Saturday, February 14, 2009

Praying in every circumstance

John Calvin said it beautifully, “There is no time in which God does not invite us to Himself," which is the main sentiment in James 5:13-14

James 5:13-14 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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.

Very simply, there are three occasions that should prompt prayer:

1. If you are suffering

2. If you are cheerful

3. If you are sick

These three occasions make up our common experience as human beings. So, in other words- pray at all times! We go through times of suffering or general hardship, times of cheerfulness, and times of sickness. No matter where you find yourself, God invites you to Himself through prayer. Jesus encourages prayer at all times (Luke 18:1) and Paul says to do so without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). Paul most closely mirrors the thoughts of James when he writes:

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints...

James, like Paul, doesn't only encourage private prayer, it is to be a community event also. Yes we are called to pray privately, just as Jesus did from time to time, but we are also to enlist others in prayer for us and for God's glory.

James says to pray when we are suffering, which is reference to hardship and trials we undergo. If you find yourself in such a hardship, bring it to God in prayer. Have others pray for you also. James says to "praise" when you are cheerful. Praising God is a prayer acknowledging the greatness and goodness of God, among other attributes. Such times of cheerfulness are usually in relationship to a time of peace and clear blessing from God. We can tend to forget praise in such seasons. Praising God during times of cheer isn't just for you, it's so others who may be in times of suffering can witness the blessings of God upon you and rejoice with you in the midst of their trial. Finally, when we are sick, and most likely seriously sick, we should call for the elders to come and pray and anoint us with oil for healing. Obviously it is not always God's will to heal us of our sickness (see Paul and Timothy), further, no one will escape final sickness, however bodily frailty and God's healing (immediate or gradual) is a constant reminder of our need to depend on God, to seek His strength, and to pray.

So James bids us to pray every circumstances which serves as an acknowledgement of the sufficiency of God in our lives.


Michael Lockridge said...

Always encouraging!

Also encouraging were the words of Rich Mullins in song; "I cannot stumble beyond Your reach." Rich was a master of the concept of grace, a matter of great importance to me when I recall the dark places I have walked.

I am grateful to have found your blog. You provide encouragement to me, a man who once proudly thought himself beyond such need.

Blog on, and thanks again!


Reepicheep said...

Praise God. Thanks Michael. I always appreciate your insights.

Rick Calohan said...

As I shared in our Home Fellowship Group: I praise God for His spiritual powers to heal a friend who has a pancreatitis attack in mid December and is now on the mend and road to recovery. I praise God for His spiritual powers to heal my nephew in the Philippines whom they thought would need surgery to repair an intestinal blockage and by the Grace of God, it worked itself out without the need for surgery. I especially praise God for Redeemer Presbyterian where God’s Holy Word is proclaimed on any given Sunday. Today as you gave an overview to where Knox placed his anchor of faith, John 17, and how powerful an awesome prayer is throughout the Scriptures, but none more powerful than John 17, praise God for you Tony whom through expositional preaching proclaims the salt and light in a dark and unsavory world. The motto of the Reformation Post Tenebras Lux: After Darkness Light, and the motto of your Alma Marta Covenant Seminary In Omnibus Ipse Primatum Tenens: “That in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:16-18) for Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone to the Glory of God alone! Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria!

pjw said...

"James says to pray when we are suffering, which is reference to hardship and trials we undergo. If you find yourself in such a hardship, bring it to God in prayer. Have others pray for you also."

I think it is very important for us to ask others to pray for us, or just to know they are praying for us. The times I have been in the midst of a serious crisis, I usually found myself numb and just reacting to what was going on. It was very comforting to know that friends were supporting me in prayer during those times.

Frontier Forest said...

This was a providential, uplifting, promise and a blessing, meant for me today! We just got back from a most unusual vacation, if that's what you call it! Our 11 year old Merc Benz with 214,000 miles, blew a head gasket in the middle of a very dangerous 83 mile strip of nowhere, between Clayton and Springer, New Mexico. We were helplessly stranded most of the day. In 24 degree weather, getting anxious for the Sheriff and the tow truck to arrive, we spent some time in serious prayer. Hard standing on Romans 8:28, I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Ephesians 5:20, but we did so by faith and not by our feelings. Getting to our final destination was most creative, stress-filled, very long, and interesting ordeal. But praise the Lord, $4,900 later we are safe and sound back home! What a trying time, but the Lord gave us the proper attitude to endure.