Faithful Prayer


Unlimited Access

We used to go out to eat as a family every Saturday night.
One restaurant we went to a lot was Libby’s Lakeside Restaurant where my dad and I would share a big steak every week.
My dad is a bit of a talker and would always get wrapped up in a conversation at the end of dinner, so my sister and I would get bored waiting.
Libby’s had a Pac-Man arcade machine that cost $.50 to play. So my sister and I would beg my parents to give us money to play it.
One day, Libby’s husband heard us asking to play so he went and grabbed a key, unlocked the change area for the game, and showed us what button to push to add a credit to the game.
Now it didn’t matter how much my dad talked, my sister and I had gained ACCESS to unlimited Pac-Man games and we were living it up.
Access is a pretty cool things isn’t it?
We all like to have access to something that makes us feel special and connected.
This is our last week in the book of James and his closing message is about access.
We have talked a lot about the themes of James through out our time in this letter.
Perseverance in faith in the midst of trials.
The relationship between faith and works.
How we speak and use our tongues
Conflict and community
Selfishness, patience, and caring about others.
James has often been accused over the years to be a legalistic book. Too concerned with works and not concerned enough with grace.
We have sought to show over this series how that isn’t a fair assessment of James, but I think in these last verse we see the true heart of James towards the Lord.
He desires us to know that we have access to a powerful, compassionate, active, personal, and generous God.
These last words are a call to prayer as he helps us to understand just what it means to have access to God through prayer.
Deal with James 5:12- It is a warning against making oaths.
It seems almost like an odd add-in that doesn’t really connect with the context of the passage.
But James is shifting from the theme of patience in suffering to the close out the letter.
“Above all” does not mean “here is the most important things”, but more so, “in conclusion”.
The lure of the people make oaths with others was undermining unity and trust in the church.
Rich and poor alike were not following through with their promises and so they were resulting to making these oaths in order to trust one another.
In light of what James has already shared, he is calling for them to be truthful and respectable, and not swear by anything as a means to prove yourself reliable.
The connection is made in the next verse:
James 5:13 CSB
13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.
Instead of swearing on something, let your yes be yes and no be no. If you are concerned or worried pray…trust that God will work things out.

1) Prayer is not BOUND by CONDITIONS.

If you are suffering PRAY. If you are cheerful PRAY. If you are sick PRAY. If you are in sin PRAY. PRAY for one another. PRAY in faith. PRAY in righteousness. JUST PRAY!
Maybe Paul was reading this part of James’s letter when he wrote 1 Thess. 5:17
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
17 pray without ceasing,
Paul doesn’t mean that we should stay in prayer all day, constantly bowed down, eyes closed, speaking to God.
He means that prayer ought to be built into the every day rhythms of our life.
It is not something we just do when life is hard and we don’t have anything else todo.
It isn’t something we do only when life is smooth and we want to thank and praise God for His blessings.
It isn’t something we do only before meals, before we go to sleep, and when we are at church.
The great reformer Martin Luther said:
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” — Martin Luther
We cannot live without breathing.
Try to hold you breath for a more than a minute, even if you do it you will know just how important breathing is to your life.
When prayer isn’t an essential element of our lives we are withholding the life-giving power of communion with God from our Spirit.
We have been given access to prayer, access to conversation with our God; an ear with the almighty.
Prayer is not bound by conditions or circumstances.
It is not a waste of time, rather it of often the most powerful and productive use of our time.
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” — Martin Luther

2) Prayer is POWERFUL and HEALING.

James specifically addresses those who are sick in verse 14.
Praying for the sick is something we commonly do as church people.
When we share prayer requests we often share about upcoming surgeries, folks with varying illnesses and infirmities.
There is a reason we pray for the sick. I don’t think it is only motivated by niceness, though that is a part of it.
I think deep down we all really believe that prayer is powerful and that God can use our prayer to heal people.
Many of have seen the power prayer has to overcome circumstances that seemed hopeless.
Those experiences, or the knowledge of them, encourage us to pray.
Prayer is powerful to heal, to restore, to mend what is broken.
Not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally, and in all facets of life.
We all also realize that our prayers for healing are not always answered in the way we desire.
James says in vs 15 that “the Prayer of Faith WILL save the sick person...” is that a guarantee of healing if the measure of faith is enough?
This idea has led many people down a hard and hurtful path, as they believe that their ability to muster the right amount of faith will heal the person they love.
So when their loved one isn’t healed, there hearts are broken and their faith in God is damaged.
Was it their fault they weren’t healed? Is God even real?
James isn’t teaching that having the right about of faith will always heal.
He is speaking of the effectiveness of prayer when we believe in the power of God.
God can heal and save, and He does.
We are often hesitant to pray for healing and often qualify our prayers with “if it is in your will, Lord”.
What James is saying here, and Jesus has said in the Gospels, is that we can and must pray knowing that God is willing and able to heal and restore.
And yet our prayers are prayed also knowing that God’s plans and purposes are bigger than our minds can grasp.
So if he chooses not to answer our prayers in the way we desire, we pray also that God would heal our hearts and align them with His.
But we must not question the power and effectiveness of prayer.


