Friday, March 30, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 38 ~ The Language of Faith

Day 38 ~ The Language of Faith
James 5:13-15   Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is 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. And 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.
Prayer is the language of faith.  Prayer is the recognition that we are not self-reliant, autonomous beings, but in fact, in all things we are dependent upon God.  With good intentions, some have misquoted the Bible as saying that God will never give us anything we can't handle.  Prayer is recognition that this is not the case.  It reminds us that we are dependent upon God for everything: salvation, provision, oxygen, etc.  All good gifts come from the gracious hand of a loving Father.  He handles everything.  Prayer is not an aimless crying out to some greater power in the sky, but the humble, reverent approach of a sanctified sinner towards our Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Prayer believes that Jesus was graciously correct and good in letting us call God our Father and it acts on that belief.

We run into trouble when we begin to think that prayer is a command given to God instead of a gift given by Him. Prayer is not a demand we make on the Almighty.  There are some false teachers who say that faith is a power we have and prayer is the exercising of that power.  So, they say, if you have enough faith, God will give you what you want.  That is the kind of faith the devil would have us desire. The prayer of faith doesn't test God saying, "If you are really there, prove it by answering me."  The prayer of faith is not self-seeking, "God, in Jesus' name I pray you give me a bigger house and a fancier car."  We cannot think of prayer as the means by which we get God to do what we want.  So Jesus teaches us to pray, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Faithful prayer is prayed with eyes fixed on the cross, knowing that the God we pray to has loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins and give us eternal life.  There we see that God is for us, He is on our side.  So that, when we are in trouble, we can trust He will hear our prayers.  When we are happy, we know He alone deserves our prayers of thanks.  When we are sick, we know He will hear our prayers and the prayers of our brothers and sisters who cry out on our behalf.  When we sin and cry out for mercy, we know we'll be forgiven for Jesus' sake.  Faithful prayers are prayers formed and shaped by a gracious God.

Confession:  Merciful Father, forgive me for my misguided and self-serving prayers.  Teach me to trust you more and to pray in faith.  Like the disciples of your Son, I need to be taught to pray by Jesus.  Thank you for graciously hearing my prayer, Father.  AMEN.

Challenge:  For the next week spend 15 minutes a day in prayer.  Try and develop a regular habit of prayer beyond that week.

Pastor Bob

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