Part 14 – The Power of Prayer & Praise
This is part 14 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .
Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.
*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.
The Power of Prayer & Praise
What better way to endure trials and grow in Christian maturity than to use the power of prayer and praise.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise” (James 5:13).
This “trouble” can be anxiety, mental or emotional illness or any kind of difficulty for which there seems to be no answer or immediate relief. Maybe they are to pray for endurance, patience and strength. When we are cheerful or happy, we are to sing. When someone is happy, satisfied and enjoying good health, he is not to second-guess God, neither is he to feel guilty because he is able to laugh and rejoice. A person’s appropriate response to such a circumstance is to praise God – which is a form of prayer.
Elijah was a Righteous Man
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he 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 man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that I 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. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:13-20).
In verse 1 he is saying that Elijah was just a fellow human being but he was righteous. The story of Elijah, who was one of the great Old Testament prophets, is told about in 1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 2:11
“Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.”
Elijah was sent to give the word to Israel that they must turn back to God. As punishment for their rebellion Elijah prayed that there would be no rain for 3 1/2 years. At the end of that time there was a “contest” between the Lord and the followers of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18:16. The Lord won, the people turned back to God and in answer to the prayers of Elijah, the rains came back.
Elijah was a righteous man who prayed earnestly, so James is assuring them that such answers to prayer are within the reach of any believer.
James writes in verse 13,
“Is anyone among you suffering or in trouble? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.”
The word here for suffering is different from the word for sick in verse 14. Suffering is a general word that may involve mental or emotional problems or a combination. In context, it looks back to verse 10s reference to the prophets who suffered.
Praise Him in ALL Circumstances
“If you are having problems because of circumstances, you are to look to God and pray. If everything is going well and you are happy, look to God with praise.”
In verse 14 he says:
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).
The Greek word for sick literally means “to be weary.” He was not referring to the bedfast, the diseased or the ill. Instead he wrote to those who had grown weary and had become weak both morally and spiritually in the midst of suffering.
These are the ones who should call for the help of the elders of the church. The elders are to be righteous men of prayer and spiritual leaders like Elijah.
The early church leaders were instructed to “encourage the timid and help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). These men were “to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” The word for anoint here is a word that means ‘rub with oil’ not the word that is used for a ceremonial or ritual anointing. In the New Testament, oil was used for medicinal or refreshing purposes. A host put oil on the head of his guest.
Thy Will Be Done
They were also to pray for him and both were done ‘in the name of the Lord.’ This always has the underlying meaning of ‘thy will be done’ or ‘if it is your will.’
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:15).
Does this indicate that if you get sick you pray about it and you will get well, and if you don’t, it is because you don’t have enough faith?
This exposes the error that if one has enough faith he will be healed, or if one is not healed at a healing service it is because of his lack of faith. These assertions do not square with James chapter 5. It is the effective prayer of righteous elders that accomplishes much on behalf of the sick one who calls.
“The Lord will lift him up.”
It is the Lord’s direct intervention, rather than the power of the prayer of the elders that lifts him up.
Can unconfessed sin cause sickness? Why? Does God ever chastise sinning believers by allowing sickness – both physical and emotional?
In the Old Testament, Numbers 12 tells the story of Miriam who was Moses’ sister. She rebelled against the authority and leadership of Moses and God chastised her by making her leprous. Moses pleaded with God on her behalf and she was restored after a period of isolation from the people.
“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punished everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” (Hebrews 12:5-7)
Guilt Can Also Cause Sickness
”Look at Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalms 32:1-5).
“For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 11:29-30).
Is this saying that all problems are caused by sin?
No, it says IF he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
Part 15: Summary and last part
Index of James Bible Study
Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11 Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part