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There are 7 references to prayer in these closing 8 verses. That must be significant in the overall emphasis of this NT book!! Pragmatic James is also a spiritual man who integrates prayer into every aspect of daily life. Prayer is not an isolated discipline. Let's see how this works out in these closing verses.

Session No. 10      AND DON'T FORGET TO PRAY!      James 5/13-20

[1] PRAYER AND THE INDIVIDUAL (v.13)

a. Here is a call or an invitation to pray in any & all the circumstances of life. Whether it is an experience that involves suffering or rejoicing, no experience should be excluded from a prayer focus.

*Trouble.    This word could be translated "adversity", "struggle", "calamity". It may well link back with the suffering of the prophets mentioned in v.10.

*Happiness.   This is the very opposite of "trouble". Let prayer be expressed in joyful song.

The two examples represent the "extremes" of experience...and all stations in between! Our relationship & communion with God is for all of life and for everything life may hold for us. Let prayer be the atmosphere we breathe.

Consider: Think about the example of Jesus when it comes to prayer. Think about and/or discuss some of His experiences when He prayed to His Father.

[2] PRAYER AND THE ELDERS (vs.14,15)

a. Elders were the leaders of the Church who were responsible for the spiritual welfare of their faith community & the individuals in it. They were to be leaders who were committed to pray and have a prayer ministry to others. Particular reference is made to them being involved in prayer to do with healing. (vs.14-16).

b. This is a huge subject and one that we cannot tackle in any depth in this session. However, we ought to note the following.....

1. This is the only directive in the NT as to what we are to do in case of sickness.

2. This directive does not exclude doctors but it does include prayer as a first resource, not as a last resort.

3. The initiative rests with the sick person. Calling the Elders is an expression of faith for healing

4. Anointing with oil is an outward symbol of an inward reality. Compare the Bread & Cup in Communion.

5. The "prayer of faith" is any prayer inspired by a measure of faith that God gives. It may be continuous in nature, not just a "one off" prayer and that's it.

6. Note the possible link between sickness, sin and forgiveness (v.16). This is not always the case but could be more than we realise. Read Mark 2/1-12 and John 9/1,2 7.

We do not take this provision as seriously as we ought and we are the poorer as a result.

Question: Have you ever made this request of the Elders of your Church? Have you ever witnessed prayer for healing?

[3]   PRAYER AND THE CHURCH(v.16)

a. Here is another provision we have mostly misunderstood and, therefore, abandoned to our considerable loss. This is a simple appeal for openness, transparency, reality, authenticity in community together.

b. "Healing" here is probably a reference more to "wholeness" than just physical healing. Spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness.

c. It is NOT a call for exhibitionism, careless abandon, a spiritual nakedness that is entirely inappropriate except when it is with a few who are mature enough to handle such a sensitive confession.

d. It's an appeal for honesty within community . It involves risk & vulnerability (That's love!) Pray for one another that we may be made whole - we can't pray for each other in ignorance

[4] PRAYER AND THE PROPHET (vs.17,18)

a. Key truth = "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful & effective" i.e. a person in right standing

b. Elijah is yet another OT character used an example by James.

Question: How many OT examples has James used in the 5 chapters of his book?

c. Elijah is a great example because of his very human experiences and responses. He shared the nature and weakness of our humanity. He had highs & lows. He knew the emotional extremes in his life. He experienced the victory of Mt. Carmel and the depression of Mt. Horeb. You will find the account in 1 Kings 18 and 19

d. But this man was in right standing with God and he prayed earnestly...and successfully. So be encouraged!

[5] PRAYER BECOMES CARE (vs.19,20)

a. There comes a point where prayer must become care - practical outworking (Gal.6/1,2).

b. Read Luke 22/32 for classic example of prayer that impacts the life of another. Jesus prays for Peter & he "turns back" to Christ.

c. "Wandering from truth" is possibility for all of us - prayer and care is the only antidote for this. Read Hebrews 2/1-3 and the reference to "drifting". Same thing?

APPLICATION: We have encountered the Kingdom Perspective of James. Now comes the opportunity for us begin Kingdom Practice!!

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