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God Cares About You

James 5:13-18

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

A little boy was eagerly looking forward to the birthday party of a friend who lived only a few blocks away. When the day finally arrived, a blizzard made the sidewalks and roads nearly impossible to travel on. The lad’s father, sensing the danger, hesitated to let his son go. The youngster reacted tearfully. "But Dad," he pleaded, "all the other kids will be there. Their parents are letting them go." The father thought for a moment, then replied softly, "All right, you may go."

Surprised but overjoyed, the boy bundled up and plunged into the raging storm. The driving snow made visibility almost impossible, and it took him more than half an hour to travel the short distance to the party.

As he rang the doorbell, he turned briefly to look out into the storm. His eye caught the shadow of a retreating figure. It was his father. He had followed his son’s every step to make sure he arrived safely.

Isn’t that a picture of how much God cares for us?
God cares about, and makes provision for our every need.
James shows us four ways in which God cares for us.

God Cares About Your Emotional Needs

In verse 13, James asks the question "Is any among you afflicted?"
What does James mean by "afflicted?"

Afflicted: to suffer physical pain, hardship and distress.

What James is talking about here is emotional pain that comes from difficulties.

Stress is referred to as one of our leading health problem.

Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.

It has been estimated that 75 - 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.

We have a problem with stress, but God has a solution which is PRAYER!

James says "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray."

James says the correct response to suffering is to keep on praying about it.

This is not necessarily a prayer for deliverance from the trouble, but for the patience and strength to endure it.

However, James is not alone in this solution.

Luke 12:29-31 says: And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Philippians 4:6-7 says: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Don’t Stress About It; Pray About It!
Is Any Among You Cheerful?
Another thing that James mentions here that is sometimes overlooked is praising God when things are going well.

He says "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms."

People have a tendency that when things aren’t going so well to be right there asking God for help. However, when things are going well we forget about God all together.

Who do we think is the one responsible for causing things to go well for us?

We complain to him when things are not going well, but forget to praise him when things are going well.

If we are fortunate enough to be happy, we should thank God by singing praises to the Lord.

Because our praise is directed to God, singing is actually another form of prayer.

There is a famous saying that says "he who sings prays twice."

Hebrews 13:15 says: Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.

God Cares About Your Physical Needs

(Verses 14-15)
Is Any Sick Among You

One characteristic of the early church was its concern over and care for the sick. Sickness is another circumstance where prayer is needed, and concerning such prayer James gives detailed instructions. James says, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord"

Notice where the responsibility lies. It lies with the sick person; not the elders of the church. The Holy Spirit is generally not going to tap the preacher on the shoulder and says "Go pray for Sister so and so; she’s sick!" If you want God’s healing you have to do it God’s way. Anointing was often used by the early church in their prayers for healing.

In scripture, oil was both a medicine (see the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37) and a symbol of the spirit of God (as used in anointing kings; see 1 Samuel 16:1-13).

Thus the oil may have been a sign of the power of prayer, and it may have symbolized the setting apart of the sick person for God’s special attention.

The Prayer of Faith
Then James says "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up." The faith is the role of the elders who are praying, not the sick person’s (nothing is said about his or her faith). The person who is asking for prayer has already exercised their faith in calling the elders of the church. Why would they call for prayer if they didn’t believe it would happen? That doesn’t mean the person being prayed for doesn’t have to believe, but James focus here is on the elders. This kind of faith can only come from the Holy Spirit.

The word "save" in this text doesn’t refer to salvation from sin but healing. It means "to cause someone to become well again after having been sick" However, the two truths are closely related. Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.

Isaiah 53:5 Says: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

James adds that "the Lord shall raise him up." It’s not the person praying or anointing, but the Lord who does the healing. God must receive all of the glory. But make no mistake about "the Lord WILL raise them up!" Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If he healed two thousand years ago he will heal you today.

God Cares About Your Spiritual Needs

(Verse 16)

Confess Your Faults

While God is deeply concerned about our physical needs, he is even more concerned about our spiritual needs. The reason that God is more concerned with our spiritual needs is that our bodies are temporary, but our spirits are eternal.

Matthew 10:28 says: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

James tells us "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." A mutual concern for one another is the way to combat discouragement and downfall. The cure is in personal confession and prayerful concern. The devil wants you to believe you are all alone. That you are the only one that is struggling with a particular issue.

Confessing our faults to one another does two things:

1) in doing so we find out that we are not the only ones who struggle with a particular sin, and

2) If we share that with someone who has already been through this struggle they can help know how to overcome it.

Here is something for you to think about:

Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, "Our people come to us and pour out their hearts, confess certain sins and needs. Let’s do the same.

Confession is good for the soul." In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off from his church.
The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one confessed to liking to play cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others pressed him saying, "Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?" Finally he answered, "It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here."

Notice that it is not just the pastor who is to do the praying, but we are to pray for one another. We all have the responsibility of praying for one another’s needs, struggles, and hurts. When Christians are really working to "share each other’s troubles and problems," the world does take note, and we come closer to fulfilling "the law of Christ"

(see Galatians 6:2)
Loving your neighbor as yourself does include, above all else, praying for them.

Effectual Fervent Prayer

James says "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Who can do that?

Doesn’t the Bible say that "there is none righteous, no not one?" The "righteous man" here referred to is the man whose sins have been confessed and forgiven. Maybe you have given up praying because you think that you will never be righteous, but the first step to becoming righteous is admitting that you’re not!

The results are often greater than we thought were possible. Some people see prayer as a last resort, to be tried when all else fails. Our priorities are the reverse of God’s. Prayer should come first. So let’s pray for one another that we may be healed.

God Cares About What Matters to You

(Verses 17-18)

Elijah Was a Man

Prayer is indeed powerful. Remember Elijah? Elijah had great power in prayer. A drought came as a sign to evil king Ahab of Israel that the idol Baal did not have power over the rain, God did. And when Elijah prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years. Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. However, I really believe that the key to verse 17 is "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are." "Elijah was as human as we are..." Elijah was no different than us. He prayed and God answered his prayer. If we will just commit to pray and believe like Elijah did, we too can be used of God to do mighty things.

Powerful In Prayer
Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray. To really pray.

Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight; all through the day.
Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes.
Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes.
Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ’concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary.
Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders.
Let prayer be our passion.
Let prayer be our practice.

The reason that we can be powerful and effective in prayer is that God cares about what matters to us.

1 Peter 5:7 says:
Casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you. Prayer works because God cares! God cares about what matters to you.

He cares about:
Emotional Needs
Physical Needs
Spiritual Needs

Why should we pray?

Because God cares.

Why should we pray for one another?

Because God cares.

Why is prayer so powerful?
Because God cares.

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