8. Praying the Prayer of Faith (James 5:13-20)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
http://www.jesuswalk.com/james/8_prayer.htm

James 5:13-20

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is 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. 15And 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. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Over the course of this brief letter, James has discussed key themes to help Christians mature in the faith:

  • Standing firm during trials and temptations,
  • Living out the Christian faith in practical ways rather than just studying or hearing it,
  • Loving selflessly,
  • Taming the tongue,
  • Humbling oneself before God,
  • Trusting in God rather than in wealth, and
  • Exercising patience.

He concludes these traits of a disciple with a call to praying with faith.

Each circumstance of life is a time to pray: trouble, happiness, and sickness -- all are an occasion for prayer and worship (5:13). James spends most of his time, however, discussing prayer in time of physical infirmity. How does one pray then, when it is difficult to pray for oneself?

Faith to Ask for Prayer (5:13-14)

"13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is 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." (5:13-14)

James instructs the sick person to "call the elders of the church...." I think it's significant that James doesn't put the burden of prayer on the sick person; his responsibility is to call for others to pray, not just to pray alone. Of course, the sick person will ask God to help him -- that's taken for granted. We are always to pray, about everything. But when illness becomes serious, the sick person doesn't need to rely only upon his own faith; he is to call for the elders. (Of course, this isn't to be a new "law," but a principle that helps us recognize faith.)

As I've studied the gospels, I'm impressed by the way in which Jesus generally ministers. Some faith is a necessary environment for healing to occur. When Jesus ministered in his hometown of Nazareth, the Scripture says, "He could not do any miracles there ... and he was amazed at their lack of faith" (Mark 6:5-6). Jesus generally doesn't go out looking for sick people, they come to him for healing -- their coming is a sign of faith, or at least of curiosity. And when they come, Jesus sometimes asks a question to determine their faith or to motivate their faith. In two instances, blind men called out to Jesus. He asked them:

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matthew 9:28)
"What do you want me to do for you?" (Matthew 20:32)

This is not a just a test of faith, but an encouragement to faith, a stimulus to believe. Jairus comes asking Jesus to heal his daughter, but when messengers come from home to report her death, Jesus can see Jairus faltering. "Don't be afraid; just believe," Jesus assures him, "and she will be healed" (Luke 8:50).

To the epileptic boy's father who asked if Jesus could do anything, Jesus replied, "If you can. Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23) But it wasn't only the father's faith involved in healing. Why had the disciples failed to cast out the demon causing the illness? Jesus explained it, "because you have so little faith" (Matthew 17:20). Whose faith was most vital to healing? The father's or the disciples'? I think the disciples' faith was more crucial. They had much more experience with healing and faith and prayer than the father.

Too often those with healing gifts blame lack of healing on the sick person, rather than take responsibility for our own lack of faith. Yes, "according to your faith will it be done to you" is a principle (as in Matthew 9:29), but it was Jesus' act of faith that accomplished the healing. The sick person (or his father) needs to be open to healing, but the main expectation for faith is upon the One or ones doing the praying, and so it is in James.

In James, the sick person is to "call for the elders of the church," but it is the elders who are responsible to pray the "prayer of faith."

Q1. (5:13-14) According to verse 14, who is to initiate prayer for healing? Why might this be important?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=64&t=299

 

 

 

Elders of the Church (5:14)

"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" (5:14)

But who are the "elders of the church"? The word "elders" in 5:14 is Greek presbuteros, which could designate "an old man" or an official, "elder."1 Are the elders in James' Letter church officials, or mature believers? I would guess that James is referring to the elders as the mature leaders in a congregation who "rule" (Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 5:17). In James' day, these leaders were looked to because of their faith.

In our day, sadly, we have elders who are leaders characterized not so much by faith, but by longevity and political influence. Some of these are the last people I'd want to pray for me. How many times have I heard older men pray for the sick in such a halting, over-qualified way: "Lord, if it be in your will to heal this person, do it, but if not, give us the ability to accept suffering and death which is our lot." You know this kind of prayer. You don't find this sort of healing prayer in the Bible! In the Bible, people expected God to heal, rather than expected him not to. You find bold prayers, not prayers laden with phrasing to protect us from responsibility in the likelihood that God doesn't heal. We aren't to pray like lawyers!

How can we regain bold faith? By immersing ourselves in the Word, and ministering alongside those who do have faith for healing.

