Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010

"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 it 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
Next Sunday, the Lord willing, I will be closing out the Summer Sermon Series on James. In preparation for that I am sitting here trying to get my mind around the incredible truths of these concluding verses of this intensely practical book.
I have a lot of studying and meditation to do in order to do justice to these important insights. But, let me share an initial thought with you as we begin a new week.
James, in his book has been painting the picture of a healthy church. The Church of Jesus Christ has lost its initial momentum and has been scattered due to persecution so James writes this letter to call them back to what they should be. As one who has a passion to build a healthy church, James is a book I lean on heavily.
Summing up his counsel James ends with an admonition on pray. Makes sense doesn't it?
All this week and in my message Sunday we will be exploring prayer and its proper place in the Church but first let me establish a basic premise to build upon.
I believe one of the mistakes people make with prayer is they see it as a resource for getting what they desire from God.
How is that a mistake? Isn't that what prayer is for?
As I understand it prayer is a relationship with God and God is our resource. Prayer is NOT the resource it is the connection to our Resource.
Brad, that sounds like you are splitting hairs.
Not really. I think that is a significant distinction. If you prayer because you want to get something FROM God you will approach it much differently than if you want to pray so you can be WITH God. Do you see what I mean?
When I am in relationship with God I have everything I need! He IS what I need! There is nothing I need that He cannot provide for me. I don't ask God to give me what I want, I give God what HE wants - me! - all of me! I love Him. I lose myself in Him. I lead my life through His power and His truths. And in that relationship with Him, prayer becomes something that happens THROUGH me not something that happens TO me?
You may not agree with me on this at first thought. But I challenge you to give it a second thought. Meditate upon it. And then read James 5:13-20 from this perspective and see if it makes a difference in how this portion of Scripture plays out.
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