The Power Of Prayer

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

INTRODUCTION

Tonight our aim is to deal with verses 14-15 but I pasted them all so you could see that the subject of this section is PRAYER. Randolph Tasker said: “There is no situation in the life of faith in which the believer cannot resort to prayer.”

  • In verse 13–James mentions “Hardships.” In times of difficulty, we can pray.
  • In verse 14–James mentions “Sickness.” When we are sick, we can resort to prayer.
  • The Greek word in verse 14 {astheneō} means more than sick. It means to be weak, impotent, diseased, feeble, needy and helpless. Granted, sickness induces most of the above: sickness can make one weak, impotent, diseased, feeble, needy and yes helpless. But we could become weak, helpless, feeble, impotent and needy with the passing of time or the lack of resources.

This text has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by our Catholic friends and our Pentecostal friends. From this text the Roman Catholic get the doctrine of EXTREME UNCTION or last rites. When a person is no longer conscious to make confession and get absolution, the priest does it for him/her.

Our Pentecostal brothers take this text as a formula for healing all manner of sickness. This is not some magic formula for healing the sick and it gives no basis for Extreme Unction.

It is however: AN INJUNCTION FOR THE CHURCH TO HAVE AND MAINTAIN A PRAYER MINISTRY.

I. THE CHURCH IS TO BE A PRAYING CHURCH

  • Acts 1:14–They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
  • Acts 2:42–All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals and to prayer.
  • Acts 3:1–Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.
  • Acts 4:31–After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

It is well documented, the NT church was a praying church.

II. THE CHURCH HAS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER THROUGH PRAYER

  1. Do you know anyone that is enduring a difficult time? I’ve had three people approach me this week with broken hearts; two of them are drug related. In our tiny church we have families that do not eat together or get together over the holidays. Families torn a part by jealousy and envy. There are families divided over the settling of estates, perceived favoritism, jealousy, drugs, divorce. I cannot think of one family is this church who does not have problems. PRAY FOR THOSE ENDURING HARDSHIP.
  2. Do you know anyone who lives alone. Loneliness is a form of sickness. Could you make some time for those who live a lone. Go visit them and have prayer with them. They will love it.
  3. Do you know anyone that is sick? Visit them, have prayer with them. They will be thrilled.
  4. Do you know anyone who is weak, feeble, powerless, hurt, heart broken, needy or helpless? The helpless need your help–the heart broken need to know that someone cares.

I’ve tried to form the habit in my later days of asking a waitress after she takes the order…”We are about to pray over our food, is there anything we could pray for you?” I’ve had a few to be taken back and hesitate for a moment but I have not had one to say, “I’m good, just pray for yourself.”

Our son has a the wonderful gift of expression compassion while interceding in prayer. When we are visiting together in the hospitals, I call on him to pray. He visits our Senior Adults every month or so and has prayer with them. They love him. Pray is a ministry. My heart breaks that we cannot see this wonderful truth. You don’t have to be gifted; so long as you care.

III. THE KEY TO AN EFFECTIVE PRAYER MINISTRY IS TO PRAY AND PRAY IN FAITH.

I know that a prayer ministry is available to you: I don’t have one doubt but we must pray in faith. Verse 15… The prayer offered in faith will heal the sick…

You do not go into a home and say, “I know you are hurting and I want to pray with you but I do not believe that God hears and answers prayer. I hope you enjoy the sound of my voice but as far as this prayer making a difference in your life…I don’t believe it will.”

If you cannot pray in faith, you don’t have a ministry.

CONCLUSION

The thing that distinguishes Elijah was his faith.  Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Elijah believed that every prayer counted: he believed that every word counted. I write most of my prayers. It helps me concentrate and incorporate scripture into my prayers. I still have copies of prayers I prayed 30 years ago. There are in note books, boxes, every where. Every time I put a prayer in my prayer box or chest, I do it as an act of faith.

I have seen three mountains fall into the sea this week. I am no Elijah by any stretch but I believe in prayer. I believe every prayer is heard, every prayer is answered and every prayer counts.

 

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