Wimber and Springer, Power Healing
See Power Healing, by John Wimber and Kevin N. Springer (HarperSanFrancisco, reprint 1991, ISBN 0060695412).

The late John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Fellowship movement, had a powerful influence on my life. During the 1980s he taught MC501 at Fuller Theological Seminary with Dr. Peter Wagner, a course entitled "Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth." It was probably the most popular course on campus until it was finally shut down by the powers that be, who seemed to act as if seminaries were designed for academic learning of ministry, rather than practical learning of faith. (That statement, of course, isn't entirely fair, but that's the way it seemed at the time.)

On class nights I would sit and watch as Wimber would pray for those who desired healing prayer. It was tremendously instructive because Wimber used it as a laboratory in which to teach. Microphone on so he could be heard by the hundreds who the packed the hall, Wimber would interview the candidate for healing, share with the class what the Lord was showing him about the person and about how to pray, and speak the actual prayer. I'd had enough personal experience with prayer for the sick to know that what I was seeing was real, not some fakery.

One of the most poignant moments was when Wimber shared the experience of when he and his team went to England to pray for David Watson, a prominent evangelical Anglican priest and evangelist, who was suffering from cancer. Though Wimber's team had prayed for many people and seen many miracles, when they prayed for Watson, they did not see the healing, and Wimber's dear friend David Watson gradually succumbed to his illness. You could hear the sorrow and bewilderment in Wimber's voice as he shared this with the class. It was much like healer-evangelist Katherine Kuhlman's response to her Christianity Today interviewer in the late 1960s, who asked her about those who weren't healed. "I don't understand it," she replied, "but I weep much over it."

No, not everyone we pray for will be healed. But that shouldn't keep us from praying with faith. Even those whom Jesus healed eventually died.

Maturity in Christian leaders isn't flabby faith that never asks for miracles. Rather it is tried and true faith that knows the Lord, and isn't afraid to ask the God of the Impossible to do the impossible. May our present-day elders reclaim this maturity of faith! My point is that we are to call for the elders, not because they have an official position, but because they are mature believers who are full of faith, and (hopefully) are best equipped in the congregation to pray "the prayer of faith."

Q2. (5:14) What is the elders' role in prayer for the sick? What must be their spiritual qualifications for this ministry of prayer?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=64&t=300

 

 

 

Anointing with Oil (5:14)

"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" (5:14)

The elders are instructed to "prayer over [the sick person] and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord" (5:14). I've read arguments that the oil was used for its believed medicinal properties, much like the Good Samaritan who treated the wounded man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho by "pouring on oil and wine" (Luke 10:34).2 But while I don't doubt that people of the time used oil for its medicinal properties, I don't think this is what James has in mind in our passage.

There are four reasons I believe this anointing with oil was a sacred act of faith:

  1. Elders are administering the anointing, rather than just anyone,
  2. Prayer accompanies the anointing; bold, powerful, believing prayer,
  3. The name of the Lord is part of this anointing, and
  4. The scripture provides ample precedent for using oil as part of a sacred ritual or act of faith.

It's a little recognized fact that Jesus' disciples "anointed many sick people with oil and healed them" (Mark 6:13). Now why would they do that? No doubt Jesus instructed them to do so, and perhaps occasionally did so himself, though we find no other mention in the gospels.

In the Old Testament, anointing with oil is used to set apart or ordain leaders, priests, and holy things (Exodus 29:4-7; 30:22-25, 31-33; Leviticus 8:10-12; 1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1; 16:3, 12-13, etc.) In a most striking passage, Samuel anoints David to be king instead of Saul:

"So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.... Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul..." (1 Samuel 16:13-14).

In the New Testament, also, the word "anointing" is closely connected with the Holy Spirit:

"... How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him" (Acts 10:38). This verse probably refers to the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:22), empowering his ministry (Luke 4:1, 14), and fulfilling scripture: "the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to..." (Luke 4:18-19, quoting Isaiah 61:1-2).

Believers, too, have "the anointing you received from him ... as his anointing teaches you about all things, and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit...." (1 John 2:20, 27-28), referring to the promised Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7, 12-15).

I conclude that anointing with oil was a symbol of the presence of God's powerful Holy Spirit. Was it magical? No, it was symbolic. Oral Roberts, a Pentecostal healing-evangelist active from the 1950s through the 1980s, saw such things as anointing with oil, laying on of hands, etc. as a "point of contact," a stimulus to faith. I think he's right.

