What is going on in your life? Whatever it is, good or bad bring it to God and bring it to your church. Your brothers and sisters can pray with you and for you. Prayer is powerful. Community of the believers is powerful. They work hand in hand. Verses 13-15 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.
Too often today, I see people make prayer a last resort or they say with defeat, “All I can do is pray.” When they say that, I usually figure they are not praying. But prayer is the first place we ought to go. Whether suffering or cheerful, we should pray. When we are too sick or too weak we call for the elders of the church and let them pray over us and anoint us with oil. When we are sinning, we not only bring it to God but we bring it to light in our fellowship so we can pray for one another. As a body, we can pray together for all of it, sad, happy, and painful. Each member of our church has a different set of gifts, talents, and personality. Each one expresses the Holy Spirit in a way singular to him. To forgo the edification of the prayer of the saints is selfish and brings God no glory.
Prayer is powerful. God answers us, He leads, He gives, He forgives, He heals, and He is glorified. Verse 16 says,
“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.”
Sometimes God gives us obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. But they are not, because we have prayer. God doesn’t want us to figure it out on our own. He doesn’t want us to give up in the face of adversity. He wants us to pray. And when we do His great power is proved through ordinary men. Verses 17-18 explain it like this,
“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.”
Elijah was righteous, but not perfect. He had a nature like ours. But he prayed fervently and God withheld the rain for three and half years. Do you think God loves you any less than He loved Elijah? Do you think He is any less powerful today? Prayer is not a last-ditch effort. God loves you. Believer, you have this amazing power at your finger-tips. That is the power to depend on God. You have the ability to in your weakness to show how awesome God is.
We are all weak. We are not here to show the world how great we are. We are here to show the world how great God is. The best evidence of our prayer is our growth together. In a church we each mature individually. But we also grow together as a whole. We can’t ever leave a brother or sister behind if she is willing to confess and pray. No sin is too great for God to forgive. No situation is too difficult for God to work good. If we love one another as Jesus loved us, we won’t let a brother or sister fall to the wayside in her sin. We will pray for her. Then we will pray with her. God will do whatever He must. Verses 19-20 read,
“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.”
That is love. That is loving one another in the deepest sense, the way Jesus loves us. We can’t do that for an acquaintance or that person we have a two minute conversation with most Sundays. To love a person that sincerely we must speak together often, pray together, confess to one another, weep with one another, laugh with one another, use our gifts to edify and supplement one another in other words we must live life together. We have to know each other to love each other like that. 1 Peter 4:7-11 says it like this,
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
We cannot do any of that if we leave God out of it. It is God’s love, authority, and strength that we are to express to one another and to the world. Pray. Pray first. Pray continuously.