“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 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. And 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. Therefore 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.” James 5:13-16
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog on prayer, and I hope the absence of one hasn’t communicated a lack of need for it. If there is anything that I’ve learned (or re-learned) over the past two weeks, it’s this truth: Prayer is essential in the Christian life, and I have no idea what I would do without this powerful weapon that God has given to us. It’s our means of communication with God, but it’s also tremendously powerful, and as James 5 puts it, it’s effective.
Within this past week alone, I have had three very powerful group times of prayer, and each time spent in prayer has produced incredible benefits for all involved – increased faith, deepened fellowship, and confidence in the God whom we serve and what He is able to do. Each group time of prayer was different and consisted of different people and different focuses in prayer, but each time was powerful. God is blessed when His people come together in agreement and in faith and choose to take Him at His Word, to believe Him for the seemingly impossible, and to trust His guidance in all things.
Prayer is powerful, and it’s necessary. Sadly, I have heard prayer described as something weak or ineffective at best, and I’ve heard this one too many times. “All I can do is pray.” Have you ever said that? Prayer is so important that many authors of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit deemed it necessary to address it in their letters to the church. James, the half-brother of Jesus Himself, feels the need to include the above instruction in his letter because prayer is that important.
Why? Well, first and foremost, prayer keeps us in constant communication with God, and since that is what God is after (our hearts), He uses prayer in our lives to draw us closer to Himself. Secondly, prayer teaches us of the sovereignty of God and forces us to relinquish our perceived control of any and every situation. When James asks if anyone of you are in trouble, he follows that question with an immediate exhortation to pray. Our goal should be to make prayer our immediate, conditioned response, our default. Trouble arises? Pray. Difficulty unfolds? Pray. Need presents itself? Pray. Furthermore, as we read in James 5, prayer ushers healing into our lives; sometimes physical, but always spiritual.
When is the last time you intentionally engaged in a time of prayer? When was the last time you were found on your knees in passionate pursuit of Jesus? When was the last time you recognized that prayer is powerful and is, perhaps, the catalyst to your freedom?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14