Western Trail Cowboy Church
The Power of Prayer James 5:13-18
  • Introduction

    How often do we hear “My prayers are with you” when something happens?
    How often do we not even pray when we say we will?
    How often do we think prayer is not enough?
    Many times we equate prayer to a trivial almost non essential aspect of our Christian lives. We forsake prayer when we should be praying all day long.
    Paul said we should pray without ceasing. This means we pray often and daily. It is like a nagging cough we have. The cough is with us all day we do not cough every second of the day but we cough all day long.
    This is how we should pray. Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do, I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
    He did not neglect prayer because of his workload, but prayed even more becaasue of his workload.
    How often do we neglect prayer because we are so busy? I would venture to say it is more often than we want to admit. The same goes for our service in the church, Bible reading, or just time with the Lord in general.
    When we get busy and weary from the world the first thing we neglect is prayer and time with the Lord either in service, or Bible study.
    James says that we must not do that. Last week we looked at the power of patience in tribulations and frustrations. We gain this patience in trials and tests and temptations through prayer and time with the Lord.
    Prayer is more important than anything else we can do. As one man has written about this,
    “When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, and so on. Nor am I disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place, but when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.” (A.C. Dixon, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 108).
    Neglecting prayer is a bad move and one that will cause us grief. When we do this we leave God’s power behind and depend on our own. We will lose patience, we will fail to stay faithful in tests, we will become bitter and desire the things of the world, we will go against everything this letter is working to help us not fail at.
    That is why James tells us to pray and go to others for prayer and that we can all pray and know it is heard.
    Let us read the text James 5:13-18
    James 5:13–18 ESV
    13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
    We see in this text many wonderful things about prayer and what it does. The first thing we see in the power of prayer is that we need to

    Pray Through All of Life

    Right here we see James tell us to pray in every aspect of life. He does this by saying two parts of life that cover all of life: suffering and cheerfulness. When we suffer pray. When we are joyous, pray. It is that simple and that important.
    In Suffering (13a).
    What is our first reaction when we suffer? Usually it is complain. It should be to pray. That is what James is telling us. Pray when it goes bad. Pray when you are insulted. Pray when you are struggling. Pray when everything is falling apart.
    Give it to God and do not hold it in. Take it all to Him and He will help. Do this daily. Do this often and it will become natural. But do not only pray when a tragedy or painful experience happens. No, we need to pray when the good happens too.
    When Cheerful (13b).
    This is what is meant when James said “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
    Praise to God and cheerful attitudes will help us to stay steady in prayer. It will give us a new outlook when we give glory to God in all situations.
    When we are joyful and happy but we pray to the Lord in that time, we will certainly be able to when things get rough.
    The one thing we need to know and take from this verse is that in all of life we need to pray. We can carry our everything to the Lord and He will respond. It is not only in cases of bad and suffering that we go to Him but in joy and happiness too.
    When we make it a habit of praying to God in everything, then we begin to see that faith is in God to deliver us through trials and not from them. We have faith in God to carry us through and deliver us to the other side but not out of them. We trust Him because we are always talking to Him.
    Think of it like this. You have someone that you trust. You talk to them daily. You talk to them in the bad and in the happy. You know you can trust them in things in life. You know when they tell you I will be there, they will be there.
    They can’t carry you out of trials and tests but they are there with you through them. You know this because you know the relationship you have. It is the same with prayer. The more we pray the more we know God. We only know Him like that friend through prayer and saying in tune with His word.
    But there are times when we have extra struggles. We are beat down and weary. That is when we must...

