Wise prayer

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Do you find it easy or difficult to pray?

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Bible passage James 5:13–20

The Prayer of Faith
 13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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The letter of James is all about living life well – a life of wisdom. James opened his letter insisting that life’s hard times are not barriers to a life with God, but can bring us to maturity (1:2–4). He has also highlighted the struggle between our self-obsessed desires (4:1–3) and God’s way, encouraging us to look beyond ourselves in order to live well with others.

Prayer is key to a life of wisdom (1:5). So it is fitting that at the end of the letter we come back to prayer – as a way through both the good and bad times in life (5:13–18).

Clement of Alexandria described prayer as ‘keeping company with God’. Prayer reorientates us by reminding us that we are not in control, helping us to submit to the will of a good and generous God (5:11b) who has our days in his hands (4:15).

This passage reminds us that we should pray in all circumstances, and that there are no limits to the power of prayer. That means we should pray for healing (v 15), trusting that God can do amazing things – although we know that this side of heaven, not everyone will be healed. Verse 15 should not be read as a guarantee of healing, but put in the context of the whole Bible where a loving God hears the prayers of the faithful.


Pray that God’s Spirit would work to enable you to live a life of wisdom, loving God and other people with a generous and humble heart.

Michelle Smart

Deeper Bible study

Thank God for the passionate power of the message the author of James has shared.

Good sermons often end with the application: what we are to do with the teaching we’ve been given. James is no exception. He gives a list of instructions, actions that are the natural result of his teaching, and they all concern prayer. He emphasises that prayer is for all occasions: prayer for help (v 13), prayer of praise in song (v 13), prayer for healing (vs 15,16) and prayer of confession (v 16). He’s not saying, ‘When all else fails, pray’. Instead he encourages us to pray when we’re up, pray when we’re down, pray about ourselves and pray for others.

The reason he says this is quite simply because he knows it works. I will recommend a brand of waterproof walking clothing to a friend because I know that it has been successful for me. It’s kept me dry and sweat-free in torrential rain. Similarly, for James there is a certainty about prayer. ‘The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well’ and ‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’. By way of further confirmation, he refers to Elijah, stressing that he was no different to you and me. It was the earnestness of his prayer that made the difference. Like the skilled preacher, he has returned in the final section of his letter to his first concern: our faith and doubt (vs 1:6–8).

Sometimes prayer is individual, in trouble or in celebration. Sometimes prayer is a deliberate corporate ministry, involving the church leaders (not placing the responsibility solely on one person). Sometimes prayer is mutual, admitting our mistakes and opening the way to true wholeness. James’ final words emphasise this, the responsibility we have to one another to hold fast to the relationships we have, relationships that are rooted in faith.

Brian Radcliffe

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Jeremiah 7,8

Psalms 114,115


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Above All Else
Vicky Beeching
Copyright © 2001 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk

I will offer up my life
Matt Redman
Copyright © 1994 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Last Sunday's sermon we heard that "You can do anything, just believe" is a Disney type of prayer and not in the bible. Joshua was quoted 'be strong and courageous because the Lord your God is with you' and then 'yes we can believe in answered prayer, not because we can achieve it but because God is with you'. I would go a bit further and say you can believe because God is with you and because He accomplished it on the Cross and that is why answers are 'yes' in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20)

  • Thelma Edwards | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Lynda, thank you. I see WLAdmin have noted your request. I will also write and confirm I am happy for my email address to be shared. I am also on Facebook which has been another way WordLivers can get in personal contact. I have just returned from another two days at Don's preparing for his move on 24Oct. I think he is being helped by my frequent visits doing things around him as he seems to have come to a quiet acceptance that he is moving round the corner. It is also giving me an opportunity to 'discover' something that I know has a story attached to it and as I pack it for moving we chat about it. There is so much to do, however, and I think I may have to go over twice more before moving day. I pray for continued health and strength and wisdom to know my limits.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    We can trust in the promises God has made and He never goes back on His Word. He promised Abram "I will bless those who bless you....and through you I will bless all the nations." He has promised a loving relationship with all His people, who are the object of His love and blessing; whose names are written in heaven. (Hebrews 12:23) Jesus taught us how to pray to our Father in Heaven and we know "Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD." ( Isaiah 11:9 ) THELMA as I pray for Don's move to a different home, does he know of God's love and care for him? Praying also for continued strength as you help Don; I know the difficulties of caring for others too. Amen.

  • Roger Hall | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Old Sunday School chorus: "Prayer Changes things, prayer changes things, they who pray will mount up as on angels wings..." Good old Scripture Union!

  • Carol Stockman | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Hospital postponed my operation last night as I have to see the anaesthetist first and that can't be until after the operation date. Please pray as I am really upset about this after waiting over 8 weeks for an operation date. I do value the prayer of our WL family.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    I feel for you Carol but you will know in hindsight that God's timing is perfect. Blessings

  • Ruth Chisholm | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Prayer takes the focus off us, once we've shared it with God, we can leave it with him, but we can update him with our constant chatter! "In all your ways acknowledge/submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.' Proverbs 3:6 NIV This doesn't mean it might not be up hill at times but the shepherd never leaves us. For the cyclists amongst us, even a little hill gives opportunity for a moment of freewheeling on a downhill stretch! Give thanks in all circumstances, tough at times, sometimes that's just collapsing in his arms and being carried for a while. Prayer for healing? I'll never refuse, but I always say God's already healing my soul in ways I wouldn't have imagined. His will be done!

  • Ruth Chisholm | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Carol understand your frustration, God's timing is perfect, praying that he surprises you and you will see his hand in all the detail.

  • Derek Forster | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    I know not why God’s wondrous grace To me He has made known, Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love Redeemed me for His own. I know not how this saving faith To me He did impart, Nor how believing in His Word Wrought peace within my heart.But ‘I know whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day.’

  • Pete White | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Thelma, I am supporting you in prayer as you minister to Don. Ministry is not about wearing a funny collar, it is all about being the someone who wants their relationship with God to spill over into the lives of others.

  • Andrew Lee-Bartlett | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    God heals today. I believe and seen what some of what the Lord is doing , In the church today we need to pray for healing . Also we should expect healing as it is a part of what the lord has commissioned us to do . I have attached a link to encourage us . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEu1MhBM92E

  • David Chipchase | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Thelma and Carol, praying for you both.

  • Ruth Lewis | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    THELMA, I too am praying for you and for Don. I also pray your prayer request for you to know your limits. God will let you know when you need to stop and continue later. I remember when we moved into a new house. I was much younger then. In talking to my new neighbor telling her how much I had to do, she told me "Rome wasn't built in a day." I made a schedule for each day and finally I had everything in place. It was because of God and His ministering Angels!!!

  • Ruth Lewis | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    The comments and DEREK'S Hymn today really Blessed me!!! Thank you for the you tube link ANDREW!.. I am also pray for you CAROL. Remember God's timing is perfect, and He does all things well. He loves us so much!!!

  • Ken Sykes | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    I seem to remember No 1 ROGER - A little talk with Jesus makes things right...

  • Ruth Lewis | Saturday, 07 October 2017

    Thank you ANDREW for the you tube link!!!

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  • Ryan Gosslyn | Thursday, 25 January 2018

    Thank God for the passionate power of the message the author of James has shared. http://howtoget.wiki/hotmail-login-hotmail-sign-up/

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