Of course, people can be healed without anointing with oil. Look at Jesus' ministry. People can be healed without the laying on of hands, too. You can find numerous examples in the New Testament. But anointing with oil and the laying on of hands can be a powerful and personal way to minister in the Holy Spirit, and a stimulus to faith.

Should elders always use oil when they pray for the sick, in obedience to this passage in James? No, I don't think this is meant as a restrictive law. But they should be willing to pray, and be open to using whatever God desires to encourage faith and represent the presence of the Lord in the healing moment -- and anointing oil can often fit very well indeed.

The Roman Catholic Church uses James 5:14 as the basis for its Sacrament of Extreme Unction ("unction" means anointing), commonly known as "Last Rites." But in the last few decades, movements within the Catholic Church have now recognized that this sacrament should not be reserved just for death, but also performed with the expectation of healing. Certainly that is what James intended.

In the Name of the Lord (5:14)

"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" (5:14)

The next element in James' instruction about healing is to pray and anoint with oil "in the name of the Lord" (5:14). This is referring to the authority we have to invoke God's presence and power and authority by using the name of Jesus. The Greek word is onoma, a very common word. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, who studied this word in its various contexts found that the "name" meant "something real, a piece of the very nature of the personality whom it designates, that partakes in his qualities and his powers."3 We see many examples in the New Testament:

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing [in context, "works" or "miracles"]. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father [and at the same time sending to my disciples the Holy Spirit]. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:12-14).

Baptism, too, was to be "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). Peter and John say to the crippled man seeking alms at the temple gate, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (Act 3:6). "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see" (Acts 3:16).

James is telling us that to anoint the sick person and pray invoking the name of Jesus is very powerful indeed. This calls the powerful Presence of God Himself into the healing ministry.

Prayer Offered in Faith (5:15)

"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." (5:15)

We've seen several elements in this healing prayer: the faith of the sick person to call for the elders, the presence of mature, faith-filled Christians, their prayers, anointing with oil, and the name of the Lord. But it is faith that James lifts up as the point here. When all is said and done, neither elders, nor oil, nor prayer, nor the name of Jesus effect healing. Rather "the prayer offered in faith" (NIV) or "the prayer of faith" (RSV, KJV). Faith in action is the theme of the Letter of James, and he continues this theme to the end of the letter. Notice that it is the faith of the "pray-er" rather than the "pray-ee" who offers the "effective" (KJV) prayer. Yes, the faith of the sick person is important in asking for prayer, but the elders' "prayer of faith" is what effects the healing.

The "prayer of faith" is said to "save" (KJV, RSV) the sick person, or "make the sick person well" (NIV). The word used here is Greek sōzō , a common word that means "save, keep from harm, preserve, rescue." It is found in Classical as well as NT Greek in the sense of "save or free from disease or from demonic possession,"4 and that is the sense used in our passage. We often look at salvation as spiritual only, but the Bible reflects the view that the spiritual and physical sicknesses are intertwined. Certainly Jesus' ministry was to the whole person -- body, soul, and spirit. He did whatever a person needed to become whole again.

Healing and Forgiveness (5:15c-16)

Nowhere in the New Testament is this close relationship between spiritual and physical illness so visible as this passage.

"15cIf he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (5:15c-16)

It was common when someone was sick to suppose that he had committed some sin that caused the sickness. That's what Job's "friends" supposed. Some time after Jesus healed a paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda, he saw him in the temple, and said, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (John 5:14). The rich people in the Corinthian church were guilty of the sins of selfishness and partiality when they fed themselves during the Lord's Supper, but didn't provide for their poor brothers and sisters. Paul says,

"For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

On the other hand, Jesus makes it clear that sickness isn't necessarily caused by sin. You seldom see any rebuke during Jesus' healing ministry. And we read this passage: "

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'

'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.' " (John 9:1-3)

In our passage, however, James cautions us to consider whether sin is part of what is causing the sickness, for he says about the sick person,

"If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (5:15-16)

In other words, the elders are to assist the sick person to be healed both physically and spiritually, if that is the need, since these can affect each other profoundly. I've ministered to people who held in so much hatred and unforgiveness that God was unwilling to heal them until they let it go and got right with God and man.

