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James 5:13-20 – The Power of Prayer

Summary

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Analysis

Just as for Solomon, the letter and its vision of God's faithfulness begins with the exercise of prayer for God's gift of wisdom. The whole Letter of James exhorts the community in confidence that this wisdom has the ability to shape that community in practical acts of love and mercy. Now, at the book's conclusion, the importance and the power of prayer is persistently and persuasively accented as the final exhortation. If, as evidenced in God's gifts, the purpose of the Lord is disposed to be merciful and to show compassion (James 5:11), then words--in particular the words of prayer--have power for effective action on behalf of the needs of God's people. So one's words should be carefully chosen. Let a "Yes" be yes and a "No" be no. If any are suffering, pray for healing. If any are happy, pray in songs of praise. If any are sick, pray in confidence that the Lord will heal. If any have done wrong, pray in confidence that God will forgive. All of this is to be exercised in the context of a community in which mutual prayer is the bond that creates, sustains, and restores that community.

James 5:13-20

The Prayer of Faith

13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

19 My brothers and sisters,* if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s* soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

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10 February 2011

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