Prayer. This is a spiritual discipline I wish came naturally for me but it has been something I have had to learn and grow to practice. I am happy to say that as time has progressed prayer has become a lifestyle for me. It’s something I do before I eat my food, when I talk to someone on the phone, when I hear bad news, or when God tells me to pray.
While most Christians will say they find it hard to pray and find time to do so… here is one thing I can say about prayer - IT IS POWERFUL. For someone who has been ministering and pastoring for awhile now I can tell you that I have seen the hand of God move when we pray. I see that when we pray, we enter a spiritual realm that is beyond comprehension. Prayer unlocks the heart of God and moves him to work. Prayer is our weapon as we fight against evil in high places (Ephesians 6).
James, who wrote a letter to the Christian church, also knows the power of prayer. That is why he wrote to the church about it. I believe that you and I also desire to go deeper in our prayer life with God. Here is the good news: it’s never too late to start.
Here are six things James tells us about prayer that will help us when we pray.
1. Pray when you are in trouble. 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray (v 13). Well, this is a no brainer. We all know this. We ask people to pray when we are in trouble. But more specifically he says that it’s not so much asking God to take the trouble away but more for God to give us STRENGTH to get through the trouble. Too often we think that life should be trouble free. That is not the case, life will have trouble because we live in a sinful, evil, and broken world. Therefore, ask God to give you strength to get THROUGH the trouble. Is that what you need right now, God’s power to get through your situation?
2. Prayer leads to praise. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise (v 13). I love what James’ is saying here. He is not talking about when things in life are good this leads to praise. He is saying that AFTER you have prayed, lifted up your situation in God’s hands, you have a spirit that is encouraged and you are content in the LORD. You are leaving it in the hands of God. Do you have a heart of praise despite the trouble you are going through?
3. Pray in the name of Jesus. 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 (v 14). The emphasis here is the name of the LORD. It’s not the laying of the hands (which we do because Jesus would lay hands on others when he healed them) or the anointing of oil (which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit) that heals a person. Oil was used in the Good Samaritan story to medicate the wounded person and used to anoint David to be the next King in 1 Samuel 16. But it’s the name of God – Jesus – that brings about healing. That is why when you pray it’s important to say “In the name of Jesus” because his name is power. Jesus is the only name who can heal. Are you praying in the name of God?
4. Pray with faith. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up (v 15). We’ve seen this word faith show up in so many places in the Bible. Hebrews 11: 1 “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. Faith is about trusting God, being confident in him, and knowing that what he says he will do, he will do in our life. When you and I pray, we do need to have faith. In particular, when James says make the sick person well – he is talking about physical healing, but he is talking about mental, emotional, and spiritual healing. God wants to heal us COMPLETLEY. But we have to have faith. Do you believe in God? Do you believe in his power? Do you believe that God can extend his help to you?
5. Pray with a repentant heart. . If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (v 15-16). This is a big one. We often don’t like to talk about it, but it’s true. Sin can be a barrier between us and God. James is saying repent to God and confess your sin to a trusted person and you will be forgiven and HEALED. Now does that mean that every time we are sick is it because of sin? The answer is no. Job did not sin but was afflicted and in John 9 the man born blind did not sin. Not all sickness is due to sin. But when it is due to sin – there is a way out. REPENT. Have you repented of your sins so that you are right with God?
6. Pray for God’s will. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. If you read further in this passage, you will learn that James talks about Elijah. Elijah was righteous because he was in tune with God. James writes Elijah was a human person and he prayed for rain to stop and it did and then prayed for rain to come and it came. Now why did he have that kind of power? Because he had a heart that discerned and prayed for God’s will. God honored his prayers because it was God’s will to stop and start the rain. He prayed with wisdom not with selfish motives and ambition. Often times we go to God and pray like this, “Lord, bless me with a house, with a spouse, with a car, with a job” but our motives are not pure. James 4 says we ask but do no get because we ask with wrong motives. We have ensure that we when we pray and ask God to do something that these prayers – are about GOD’S WILL - not ours.
God’s desire is for you and I to be more and more like Jesus. That is why we will go through trouble in life. Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross for our sin. We should expect trouble in life and when it does we have a weapon we can use it’s prayer.
We are called to pray when in trouble, prayer leads to praise, pray in the name of God, pray with faith, pray with a repentant heart, and pray for God’s will.
Hopefully, you have learned something more about prayer and how to pray. I know I have!
To watch the full sermon on this topic please click here: