Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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AM Bible Study Archives
Wednesday AM Bible Study
November 19, 2003
James' letter is a 'pastoral' letter; filled with rich pastoral counsel.
This morning, we find that he presents us with one of the most powerful
resources at our disposal: (1) It is a resource that can be applied to any
trial or circumstance that we as Christians can ever face. (2) It is a
resource that has the power to transform us from the inside out, and empower
us to do whatever it is that God calls us to do. (3) It is a resource that
moves the hand of the Almighty God to transform our circumstances, supply
our needs, lift our spirits and even change the people around us. This
resource is, of course, prayer - the greatest and most powerful resource God
has ever entrusted to man.
Consider just a few of the remarkable things that the Bible tells us have
been done through prayer:
1. When a consolidation of Amorite kings sought to attack Joshua, and he
was promised by God that they would be given into his hand, he prayed and
the sun stood still in the sky for the whole day until he had won the battle
2. When Elijah was being helped by a widow of the town of Zerephath, and
her son suddenly became sick and died, he prayed, and the boy came back to
life (1 Kings 17:17-24).
3. When the city of Jerusalem was being surrounded by the dreaded armies of
Assyria, King Hezekiah took their threats before the Lord in prayer; and the
Angel of the Lord struck the Assyrians so that the men of Israel woke up in
the morning to find the army of185,000 Assyrian soldiers dead (Isaiah 37:
4. When the apostle Peter found that the wonderful Christian woman Tabitha,
in the city of Lydda, had suddenly died, he went up to the place where her
body was laid and prayed for her, and then brought her down to her friends
alive (Acts 9:36-43).
This resources was endorsed by the Lord Jesus in the strongest terms
(Matthew 7:7-11; John 15:7. 16). As a good pastor, James is exhorting us to
put this resource to use. To encourage us in this, he gives us ...
I. AN EXAMPLE OF ITS PRACTICE (vv. 14-15).
A. The example given is that of prayer for the healing of sickness. The
power for healing does not lie in the prayer itself, however, but in the One
who is petitioned (Acts 3:11-16).
B. The procedure described in this passage is intended to underscore the
element of faith in prayer; and of the need to pray with holiness from sin,
reverence toward Christ, and submission to God-appointed authority (1 Tim.
2:8). It is the prayer that moves God's hand, not the observance of the
II. AN EXPRESSION OF ITS POTENTIAL (v. 16).
A. Because prayer is powerful (v. 15), it is exhorted. James' literal
words are a command that is based on that fact; "Therefore confess your sins
to one another and pray on behalf of one another ..."
B. It is expressed in a cause/effect relationship: "Confess ... and pray
... that you may be healed."
C. The promise is that "the effective, fervent prayer [petition] of a
righteous man avails much." Literally, James writes, "A petition of a
righteous man is strong, being made effective".
III. AN ILLUSTRATION OF ITS POWER (vv. 17-18).
A. James describes the Old Testament prophet as a man, literally, "of like
feeling to us". He was made of no different, in flesh and blood terms, than
B. But he prayed "earnestly" (literally, "in prayer praying"); and first,
it stopped raining for three and a half years (1 Kings 17:1), and then
again, and it rained and produced fruit (18:1).