The Power of Confession (5:16)

"If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (5:15-16)

Why should confession of sins be so controversial? The Roman Catholic Church institutionalized confession into the Sacrament of Penance (including confession and absolution) by the Tenth Century, based on James 5:16; Matthew 16:19; and John 20:23. During the Reformation, the Protestants protested against the power of the Church, and refused to acknowledge Penance as a sacrament. Confession need only be made to God, they would argue, and not to a priest. Luther taught "the priesthood of the believer."

But I think that we Protestants have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. The roots of the Christian movement were in John the Baptist, who made confessing one's sins part of baptism (Matthew 3:6).

As a pastor I know that some people cannot be freed from certain sins until they will confess them to someone they trust. The Twelve Step Movement, developed in large part by evangelical Anglican priest Sam Shoemaker, took these core principles straight out of the Bible:

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all the defects of character.

In this kind of encounter, by confessing one's sins to a Christian, the person is making himself accountable for his sin. He is piercing the darkness of this secret that has locked him in this sin for a long time. Once this is done, he can finally let go of this sin to God. Refusal to confess a sin can sometimes mean that the person is still nursing and coddling the sin, and secretly enjoying it. The Christian friend can assure the person making a confession of Almighty God's forgiveness based on 1 John 1:9.

Notice that neither an elder nor a priest is the designated confessor, but Christian believers in general. James says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (5:16). After confession comes prayer, and from the prayer of faith comes healing.

Q3. (5:14-16) In the healing prayer, what is the role of oil? What is the role of the prayer of faith? What is the role of faith? What is the role of confession of sins?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=64&t=301

 

 

 

Prayer of a Righteous Man (5:16b-18)

"16bThe prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." (5:16b-18)

James has just opened the door for all Christian believers to be involved in this ministry of confession and prayer for healing -- both spiritual and physical. It is as if James can feel your reticence, as if you were saying, "I'm not spiritual enough to do that. My prayers aren't anything special." So James draws your attention to the Prophet Elijah who spoke a word that caused a three-year drought, and another word that ended it.

Wow! Powerful! I could never do that. He must be a great man of God.

Elijah is a great man of God. He does courageous and powerful exploits for God. But at other times he is weak and paranoid and fearful and self-important. After he has slain the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), he flees Jezebel's wrath. He runs for his life into the desert and lies down under a broom tree, physically, emotionally, and spiritually spent. "I have had enough, Lord," he says, "Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors" (1 Kings 19).

Does that sound familiar? It gets worse.

He runs some more until he comes to Mount Sinai (Horeb). When he gets there, God asks him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Elijah answers with whining and excuses, the kind you wouldn't accept from your own children:

"I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." (1 Kings 19:10)

I've caught myself whining to God like that. "Lord, I've sacrificed and done this and that, and who appreciates it? No one! Blah, blah, blah." You know the drill. You've probably said it yourself!

God just listens, and then speaks to Elijah in a still small voice, gives him three tasks to do, and says, "By the way, Elijah. There are still 7,000 who haven't worshipped Baal. You're not the only one, after all."

Elijah the great man of God isn't such a great man after all. So why does James mention him? Because we can identify with Elijah's weaknesses.

As James puts it in verse 17, "Elijah was a man just like us" (NIV) or "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are" (KJV). The Greek word is homoiopathēs , from two words homoios, "like, similar, resembling" and paschō , "to feel, undergo, be affected". This compound word means "of similar feelings, circumstances, experiences 'with the same nature.' "5

James' point is this: if God heard Elijah's prayers, as much a failure as he sometimes was, he will hear your prayers, too.

Verse 16c has a wonderful cadence in the KJV: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Other translations are a bit more down to earth: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (NIV) or "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (RSV).

Our problem is that we don't believe this. We think that God is a respecter of persons. God hears the prayer of Other People, more Perfect People than I. The truth is that God looks for faith, and where he finds it he can do powerful things. He can forgive your sins. He can forget about your weaknesses. He seeks your faith, your bold faith, for when you offer that to Him, he can use you far beyond your own capacity. Don't forget this truth: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

When I was a young man, a powerful and bold speaker, Costa Dier, came to the local congregation where I worshipped, and was welcomed with a flattering introduction in keeping with his legendary reputation in our church's circles. When he stood up, he said: "Don't introduce me as a 'great man of God.' Rather introduce me as a 'man of a great God.' "

Don't measure by your weaknesses how God can use you. Measure only by God's own strength. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know ... what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead..." (Ephesians 1:18-20. RSV).

