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Handle With Prayer


"13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We appreciate those of you who have been sharing our website with all of your family and friends. May we continue to share God's Word with all those who need to hear, for Christ's sake and God's glory.
There are times in life, that even though you know all the right theology,  you still can’t seem to crawl up out of the pit and rise above your circumstances. Often, when you encounter difficulties, it is far easier to complain than to pray. The truth is, we often turn to prayer as a last ditch effort, after we’ve exhausted everything that we know to do to try to fix the problem.
I submit to you that you can always do something after you’ve prayed, but you shouldn’t do anything until you’ve prayed. Because I believe that prayer acknowledges our complete and total dependence upon God. Therefore, the answer to whatever battles we fight, whatever challenges and struggles we face, we must begin with prayer.
 Let us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, we thank You for this wonderful truth in Your Word for us today. We thank You not only for loving us, but loving enough to save us, and deliver us from the bondage of sin. Help us to examine our hearts, that if there is any unconfessed sin, that we would cry out to You in repentance and seek Your forgiveness. 

Lord, we pray passionately behalf of those who are struggling, deeply with the burdens of this life, those suffering and in pain. We ask that You take that pain from them. But if not, we ask that Your name be glorified in their pain. Lord, I pray Your name would be glorified in the lives of those closest to me, may You be glorified through this ministry and through the lives of those who are touched by it. 
Help us to cultivate true fellowship in all our relationships, to be sensitive to each other’s spiritual needs, teach us to share our struggles with each other, so that we can lift each other up to You in prayer. Remind us that we don’t have to go through battles alone, that we are all part of the same family in Christ. Help us to trust that You will bring spiritual refreshment, restoration and blessing to our lives and those whom we pray for. So that as Your church, we would all flourish. 
We pray this in Christ's name
Today's Message: Handle With Prayer

Open with me your Bibles to the fifth chapter of the book of James. As we return to this practical and very direct epistle of James, our study today brings us to one of the most interesting, and quite frankly, it has been a battleground for interpreters for centuries, often leaving many people in confusion. It’s a curious passage, which has created even more, curious results.
This is a passage, in which many would-be healers and advocates of modern day healing use to propound the idea that we have a guaranteed healing, if we would only pray under the proper circumstances. As many of you know, this is the passage in which the Roman Catholic Church uses to support what they call the sacrament of Extreme Unction. Which is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin." It is a passage that is used for anointing the sick.
It is also, one of the most encouraging sections of this epistle. I invite you to follow along with me as I read, to set the text in our minds, as we prepare out hearts, for what the Holy Spirit has for us today. It is my prayer, that we will be able to answer the questions, that are sure to come into your mind, as they have many throughout the years. James 5:13-18.

"Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."

I have studied this passage, in what I believe, is in great detail. I have read a variety of commentaries. I find it curious, even interesting, that nearly all of them said basically the same thing. By the time that I was finished, I had feeling that none of these is correct.
Those of you who know me well enough, know that I don’t usually go out on a limb and conclude with viewpoints of Scripture that do not have some kind of precedent in history. However, none of these things that I’ve read makes sense, I was left unconvinced that there was an interpretation that I could actually live with, which rarely happens to me.
So I did what I typically do, and that is to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide me, give me  understanding and show me what this passage is saying. So, I began to study the text, in all my sources of the original language. The essential key to interpreting any passage in Scripture is always the context. In other words, it must be interpreted in the light of the entire book, the chapter it’s in, the paragraph before, the paragraph after. Basically, to determine the environment of thought in which a given passage is contained.
First, we need to understand, that James is writing this letter to an assembly of Jews, who name the name of Christ, they are the church. They are those, in chapter 1, he says "who are dispersed abroad," it is what is commonly called the diaspora. They have been scattered, as a result the persecutions recorded in Acts chapters 7 and 8, from out of Palestine and out of Jerusalem. There would have been plenty of places they could have located in that region, though we don't know where specifically, they were somewhere in the Mediterranean area.
Wherever they were, we know that they we undergoing trials, because chapter 1 opens with James telling them that they are to learn how to be patient in their trials. Keep in mind, they are Jews, they are Christians, naming the name of Christ, so they are under persecution. They are in a situation of tremendous stress. They were under temptations. This is the environment in which James is writing to them, exhorting them to remain faithful.
I believe there is a valuable lesson here, that we can all learn from, and that is, that as Christians, we all need to remain faithful, even in a very difficult situations. Pressure is coming at them from all sides. From the outside, they were experiencing great anti-Christ hostility. From inside, they were battling the lusts and temptations from the world that would attract them. And through it all, James has been calling his readers to endure and "consider it all joy," "and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." In other words, to look past the persecution and the pain and look to the glory.
Then, he calls them to as a part of humanness, to accept temptation, and to use the means of grace to overcome it. He calls them to avoid being angry with the world, to avoid being vengeful, and to avoid giving back an unrighteous attitude. He tells them to put side all sin, not to be lured into being friends with the world, but to live obediently by the Word of God, no matter how difficult it is.
In chapter 2, he urges them to consider the dangers of sin and to shun from personal favoritism and to fulfill the royal law. Then, he cites that faith without action is an equivalent of dead faith. 

