Jan 20, 2019 – Wandering and Praying
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 5:13-20 (ESV)
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
One of the best ways to help one another keep from spiritual wandering (vv19-20) is to be a community of prayer.
1. Praying for our selves
- v 13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
2. Praying for one another
- v16 “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
3. Being prayed for
- v14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him”
- v17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently…”
- v15 “the Lord will raise him up”
Questions for Reflection
- Do you find it easier to pray by yourself or with others? What kinds of prayer provides the most meaningful experience for you?
- What challenges are there to confessing sins to one another? What steps can you take to have confession to another person (or people) be part of your spiritual life?
- How can prayer in a community be a means of helping each other keep from wandering, or helping the spiritually wandering get back on track?
- What expectations do you have when you pray about your suffering? What of these are problematic assumptions? What are theologically grounded?
- How can Emmanuel’s prayer life be better? Where do we need to grow?
- How do you deal with your own spiritual wandering? What changes can you make to have a firmer, more focused faith?
- Aside from prayer, what other ways are there for us to help reclaim those who are wandering from the truth?
Prayer of Confession
Father, you reclaimed us when we had wandered off, and you have called us to follow the path of truth. We confess we still stray. We are filled with foolishness, and we easily get lured away from the truth. Forgive us for our unfaithfulness. Forgive us for how we fail to help one another. Forgive us for our weak and infrequent prayers. We confess together now in one another’s presence that we need your forgiveness and help. Pardon us by your grace, heal us and lead us. Amen.