    Pray Through Special Challenges

    Here James uses a word that has been translated as sick but has more of a meaning of weary or weak. This is saying that if you are worn and weary, if you are ill from the struggles and need help, go to the spiritually strong and faithful people of the church. They will pray for you and comfort you but the anointing of oil is more of a medicinal aspect than pouring oil on the head.
    So this section tells us that when beat down...
    Seek Spiritual Leaders (14).
    Call the elders and have them pray. This is most important. Us in leadership do not have a crystal ball nor do we have telepathy where we can know what is going on in your lives. We need you to come to us and share what is needed.
    I am here for this purpose. I am here to pray with and for you. i am here to be the one you can unload problems on and intercede for you with the Lord. I am here to help you walk this path of life.
    But I cannot do anything for you if I do not know what it is you need. None of us in the leadership can do that. You must bring the problems to us and allow us to pray with and for you.
    This is exactly what James is saying here. We are here to pray for you and to “anoint” you with oil. This word anoint does not have the liturgical/spiritual meaning behind it as many other uses do. Here it is like the story of the good Samaritan and him anointing the travelers wounds with oil. It is a medicinal purpose. It is saying come to the elders to have your hurts soothed and your aches rubbed with oil. It is like having Absorbine rubbed into sore muscles. It helps you make it another day.
    It also carries the other aspect of medical with it. Basically if you are in a bad state yes seek prayer but also medical help. But do not disregard coming to the elders of the church and seek prayer. We will pray for you and seek God on your behalf.
    But to do this you must...
    Trust the Lord (15a).
    The prayer of faith will “deliver” him. This is not saying that you will be healed now. It is not saying that you will not have persecution and tests still. It does say that we are to trust God and He will deliver us through.
    We may continue to go through what we are suffering but we will have new life because we have others helping intercede for us. We have support and help. We are not fighting alone.
    That praying may help us see that there may be another cause for our situation. We may have been living in a certain way that is causing the grief or illness.
    We all know that anxiety and stress can make us ill. We all know that lack of sleep because we are working too much can cause us to have bad health.
    Well, sin can be the cause of it too. We can become so wrapped up in sin and become weary, down, ill, or many other things.
    The prayer of faith will help to open up that avenue. This may be uncomfortable, but it is sometimes necessary.
    Think of it like this
    Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes (Sin)
    A certain man wanted to sell his house in Haiti for $2,000. Another man wanted to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
    The moral of the parable is, “If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”
    Sin in our lives may cause this rot and make us miserable. In truth, sin will cause us to not want to go to the elders and seek prayer. It will make us want to hide and avoid. it will make us think that if we speak to another then our dirty laundry will be exposed to the whole town.
    Well that is not what we are to think or do. We are to seek the prayers of the elders of the church. We are to go to one another and confess our sins. This does not mean we are to stand before the whole church and confess but that we get with each other and confess. We visit with one another and help each other. We probe and seek to help each other. We are one together and we are to help each other. If we cannot confess failures and hurts and sins to each other, then who can we?
    The answer there is no one. We cannot carry it all alone. We must carry it to each other and seek help. We must do this with those who are solid and strong in their faith because that person’s prayer has much power.
    That person will be...

    Praying Without Doubt

    The fervent prayer, the prayer of a righteous person has great power. It does because that person does not doubt in their prayer. They know God will answer. They know God is faithful and will respond.
    This type of prayer is a prayer that is specific and has a specific result in it. This prayer is a prayer that is sent to God with specificity in it because the one praying has been called on to intercede for the person. The one praying knows what is needed.
    This prayer is...
    Not Half-Hearted (16b).
    This prayer is a prayer that is prayed by a person who has practiced prayer in all of life. This is the prayer of the person who has dedicated themselves to the glory of the Lord. It is the prayer of the person who knows God will deliver.
    This is the prayer of the person who is not double-minded. This prayer is of one who knows that God will deliver. This is the prayer from the person who knows that God always answers prayer but that He does it on His time and not ours.
    This prayer is from those who do not “see prayer as a last resort, to be tried when all else fails.” The one who sees that “Prayer should come first.” Not like “Some [who] see prayer as a way to obligate God to give whatever they claim in faith.” You see, “God is pleased to use our prayers to accomplish his purposes and he delights in answering our needs, but he is never bound by our prayers. God’s power is infinitely greater than ours, so it only makes sense to rely on it—especially because God encourages us to do so.” (Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, and Neil S. Wilson, James, 142.)
    That is what this prayer is. It is from one who prays in full faith because they know that the Lord desires us to pray to Him and seek Him in all areas. They know that God will respond and deliver and help because we are His and Jesus said that when we pray in His name His father hears and answers.
    But know that it is not only this persons prayer that is important. You need to know that...
    Your Prayer is Important (17-18).
    Elijah was a great prophet used mightily by the Lord. He was nothing special but was willing to be used.
    He was like us yet he did great things. He knew the Lord and he sought the Lord and not his own power. He called on the Lord to do the mighty things.
    But, “Elijah was human, a follower of God who sometimes got depressed or had doubts. He snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory when he ran from Jezebel after decisively crushing the prophets of Baal. But James uses Elijah as an example of someone who did not allow his own weaknesses to undermine his trust in God. Elijah’s weak belief in himself forced him to believe even more firmly in God. James is inviting us to identify with Elijah’s weakness so that we might develop the same honesty and power in prayer that Elijah exercised. The same God who listened to and acted on Elijah’s prayers will give attention to ours.” (Barton, 143).
    And this is why when we pray to God in joyous times and bad times we have that relationship. We can be just as faithful even in our failures because our failures push us to God. They push us to rest in His strength. They push us to give it to Him because we cannot do it.
    But know that you have people in the church who will go to bat for you at any time.
    I am here for each of you. I love you all and will pray for you at the drop of a hat. I will intercede anytime and all the time. I want to help and will help, but you must bring it to me. You must let me know what I can be praying for. I am not any better than anyone else. I am a man just like you. We are very similar. But with more praying you have strength.

    Conclusion

    The power of prayer comes not from you but from the one to whom we pray. That is why we need to pray in all of life, through special challenges, and without doubt. When we do these things we will begin to see a difference in our lives.
    As E.M. Bounds said, “The central significance of prayer is not in the things that happen as results, but in the deepening intimacy and unhurried communion with God at His central throne of control in order to discover a "sense of God's need in order to call on God's help to meet that need"
    When we pray all the time in all things, we build a relationship with the Lord that can carry us through much difficulty. We build a faith that is unbreakable in great tragedy. We grow and we become strong righteous people who can be there for others.
      • James 5:13–18ESV

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