Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Book of James – Part 15: The Prayer of Faith

The Book of James – Part 15:
The Prayer of Faith
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

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James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem council, concludes his letter to the twelve tribes.

In this letter, James has spoken on trials and temptations, the testing of faith, and the source of our temptations.  He explained the differences between listening and doing, and how favoritism is forbidden in the Kingdom. 

James also talks about faith and deeds, taming our tongues, the two kinds of wisdom and warnings against worldliness.

James warns us against fighting, spiritual unfaithfulness, pride, slander and boasting, as well as warning us about rich oppressors.

James closes his letter with scripture on patience and suffering as well as oaths.

Today we will look at the lasts part of James’ letter, where he speaks about the prayer of the righteous in faith, and a message about those who may wander from God and the Truth.

Part 1 - Faith and Wisdom
Part 2 - Poverty and Riches
Part 3 - Endurance
Part 4 - Christian Living
Part 5 - Brotherly Love
Part 6 - Faith and Works
Part 7 - Taming of the Shrewd
Part 8 - True Wisdom
Part 9 - Worldliness
Part 10 - Submit Yourselves to God
Part 11 - Judging Others
Part 12 - The Self-Willed
Part 13 - The Stumbling Block
Part 14 - Patience in Suffering

Part 15 - The Prayer of Faith

James 5:13-20
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 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. 15 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. 16 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.

 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save their soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

       I.            WHEN TO PRAY

a.      Is anyone among you in trouble?
                                                             i.      He should pray

                                                          ii.      Prayer should be our first thought, not a last resort.

b.     Is anyone happy?
                                                             i.      Let him sing songs of praise

                                                          ii.      Always remember to thank God for the things which bring you happiness in life...all good things come from His hand.

                                                       iii.      Not just answered prayers, blessings or things of material substance, but the songs of birds, the sun in the sky no a beautiful morning, the cool breeze on a hot day, there are literally hundreds of things to praise God for on a daily basis!

                                                         iv.      Being in a thankful / grateful state allows God to bless you and allow you to be a blessing to others.

c.      Is any one of you sick?
                                                             i.      Let them call on the Elders of the church to pray over them
1.      Those who are sick, should call on the Elders to pray over them...this is their “action”, and “doing”, to fulfill and complete their faith.  God has made the first move, making Himself available through Christ Jesus to you, now you must respond appropriately with obedience to that call, allowing the releasing of God’s blessing.

                                                          ii.      Anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord
1.      This is an outward representation of a spiritual truth, taking place inside the person.  Just as communion, outwardly represents a spiritual truth, and baptism, the anointing with oil represents the covering of God’s Holy Spirit on a person, which brings blessings, power, gifts, fruits, protection and healing!

a.      It is not the bread and wine that saves, it is not the water that cleanses, it is not the oil that heals, but all represent the power of God which is received by us through the Holy Spirit!

                                                       iii.      And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.

d.     The LORD will raise them up
                                                             i.      The power of God, not the physical elements, and most definitely NOT the man or woman praying.

e.      If they have sinned (cause of some sickness), they will be forgiven

                                                             i.      Some sickness in our lives is caused by our sin.

1.      Alcoholism and drug addiction - We are warned against drunkenness in scripture (mind altering substances)

2.      gluttony - We are warned about over eating in scripture

3.      not obeying natural laws - These may not be “sins”, however we must make wise choices and take care of the temples in which God has entrusted us (our bodies)

a.      eating proper foods
b.     drinking enough water
c.      as well as obeying laws of physics
                                                                                                                                      i.      Jumping from high places...etc...

                                                          ii.      Other sins can cause sickness as well
1.      unforgiveness
2.      anger/hate
3.      bitterness
4.      jealousy

                                                       iii.      Not all sickness is caused by sin
1.      John 9:2-3aAnd his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:”

2.      Luke 13:2-5Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

                                                         iv.      Some sickness comes because we live in a sin filled fallen world, If you have sinned to cause your sickness, your sin will be forgiven when you call on the Elders to pray for you, either way, regardless of the reason, the Elders will pray for you and anoint you with oil.

f.       Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.

