By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: James 4-5
Key Scripture Verses: James 5: 13-16 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they 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 person is powerful and effective.”
Prayer by a faithful follower of Jesus Christ is powerful. Jesus calls us to pray, to be in relationship with him, and to lean on him for our needs.
He wants us to share our concerns with him. Even though Christ already knows what we need before we ask him, he desires that we come to him. He wants us to willingly and openly seek his assistance and his loving care. It’s there for the taking—he just wants us to ask.
Sometimes others could offer us assistance, but we don’t want them to just take over. It’s best if we ask them for help or respond when they offer. Jesus does not impose his care on us, either. He offers, he seeks us to provide for us; but, we have to respond, we have to ask for his help and guidance.
Just as we can ask for ourselves, he tells us to ask on the behalf of others. Jesus taught us to pray for others and to shore up others by ministering to them.
When people say that they are spiritual people and want to worship on their own, don’t want to come to church, but prefer to worship individually, they misunderstand what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ and what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.
Just as the scriptures talk about our being members of one body much like that of the organs and limbs of a physical body, Christians are each part of a whole larger body of Christian believers who are meant to function together in the kingdom for God’s purposes.
When we are faithful believers in Jesus Christ, we are meant: to develop our personal faith, leaning on him for our personal needs; to participate in fellowship and ministering to each other—to other Christians we associate with; and, to participate collectively with other Christians as part of the whole body of Christ in faithful service in doing his will for his greater purposes, as he reveals them to us. In other words, being a Christian is not just a self-serving relationship with Jesus—it requires that we minister to others and that we also are to be active participants in the kingdom of God.
The most powerful way we can participate in the kingdom and in following Jesus on a day-to-day basis is through our prayers.
Twice in the last few weeks, I encountered individuals whom I know and care for, but have a remote connection with. One of these individuals listened to me and then said, “That helps me to understand your situation and how to pray for you—to pray specifically.” I didn’t know she had been praying for me regularly, but she indicated that she had been. The other individual I saw just yesterday and I had not seen her for some time. She took my hands and said to me, “I pray for you and Paul every night.” I had no idea she had been praying for us on a daily basis. I was more touched by these gifts of prayer than any gift they could have possibly given me.
I was touched by these revelations of prayer on my behalf, because sometimes, even though I know it’s not so, I sometimes feel alone and that only my husband cares to pray for me.
When I thought about it, I thought about some of the people that I pray for regularly who have no idea that I pray for them. There are many for whom I pray who may never know that I pray on their behalf. Some I know intimately and others I know only remotely.
As I thought about these recent encounters, I thought about some of the people I know and have prayed for over a long period of time. I remembered countless people who have overcome great illness and diseases, many cancer survivors for whom I have prayed over the years who are still living and enjoying their lives, in spite of all they have been through. God answered the prayers of many who prayed on behalf of these cancer survivors. Miracles do still happen—these cases are proof of God’s love, his miraculous healing.
He does the healing, but he listens to our prayers for each other and he responds to our faithful requests. When we pray with the right motives and we put him first in all things, he demonstrates his love for us in his loving responses. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
May we remember each other in our prayers.