Faithlife Sermons

A Congregation in Unified Prayer

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 60 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
ETS: James told the church in Jerusalem to come together in prayer for one another in all aspects of life
ESS: Christians are called to come together in prayer for one another in all aspects of life.
OSS: Christians would be unified in prayer for one another.
Introduction:
Carissa and I struggled to get pregnant. We had tried to have a baby for over a year and I was starting to entertain and accept the thought that we may never have any biological children of our own. And then one day, Carissa went to a doctor’s appointment to help us better understand why she wasn’t getting pregnant, and low and behold, she was pregnant!
We started going to her appointments to see how the baby was doing and at every single appointment I experienced something I had only ever previously experienced a few times before. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells the church at Thessalonica to “Pray without ceasing.” Now I don’t believe Paul literally meant to never stop physically praying there, but at these doctor’s appointments I found myself literally incapable of stopping my prayer. I would sit in the waiting room and in the exam room and continuously pray until we got in the car and left.
The entire time I would pray, “Lord, let me hear his heartbeat. Let me heart his little heart beat. If it be your will, keep his little heart beating!” We had waited so long for this little one to come into our life, and we were so afraid that it wasn’t going to happen. Now that God had granted our request to be parents, I felt that it was my duty to beg Him that if it be His will, He would not now take it away. And so I prayed.
I remember one specific appointment we went to. I was praying in the waiting room. I was praying in the examination room. And when they put the Doppler on Carissa’s belly to find the heartbeat, they couldn’t find it. They moved it around and around and still couldn’t find the heartbeat. My praying became even more fervent: “God, please, if it be your will, let me hear that little heart beat!”
I will never forget the overwhelming joy I felt when I finally heard that little heart beat. “Pump-pump, pump-pump, pump-pump.” My heart burst with praise for God and I couldn't stop praying prayers of praise.
However, later, when I was reflecting on those experiences of passionate and ceaseless prayer,
I was overwhelmed with conviction because it occurred to me that I have never ever prayed that hard for any of the people that God has called me to shepherd.
I had never pleaded with God on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ when they were going through some type of struggle like I had with the heartbeat of my son.
I had never prayed prayers of overwhelming joy and praise when a brother or sister in Christ had reason of celebration like I did when I heard that little heartbeat.
We say something like, “Well, that was your son - your child - it makes sense that it would be different.”
And that is true: The love and compassion we feel for our children should be different than the love we feel for our fellow Christians,
but no where in Scripture have I found where our love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and the fervency that we have when we pray for each other should be any less passionate.
I should be on my knees and beg and plead with God for you with the same passion and compassion that I do for my son.
As a congregation, we are to be passionately unified in prayer for one another.
And that is exactly the point James is making in
James 5:13–20 ESV
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James 5:13–19 ESV
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,
James 5:13-18
The book of James is a letter written to the church in Jerusalem.
It is quite likely that it was written by James - Jesus’ brother since he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
And one of the major themes in the book is Church unity
James 2:1–4 ESV
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:7–10 ESV
7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
James
James 2:14–17 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 3:7–10 ESV
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Read through the book of James and you will see this theme over and over.
James 3:
James 4:1–4 ESV
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:11–12 ESV
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
James
James 5:9 ESV
9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
And in the text we are discussing this morning, James takes this theme of church unity and pairs it with prayer.
He gives this idea that a congregation ought to come together and passionately pray for one another
He gives this idea that a congregation ought to come together and passionately pray for one another

React to Life with Prayer

James 5:13–14 ESV
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
james 5:13-
We are living in a time that is growing increasingly frivolous with their church attendance.
Church has become an afterthought in the minds of our young people
And this anti-church movement that says we can stay home on Sunday by ourselves, we can worship at home by ourselves, we can read our bibles at home by ourselves, and we can pray at home by ourselves, is just a slick and sexy way for the devil to suck the life and spirituality out of the Christian.
It is his way of zapping the power of God out of the believer without him even realizing it.
Because Christianity is not individualistic.
God created the church to come together
He created the Christian experience to be a shared experience that builds upon one another.
And we were called to live life together and pray together, not exclusively separate.

Suffering

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.”
Galatians 6:2 CSB
2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:
If there is anyone in this congregation that is hurting, who is suffering, we are called to hurt and suffer with them.
Their hurt becomes our hurt
Their pain becomes our pain
And we are called to pray for those of us who are suffering
When we refuse to be transparent with our church family and share our hurt and our pain, it is nothing but an expression of our own pride and arrogance.
I am the world’s worst at this
I tell myself that I can handle the turmoil in my life on my own,
But that is a lie straight from the mouth of the devil.
God did not design us to be able to deal with our issues on our own; and He did that on purpose.

