Prayer is powerful. It is a first defense, our go to move, not a last resort. Prayer does more than petition God for wants. Prayer is how believers are able to exercise faith and patience. It is how we maintain hope through suffering. It is one of the most important practices we can do for one another. Verses 13-14 read,
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.
Whether we are suffering, cheerful, or sick the answer is prayer. Speaking to and listening to God, exulting in our relationship with Him gives us the ability to endure through suffering. He hears us. He listens. And He carries us through. He gives us joy which in turn gives us strength. (Nehemiah 8:10). And when He gives us joy, we pray again singing praise to Him. The idea of singing praise reflects that while we can pray alone we would also pray with others, sharing our gladness with others as we lift up God as the source of our gladness, joy, and strength, as the One who is bringing us through the suffering and trials and the One who sees us and saves us. We are not alone. We have God With Us and we have each other. Romans 12:9-16 describes the church this way,
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
While often our prayer is between The Lord and ourselves it is not always the case. We weep with one another, rejoice with one another and love one another affectionately, demonstratively. Here, James tells us if we are sick, to call for the elders and let them pray over us and anoint us with oil. I know for me that there are times when I am too ill, too mired in suffering to feel able to pray well alone. Sharing my suffering, joy, or illness with the church gives them a chance to join with me and pray over me. The Holy Spirit loves to do His work through others. It is one way, He marks us as different from the world. We are not the most powerful and successful when we are living life independently but when we live life interdependently together dependent on The Lord. By our love for one another, people will know we are Jesus’ followers. (John 13:35).
Prayer does great things. When you are too weak to pray for yourself, when you allow your brothers and sisters to step in and pray with you and over you things happen. Verse 15 reads,
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.
That is a big deal! Believer, your demonstration of faith will save the sick, raise him up and bring him forgiveness. Your prayer makes miracles happen. Your prayer brings people closer to God. We shouldn’t each be closeted up suffering alone, hiding our weakness from one another. We should be living interpedently, weaved together into a tapestry of demonstrated love. We can’t do that if we wear masks of perfection to hide our sins, façades of happiness to conceal our pain, or disguises of strength to cover our weakness. Verses 16-18 read,
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.
There was nothing magical about Elijah, he had faith in God to be God. He was a prophet and He had The Holy Spirit on him. You and I, Faithful, we have Him in us, united with our own spirit. If Elijah could pray for miracles and know God could and would, what more can we do? The prayer of a righteous person, (a person who has been forgiven of his sins) has great power as it is working. Prayer works. So many times we think prayer is inactive, it is just us hoping against hope, but prayer works, produces, and does. It acts. Prayer accomplishes things. When we pray, we practice the power of God, love in action. Jesus told us to pray. In Matthew 7:7-8 He said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Prayer is a way of releasing God’s will onto the earth. God’s will for His followers is our sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We are meant to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. We are mean to love one another expressively and effusively. We are meant to pray together. In Matthew 18:80-20 Jesus said,
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Our prayers can bind and loosen; that is not some feeble thing. Our prayers for one another can bring people back into a walk with God and can bring people to Him. Our prayers bring people to salvation. Verses 19-20 say,
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.
Believer, that is not nothing! Your prayer is powerful in its working. Don’t say, “All I can do is pray” as if there is defeat in that. Say, “Let’s pray” then watch what God will do. He answers prayer. His Word, His will manifested goes out from His mouth and accomplishes His purpose. Isaiah 55:10-13 read,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
His Word is the Sword of the Spirit and you and I are meant to wield it (Ephesians 6:17). Prayer is a powerful practice not a desperate last-ditch effort.