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Lesson 22 -- Real Faith Prays

Lesson 22 – Real Faith Prays

As we reflect back on last week’s lesson we remember the truth that we are to be patient in suffering until the Lord returns. He is a God of justice. As Job, we are not to compromise our faith , but remain steady and strong,, establishing our hearts through the Word and prayer and our relationships with other believers. Those who persevere until the end will be blessed.

As we read verse 12 we wonder what making vows has to do with suffering. As we have walked through the book of James, we have seen that James does have continuing flow of thought. Have you ever said things that you wish you never said during a time of stress/trouble? Even made a bargain with God? Just as Job never bargained with God or cursed him during trouble we are not to make vows or oaths during these times. This is really an echo of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:34-37. Many of the Jews were using oaths to back up what they said. They were careful not to use the name of God to swear by, thus using heaven or earth or Jerusalem. Yet the heavens are God’s throne, earth is his footstool, and the Jerusalem is the city of the great king! They couldn’t escape the reference to God is their oaths. Instead Jesus says let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no." We should be people of integrity in what we say and their should be no need to try to make others believe us by our willingness to make an oath. I’m sure if you have not done this yourself sometime in your life, you have heard a teenager do it! One who is trying to convince you of something. We need to be women who mean what they say - who can be trusted for what they say.

In verses 13-18, James turns to the topic of prayer as an indicator of our faith. He mentions prayer 7 times in these verses – a key to the theme.Under what circumstance do we pray? Whenever in trouble (verse 13). It is a fact that trouble will come. The word for trouble here means to calamities or hardships of any kind including any distress or sickness and the spiritual burden that it brings. When you loose your peace or are filled with anxiety – pray! What do you do first in times of trouble? This is in the present imperative indicating that we are to make it a practice of turning to God for refuge and strength. Not grumbling, but seeking his wisdom. Not getting mad at God, but seeking his peace and direction.

James goes on to say what to do when you are cheerful? We are to sing praises! What does this have to do with prayer? Praise is a form of communicating with our God, expressing our love and joy. The Word says that God inhabits the praise of His people! Our tendency is to forget God in either of these 2 extremes. We begin relying on ourselves so quickly –our resources. Both can be instances through which God can strengthen our relationship with him – remember that road of maturity we walk. God’s

purpose is to make us like Him. James encourages us to turn to God - to pray and praise whether the circumstances are bad or glad. Faith that is real is going to learn to communicate to God about all circumstances.

Verses 14-15 gives us another instance in which to communicate with our God – anyone who is sick. It is significant to understand that this word does not just refer to physical sickness, but emotional or spiritual as well. It actually means to be without strength. It includes the debilitating effects of sickness that incapacitate us physically, emotionally, or spiritually. There are times when our sick body effects our spirit, bringing us to a point where we can not effectively pray for ourselves. We need others to intercede before the throne of grace for us. James does not give us a formula for healing here, but a way to approach the throne of grace in a time of need. Who initiates this prayer? The person who is sick calls for the elders to pray. Who prays? The elders then pray over him. There is something very significant here. Are you a member of a local body of believers, where you have elders to call on to pray for you? We need to be part of a local church where we can be taught, equipped for ministry, share one another’s burdens, pray for one another.

What do the elders use as they pray?

1.  They are to anoint with oil. What is the significance of the oil? The word here is oil from an olive tree. This oil is used to consecrate something - representing the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to work in the life of the believer. They are consecrating the person to the Lord in His name!

2.  They are to pray in the name of the Lord.

What is the name of the Lord? Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. In Exodus 15 God reveals himself as the Lord who heals as the Israelites come singing and dancing out of Egypt and find bitter waters at the well of Marah. Have you ever had any bitter waters come into your life? As Moses cries out to God, he is told to throw a tree into the bitter waters to make them sweet. And God declares himself as Jehovah Rapha - I am the Lord your healer. Ever have any bitter waters in you life? That tree can represent the cross – Jesus himself. The Lord needs to be sought in this sickness. It will be the Lord who infuses strength and grace and healing into that situation as you seek him.

King Asa did not call on the name of the Lord, but physicians. In the book of II Chronicles chapter 16, we see history unfold for us. King Asa believed God and made many reforms in his kingdom, but then he started depending on himself to make decisions. He was rebuked by a prophet sent from God and Asa got angry at the truth. Later on he became sick and sought the physicians, not the Lord and eventually died. Now this does not mean we should not seek the doctors, but what’s the order? God first – He is the one who heals or does not heal according to his will and purposes.

The elders are to pray in the name of the Lord!

What kind of prayer brings about healing? Prayer is the emphasis here, not the oil. It is the prayer of faith (a prayer offered in faith)that restores the sick. It is believing prayer that makes the sick person well. This prayer of faith is a specific prayer based on a specific belief. Prayer that is initiated from the heart of God, praying for his will in the person’s life to be revealed. The first step is to relate the sickness to the will of God for that person – seek God’s will for that person’s healing. We’re not referring to a positive confession of who God is and a denying of any sickness. It’s not the power of positive thinking that heals or "naming it, and claiming it." James is referring to bringing that person before the throne of grace, seeking for God to restore them, to make them whole. There is a broad faith that believes that God can heal, but as the elders seek the Lord in the specific instance, what is his word for them? This prayer of faith, does not always mean miraculously healing. God does not always heal. Because you are not healed when prayed for does not mean you do not have enough faith. Don’t get caught in that trap. We claim the promises of God, yet pray according to the will of God. We are to pray according to the will of God and we will know that he hears our prayer and answers them (I John 5:14-15). So the mind of God needs to be sought and then prayed for that person. What are the results of a prayer of faith?

1.  The sick are made well. The word for well is restore, to make whole, to deliver. The Word says here that it will bring about restoration – wholeness. There is no promise of timing. It will happen in the future. It may not be immediately.

2.  The prayer of faith will restore the person and raise them up! There is a saving, living, spirit energized faith that even James speaks about. In James 2:26 he says faith without deeds, faith is dead. Even that faith is initiated by God, not just for salvation, but to work out our salvation our restoration.

Next week we will talk about a few more things that make this prayer effective - the role of sin and boldness in our praying. So come back for the second part!

But for today…

Have you obeyed this command to have the elders pray for you? Our church offers times for prayers of healing. We can also go and ask at any time. Have you submitted your need before the throne of grace in this way? There is a release of God’s power when you obey him.

When our son was in a place where he was becoming debilitated from a seizures and the medical treatment that went along with it, we brought him to the elders as his parents. God restored peace and direction in the situation. Not bringing about a miraculous healing, but releasing his help in time of need. We sought God for His will and God honored that pray and our obedience to his Word. The very act was a submission to the will of God. Opening up the situation for God’s healing to take place.

Are you open for God to heal?