Cheerful

“Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
When we individualistically experience incredible and wonderful acts of God in our lives, God calls us to share that with our church family.
Jeremy sharing the excitement of leading someone to Christ
So that as one unified body of Christ we can lift up prayers of praise to our God.
Good fortune is not a cause for us to envy one another but rather a joy shared with the whole congregation
We can praise God on our own, and we should; but we fool ourselves if we believe that God does not desire one unified voice screaming His name.
In eternity, we find one unified body singing his praise:
Revelation 7:9–12 ESV
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
We are to celebrate God together

Sickness

We are called to be sick together
Historically, Christians have always been known for caring for the sick
In the fourth century, a terrible plague broke out in the city of Caesarea in the Roman empire. Everyone evacuated the city and fled to the countryside. One group stayed behind, at great risk to themselves, to care for the sick and bury the dead. It was the Christians.
Everyone evacuated the city and fled to the countryside.
One group stayed behind, at great risk to themselves, to care for the sick and bury the dead.
It was the Christians.
Eusebius, a Roman Historian, recorded this:
“All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them. Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.”
A Pagan Roman Emperor named Julian even noticed the charity of the Christians during this plague and said this:
“Atheism [I.E. The Christian Faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that there the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”
Our early church fathers took God’s command to care for our sick seriously.
The question is, will we?
There is a strong inherent temptation to neglect fellow believers when they fall ill.
We don’t know what we can do for the sick and so we end up doing nothing at all
Worst than that, we typically try to justify our negligence with a promise of prayer.
“I’ll pray for you.”
How many times have you said that to someone and did absolutely nothing?
But when one of us becomes ill, we are called to actively pray for that individual
Weep with one another
Plead to God with one another
Offer intercessory prayer together.
The leaders of the church are called to go to the sick member, pray over them, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
The sick church member is to be set apart and receive special attention by the whole congregation.
The sick Christian ought never be a lonely Christian.

Pray for Physical Healing

James 5:15 ESV
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
James 5:
The faithful prayer of believers who gather together with the sick and plea for physical restoration has real effectiveness.
This is not just a cute concept that doesn’t really work.
When we come together with our sick brothers and sisters and seek God’s miraculous healing, it really does have an effect.
A few weeks ago on a Wednesday night, we finished our last song at the end of service and we dismissed for the evening. When we dismissed I turned around and looked up at Andrew on stage. He was crying. So, I went up to see what the problem was. Andrew told me that his grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer. The doctors had found a tumor that they were afraid was too big to treat, meaning certain death. So, I took Andrew and we just prayed right then and there for his grandfather. We asked God to shrink the tumor, and if it be God’s will, He would completely remove the cancer. We finished praying and Andrew went home. The very next night Andrew told me he had some awesome news. His grandfather had went to the doctor that day and they found that the tumor was small enough to treat and there was only a 2% chance it wouldn’t be corrected.
We have to be bold enough to ask God for wild and unexplainable acts of grace.
He is powerful and He actually listens to His children when they cry out to Him in prayer.
We have to have enough faith to know and understand that there is nothing God can’t do.
Jesus made the blind man see
He made the lame walk
He cleansed the leper
He pulled demons out of a man cast them into pigs
He raised dead men from the grave and gave them life
He suffocated on a cross, was put into the ground, and walked out of the grave three days later.
There is nothing that Jesus Christ cannot do.
We have to stop acting like He is limited in what He can do for us.
There is not a wound He can’t heal
There is not a condition He can’t correct
There is not a tumor He can’t shrink
There is not a cancer He can’t cure
And there is not a disease He can’t remove
We wonder why we don’t see amazing miracles today and yet we refuse to have the faith that is required to grant them.
Go to the third world countries in Africa and Asia and you will see incredible miracles of healing
Those Christians trust in God and have genuine faith that He will heal them because faith is all they’ve got
Here in America we put all of our hope and faith in medicine, not God
I’m not saying we should be against medicine - God granted us with enough sense to take the medicines that He blesses us with.
All I am saying is watch people that put more faith in their heavenly Father than they do their physician and you will see some incredible things that are completely and totally unexplainable.
Because we serve a supernatural God that seeks to show His glory in granting our requests of healing.
However, it is important to note here as well that God reserves the right to choose when and how he heals and that complete healing never occurs in this life.
When Paul pleaded for God to heal him, God chose not to heal Paul:
2 Corinthians 12:8–10 ESV
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7–10 ESV
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 cor. 12:7-
2 cor. 12
When we boldly pray to God for physical healing, we must have the faithful expectation that He will do what we are asking Him to do, while at the same time having a complete satisfaction for if He does not.

