Verse 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
We move from the integrity speaking portion of Christian living to once again focus on the need to be true in the action and thought portion of our living.
The two actions mentioned in our key verse for the day may seem like a very natural responses to being in trouble and being happy, and while the responses may come very natural that doesn’t mean that they are specifically honest. If all it took were the natural response, James wouldn’t have had any reason to mention them. Knowing that James and the Holy Spirit aren’t given to unintentionally using words we need to talk about why these words are needed.
James starts out with the negative times of life. Even non-Christians seem to understand that God is the only One that can help in the time of trouble. This is one of the rare times that we hear God’s name mentioned on their lips that they aren’t purposely using it as a mockery of His name. But we know that use in that way still isn’t pleasing to Him. But does knowing that praying to Him without heart behind it, affect how we pray when we are in trouble? If not, how are we any different from the world?
James knew the benefit of true, heartfelt prayers. He knew that it isn’t so much about the person or even the fanciness of the words in prayer, but is actually about the view the person praying has of the One they are praying to. We can pray until we are blue in the face but unless we have a true understanding of the One we are directing our prayers to, our prayers are of little to no value. That’s because prayer isn’t about us and never should be, even if we are in the middle of a trial.
Yes, even in the middle of our trials our prayers shouldn’t be about us. If we are praying with only the hopes of being relieved from our troubles we have the wrong focus. James is wanting his readers to understand that prayer is about relationship, relationship with the Father. Our prayers reflect our relationship with the Father. If we only turn to talk to Him when we are struggling we are like the child who ignores their parents unless they need something. This isn’t the kind of relationship we want with God.
Making It Personal
How is your communication level with the Father? Do you only pray when you are facing something you can’t handle? What changes do you need to make to your prayer life?
Making It Personal Kids
How do you feel if your friends don’t talk to you unless they want something from you? Do you ever treat your friends that way? Do you only talk to Jesus about what you want from Him?
Father, we confess that we too often view You as a vending machine or a way out of our trials. May we learn that You never let us go through things that won’t draw us closer to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.