to come freely & boldly with prayer & praise before the Throne of Grace in all life's situations. Life is to be handled with prayer. It does not matter if you're suffering, cheerful, sick or reclaiming sinners; life is to be han
JAMES 5: 13-16
THE POWER OF PRAISE & PRAYER
After James' stern rebukes he continues his words of compassion and counsel for his devoted striving brothers. He has already addressed prayer (1:5-8, 4:2,3). Here we find further instruction on the high and holy privilege of prayer.
These verses are an earnest appeal to come freely and boldly with prayer and praise before the Throne of Grace in all life's situations. Life is to be handled with prayer (CIT). It does not matter if you're suffering, cheerful, sick or reclaiming sinners; life is to be handled with prayer. Pray is to be both for ourselves and others, out of a sense of need and gratitude. It is to be offered in faith and is often to be joined with confession of sin. It is best accomplished by those who are energized through a daily living out of God's will. Powerful prayer comes from this right relationship with God. And for those who learn to pray effectively nothing lies beyond its grasp, because nothing lies beyond the grasp of God.
I. PRAYER AND PRAISE, 13.
II. THE SICK RESTORED, 14-16a.
As an antidote to suffering and as a way to maintain cheerfulness, James exhorts us to pray in verse 13. "Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises"
The question, is any among you afflicted, is a reference to those in any kind of trouble, be it physical, mental, personal (financial) or relational. The context specifically addresses the exhortation to those going through ordinary trials, spiritual warfare or persecution. The Greek word means "to suffer misfortune " or "to have hard experiences" (2 Tim 2:9). It emphasizes the internal distress caused by outward circumstances. As God's people go through life, they often endure difficulties that are not the result of sin or the chastening of God.
What should we do when we find ourselves in such trying circumstances? We must not grumble and criticize...nor should we blame the Lord. We should pray, or more accurately to the text, we should keep on praying. Sufferers must not stop their prayers after a prayer for help, but they are to live in an attitude of prayer.
"Prayer can remove affliction, if that is God's will. But prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure troubles and use them to accomplish God's perfect will. God can transform troubles into triumphs. "He gives greater grace" James said (4:6). Paul prayed that God might change his circumstances, but instead, God gave Paul the grace he needed to turn his weakness into strength (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Our Lord prayed in Gethsemane that the cup might be removed, and it was not; yet the Father gave Him the strength He needed to go to the cross and die for our sins." (Wiersbe, p. 382)
The Christian life is not one of constant suffering. Thus James continues with is anyone cheerful? The Greek word means "to be in good spirits or cheerful" and could be translated "Is anyone in a happy mood" (Williams).
Prosperity and pleasant experience in life can cause a person to forget God due to complacency or worldly contentment. The light-hearted are prone to be lightheaded. Instead life's good times are given that we might sing songs of praise to God as the giver of all blessings. We are to "make music" (Eph 5:19, 1Cor 14:15) in our soul. This command does not demand the use of music but calls for the expression of words or thoughts that praise or thank God.
The great reformer, Martin Luther, stressed the positive power of praise in music: " The devil is a sad spirit and makes folks sad, hence he cannot bear cheerfulness; and therefore gets as far off from music [praise] as possible, and never stays where men are singing, especially spiritual songs." "The Lord inhabits the praise of His people." (Gregory, 112)
"Christians who face trouble often lose their awareness of the presence of God due to the pain or gloom. Christians who have elation tend to forget God in the joy of their good success. Both darkness and sunshine should lead believers to a consciousness of God." (Lea, p.346)
II. THE SICK RESTORED, 14-16a.
Verse 14 encourages the weary or sick to ask the elders to pray for them. "Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;"
Sickness includes all types of weakness (which the word asthenes from where our word asthenic or weak comes from). This weakness can be physical, mental or spiritual. (1 Cor 8:11, Jn 11:2-3, 4:46, Rom 6:19) and is the most common term for sickness in the N.T. The Greek word implies a weakness which incapacitates (lit. without strength- which can even be moral-Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 8:11f etc.). The weak person is to take the initiative to call for the elders. The elders were the church leaders who lead by the pastor or overseer had the task of pastoring or providing spiritual leadership. They are the spiritually strong, the spiritually mature, the spiritually victorious.