Powerful Prayer

James 5:13-16

13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14Is 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. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Strongly Believe

Do you strongly believe the Lord had arranged series of great and not so great events and situations for his glory? Do you believe that God has great purpose for the situation you have at the moment? Do you strongly believe that when God lets people to experience challenging financial situation, he has great purposes for them?

One Christian believes very strongly that difficult situation helped him to be wise financially. With minimum wage, he just cannot buy a decent house for his family. He regularly prayed, “Lord, if it is your will, give us a house and lot and car.”

Well, God knows what’s best for us. He situated the believer where he can thrive and abundantly compensated financially. He was able to provide a decent house and car for his family. And, whenever they pray together as family or in their individual private prayer time, they praise and thank God for the abundant blessings they cherish.

House and lot and car require regular maintenance. With high mortgage interest rate and gas prices, owners of house and lot and car must have financial stabilities. It is much wiser to pray for better stable job instead of house and lot and car, right?

We trust God with material needs; we learn to be content. Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 4: 11-13.  11I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Christ enables believers to be content and learn attitudes that please the Lord.

Have you learned to be content with whatever circumstances God situates you?

Truly, scarcity of material things can be very confusing, but we pray that our Lord empowers us to persevere in righteousness despite challenges of life. So, whether in abundance or inadequacy, we must trust that God has greater purposes for his glory.

Do you believe that material abundance is blessing from God? Many believers do. We can see material things; we can touch, smell, hear or taste them. Reflect: Does God intentionally let deprivation of material things (even for believers) for us to pray to him? Well, when the Lord grants our prayers for material needs, we thank him, for sure.

God’s favorable answer may encourage us to keep trusting him. We should trust the Lord for material abundance, but it should not be the main reason we trust Christ. Material needs are temporary; they have expiration date. If God provides it, we should also pray how we may use material abundance to gain and earn eternal treasures.

We gather regularly to praise and thank God for all the blessings he has given us. Together we worship him, we pray for petitions, we pray for solution to problems, personal, family, church and community, and we also pray for worldwide supplications.

Personally, what is your latest prayer request that God had already answered?

Most often, we readily remember prayers for personal concerns that had caught much of our attention, right? Which prayer item had caused you to pray very seriously? Have you ever prayed for anything that even if you can’t get them, you’re fine?

When prayer items were not big deal, did you pray lightly and not very seriously?

Truly, when life concerns give so much trouble and confusion, we pray seriously. We don’t wait for problems to bother us; be more serious in your prayers.

When God favorably grants our prayer, we rejoice greatly; we sing praises to him. Do you gladly sing praises to the Lord when he favorably grants your prayer?

1. Sing

13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. 

Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 

Previously, we learn that prophets of God patiently preached his word despite of hostile crowds. When situated in very difficult environment, we pray for his Holy Spirit to produce peace and patience in us. Everyone, all of us have our share of trouble in this world. Job was the most righteous person in his generation, but still he endured difficult struggles. Well, God allowed struggles for Job to exemplify perseverance.

The Lord openly recognized the righteousness of Job in Job 2:3, 3Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

The Lord allowed miserable and painful difficulties that Satan caused. Job lost all his children, all his material wealth, but his wife, friends and relatives can’t help him. His personal suffering practically proves limitation of material things on earth; temporal things have expiration date.  Anyway, if God allowed trouble for a righteous, blameless Job to persevere, he won’t spare us from trouble so that we may persevere.

Difficult concerns should remind us to pray more seriously and sincerely, why?

When the Lord grants our prayer request favorably, it result to gladness of heart; and, we thank and praise him. We may sing songs of praise as practical expression of gladness. We can also express our belief in the Lord with songs of praise and hymns.

Let’s read Psalm 40:1-5: 1I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

4Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. 5Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

King David overcame a lot of trouble, and he became great king. He didn’t clearly specify, but something unpleasant had caused him cried out to God. Was it personal? Was it family problem, problems with relatives or friends? David trusted God still. And, when his prayer was favorably answered, he respectfully recognized that the Lord put a new song in his mouth; he wished that observers may have faith in God as well.

You may have heard of LSS “Last Song Syndrome” before. When the last worship song that you sang keeps ringing in your heart and mind, the Lord may have put that song in your innermost being to remember and praise him privately or publicly. For sure you know that, it is very appropriate to sing praise song to the Lord as expression of gratitude, especially, when the Lord raises us up from the pit of trouble.

The pandemic feels like isolation in deep hole. Individuals infected with Covid-19 may have struggled from discomfort effect of sickness. Personally, have you ever tested positive of Covid-19 or coronavirus? Those who had caught the virus can describe clearly the struggle they endured. Can you think more logically when you get sick with Covid?

