ames is speaking very specifically about prayer in his passage. I wonder how many of us are praying in this way. James starts by saying,
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray."
I think we've all got that one down, right? We ask God for help when life is hard when we are in trouble when we are someone we love is sick. "God help me....help my family...protect us...." and so forth.
But James goes on. "Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise." This one we may be a little less consistent with. Do we remember to thank God when he answers our prayers? How many times do we go through our day and thank God for everything he did?
"God thank you for the sunshine, thank you for the rain.....God thank you for the wonderful food you provided today. Thank you for my peace." Let's keep going in our passage. James says in v. 14,
"Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."
You may not know this, but we practice anointing people with oil for healing here in our church. Since I've started here, we've done it 2 or 3 times. It's not an overly common practice in the protest church, but it's something, as you can see here in James, that roots back to the beginning of Christianity. Part of the reason that we don't do it very much, is because people don't ask us to.
There is a special liturgy for healing services in the church. In that, we pray this prayer over a person after anointing them with oil:
I love those words "body, mind, spirit, and relationships." We are praying that God will heal a person where he or she needs, in body, mind, spirit, and relationships. Friends, healings come in so many ways. It is not for us to understand why God chooses to physically heal one person and not another. But God offers some form of healing to everyone.
The healing of one's mind, spirit, and relationships can at times be something harder to heal than one's body. God is the master of all and he knows what each of us needs. I'm not trying to be negative here, but these bodies are not made to live forever. You could say that our mind, spirit, and relationships are the things that have a more lasting effect on this world.
We are bringing the book of James to a close this week. I hope you have found James as transformative as I have. I hope you'll finish it out with chapter 5. James puts a lot in the end here.
Read James 5:1-6.
- What do you think of as you read these verses?
- Do you find hope anywhere?
- Where should you put your hope?
Read James 5:7-12.
- How do patients and suffering connect for you?
- Have you considered your actions regarding God's return?
- How have you suffered for God in your life?
Read James 5:13-18.
- What was the last thing you prayed for?
- When was the last time you asked others for prayer?
- Do you confess things to other people?
- When have you seen God act in a powerful way through prayer?
Read James 5:19-20.
- Do you help people from wandering?
- How can we help support our brothers and sisters in the church?