In Chapter 3, he cautions them against becoming teachers, saying that they will receive a stricter punishment unless they are mature and possess self-control. He is adamant, when he reveals that the power of the tongue is an unruly evil and can be used for both blessings and curses. He concludes
that worldly wisdom is bitter, self-seeking, lying and boosting and that wisdom from the earth is demonic and produces confusion. And, that wisdom from God and produces righteousness and faith.
And, in chapter 4, James exhorts his readers to submit to God and to oppose the devil, because you cannot love the world and love God. He then tells them not to speak ill of one another, and the one harshly judges him is judging the law and taking the place of the ultimate law giver, God. He concludes with a reminder that the future is uncertain, that their lives are temporary and dependent on the will of God, because they are not in control.
So there is a little review of first four chapters. Now, back to chapter five, where earlier James addressed those whom he believed were using people without giving them their honest day’s wage. He reminded them that God sees every deed and was keeping a record of all their evil. In using the example of the farmer, who was waiting for his crop to yield, he reminded them about the importance of patience, 
until the coming of the Lord. 
Now, we come to our text and in this section, verses 13 through 18, he talks about the subject of prayer.
In fact, he mentions prayer in every single verse.  He opens verse 13, firing off two brief questions, the first is, "Is anyone among you suffering?" That should not be surprise us, after all, because that’s exactly what he’s been talking about, isn't it?  "Then he must pray." Go to God, when you can't depend on your own resources, you depend on a divine resource.
The Greek word for suffering, is "kakopathéō," which can refer to a number of types of difficulties that we encounter in life, whether spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, or relational, those to whom James was writing were suffering because of their Christian testimony.
The persecuted, troubled, tempted church will find its endurance is a strong commitment to prayer.  James is calling people to patience, endurance and the strengthening of their hearts, and to suffering without complaint. To endure affliction like Job did, and to do that, they are going to have to be people committed to prayer.
Having written his epistle to those who were being persecuted, which was severe. If you will remember, in chapter 5, he says "You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you." Some of them were literally crushed mentally and spiritually. And, by the implication of this verse, physically. They were weary, weak and devastated. So, it's not surprising that so many are shocked that he hasn't mentioned prayer until now. However, I believe that it’s actually felicitous that it comes at the end, because, at the heart of endurance is prayer. It’s the climax of everything.
Secondly, he asks "Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises." The word cheerful, is the word euthumeō. It's the words and thumeō, which has to do with the well-being of the soul. If you are cheerful, you are experiencing a well-being in your soul. That is what he's talking about here. I imagine that the hymn writer had the same thought in mind, when he penned the words for "It is well with my soul."
Since, we know that all suffering and all blessings come from God for His glory and is for our ultimate good, I believe that we must learn to live with a God-ward, God dependent focus. God’s true church is a singing church!
Paul says in Ephesians 5:19-20, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father."
So, now that we have established the foundation, I believe that we can clearly see, that it’s not a passage about healing; it’s a passage about prayer. Prayer and comfort, prayer and restoration, prayer and fellowship, and prayer and power. James recognizes their suffering, so there’s a tenderness here. He knows there’s the need of prayer, so it’s not just five chapters of strong hammering, confronting exhortation. He is embracing the whole church in its prayer life. Not only to ask for prayer, but to also be available to pray for each other.

In spite of what is frequently taught about this passage, based upon verse 13, which is really I am convinced that it does not have anything to do with physical healing. Rather, it's about suffering from persecution, evil treatment, abuse, wickedness.  He's talking about healing spiritual weakness, spiritual weariness, spiritual depression and spiritual exhaustion. So, when it says let him pray, it is a present imperative. It's a command.
Now, let's look at verse 14, "Is anyone among you sick?" Let's look at this more closely. The word he uses here is from the Greek verb, astheneō, which means to be weak in human strength, feeble, to be powerless.  In Romans 5:6, which says "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." It’s used of spiritual weakness. And, in II Corinthians 12:10, which "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses." Paul is not defining some physical illness, but a weakness in his humanness.
Emotional and spiritual suffering can produce weakness. Now, I am not trying to diminish the fact that 
there may be a physical effect that comes along with that. 

But what James is saying here is if you’re so feeble and so weak in your own prayer life, "Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." In other words, if you don't have the strength to pray for yourselves, go to the spiritual strong, and let them pray for you, those who not only know the Word of God and know the God of the Word. I believe that a prayer ministry is one of the most essential ministries a church can have. 
Then, at the  end of the verse, he says "anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." Here, he uses the word "aleiphó" meaning to literally rub oil in. Like you would with a piece of furniture. The text actually says here, "Let the elders pray over him after having oiled him." Many have taught over the years, it's a ceremonial anointing, like a dab of oil, that represents the Holy Spirit. But that's not the same word, that's the word "chriō," which is a sacred word with reference to God.