                                                             i.      Jesus said, “You have not, because you ask not...”

                                                          ii.      If you are sick, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed!

g.      The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
                                                             i.      James then gives an example of this principal in verse 17-18

a.      He prayed it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years

                                                             i.      At the time of Elijah, the Israelite's had taken to worshiping another god, Baal. This form of worship was very depraved and involved the ceremonial killing of babies (like some countries have with abortion). Baal was a god of agriculture, and they made human sacrifices to him because they believed it was Baal, (not God), that controlled the seasons and the weather.

This situation could not continue. These horrific bloodthirsty depraved practices had to stop. Elijah was a righteous man who prayed for the rain to stop, and the people experienced a three and a half-year drought.

1.      This was also the same amount of time Jesus’ ministry lasted, when He gave us the watering of the Holy Spirit through His ministry.  

Elijah said, let the Baal worshippers call on their God and if Baal existed, he could send them rain.

Of course Baal was in reality a fictional, dreamt up, imaginary god that could do nothing at all! By the end of the three and a half years it was clear who was the True God and that it was time to clear the land of these terrible practices.

If Elijah had not prayed as he did, who knows how many more babies would have been sacrificed to this false god.

We have the same situation in our country today.  Millions of babies a year sacrificed to the false god known as selfishness.  This self-centered being comes in many forms, but always wants the same thing, its own way of life at the cost of another’s.

In 1996 alone, 1.2 million babies were sacrificed to the god known as selfishness.

That is 3,287 babies per day.  In other words, since Roe v. Wade in 1973 which made abortions legal, by 2010 - 53,310,843 babies have been murdered legally in the United States.

53 million.

According to the and the Guttmacher & CDC, by 2018 that number has grown to over 60 million!

These numbers ONLY reflect reported and legal abortions.

Hitler was responsible for 21 million deaths.

Stalin murdered 18 million.

Mao’s “great leap forward” in China killed 45 million.

And we called them monsters, recorded in history as the vile scourge of the earth...and we, the proud USA, have over 60 million babies murdered “Legally” under our belt.

Abortion is not the proper term, but a scientific definition.  The actual term for what is taking place is genocide.  Look it up in the dictionary.  It is ungodly, and it is a sin.

Elijah prayed for God to stop up the heavens, and rain to stop, and they did.

b.     Elijah prayed again three and a half years later, the heavens opened up and gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

a.      James is reminding those listening that they are believers, and follower of Christ.

b.     If any of you should wander from the truth (as the Israelite's did)

                                                             i.      Salvation can be walked away from, God’s Will can be abandoned, the narrow path can be left behind for the broad road!

                                                          ii.      We read in Jude that the angels gave up their heavenly abode, and so can we!

c.      If any of you should wander from the truth And someone should bring them back

                                                             i.      We can also return, and be forgiven, and become a child of God once again, such as the prodigal son!

d.     Remember this:
                                                             i.      whoever (righteous man’s prayers)
                                                          ii.      turns a sinner (who is the sinner here? The follower of Christ, the brother or sister who has wandered from the truth and one true God)
                                                       iii.      from the error (sin) of their way,
                                                         iv.      they will save their soul from death (the second death - eternal)
                                                            v.      and hide a multitude of sins (forgive)

We should pray when we are in trouble, sing songs of praise to God when we are happy, and when we are sick, we should call on the Elders of the church to pray over us, anoint us with oil, so that if sin has caused our sickness, we will be forgiven, and we will become well.

James also reminds us that the prayers of the righteous are powerful, and we need to confess our sins to each other, and pray for each other so that we may be healed.

If we see a brother or sister wandering from the truth, away from God, we need to try to bring them back, so that they do not lose their place in heaven.  If we do bring them back, we will save their soul from the second death, which is eternal separation from God, and cover a multitude of sins they may have committed during their departure from God.

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?   

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