Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.
Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
Is anyone among you ill? Let them call the elders of the church
to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
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.
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.
(James 5: 13-16 NIVUK)
The beginning of 2018 has not been easy for many of us in Clincarthill Church. Several people have been ill; others have either spent time in hospital and are now home, while others are still in hospital. Saddest of all, a number of our church family have been bereaved over these past few weeks.
These are difficult times for many of us. I am please, however, to hear how well people feel supported and cared for in our congregation. I am grateful that we make a point to look after one another in our church family; especially as it takes me time to personally get around everyone, to see them and make sure they are supported.
The support we receive from people can be invaluable. There is, however, another avenue of support which we must not forget: that of prayer. James, when he was writing his letter, emphasised how important and all-encompassing prayer is, and how it can offer us real help and support in times of trouble.
Firstly, James encourages us to pray for our own circumstances. If we are in trouble, if we are happy, if we have a confession to make, then we are to pray. If we give these things over to God, He will help us in difficulties, celebrate with us in our happiness, and give us assurance of His forgiveness and grace.
Secondly, James highlights that we are to pray on behalf of others. James describes a very specific situation: one which, I think, we would do well to explore more and take more seriously in the Church today. The principle of this situation can be applied more broadly: as Christians, we are called to pray for one another. What an encouragement it can be to have someone pray for you!
Whether we pray for ourselves, or for others, our prayers can be both “powerful and effective”. Let’s be praying then, especially as this year is off to a difficult start for some of us.
May God bless you, and keep on praying!