Prayer That Changes Things

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Text:  James 5:13-20


            I have often wished that every prayer that I prayed would be answered.  And I have wished that my prayers would be answered instantly, instead of the often “wait” signal that comes from Heaven.  But if I truly were to have those wishes answered, I would need to have God’s wisdom to go along with it, for sometimes we pray for things that are less than what God has in store for us.  So it’s a good thing that God says “no” to some things, and “wait” for others because He knows what is best for us.

            “If that’s the case, then why pray at all?”  Though there are times when God says “no/wait,” I do know this: when I don’t pray, I’m left to handle things on my own power without Divine intervention!  Because of His perfect wisdom, I trust Him to determine what is best for me, along with His perfect timing.  Sometimes the mere timing of the answer is a miracle in itself to show that it truly came from God and not something of our own power.  God loves to delight His children, and He loves to do things in such a way that it displays His glory.

            With that said, there are times when prayer results in awesome results.  It’s that prayer of faith that changes things that James talks about in our lesson.  Read Text.

            Our text gives us some clues of the characteristics of the early church.  They were a singing church and they were a church that believed in the healing and forgiving power of prayer.

1.      Verse 13 says that if we suffering or in trouble, we should pray.  Sometimes that’s the only time people turn to God, so why do you think James instructs us as he does here?  (God delights in helping His children.  And sometimes the only way out of something is through the intervention of God.  And there are times when the situation isn’t the thing that needs changing, but rather our perspective or the faith and endurance to go through it.)

2.      Next James instructs the suffering or troubled person to sing.  Why sing?  How does that help?  (Singing puts wings to the troubles of the heart and its notes bring healing deeper than what just words sometimes cannot reach.)  1 Cor. 14:15

3.      If the song does not come from the heart, do you think there is much therapy in singing for the troubled one?  Would the same thing apply to songs of worship during our church services?
Insight: It is interesting to note that the orthodox Jewish synagogue had singing in it until the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, but not since then, for it is their way of remembering the tragedy.  But in the Christian church there has always been singing, for Christians remember God’s infinite love and they enjoy His presence with them.

4.      Who is to initiate prayer and anointing of oil for the sick?  (The one who is sick is to call and ask for the elders.)     Why do you think that is?  (They must have faith in God that He will honor His Word before the healing will come.)

5.      Is there more than one way to heal?  Explain.  (Yes; there can be healing of the body, and healing of the soul in order to bear the infirmity.)  

6.      What is a necessary ingredient for prayer for the sick before it will restore the one who is sick.  (The prayer must be offered in faith, v. 15.)

7.      What is your opinion on the belief that people are sick due to sin?  (There are some cases where that is true, but not all.  Mk. 2:1-12; 1 Cor. 11:26-30)

8.      Who is it that does the healing of the sick or the forgiving of sins?  (The Lord.)

9.      If someone had the gift of healing, how would you know it was truly of the Lord?  (They would be able to heal each and every time they prayed, for there is no limit to the power of God.  As in the N.T., the blind had sight restored instantly (not over a period of days), the lame immediately rose up and walked, the dead came back to life.)

10.  Verse 16 says to confess your sins to one another.  I thought we were to confess our sins to God in order to receive forgiveness.  When is it appropriate to confess our sins to one another?  (When there is a barrier between us and someone else, confession of our sin with that person will lift the barrier.  It is also appropriate when we are trapped in a sin and we need the conviction that such open confession brings, along with the help of accountability.)

11.  Are there cases where confession of sin to others may do more harm than good?  Explain.  Eph. 5:5-12

12.  Verse 16 says that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  How much?  (There is no limit to the power of prayer.  The will of God is the only limit of prayer.  James sights the example of Elijah as to the limitless power of prayer.)

13.  In reference to verse 19, what is the outcome of someone straying from what they know is the truth?  Ja. 4:17; Heb. 10:26-27; Rom. 2:5-10

14.  Verse 19 also mentions turning a straying brother back to the truth.  How do you do that?  (By using the truth, confronting him with that which he has strayed from; you do it in love and with much patience, praying for them.)

15.  What is the reward of turning a sinner from the error of his way?  (We saved his soul from death.)

16.  What kind of motivation does it take in order to confront a sinning brother who is straying from the truth?  (Sacrificial love.)  Prov. 10:12

Application of the lesson:

            If you have ever wandered from the truth, who helped you to come back, and what did they do that helped you in that process?

            What do you need most to keep growing in your spiritual walk?  How can we as Christian friends help?

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