2. Sick

14Is 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. 15aAnd the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.

In the first century, it was not very easy for the sick to get medication. Medical practitioners were very scarce at that time, and they may not be readily accessible to general public and most possibly, the wealthy may or even employed medical doctors. When medical doctors started to be accessible to general public, where did it happen?

Possibly, scarcity of medical practitioners was a factor that first century Christians were advised to call the elders of the church to pray over and anoint the sick in the name of the Lord. Do you believe that when church elders pray, God will hear them?

First century church elders were chosen not because of popularity but because, they exemplified godly lifestyle of righteousness. Keep praying for our church elders.

In 1 Titus 1:6-9, 6An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Do you strongly believe that prayer offered in faith can heal and make a sick person well? Do you strongly believe that when church elders offer prayer in faith, the sick person will get well? When you were sick, what did you automatically do? Have you ever called personally our church elders to offer prayer of healing? Or, Called 911!

911 Call

Maybe next time, when you call 911, call also our church elders to pray for you.

Calling 911 is not always reliable. Somewhere around the globe, her daughter called 911; she pleaded that an ambulance be sent to her mother’s home. Accordingly, the 911 operator asked the caller several times if the patient is willing to be brought to the hospital. The 911 operator never sent an ambulance. The patient died the following day; complaint was filed against the 911 operator. The 911 operator was charged of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, official oppression and obstruction.

Calling 911 can be useful but not always. 911 operators are limited. We should pray for government agencies, workers in medical field including 911 operators. Have you heard of sickly and weak people who went to see their doctor and the doctor examines them but finds nothing wrong with them and everything seems normal? Why?

If something wrong bothers patients, many practitioners are not ready to admit if it is beyond their medical expertise. Do you know of a medical practitioner who openly admits that sin may also cause sickness even when patients are physically healthy?

3.  Sin

15bIf they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

It is possible that first century Christians assumed that particular sins may cause sickness. When it instructed that sick people confess their sin to each other and pray for each other so that patients may be healed, do you have any doubt on its efficacy? Why not just pray for healing? Why do we need to confess sin to each other?

Surely, we believe that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Anyhow, what sin can you think of that might cause the sinner to get sick?

Of course, you may have heard of patients who were conscience-stricken by their wrong-doings; confession or admittance to wrong-doings may help conscience-stricken patients to be freed from psychological effect of undesirable activities they do in secret.

What readily comes to your mind when you hear what it says in James 4:17? 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Did government advisory on pandemic scare help prevent rapid spread of virus? Do you listen to medical advisory because you know it is good? If we ignore or if we disregard government advisories on pandemic, do we commit the sin of omission?

Sometimes God may allow us to be scared of anything just to remind us of important lessons we may have ignored or disregarded like helpful medical advisory. It is also wise to pray for wisdom to discern which medical advice is beneficial.
Grow op

Have you ever heard of the term “Grow-op?” “Grow-op is short term for “grow operation.” It is an expression used by law enforcers and media to refer to residential homes where marijuana or cannabis is grown indoors. And, if you buy a house, it is wise to ask your realtor if the house you wish to buy was a “Grow-op.” Why? Did you know that “grow-op” homes have dangerous molds or fungi that can cause health problem?

You search online. Government agencies had listed addresses grow-op houses.

Reflect on this: Cannabis grown indoors requires humidity; humidity caters to infectious molds or fungi. If marijuana is secretly grown in their house, residents get sick. They may disregard the danger of mold, so they get sick. Of course, they may not want to leave their home and they don’t want others to enter their home; they don’t want their secret to be revealed. So, even if they pray for healing, they would still get sick.

There are other sinful activities that can cause sickness: bad vices, drunkenness.

It says in Ephesians 5:18, 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.

When people get drunk, they do undesirable sins that, they would regret later.

Some people might think that drinking wine has medical benefit. Some medical experts had claimed that drinking wine can cause sickness. Drunkenness can lead to other undesirable sins that may cause health problems.

When we’re advised to confess sins to each others, it didn’t say that we should confess all our sins. It did not say that we should confess any kind of sin to each other. Possibly, the original recipient of this instruction may have understood very clearly which sin they confessed to each other; and it did not need to be mentioned. It is also possible that such instruction, “Confess sin to each other,” pertains to sins that may cause sickness like drunkenness, even eating too much fatty junk foods.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Do you wish to have powerful and effective prayer? It says in Hebrews 9:14, 14The blood of Christ cleansed our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Our old self died and buried with Christ; his blood poured on the cross washed our sins away. In Christ, we become righteous before God. Can you strongly believe that? How can you practically sense that the blood of Christ has cleansed you from sin?

You would sense enthusiasm to serve him, even when nobody tells you.

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