"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"
A Call To Prayer And Praise (James 5:13-18)
1. As is common in many of the New Testament epistles, we find various
commands and exhortations as we draw near to the end of the epistle
2. In Ja 5:13-18, we find a call to pray and sing praises, with
guidance as to what to do and when
I. IN TIMES OF SUFFERING, LET US "PRAY" (v13)
A. WHAT KIND OF SUFFERING DOES JAMES REFER TO?
1. The word used refers to suffering of any kind
2. Such as sickness, bereavement, disappointment, persecutions,
loss of health or property
3. Later, James will deal specifically with sickness
B. FOR WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY?
1. For the REMOVAL of the suffering, if it be the Lord's will
- cf. Paul in 2 Co 12:8
2. For the STRENGTH to endure the suffering, if it be the Lord's
will that we bear with it - cf. 1 Co 10:13
a. God may not always remove the source of our suffering, for
it may be for our ultimate good - cf. Rom 8:36; 2 Cor 1:7;
2 Tim 2:12; 1 Pe 2:19-21
b. But at least He promises to help us endure it!
C. FOR WHOM SHOULD WE PRAY?
1. Certainly for ourselves, as implied above
2. But also for those who may be the source of our suffering
a. As Jesus taught in Lk 6:28
b. Doing this can help greatly to endure the suffering
[So in times of suffering, let us pray! It is a wonderful privilege to
pray, and a great source of comfort when afflicted.
Next, we learn from James that...]
II. IN TIMES OF CHEER, LET US "SING PRAISES" (v13)
A. THE WORD "CHEERFUL"...
1. Denotes pleasantness, agreeableness
2. It suggests a state of mind free from trouble--the opposite
B. IN SUCH A STATE OF HAPPINESS, ONE SHOULD SING PRAISES!
1. For singing praises is becoming of God's people
a. Consider the attitude of David, the sweet singer of Israel -
Ps 92:1-2; Ps 96:1-2; Ps 101:1; Ps 111:1;
Ps 113:1-3; Ps 146:1-2; Ps 147:1; Ps 149:1
b. David was a man after God's own heart, shouldn't we be also?
2. For singing praises has the power to make a good situation
even better - cf. Ep 5:18; Col 3:16
C. WHY DON'T SOME CHRISTIANS SING PRAISES MORE OFTEN, MORE FERVENTLY?
1. Are they that "afflicted"?
2. Hasn't God done enough in our lives to prompt us to praise Him
fervently in song?
3. What excuse can we possibly give for refusing to praise God
for His glory and goodness?
a. We cannot use the excuse that we cannot sing
b. God "commands" all to sing, and unless we are "mute" the
command applies to us
c. Fortunately, God is not concerned with how it sounds, but
that it is coming from the heart, therefore all who can speak
can and should sing!
4. Heaven is described by John in the Book of Revelation as a
place where singing praises to God and Christ is an on-going
a. If we don't sing praises to God on earth, though able...
b. Can we really expect to be allowed to praise God in heaven?
[Singing praises to God is just as important as praying to God! Perhaps
our prayers would be answered more often, if we would praise God more
The rest of our text deals with prayer as it applies to a special
III. IN TIMES OF SICKNESS, LET US "PRAY" (James 5:14-18)
A. ADMITTEDLY, THIS PASSAGE IS DIFFICULT...
1. Questions abound concerning it
a. Is the sickness physical or spiritual?
b. Is the anointing with oil medicinal or symbolic?
c. Is the healing through providential means or miraculous?
d. Is the healing spiritual or physical?
2. First, I believe the sickness and healing in this passage is
physical, though spiritual needs are taken into consideration
a. This is in view of the phrase "and IF he has committed sins,
he will be forgiven"
b. This implies the sickness is physical, though it MAY be
accompanied with spiritual sickness as well
b. But the conditional "IF" makes it clear that the illness
may not be accompanied by sin, which if true, would mean the
illness is not spiritual, but physical
3. With the assumption that physical illness is being discussed,
then there are two feasible alternatives...
a. This passage refers to MIRACULOUS HEALING
1) The elders were called because they possessed the gift
2) The anointing with oil was symbolic, representing the
influences of the Holy Spirit - cf. Mk 6:13
3) The healing was miraculous
b. This passage refers to PROVIDENTIAL HEALING
1) The elders were called because they were likely the most
righteous in a congregation - cf. Ja 5:16
2) The anointing with oil was medicinal, as was commonly
practiced in those days - cf. Lk 10:34
3) The healing was providential
4. I lean toward the latter explanation...
a. The first explanation must assume that the elders in every
church possessed the gift of healing, which is not likely
for two reasons:
1) We have no record of such in the New Testament
2) The qualifications for elders did not require this gift
- cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
b. In illustrating the efficacy of prayer, James uses an
example of God PROVIDENTIALLY answering prayer - cf. 1 Ki 16:41-45
1) God was indeed answering Elijah's prayer
2) But God did so, providentially, working through natural
B. WITH THIS UNDERSTANDING, LET'S MAKE THE APPLICATION...
1. In times of physical sickness, call for the elders of the church
a. You want the prayers of the "righteous" working in your
behalf, don't you?
b. Notice: You are to call for them, not wait for them to
call on you!
c. Have the elders pray with you...
1) In faith (trusting in the Lord's power to heal, if it be
2) Fervently ("the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous
man avails much.")
2. Elders should not only pray, but see that appropriate medical
aids are provided
a. In a century where hospitals were non-existent, and
physicians were rare, anointing with oil was a common
treatment - cf. Lk 10:34
b. In our present century, this would involve the elders making
sure that the sick receive the treatment needed
3. The sick should also confess their sins, if they have any...
a. Verse 15 makes it clear that sickness is not always the
consequence of sin
b. But Verse 16 and others (like 1 Co 11:29-32) suggests
that illnesses may be God's loving chatisement for sin, in
an effort to direct us back to Him
c. In any case, sins need to be confessed and forgiveness
sought if we hope to have God hear our prayers
1. However one interprets Ja 5:14-16, there is no dispute over the
main thrust in this passage...
a. Prayer and praise are very special privileges for the Christian
b. There is not a time in our life when we shouldn't be doing one
or the other
c. We must be careful not to underestimate:
1) The importance of praise
2) The power of prayer
2. But to truly benefit from these two spiritual exercises, we need to
be in a right relationship with God
a. Which involves being open to God's Word: He that turneth away his
ear from hearing the law, even his prayer [shall be] abomination.
(Pro 28:9 )
b. And being a doer of God's will: Not every one that saith unto me,
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Mt 7:21)
Are we in a truly righteous relationship with God?
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