13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, 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 heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
These is one of my favorite passages. Over the years, I have found it encouraging. It is my hope that you will as well.
James, brother of Jesus, encourages us to pray and to be patient so that to we can overcome our temptation to live only for today. James exhorts us to continue living by faith. When we suffer, as we all do at one time or another, the proper response is to go to the Lord in prayer. Our natural response may be to release a slew of profanities. Our supernatural response is to fall to our knees and turn it over to the One for whom nothing is impossible.
James provides us a prescription for dealing with our ailments and afflictions. He reminds us that for prayer to be effective God must be the object of our faith.
When we confess our sins and receive forgiveness, through the work of Christ on the cross, we take on His righteousness, not our own. For apart from Christ, no one is righteous. When we stand on the side of God, our prayer lives are energized with real, supernatural power, because being reconciled to God, we have access to the power of God.
According to the early church historian, Eusebius, James practiced what he preached. Quoting Hegesippus, an early church commentator, Eusebius wrote “He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as camel’s, in consequence of his habitual supplication and kneeling before God.”
How about you? Are you in the habit of going to the Lord in prayer? May it be well with your soul.
Revised Common Lectionary. (2009). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. (1998). .Hendrickson Publishers.