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James 5:14-18

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 (Joshua 10:12-14).

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: 36).

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 ...

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 ceremonies.


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".


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 we are.

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).

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