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Prayer of a Normal Man

James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  16:09
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Review of Prayer for Healing

James 5:14 KJV 1900
Is any sick among you? 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 5:15 KJV 1900
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
As you will recall, James speaks about the power of corporate prayer in dealing with sickness. The idea of anointing with oil is simply to set apart that person for a special season of prayer and consecration to God.
God is the Great Physician
Psalm 103:3 KJV 1900
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;
The promise of healing for the sick offers a much needed corrective for those of us who have trouble praying boldly, for we fear or even assume that God will not do what we ask of him. Instead, we ought to pray boldly, believing that he is a God of power and love and that he listens to the prayers of his people. A necessary caveat, however, requires us to remember that he chooses how and when he heals, as Paul lays out clearly in 2 Co 12:8–10, and that complete healing never occurs in this life. Craig Blomberg
James moves from this emphasis on the prayer for healing to a more general teaching on prayer. And he maintains that emphasis on the corporate nature of that prayer in verse 16:
James 5:16 KJV 1900
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

God Answers the Prayers of the Righteous

James states to confess our faults or our sins to each other
This is not the concept of confession as practiced in the Roman Catholic church, but rather includes an honesty with each other about our sin struggles.
We need to be careful not to involve more people than are involved in the problem or in the solution - but the church should be a place where we can find a sympathetic, confidential ear to hear our difficulties, apply Biblical truth to that sin habit, and give support and accountability to each other as we each become more like Christ.
Mt 18:15–18 lies in the background. When sin has estranged two parties, one of them needs to take the initiative to restore the relationship. If that fails, then other Christian helpers must be brought into the process. If at all possible, the confession should not be made any more or less public than the original sin.67 And “any confession should be offered in the presence of those who have been harmed by the sin or in the presence of the leaders of that community rather than a wider context, so that wise counsel may be offered.”68 ZECNT Craig Blomberg
Am I willing to be honest about my sin?
Am I willing to seek help for my sin habits?

God Answers the Prayers of the Assembly

James gives a basic command to the church to pray for each other - that we may be healed - including not just physical healing, but also emotional and spiritual healing.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James B. Prayer and Healing (5:13–18)

James’s shift from elders to believers in general reminds us again that the power to heal is invested in prayer, not the elder. And while it is appropriate that those charged with the spiritual oversight of the community should be called to intercede for those seriously ill, James makes clear that all believers have the privilege and responsibility to pray for healing

Have I prayed for others in the church?
Do I pray for others beyond their physical needs?

God Answers the Prayers of the Normal Person

High Definition Commentary: James James 5:13–20

James bolsters his claim about the impact the effective prayer of a righteous person can have by offering an example from the Old Testament. In contrast to holding up the prophets as an example of endurance in verse 10, James portrays Elijah in verse 17 as a person just like us.

The same phrase “subject to like passions as we are” is used in Acts 14:15 where Paul is telling the islanders not to worship him and Barnabas - that they are not Greek gods, but simply normal human men with the same weaknesses and difficulties that they have.
Acts 14:15 KJV 1900
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James B. Prayer and Healing (5:13–18)

“Prayed earnestly” is a good translation of the Semitic cognate construction, which literally rendered would read “prayed with prayer.” The situation James describes is recorded in 1 Kings 17–18. God had proclaimed through Elijah that a drought would afflict the land as a means of punishing Ahab and Israel for their idolatry. Although the OT does not state that Elijah prayed for the drought, 1 Kgs. 18:42 does picture him praying for the drought to end, and it is a legitimate inference to think that he prayed for its onset also.

1 Kings 18:42 KJV 1900
So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
1 Kings 18:43 KJV 1900
And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
1 Kings 18:44 KJV 1900
And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
Do I excuse my lack of prayer because I am not a “prayer warrior”?

God Answers the Prayers of the Mundane

(not just the miraculous)
It is interesting that James chooses the episode in Elijah’s life of the drought and the later rain - obviously there is a connection between this and the exhortation earlier for the believers to be patient like a farmer waiting for rain - so we must be patient unto the coming of the Lord.
The less obvious link, but clear from James’s general theology, is with the idea that all good gifts come from above, from heaven (see 1:17; 3:17). Quite literally, rain comes down from above, but more importantly, this rainstorm came as a specific answer by God to his prophet’s prayer that the drought might be ended. Craig Blomberg
In addition, however, I think James is using this episode because it was an everyday thing - praying for rain.
Unlike the episode in Elijah’s life where he confronts the prophets of Baal and has a contest of the gods with fire on the sacrifice. and unlike the resurrection of the widow’s son (which seems to fit better with the prior instance of praying for healing)
This is a somewhat mundane prayer - yet it resulted in a wondrous miracle.
James draws some basic lessons from this OT example:
Prayer is dependent on a powerful God not a superhuman person.
Prayer requires persistence and patience not the perfect words or surroundings
James Explanation of Text

One obviously cannot tell if a prayer that it not rain has been answered until a lengthy period of drought has occurred (1 Ki 17:1). So, too, believers’ prayers may often require persistence and patience.

Prayer involves faith that endures beyond an initial moment.
James Explanation of Text

With this prayer for rain, Elijah had to persevere and not doubt, waiting for his servant to go seven times to look toward the sea before he saw even a cloud the size of a person’s hand (18:41–46)

Am I willing to persevere in prayer beyond a crisis moment?
Summary:
God Answers the Prayers of the Righteous
God Answers the Prayers of the Assembly
God Answers the Prayers of the Normal Person
God Answers the Prayers of the Mundane
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