Pray for Spiritual Healing

James 5:15–18 ESV
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
James 5:15–16 ESV
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
james 5:15-2
James 5:15-16
When I turned 16, my mom very sternly told me never to use the median and turning lane down here where Henderson Rd. intersects 431. But, like every rebellious teenage boy, I gave little attention to what she said and used the median anyway - when I knew she wouldn’t see me of course. I literally saw people airlifted from wrecks at that intersection, but I just kept on using it. Since I have come to Mount Vernon, I have the option of using that intersection every day, coming to work, if I want to. Just last week Carissa and Lincoln were up here at the office helping me with something. When they went to get in the car and leave, I helped put Lincoln in the car seat, kissed Carissa goodbye, and turned to come back in the office. But before Carissa closed the door, I turned back around and I said, “Don’t use that median that intersects Henderson and 431; it is too dangerous. Turn left onto 205 instead.” As soon as I said it, it struck me what I had just done. I just did with my family what my mother did with me. I was looking after their wellbeing.
God calls us to look after each other’s spiritual well-being.
Again, with the same intensity and passion I have for the concern of my family’s physical well-being, I should also have an intense and passionate concern for my church family’s spiritual well-being.
We are to cry out to God on behalf of our brothers and sisters and beg God to draw them closer to Him
We are called, by Scripture to care about the spirituality of one another:
Matthew 18:15 ESV
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Galatians 6:1 ESV
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
1 Timothy 5:20 ESV
20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
1 John 5:16 ESV
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
1 John 5:16
James 5:19–20 ESV
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
We are called to warn our brothers and sisters when we see them falling off of the correct spiritual path
We a
Don’t go there!
Don’t go to that intersection!
Ive been there and its not good!
Ive seen people die there!
We are called to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.
And when our brother or sister in Christ falls into sin, that is not an occasion to judge them but an occasion to love them and ask God to restore them.
Have you ever considered that your prayer may be what God uses to alter the spirituality of another individual?
One of the most incredible men in all of church history is St. Augustine of Hippo. He was bishop in North Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries. Before his conversion, Augustine was a lustful man that spent his time devaluing women and dabbling in heretical religions. All while he indulged in this riotous living, his mother prayed that God would convert her son. And one day, he sat weeping in contemplation of the uselessness he had made of his life and a Bible sat in front of him. And while he was bent over weeping, he began to notice some children outside playing and chanting a rhyme. They were chanting over and over again, “Pick it up and read it, pick it up and read it, pick it up and read it.” So, Augustine picked up the Bible and began to read.
Don’t think for a second that God doesn’t use our prayers to move sinful men to conversion.
Because of Gospel of Jesus Christ, our prayers have power.
Its not like God only allows certain people to pray.
We often think that only really spiritual men can approach God and speak to him, and so we put people like Elijah on a pedestal.
But Scripture says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.
Do you know what that means?
That means that he was just like you and me
And all he did was pray with faith and the rain stopped when he asked it to stop and it poured when he asked it to pour.

The Power of Prayer

james 5:
James 5:17–18 ESV
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
He beckons for us to speak to him and ask him to intercede for our brothers and sisters
Conclusion:
So here is my question: Is Mount Vernon really a congregation unified by prayer?
And if we are, do we have room to improve?
Francis Chan used to be the pastor of a church in San Francisco. A young man who was a member of a gang in the streets of San Francisco came to his church one Sunday and was completely transformed. He decided to give it all up and follow Jesus and he was baptized. But after a while, this young man stopped coming. Someone tracked him down and found out that he had went back to the gang. When they asked him why he went back to the gang, he told them that once he entered the gang everyone had his back and it was like they were all family 24/7. He said, “When I got baptized, I thought it was going to be like that with the Christians. I thought that they would be there for me all the time and that we would be a family. I didn’t realize that it was just on Sundays and Wednesdays.”
Woe is us if we cant’t be more of a family than gang members
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of something special. We have the power of God - the Holy Spirit - to bring us together and show that we are adopted sons and daughters in one family because of the blood of Christ.
Related Media
Related Sermons