A prayer made in faith comes through the pen of James. It comes right when the conversation is about the type of praying that happens when someone is sick and needs healing. I am pretty sure it applies to all circumstances.
Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises. Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years. Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops. – James 5:13-18 GNT
The encouragement comes as an exercise of trusting in God. In prayer, I lean on God, His wisdom and understanding, and the knowledge that every good gift comes from Him.
I note that if I am in trouble, I should pray. If I am sick, I go to the elders who will pray a prayer of faith. In the confessing of sin and in the praying there is healing.
I like the idea that the sick person is not responsible to pray for themselves. They are probably already alone, love the idea they do not have to walk in their faith alone.
Jonah was alone – three days and nights in the belly of a fish. There he knew God still was listening.
In my distress, O Lord, I called to you,
and you answered me.
From deep in the world of the dead
I cried for help, and you heard me. – Jonah 2:2 GNT
It is hard to imagine that Jonah’s prayer was fake – who calls on God with a fake prayer when you are sitting in the belly of a fish? Those kinds of prayer are what I call desperate. He has become the praying prophet, as opposed to the prodigal one.
Three ministers were talking about the most effective ways to pray. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister said that the key to answered prayer is to hold your hands together and point them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second said, “No, the most effective position for prayer is to be on your knees as an act of humility. The third minister said, “No, the correct position for prayer is to pray while stretched out flat on your face. The phone man interrupted and said, “I found that the most powerful position to pray was when I was dangling upside down by my feet from a power pole 50 feet above the ground!”
My takeaways are a bit obvious – do not wait for a crisis to start praying.
As the hymn suggests, “O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”
Jonah did what I need to do – he desperately looked for a right relationship with God. How often do I pray because I want something – this prayer reminded me of my priorities.
Lastly, I was reminded again to be thankful, even in the midst of difficult times. Jonah had no idea whether he was going to live or die and still was able to see something and to give thanks for it.
But I will sing praises to you;
I will offer you a sacrifice
and do what I have promised.
Salvation comes from the Lord! – Jonah 2:9 GNT
A story that illustrates this is the story of two men who were being chased by a raging bull.
As the men raced towards the nearest fence, it became apparent that neither of them would make it in time. In a state of terror, the one man shouted to the other: “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”. John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life”. “But you must!” implored his companion. “All right, I’ll say the only prayer I know–the one my father used to repeat at the table: “Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful”
Imagine if I am near death and decide not to pray – what would that clearly indicate? The prayer Jonah did pray did not fit into the normal mould. It is almost all about being thankful. Maybe those kinds of prayers are the best kind to pray.
The reason for constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer is the method that God Himself has appointed for our obtaining the Holy Spirit. – R. A. Torrey