Prayer requires us to be vulnerable.
We have to admit we are sick, we are weak, we are sinful, we are in needs, and we are broken.
Verse 16 is a hard verse to put into action.
Confessing sin is one of the most vulnerable and humbling things we can do as Christians.
For many of us, asking for prayer when we are sick, sad, or struggling in any way is hard, but to confess sin is nearly impossible.
There is a risk confessing, a risk we as Christians are responsible for.
Gossip, judgmentalism, and superiority have stained and thwarted our ability to seek help in our struggles.
But James is calling us to pray for one another.
And if we are truly going to pray for one another we must know HOW to pray.
We must be willing to both hear the prayers our brothers and sister with compassionate and humble care, as well as speak our needs with confidence we will receive the same.
Are you someone who people can trust to PRAY compassionately and in confidence?
Prayer is a means of building trust and carrying one another’s burdens.
It gives us the opportunity to bring our brothers and sisters before the Lord.
Pray for one another.

4) Prayer SANCTIFIES us.

Does God only hear the prayers of people we are without sin? Of course not.
A righteous person is someone who is seeking to faithfully follow the Lord.
One who is committed to doing God’s will and to cultivating a relationship with God that knows God’s heart.
James is saying throughout this passage that our sin influences our prayers.
He calls us to confess our sins in order that we might clear our consciences as we speak to the Lord.
The pursuit of righteousness is essential for all believers in Jesus.
And there is reward in righteousness.
God hears the prayers of sinners, but it is a mistake to believe that our sin has no affect on the effectiveness of our prayers.
You see it in the life of Elijah, whom James uses as an example of the connect between righteousness and prayer.
James is quick to confront the idea that because Elijah was a prophet he had some special connection with God. “He was a man with a nature like ours...”
The prayers Elijah prayed and the response he got from God are not outside of our reach.
You can read 1 Kings 17-18, it doesn’t specifically record that Elijah prayed either for the rain to stop or start again, but the Lord does speak to him and we can assume Elijah spoke to the Lord.
But in those 2 chapters we can see Elijah’s relationship with the Lord.
There was a deep trust and bold faith that gave him unwavering confidence in the Lord.
He prayed bold, audacious prayers that were bolstered by his obedience to and pursuit of God.
The effectiveness of our prayers comes from us being acquainted with the heart of God.

5) Prayer EMPOWERS and SENDS.

James closes his letter out with an exhortation to seek out and bring back those who have wandered from the faith.
Though prayer isn’t mentioned in the 2 concluding verse, there is a clear flow.
Prayer dominates the preceding verses, prayer in struggles and in happiness; prayer for the sick; prayer for one another; and prayer coming from our pursuit of God.
There had been those in the church James is writing to who had lost their way, gotten off track, and fallen into sin.
James calls them, and us, to pray and then allow those prayer to move us in compassion and love to seek out those who stray.
This isn’t an explicit call to mission, but it is there.
Prayer ignites in us a compassion for others and empowers us to go.
“To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.” – Billy Graham
“Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie–talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den…Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for: Prayer is for the accomplishment of a wartime mission.” – John Piper

Closing James

Rejoice when you face trials brothers and sister, for God is working in those trials to shape you into the man or woman He desires you to be.
Don’t lose sight of His promises, His goodness, and His grace.
Let His grace and truth guide us to unity and care for one another.
Be gracious as you have been shown such marvelous grace.
Fight against the lure of selfishness and lack of mercy.
Be patience, be prayerful, and persevere, because He is worthy.
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