Bring Back Wandering Brothers and Sisters (5:19-20)

James closes his letter with an encouragement for Christians to bring back their brothers and sisters who have wandered from the faith. I've heard this passage used as ammunition in the great debate between Calvinists and Arminians.

But that isn't James' point. He is talking about prayer. He wants us to pray earnestly, not only for Christian believers who are sick and confess their sins, but also for those who have wandered from the truth, and are still out there wandering.

"My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him (psychē) from death and cover over a multitude of sins." (5:19-20)

Is he talking about physical death or eternal death? The context doesn't make it clear. A literal translation of verse 20, such as the NASB, reads: "... will save his soul (psychē) from death...." We evangelicals talk so much about "saving souls" that the phrase has become a technical term for us and it's difficult for us to hear it afresh. The word psychē is not a simple concept in the Greek language. It can mean "breath, earthly life" as well as carry the Greek ideas of the soul as the seat of the inner life of man that transcends the earthly. Usually, when we evangelicals use the word "soul," we use it in this Greek sense. The problem is that the corresponding Hebrew word nephesh doesn't really refer to the non-corporeal self, but to a person's essential "life,"6 and this is the way that Hebrew speakers, such as James, would have used the term.

So does "death" to refer to physical death or eternal death? Paul warned the Corinthians that their sins at the Lord's Supper caused death: "This is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 11:30). Earlier in Paul's letter he instructs the church how to treat open and blatant sin in their midst: "Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature (Greek sarx, KJV "flesh") may be destroyed and his spirit (pneuma) saved on the day of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 5:5)

So does James refer to spiritual death or physical death? Does he use the word psychē, "soul," to refer to that part of us that lives eternally or to our physical life breath? Does James really distinguish as carefully between "soul" and "spirit" as some evangelicals do? I'm not certain.

This is not the place, however, to give some pat doctrinal assurance of salvation. That's certainly not how James treated the problem of lapsed believers.

All I know is that I would sure hate to die away from God, alone, and bearing the weight of my own sins -- no matter what faith I had professed earlier in my life. James is insistent that we don't kid ourselves. Faith without works is dead (2:26).

So Christians are called upon to pray earnestly for their wandering Christian friends, and bring them back to the Lord if they can.

Q4. (5:19-20) In the light of James' emphasis on active faith vs. dead faith (2:17), why is the role of finding and bringing back the wandering sheep so important?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=64&t=302

 

 

 

As James mentions wandering believers, my thoughts go to what Jesus says about wandering sheep. He tells a parable:

"If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:12-14)

I can picture in my mind's eye Jesus the Good Shepherd out after dark, scouring the hills for that one sheep that is missing. He searches on one hill, and then in the valley behind the hill. Always looking, gently calling the sheep by name -- yes, shepherds knew each of their sheep by name. He searches relentlessly, and he calls again and again, and he doesn't give up until late into the night he finds that wandering sheep. And when he does, he is happy. He lifts that sheep over his shoulders and brings him back to the campfire and the sheepfold with joy and rejoicing, and invites the other shepherds to join him in a little celebration.

If you have a Christian friend who is wandering, then Jesus is your example of unremitting love. If you are the wandering sheep yourself, then remember that Jesus is still seeking you out. He is gently calling your name. He so much wants to bring you home. He wants so much to save your soul from death. He has died to cover your multitude of sins.

Won't you come home?

Won't you come home? He's still searching -- for you!

Prayer

Lord, we thank you for an opportunity to catch a glimpse of your searching heart, searching for lost ones. Implant that bold prayer and tender seeking within me and within my brothers and sisters. And Lord, if one is reading this who is wandering alone, please find him or her, and gently bring them home. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"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. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (5:14-16)

Q5. Now that you're finished with James: Practical Christianity, what did you get out of this study? How would you evaluate the study? What can be improved?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=64&t=303

 

 

 

References

  1. BAGD 700.
  2. Adamson (James, pp. 197-198) takes this tack.
  3. BAGD 570-573.
  4. BAGD 798-799.
  5. BAGD 566, also found in Acts 14:15.
  6. See BAGD 893-894.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies,why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
FirstLast
E-mail
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text