James 5: 13-18
Prayer is not just an exercise we do. Rather, it is the active communication we have with God; it is the most important act for us in any matter or endeavor. Prayer is not about our will; rather, it is a means of seeking His (Matt. 6:33). Prayer does not just prepare us for ministry and service; prayer is our ministry and service. Prayer is not just a means of preparing us for the encounters and battles of life; it is the battle! Prayer is more about being the greatest work we can do than about the results we receive from it! Remember, our obedience is what is important, not how others respond to us. We are even called to bless those unreasonable people, and we do that, as we mature, by remaining true to His Lordship. You cannot be responsible for how others respond and treat you when you are acting in godly character (Romans 12:14-21).
Feel that your prayer life is dry? Ask God, be real, be honest, be yourself, and make sure your motives are right. We are never to seek to manipulate God to get our way, just as we are not to do so with others. In this spirit, we can come to one another and seek accountability and reconciliation. We can confess and be on guard with sin, so it stops and does not fester or escalate. And, as Elijah demonstrated to us, always remember that a righteous person is a praying person; we cannot do anything of meaning or significance for our Lord unless we are a person and a church of prayer!
- Confess. We are called to be accountable to one another, to state what we are going through and struggling with to someone in confidence who will listen and help guide us by His Word. It is not about going to a pastor or priest, but to God directly, and with accountability, to another trusted person, small group, or mentor. We cannot do the Christian life by ourselves; it is not a spectator or an individual sport! Christianity is not for lone rangers, it is for community!
- Righteous man means a person who is rooted in his or her faith to Christ and has a growing prayer life that also shows up in his or her behavior.
- Elijah, in 1 Kings 18, was a miracle worker. James uses him as an inspiration and incentive to the power and prominence we have available to us. Elijah represents the "everyman," who, by his prayer life, was powerfully used by God (1 Kings 17:1; 18: 1, 41-46; 1 Sam. 12:17-18)!
Many misguided Christians will say to another Christian who is ill or going through troubles, that he or she does not have enough faith or that he or she has unconfessed sin in his or her life and that is why the sickness has come; then they use this passage to back up their uncaring and insensitive claims. But, this is not what James is saying! It is not about the healing; it is about showing the love and care of our Lord. Making statements such as these does otherwise, and misses the call of the Scriptures! If you are earnestly praying, and perhaps are frustrated that you have not received an answer or the answer you desire, remember: while you are waiting, God is working (Matt. 21:22; John 14:14)!
Prayer is our primary means of communication with our Lord. It is also the bond that builds community, churches, and marriages, as it synergizes and brings out God's love! It is a marvel and a wonder that we, as created human beings, can obtain direct communication with God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Prayer shows us His love and concern for us just in allowing us to make our presence and requests known, and His even further, unfathomable love in that He earnestly hears us and gives us an answer and intervention! Prayer is precious; it is not to be a half-hearted endeavor, or just an empty routine, an unctuous ceremony, or a meaningless ritual. Prayer is not about the recitation of words, nor is it about posture, place, or expression usage; it is an outpouring of the posture of our heart to His. Prayer is an expression of our connection of love for what Christ has done for us in giving each of us this precious relationship with God.
Prayer shows our love and dependence on Him. It is a primary avenue for us to learn and grow in Him, and to be better equipped in life to touch others in His Name. Therefore, it is a relationship of dependency, as any real growth must involve the surrender of our will to His Will. Prayer pulls us up by the roots and plants us further in His presence and will! Beware! We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can live our Christian life without prayer, as one could be married or have a child and never have communication with that spouse or child. It could be done, but the relationship would be absent and soon would be bankrupt; we cannot do life on our own. Even if we could (and many Christians seem to), God just might let you; this would really be the time for fear and dropping to our knees!
Prayer is not just about what our own needs are. It is about putting our lives and experiences in Him, sharing our days and lives, both in times of urgency and times of happiness, and bringing others to our thoughts and into our prayers. Continual and effective prayer will build our relationship with God. We will realize that He is in charge of all that happens in our lives, and that we are in His Hands. How we interact with Christ as Lord and respond to others is rooted in how we communicate. Our spiritual growth and how we can connect to God with an effectual relationship is determined by how effective our prayer life is. It can be put this way: all we do in life is based on our ability to communicate-and our principle communication is to our loving Lord!
- How does prayer become the means to line us up with God?
- What can you do to make sure your motives are right with prayer?
- Do you believe that prayer can meet all the things and needs that you will ever face?
- Do you have the confidence that your prayers are heard and are answered?
- How can you have more confidence in prayer?
- How can you do your prayer life in a better way?
- How does trusting in God and being faithful help you in being effective towards your intercessory duty to others?
- How do you feel about people claiming they can heal? Have you seen or experienced it? I definitely believe that God heals today and have seen amazing things! However, did you know that in Scripture, healing is not guaranteed or even normative; it is about how we respond and learn that matters to God over all else-even an actual healing? How can this fact strengthen your resolve and faith in Christ?
- How does harboring resentment and unforgiveness deteriorate your body and mind? Can you give an example?
- How does knowing that God can cause us to be sick to get us out of sin keep you motivated in the right direction? How will you build up your prayer life now?
© 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org