World English Bible translation
5:13Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises. 5:14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, 5:15 and the prayer of faith will heal him who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 5:16 Confess your offenses to one another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effective, earnest prayer of a righteous man is powerfully effective. 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn't rain on the earth for three years and six months. 5:18 He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
We wait for the coming of the Lord and as we wait there is work to be done. James has admonished his readers to be established in their faith, always being prepared for the Lord's return. They are to not grumble among themselves. They are to be patient just as the prophets of Israel were patient when they spoke the word of God, just as Job was patient as he waited on the Lord. Finally James admonished them to speak truthfully and honestly with all men. Let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no," he wrote.
While we wait the world will go on about us. There will be times of suffering and times of gladness. There will be times of sickness and times for prayer. In today's memorable scriptures, James speaks to the way that God would have us to respond to these times in our lives as an example of how we should live our lives before the Lord returns.
The common theme of today's scripture is prayer. If anyone is suffering, they should pray. If anyone is cheerful, let him sing praises, which to the Jew was a prayer of joy. If anyone is sick, the elders should pray for them and with them. We must pray for one another because the prayers of righteous people are powerfully effective.
The historical writings that mention James the brother of Christ speak mainly about his piety. Even the enemies of Christ admitted that James was a pious Jew. It was written that he was always in the temple, praying. If that's the case, then today's scripture gives some indications as to what James was praying about. Namely, he believed in praying about everything! Whether one is well or sick, whether one is suffering or cheerful, every moment of life becomes a moment for prayer. People in prayer can experience forgiveness, relief from suffering, healing, joy and the power of God.
James uses the example of Elijah, another prophet of Israel, as an example of the power of prayer. Because of the sins of the nation, Elijah prayed that the rains might stop so that people would fear and turn to God. During a dramatic demonstration of God's power on Mount Carmel, Elijah prayed for rain before the people and God sent the rain. Elijah asked in faith and the Lord delivered in abundance.
Elijah was an example of the effective prayers of a righteous man. We might think that because Elijah was a prophet, that his prayers might be more effective than our own. But, it is not us that make our prayers effective; it is the power of God that lives in us. It is God that heals, God that forgives and God that relieves suffering. Our prayers are the vehicles that God chooses to use.
God wants us to participate in His work in our world. Our participation is not essential; it is something that God chooses to do for His own purpose. God chooses to invite you and I into His life, into the process of salvation, even when it is not necessary. In the same way, He wants us to invite people into our own lives, even when it is not necessary, even when it is inconvenient for us.
Only through the shedding of blood can sin be forgiven, and those who will be saved are forgiven through the blood of Christ. Even so, James calls on us to confess our offenses to one another. When we invite people into our lives, when we allow them to participate in our life and we willing participate in theirs, we act as God acts. And that is the goal of salvation. More and more, the life of Christ becomes manifest in us. We act as God acts; we feel what God feels; we think as God thinks.
Are you cheerful? Sing praises to God, allowing Him to join in your joy. Are you suffering? Pray to God and beg Him to share in your suffering. Is anyone around you sick, suffering or in pain? Be willing to allow God to reach through you, to touch their lives and yours as well. Participate in the lives of other people. Participate in the salvation that God offers to us all!
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