Faith Confessions from the Book of James: “I Pray”
Message by Pastor Kent Munsey
“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. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
“I Pray” is our faith declaration this week. Sometimes the simplest instruction is the highest level of difficulty. No one would tell you not to pray when facing hardships or sickness, but oftentimes prayer is the last place we go when life gets difficult. James wanted the church to know that no matter what season of life they were in--whether mourning in loss or rejoicing in blessing, the answer is to pray.
Based on James chapter 5, we can learn more about how and when we should pray.
1. I pray when I am in pain and suffering.
When we are suffering, we tend to run from God instead of to God. Sometimes, we try to self-medicate our pain or go to other people for help instead of seeking our heavenly Father.
Jesus demonstrates the greatest example of how to pray in pain. When he was preparing for his death by crucifixion, he was praying and crying out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says that he was facing so much stress that he was sweating drops of blood. He asked God to take this cup from him if at all possible, but nevertheless he submitted to his Father’s will (Matthew 26). What he received was the supernatural peace and grace to face his death. When you pray, you position yourself for God to give you grace and more grace to do the hard thing but to do it with his help.
2. I pray with my pastors and leaders when I am sick.
God wants us to pray when we are sick or feeling bad. If someone we loved were hurting or sick, wouldn’t we want them to tell us? How much more-so does God care for us when we’re sick! He loves us so much that he gave his Son for us.
When we are ill, we should go to our pastors and leaders and let them anoint and pray for us. Jesus is the head of the church, and he always works through the authority that he has set in place in his church. When we want to receive healing, we should go to a trusted pastoral authority for prayer.
3. I pray with and for the people in my life.
Pray with one another. The Bible says to confess our sins to one another; to confess simply means to admit. We need to admit when we are wrong or when we’ve been hurt, and we should pray with and for each other. Don’t allow offense and unforgiveness to rob you of God’s healing and blessing.
Many of us don’t pray as often as we should because we feel like God will only listen once we’ve cleaned up certain parts of our lives. We allow our sin to become bigger in our eyes than God’s love and grace for us.
When we are so aware of our sin, we become unaware of our Savior. James 5 tells us that the fervent prayer of a righteous person that avails much. We are not approaching God based on our own righteousness; if we are in Christ, we can approach God covered by the righteousness of Jesus.
No matter what you are facing, you can come to God in prayer, confident that he will hear you and answer you because he loves you. Let’s be a church that prays in all seasons, whether we’re happy or sad, and prays bold prayers of faith for ourselves and for each other.
Are there any areas of your life that you have been avoiding talking to God about? What is holding you back?
If you have been going through pain, suffering or sickness, have you prayed about it?
Have you ever allowed your pastors or leaders to pray for you? What happened as a result?
Do you pray with and for the people in your life? Who do you think you should be praying for or with?
What bold prayers do you feel that God is calling you to pray in this season?