have just finished studying the short letter of James in my private devotions and I have come away deeply challenged by what must be the most practical, down to earth N.T. letter. The end part of chapter 1 deals with the important place of prayer in the Christian life. History tells us that James, the half-brother of Jesus, was a giant in prayer.
One of the important truths that struck me in Chapter 5 is that James calls for prayer in every circumstance of life. Note v13-14 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
What is also interesting is that James does not exclude the use of medication for illness. Medicine is not the substitute for prayer either, in that either you pray, or you take medication, but rather prayer and medicine go together. Medicine, after all is the gracious provision of God, who has given men and women the skill to use the raw material God has created to formulate medicines. I have been to some Christian meetings where people are encouraged to cease medical treatment and simply believe that God will miraculously intervene. I will be quick to say God can certainly do so, but is God less involved with our healing if both medicine and prayer are involved? I believe James is encouraging us to do both, and however the healing comes, to thank God for His provision.
I close with the encouraging fact that God hears the prayer of weak and sometimes doubting people.
James 5:17-18 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.