James 5:13-18 – The Prayer of Faith

If you’re going through trials of any sort, James’ answer (a single word in the Greek text) is like a rifle shot to the bull’s eye: “Pray.” It’s easy to sit here and nod in agreement, but the question is, “When you encounter difficulties, is prayer your first response?” It’s certainly not the automatic response. If left to the flesh, the automatic response to suffering is to grumble or complain or to throw a pity party. Or, we question God: “Why is this happening to me?” But James counters all this with the single word: “Pray!”
When you get into a conflict with your wife or children, do you shoot up a prayer for wisdom and a calm spirit? Do you pray that you will be an example of godliness to your family? Do you ask God to check your anger? Do you pray that each family member would grow in Christ through the difficulty?
When you face a problem at work, do you silently send up a “Nehemiah prayer”? Remember, when he talked with the unbelieving king about his request to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, in between the king’s asking him what he wanted and his response, Nehemiah states, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (Neh. 2:4). It couldn’t have been more than a quick, “Help, Lord” kind of prayer! But it shows that his knee-jerk response was to pray.
I could go on and on. When your car needs repair, do you pray for the mechanic to do good work? When you need medical care, do you pray for the doctor to have wisdom? When you need to make a major purchase or you face financial problems, do you pray for wisdom to be a good steward of the resources that He has entrusted to you? When you gather with lost family members for the holidays, do you pray for opportunities for witness? In every situation of life, God sends problems so that we will learn to depend on Him in prayer.
We often pray as the last resort, after we’ve done everything that we can do to try to fix the problem. We scheme, we plan, we work hard, and then maybe we remember to pray, “God, bless my efforts.” You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you shouldn’t do anything until you’ve prayed. Prayer acknowledges that you are totally dependent on God. Prayer admits, “Lord, I can’t even draw my next breath without You. If You don’t work for Your purpose and glory, my most competent efforts will fail!”
When you encounter suffering, what should you pray? Don’t answer too quickly! We often assume that we should pray, “Lord, get me out of here now!” Sometimes when I’m asked to visit someone in the hospital, the one asking will say to me, “Please pray for him!” When I respond, “What should I pray?” they look at me as if I’m not all there. “Pray for healing, of course!” But, maybe God has other purposes for this trial. Is the person living under the lordship of Christ? Maybe this illness is to bring him into submission. Maybe there is some other purpose.
So, when you or someone you love encounters a trial, pray for wisdom (James 1:5 in context). Pray for the ability to endure with joy. Pray for a godly attitude through the pain. Pray that the works of God may be displayed in this trial (John 9:3). Pray that God would use this crisis for His purpose and glory (John 11:4). Pray that the fruit of the Spirit would grow in the lives of everyone involved (Gal. 5:22-23). Suffering should drive us to prayer.

Steven Cole

Read James 5:13-18 and consider your own prayer life. How much does it resemble the prayer life that James encourages in these verses? What is one way you can incorporate one of these encouragements into your prayer life? And who can you reach out to pray for now?

Good and Gracious King by CityAlight

Posted on: July 3, 2020 - 12:00PM

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