JAMES 5:13-18 - PAGE 1

FAITH WORKS PRAYERFULLY, PM 6/11/06

FAITH WORKS #16 – LAST IN THE SERIES

 

James is coming close to ending his Epistle and decides to leave us with a stirring encouragement to pray. 

 

All of these verses are in reference to prayer.

D. Edmond Hiebert says, “Through prayer the believer habitually lays hold on God’s power for victory amid all these diverse experiences. Prayer constitutes the very heart of a vital Christian faith.” D. Edmond Hiebert, The Epistle of James, Tests of a Living Faith, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1979), p. 316

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DOWNTRODDEN – Vs. 13a

 

“Is anybody afflicted?”  These were people who had been mistreated and perhaps persecuted.

 

There will be times in our lives when we will either literally be oppressed or feel oppressed. James 1:2, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 

The afflicted are to pray!

Why?  God is the only true source of help! Psalm 42:5, Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DELIGHTED – Vs. 13b

   

The prayer of the delighted is a song of praise.

I think that it is very easy for us to grumble, worry, and complain when we are down.

It is also relatively easy to cry out to God when we are down.

However, when things are going well, when we are cheerful, and when things are just “peachy”, it is easy to forget that it is God who is the source of these things. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Hebrews 13:16

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DESIGNATED – Vss. 14-15

 

Vss. 14-15 – The elders are the designated leaders of the church.  They are “elder” in their maturity and often in their age.

 

Another term used to describe them is “bishop”. This word means overseer.

When there is a severe problem, the elders of the church are to be called upon.

 

Undoubtedly you are familiar with the traditional interpretation of this passage.

When a person is sick he or she is to call for the elders of the church.  They are to anoint that person with oil and the prayer of believing faith on the part of the elders will save the sick. I have seen this happen. 

 

I will still go with the elders of this church, pray, and anoint with oil whenever I am called.  However, after reading some thoughts from John MacArthur and David Roper, I think that it’s time to revise my thinking on this passage.

 

David Roper – “The word sick in verse 13 actually means, ‘helpless’ or ‘impotent,’ and though it’s often used in the Gospels and acts to refer to physical weakness, in the Epistles it almost always refers to spiritual limitation and disability.

 

“The word sick appears again in verse 15: ‘The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick’ (NASB).

Here a different Greek word occurs that suggests weariness and fatigue. It’s found in only one other place in the New Testament: ‘Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’ (Hebrews 12:3-4).” David Roper, Growing Slowly Wise Building a Faith That Works, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Discovery House Publishers, 2000), pp. 176-177

 

It seems to me that James is saying, “When things are going the worst for you spiritually, call for the men who will be able to help you.  Ask them to pray for you and anoint you with oil.”   

 

This would certainly fit the duties of the elder as described by the Apostle Peter. 1 Peter 5:2-3

 

And Paul gave these instructions to the elders who were in Ephesus in Acts 20:28, Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

 

What would be the point of anointing with oil?  I believe that the oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus that will actually restore the spiritual condition of the one who is in the “slough of despond” spiritually.   

   

Vs. 15 – Elders are to be prayer warriors.  They should know how to intercede before God.  It is their “prayer of faith” that will restore the spiritually weary.

 

I assume that the one who is being prayed for has confessed any known sin as part of this process. 

Of course, as he confesses, he will be forgiven. 1 John 1:9

   

I think it ironic that most people will not hesitate to ask for prayer if they are physically sick.  But how many would consider calling the elders of the church for prayer and anointing when they have a spiritual problem.   

 

I think that this is due to the fact that we place a lot more emphasis on physical health than we do spiritual health! If you have a severe spiritual need, I encourage you to seek spiritual help from the pastor and elders of the church.

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DILIGENT – Vss. 16-18

 

Vs. 16 – James now expands his application from those who are spiritually defeated to the whole congregation.

 

Peter is encouraging transparency.

We should be open to being honest about our sins with other believers.  I don’t think that necessarily means that we must confess to the whole congregation.  But I feel that there are those we feel comfortable with that we should confess our faults to and seek their prayers in overcoming them.

 

The rest of this verse is an encouragement for you and I to pray passionately.

 

First it is to be the prayer of a righteous man or woman.

We are to be righteous in position because we are “justified by faith”.

We are also to be righteous in our practice.  Those declared righteous by Jesus Christ should live righteously. 1 Peter 1:15-16, Isaiah 59:1-2

 

When I am righteous in my position and my practice then my prayers will be energized.  They will be passionate.   

   

Vs. 17 – Now it is time for an example of diligent prayer from Scripture

 

Elijah the prophet was a superstar so to speak.

·       He was miraculously fed by ravens

·       Through him a widow and her family were fed by a barrel of meal and a cruise of oil until it rained.

·       He pronounced it wouldn’t rain until he said so, and it didn’t

·       He had a great confrontation with the prophets of baal and won, praying down fire from heaven.

·       He prayed for rain and it did. Then he outran a chariot in the pouring rain.

·       He called for fire from heaven to destroy soldiers

·       He went to Heaven in a whirlwind.

 

James is using Elijah as an example of diligent prayer.

But first, because people thought of Elijah as a superstar, he told them one very important thing.

 

“Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.”

He was a man just like us.

He could sin just like us.

He had struggles just like us. Why he even got extremely depressed after a great victory.

 

But James is telling us that we can have success like Elijah, because what seemingly made him different was his passionate prayers.

 

So he prayed that it would not rain and it didn’t.

So he prayed for fire from Heaven to burn up a sacrifice and it came.

He went up into a mountain and prayed for rain and it rained! 1 Kings 18:41-46

 

Elijah was a man of passionate prayer.

Elijah was a man of persistent prayer.

Elijah was a man of proper prayer (according to the will of God).

 

THE PRAYER OF THE DOWNTRODDEN – Vs. 13a

THE PRAYER OF THE DELIGHTED – Vs. 13b

THE PRAYER OF THE DESIGNATED – Vss. 14-15

THE PRAYER OF THE DILIGENT – Vss. 16-18

 

 

 

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