James 5:13-15 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Our oldest daughter is a hairdresser. She has shared how many times people would come for a cut or color and once in her chair begin to pour out their stories to her. Intimate and detailed explanations of their problems, heartaches and frustrations. The salon service somehow transformed into a therapy session. She would feel compelled to listen, offer encouragement, sympathize or empathize if she could. She was incredulous to the fact that complete strangers would offer up every sordid detail to someone they didn’t know at all. Has it ever happened to you? You meet someone and immediately they begin to pour out their heart to you. It can be awkward. Perhaps, a bit uncomfortable. I believe there is a reason.
Many years ago, the Lord laid someone on my heart to pray for. I did not like this person. This individual had caused me much heartache and many offenses had built up over time. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be saved and share eternity. I know that’s harsh but totally transparent. I was struggling with myself. How can I pray for someone who I did care for and it be earnest? I felt the Holy Spirit press in on my hard heart. His Word unraveling my selfish and stubborn thoughts with one simple utterance. What if you are the only one? Ugh! Come on Jesus there has to be someone else to do it. Not me. As I began to think of the other persons acquaintances, friends and family members – I began to realize that I may very well be the only one.
No one is exempt from hardships, sickness, distress, doubt, discouragement, fault, or failure. The Work of Jesus Christ was finished and supplied enough grace to overcome in every situation by faith and trust in Him. As a teenager decades ago, we used to fill old school buses with our youth group setting out to share Jesus Christ with people by knocking on doors and canvasing neighborhoods. Talk about rejection. People were somewhat put off, openly offended and very negative about our intrusion unless, of course, they were already Christians patting us on the back as they inwardly sang, “Onward Christian soldiers…” I vowed never to do it again. We do not serve an awkward or out-of-touch God but one who orders our steps and puts purpose in us to carry everywhere we go. What if we are taking the Gospel to the world but Jesus is bringing them straight to us within our sphere of influence?
Prayer is not a public service but a product of an inward relationship with the Lord. The intimacy of communication with the Lover of our Soul and power that is within us. This is not to negate corporate prayer or the power in a praying church but rather to help you understand that every encounter in life has the potential to be powerful. How many times does the Holy Spirit prod us to pray for one when they are standing in front of us so we write their name on our heart for our prayer closet? I am beginning to understand that this powerful anointing inside of me is more about life than Christian service in a church. I am the church and a vital part of the functioning Body of Jesus Christ. My effectiveness in righteousness is not demonstrated as greatly in the House of God as it is when I carry it out to be the light of the world, city on a hill and salt of the earth. There are opportunities to share this light, influence and salt with people every single day as they approach us pouring out their needs, wants and desires. Maybe the Lord is bringing them into our sphere of influence rather than pushing us into their personal space.
Based on the passage today, I believe there are two things vitally important to becoming sensitive in our heart to the leading of the Spirit in bringing the Gospel to others. The first is in our own homes and houses of worship. There is an inclination toward old school religion that makes people think that there are certain requirements to God’s Acceptance and Outpouring in our life. The only thing I know for sure that is needed to access God is His Son – Jesus Christ. Coming to the Lord for our needs, wants and desires is not qualified by one’s position in the community, church or even social circle, it is available through humility. Our altars are empty. The call of God is not being answered on an individual level because people feel the burden of corporate expectation. We must take the veil down in our temple because Jesus ripped it in half from top to bottom. If you are sick, seek prayer. If you are happy, sing praise. If you are in need, pursue the saints of God to pray for you. Easier said than done, right? “To give and not receive is a form of arrogance.” (Michael Jr.)
If my people will humble themselves and pray. The dysfunctional bodies called church can limit the effectiveness of prayer by become a religious organization. If I ask for prayer, will you pray for me? If I share my heart, will you give it away as gossip? If I come to the altar again, will you judge me just the same? We must humble ourselves and repent for how we treat the needs of others because truthfully we all sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard every day. One sin would have cost Jesus the entirety of his life right down to his very last breath. One sin. There is no unpardonable sin except to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. To decide that He is not enough and choose another way. We all have different convictions on acceptable living. It is not my place to judge anyone. When I share my convictions, it is based on the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I offer it to them in love. If they choose another way, that is their right to choose given by freedom in Jesus Christ. I still am to love them and pray for them not talk about them and shun them for religious preference.
James 5:16-18 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
I believe that if the Holy Spirit lives in you then He will draw out the needs of others for you to be obedient in praying for them. We must believe. Believe that there is power in the prayer of righteous people. Have the strongest of convictions that nothing is impossible with God! The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results. Have we stopped praying for every little thing because we do not believe that God takes every detail of our life working it for good? (Romans 8:28) Has our timer run out and our blessing still cooking so we try something else to fill our void and meet the need? I cannot share a faith or truth that I do not believe in. God’s Greatness and Power never goes bankrupt. Not every investment yields an immediate return but it always produces a dividend.
I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
God has given us a great variety of spiritual gifts and fruit to share with each other. All others including family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers and even our perceived rivals or enemies. Each encounter comes with the opportunity to be powerful. To encourage, exhort or even just listen to the heartfelt longings of another. When people come to lay the contents of their life before us, what we do with it makes the difference. You may never see the person again but did you deposit Christ in them. It can be as simple as a smile that produces conversation. We must show deep love and compassion for others that takes us out of our routine, schedule and timeline in order to become that which Christ has called and equipped us to be. To pray for someone else often refocuses us personally as well. It is easy to get caught up in life and miss many opportunities for breakthrough based on our own agendas. Lord, make us sensitive to the leading of your Spirit in every encounter. Teach us to be disciplined and discerning when opportunities arise to be shine Your Light of Love to the world. Father, keep the salt on our lips. Fill and seal our heart so it is a safe place for the secrets of others given to us for prayerful consideration. Thank you for choosing us to be Your Hands, Feet, Mouth and Heart to the world. Let us be ever aware of Your Presence and constantly led by Your Spirit – in Jesus Name!
I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.