“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”
As this letter comes to a close, James addresses as many scenarios as he can think of that the believers might be facing. Some are suffering, others are cheerful, sick, or struggling with sin. In each case, the solution is the same. James says PRAY. The simplest definition of prayer is to talk to God. James is encouraging believers to live in open communication with the Lord. Whatever life may throw at you, learn to take those things to the Lord.
Jesus put it like this,
Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We have an open invitation to come to the Lord, no matter what struggles we have; and He promises to provide heavenly assistance. The Psalmist declared, He will even give His angels charge over us, lest we dash our feet against a stone (Psalm 91:11-12). What are you facing today? Is it an illness, fear, or easily besetting sin? Whatever you are going through, the secret to your success is to cast all your cares upon Him in prayer.
James is known as that practical Apostle. As he writes about prayer, he gives some simple guidelines to ensure our prayers are the most effective. First, he suggests we get others involved in praying for us. Too often, we use the excuse of privacy to keep us from invoking others to pray with us, for the struggles we are facing. James exhorts the sick and the sinning to get others to pray with them, and for them.
Second, he exhorts us to pray in faith, believing God wants to heal and forgive. This is not something James made up based on wishful thinking, but rather something he understood by reading the Bible. Effective prayer is always based on what the Bible teaches. Whatever we are facing, we should look into the Word, learn what the Bible has to say on the subject, and then pray for God to do what He promises.
Finally, James speaks of fervent prayer. He is not suggesting we need to become emotional in our prayers, or to scream and shout. Instead, he is speaking about the intensity with which we bring things to the Lord. Often, when faced with a trying experience, we begin to complain; we may even invite others to complain with us. Our complaining will at times help to take the edge off our struggles. We call it venting, which means to delegate pressure. The problem is, when the pressure is released, we often neglect to take our struggle before the Lord. Instead of complaining about our difficulties, we should be entering the presence of the Lord, and seeking His assistance.
The trials you are facing today have been designed by God to draw you closer to Him. Take some time right now to invoke His assistance, as you seek to live for His pleasure.
(Joseph M. Scriven)
What a Friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and grief’s 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.
Questions for James 5
1. In verses 1-6, James is not condemning people just because they were rich. He was condemning them for their wrong attitude toward their riches. He is concerned with how they got their money and what they did with it when they got it. Remember it’s not money in itself that is evil but it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. Are you living God’s standards as He said in Romans 12:12?
2. Like the farmer we as Christians live by faith and we must be patient until the Lord Jesus comes. While the farmer is waiting for his crop, he is continually working the fields, and looking toward the future reward. How are we to be living while we are waiting? Turn to the Book of Titus 2:11-13.
3. Verse 9 deals with grumbling. It’s a sinful and destructive attitude because we blame others instead of owning our own behavior. We are commanded, “Do not grumble.” Before you judge others’ shortcomings remember the Lord’s words, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” The next time you are tempted to grumble, remember He will not let you get away with shifting the blame. Have you been in the habit of blame shifting?
4. Do you want to be known as a trustworthy person? Always be honest so others will believe your simple yes or no. Have you ever found yourself using God as an excuse to avoid responding with a definite yes or no? In other words, have you ever said to someone, “Let me pray on it?” (When you really mean no from the onset.) Let your yes be yes and your no be no and leave the Lord out of it.
5. Verses 13-18 are about meeting specific needs through the power of prayer. Prayer is our most powerful resource in communion with God. It’s not our last resort. Is your prayer life an example of the one described in verse 16?
6. Anyone who falls away from the truth is in serious trouble and needs to repent. We are urged to help backsliders return to God. Do you know someone who has backslid? Pray to the Lord to help you be an instrument in helping this person repent.
7. Remember that the Book of James is a “how to book of the faith.” Be encouraged to live out what James has written as he was moved upon by the Holy Spirit. If we truly believe God’s Word we will live it day by day. We merely don’t think about it or read about it….We better do it. Grace and peace to you.
Jeremiah 36- Fire Resistant