Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: The Prayer of Faith
A. How many of you take some sort of supplement or vitamin every day? How many of you hate to take your vitamins? Hard to swallow, bad taste.Discuss Kay giving me One A Day vitamins and them finding a stash of them behind the couch. No matter how much they might improve our physical health, sometimes for several reasons we fail to take our vitamins.
B. But what about our spiritual health? I'm afraid that, just like I stashed those One A Days behind the couch, we often leave out of our spiritual diet one of the most important components The Great Physician has made available to us. Mahalia Jackson, an American gospel singer known as "The Queen of Gospel," once said, "Faith and prayer are the VITAMINS of the soul; man cannot live in health without them."
C. James understood this as well as anyone ever could. How is that? Because he had observed the habits of his brother, Jesus, The Great Physician, firsthand himself. Luke 5:16 (MSG): "As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer." Now if prayer was that important to the spiritual health of The Great Physician shouldn't it be for us as well?
D. And so James who throughout his epistle has lovingly taught us how to live out our faith (salvation in shoe leather) ends his epistle the same way he started it - urging us to take our vitamins! With a Rx to PRAY!!! But is this to be just any ole prayer? One offered up half-heartedly? One hurriedly uttered on the way out the door on Monday AM? NO! James calls us to a prayer of faith. He then outlines The Circumstances That Produce It, The Confessions That Precede It, The Intercession That Provides It, The Illustration That Proves It, and The Intervention That Provokes It.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 5:13-20.
B. Pray - Father, we often are more concerned about the vitamins on our medicine shelf than the greatest vitamin available to our soul - communion with you through prayer. Teach us through the preaching of your Word about the Prayer of Faith.
III. The Prayer of Faith: The Circumstances That Produce It (v. 13-15a)
A. Scripture teaches us that we should pray in ALL circumstances. Jesus: Luke 18:1 told His disciples a parable "that they ought always to pray." Paul: Eph. 6:18 = "praying at all times," 1 Thess. 5:17 = "pray without ceasing." James: no different...whatever situation we find ourselves...PRAY! Here, James mentions three specific circumstances that produce this prayer of faith.
#1 Is anyone among you suffering? Suffering = Greek "kakopatheo," denotes all sorts of afflictions and trials, same word James used of the prophets as an example of patience in suffering, Paul used the verbal form to describe his imprisonment and to exhort Timothy to be willing to undergo the same.
- Find yourself in the circumstance of suffering? Let him pray. Not for deliverance but the strength to endure. The antidote to suffering is seeking God's comfort through prayer.