November 18, 2021

Prayer to be Reckoned with... - The Book of James Bible Series


Hello, friends! We are back with another installment of our James series! Today we are going over just two little verses, but --you guys!-- they are PACKED full!  Let's get right to it:



"Are there any believers in your fellowship suffering great hardship and distress? Encourage them to pray! Are there happy, cheerful ones among you? Encourage them to sing out their praises! Are there any sick among you? Then ask the elders of the church to come and pray over the sick and anoint them with oil in the name of our Lord. And the prayer of faith will heal the sick and the Lord will raise them up, and if they have committed sins they will be forgiven." (The Passion Translation)

'Are there any believers... suffering great hardship and distress?'
This is rhetorical, right? I mean, the answer is always yes... 

At least lately - but if we are honest, I think the answer has always been yes! There are always believers among us who are going through it! This is a fallen world we live in and the enemy is roaming around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.  He is on the prowl and we are the hunted. (Let's not forget that!)  On the upside, there are always also believers among us who are cheerful and happy... and while we are to encourage the sick to pray, we are also to encourage the cheerful to praise! James tells us to encourage them to sing praises!  I love this because so often we think we should be one way or the other! As an empath, being around someone who is sick and someone who is happy --well, I tend to embrace both... Something about Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, right?

Next we come to the calling of the elders to pray... to come and lay hands and pray for healing.  Sweet readers, I am oh so grateful for online church and the ability to Zoom or watch a service or participate in a Bible study or book study online... but these should not be the replacement of in real life, face to face, meetings and community.  It's great - but it's not a great replacement.  Also - hear me clearly: Currently, we do not have an in real life community/church/small group.  So I get it.  We long for it and we have had our own small group but recently felt called to lay that down (again)!  I say that because I do not want you to feel any judgment if you, too, are between what was and what is to come!  However - I am preaching to us all that what is to come is necessary! Not even a global pandemic should cause us to settle for anything less! We were made for community... to be a part of the Family... and when we are sick  - whether it be physically battling, or (as the Greek word here, 'kamno' suggests) simply being weary and worn down, we need to have actual in real life people who we can call who will come on over and be with us, battle with us, lay hands on us, and pray the prayer of faith with us!  For better or worse, whether we like it or not, we NEED each other!


Next, let's read this in The Voice translation:

"Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God. Are any sick? They should call the elders of your church and ask them to pray. They will gather around and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayers offered in faith will restore them from sickness and bring them to health. The Lord will lift them up from the floor of despair; and if the sickness is due to sin, then God will forgive their sins." (The Voice)

I like how this version makes it even more clear: If any in your community are suffering, THEY shoull pray!  Do we pray with them? --for them? Of course... but not INSTEAD of them!  I've said for decades now, the structure of the church is upside down and we do not do anyone favors by setting our leaders up on pedestals and looking to them for all the answers and to be our fixers and intercessors.  We pay them a salary so it becomes their job description. However, James makes it clear here --the suffering must do their own battling... they must learn or be taught (or reminded of) how to pray and encouraged to pray for themselves! Our system is broken, and too many broken believers do not know how to war for themselves or for anyone else!  I believe we are being called back to the basics and there is coming an awakening of prayer warriors and those who are willing to pray THROUGH something... to not back down or give in or simply ask someone else to do it instead! (Ask someone else to stand and fight WITH you and for you, yes... do that! But to expect that asking others to pray for something and then not actually doing it yourself - well... Something about we have not because we ask not!  He's talking about asking HIM... not our Pastor or leader?)  

Now - so we don't get the idea that we don't need anyone, James goes on to say that if any are sick - call the elders! (See? We do need Community and leaders who know and love us!) Call for the elders to come --to gather around them and anoint them with oil and their prayers offered up in faith will (1) restore them FROM sickness and (2) bring them TO health.

Restoration means better than before... and going FROM one thing TO the opposite thing --well, it's a journey, isn't it?  We can be so short sighted and we can want it to happen miraculously... with shock and awe.  It can happen that way, sure.  But often times, it's a long walk in the same direction, right?

Listen, I am a crazy Faith Girl... and I have laid my hands on a ton of people and prayed for healing.  I have prayed prayers of faith... and while I have seen some healing... I've seen a lot go unchanged, unhealed, if you will, and I don't love it. I don't like it or understand it and it's easy to start trying to lay blame.  Or to want to back away from doing this - but Readers, these are the RED PARTS of the Bible! Jesus said we should be doing these parts!  Do I want Him to answer me the way I want the answers to come every time? Of course I do!  Do I know that's not how it works and even still, He is trustworthy and true and He is a Good, Good Father -- even when it doesn't feel like that is truth? Yes. Yes, I do know these things!

I like also how this translations clearly points out that IF the sickness is due to sin, God will forgive their sins.  Not all sickness is due to sin. Oh, we can act like that is true... our theology can get real messed up and confusing... and SOME sickness is due to sin... it is maybe a consequence or a result... but some sickness is not of our own doing.


Next, let's read from The Amplified Bible:

"Is anyone among you suffering? He must pray. Is anyone joyful? He is to sing praises [to God]. Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (The Amplified Bible)

I may go as far as to say this type of activity can and should be practiced in each meeting. As I said above, there are ALWAYS those suffering among us --and there should always also be those who are joyful among us, too! What James is describing here is a really powerful home meeting!  Lord - let us all find this kind of community!


Lastly, The Message Bible reads like this:

"Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out." (The Message Bible)

Leave it to Eugene to make it so simple yet powerful! So clear and to the point, and easy to follow! I love the 'subtitle' to this portion of scripture in The Message Bible! It says "Prayer to be Reckoned with" - and OH MY YES!!! Lord - let us pray THOSE KINDS OF PRAYERS!!!


Let's pray together now: 

Lord, We come to You today and - as has become our habit, we start by simply giving thanks!  We're so thankful that we are Yours! We're so grateful for the ways You care for us! For the ways You love us!  Father God, we know that You desire all of our attention, all of our hearts, all of our affections. And we offer it all - all of who and what we are, and we lay everything at Your feet! Lord - we long for community that James talks about here in these verses! Some of us have been blessed with such a family... such a church.  Many had that for a season but can't seem to find it again... and some have sadly never tasted it! 

Lord - we ask for a reawakening of Your Body... of Your Bride... that She will wake up from her slumber and that She will function as the Lover of God that she is! 

We pray for those who are sad... who are hurting... who feel lost or discouraged, depressed or anxious... and we ask Holy Spirit that You will encourage them to pray. We thank You Holy Spirit that interceed with us and for us and that You can teach us how to pray! Jesus, we ask that You will stir up the joyful among us to not shrink back or shut up - but that they will sing loudly the praises of God! May their joyfulness be contagious! We pray for those who are sick and we ask that Elders among them will rise up and that there will be community or family come and gather around and pray and anoint with oil... Lord, let Believing-prayer heal us... Jesus, put us on our feet!

God we thank You that our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus! We thank You that we are healed and forgiven!  Lord, let us remember this and let us remember to live like this is true!

Holy Spirit, empower us to pray prayers to be reckoned with... prayers that move heaven and earth... prayers that both bind and loose... prayers that rise up and lay flat... prayers that revive and restore and resurrect!

For the King and His Kingdom,

In Jesus' Name!


The Holidays are fast approaching, but I just wanted to say again how proud I am of us! We did it... with just a few verses left -- we have slowly, intentionally gone through the Book of James this year, verse by verse.  I pray you have let it challenge and encourage you along the way! 

We have two more installments in this Series, so until next time,

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