After all the practical topics that James has covered in his short letter, it might be surprising to you that he concludes his book with the subject of prayer. Yet in many ways this makes perfect sense! James has been trying to give us a faith that matters, a faith that is not just for Sundays, not just for spiritual matters, but a faith that is comprehensive and that effects every single area of our life. Here at the end of his book, James makes clear that the key sign of this kind of transformational faith is a person who prays. Prayer is the heartbeat of the Christian because the key to a transformational faith that matters is a constant, ongoing, dependent relationship with the Lord. A person with a mere “transactional” faith will pray rarely and only under duress. But a person with a transformational faith will pray constantly because they depend on the Lord and his grace in every single area of their life- from work to health to relationships.
In this section, James demonstrates the importance of prayer in the life of the Christian community, but he also challenges us to see the tremendous power of prayer. He urges us to pray bold, gutsy prayers, believing that prayer actually changes reality.
As you prepare for worship this week, do an assessment of your own prayer life right now. What does your prayer life say about your relationship with God? How differently would you pray if you believed that prayer has the power to change reality? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God may be challenging you in this area of your life.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.