In ancient times, it was common to mix olive oil with wine, making like a cream and rub it on wounds after a journey when the skin was parched to kill the infection and soften the scab. It was also used after a bath for dry skin. Much like people do today, rubbing creams and lotions on the skin. In the Middle East, athletes were rubbed with oil with fragrances mixed in. It was used to stimulate metaphorically , and is still done today. They would also anoint the head of a guest, as a way of encouraging them and giving them an added comfort. We see this in Matthew chapter 6,"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."
Verse 15, "and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him."  Here, I believe he's talking about renewing their strength spiritually, restoring their broken spirit. God’s power to restore the wounded soul. He uses the word "sōzō," which means safe, its the word restore. To whole again. So the promise of verse 15, is that the prayer of faith will restore the one who is weary and make him whole. "And the Lord will raise him up," and restore him. It's the Greek verb "egeiró," to waken, not heal, you see? He's talking about prayer and restoration here. 

Then, he says "and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." Look, if you're in a weak spiritual condition, you're very likely to sin. Now, we all know that there is all kinds on sin, but I believe what he's talking about here complaining, doubting God, failing to praise God. Which, as we all know, can lead to various other temptations. That's more the issue here.
We see it used again in Revelation 2:3 which says "and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary." It's speaking of being weary in the spiritual battle.   
The word "if," is the third-class conditional, if you have committed sins which have contributed to your weakness, go to the elders to pray that God would be merciful and cleanse whatever in your heart needs to be cleansed. By the desire of your heart, repent and deal with those issues, and they'll be forgiven. Forgiven is the Greek verb "aphíēmi," meaning to release, permit to depart. So, it's a beautiful picture of prayer and restoration.
In Galatians 6, we see the same type of thing when Paul says "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." By seeking the spiritually strong to pray for him, it's not just prayer and comfort but also prayer and fellowship.
Verse 16, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." You know, the strong praying for the weak is such a beautiful ministry. When an individual recognizes his spiritual weakness, and the sin that compounds it, who comes to the spiritually strong for prayer, there becomes a mutual element of fellowship that calls for honesty, integrity and the confession of sin. That becomes a very important element of prayer and fellowship. In other words, he's saying the whole congregation needs to be engaged in lifting each other up in prayer.
When you are weak, if you're weary, there is usually an underlying sin at the bottom of it, therefore, you need to deal with it. You need to be honest enough to open up your life to others and pray for each other "so that you may be healed." The word he uses here is significant, its the Greek word "iáomai," a primitive verb, it refers to spiritual restoration by confessing sin and praying, bringing attention to the Lord Himself as the Great Physician. In the Scriptures, it is sometimes used to refer to physical sickness and sin. There are a number of passages where its used to deal with sin and the consequences of sin like Matthew, John, Acts, Luke and Hebrews.
The point he's making here, is that in order to deal with whatever debilitates you, we need to be honest with one another about the sin, the weakness, the depression in your life, if you need comfort or strength for the battles you're facing, then you need to go to the spiritually strong. And as they lift you up in prayer before the Lord and you confess your sin the Lord will restore you. 
I believe that we ought to be seeking the help of each other in the congregation today. You know, so many ask for prayer for physical illness and disease, but when it comes to sin, we have the inclination to keep it to ourselves, don't we. We don't want to confess to others that we're struggling with that. We don't want to be judged for it. Here, James is making a very important reference to prayer and its power. 
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." My beloved, to sum it up, prayer works! If you need comfort, seek it in prayer. If you need strength, seek others who are strong enough to pray in your behalf and make it a part of the fellowship, because prayer works. There's no shame in confessing it to others, for the weak and sinful to go to the strong. The shame is in hiding it!
In fact, Psalm 66 says that "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;"
"The effective prayer," effective is the Greek word "energoumenē," from which we get the word energy. The empowered prayer is intensified, like an electrical current. Empowered prayer accomplishes much when prayed by a righteous man. Interestingly, the word accomplishes is the same word, "energéō," to be at work, to be engaged in. Empowered prayer works when prayed by a righteous man. You know, it's amazing when take someone's hand and you begin to lift them up before the Lord and they lean on your strength. It's truly beautiful.
During the years of my walk with the Lord, I have witnessed a number of individuals who claim to possess the gift of healing. We see them on TV, they claim that when special oils are applied to the afflicted parts, they cause healing. And, if someone is not healed, it is because of their own lack of faith, therefore, the healer is off the hook. It's not the fault of the healer, it's not the fault of the oil. It's your own fault, because you didn't have enough faith. That is not only false, it's cruel! I would hope, that none of us are so insensitive to think that infants die because they have sinned.

If we will understand what James is saying, we need to understand the reason for illnesses. In the ultimate analysis, all illness is the result of sin. I'm not implying that we are punished because we have sinned,I am talking about that we are part of a fallen race. Sin has infected the race, proving to be the ultimate cause of illness. James is not saying that every illness is the consequence of sin. There are, however, always consequences to our choices. And sometimes illness and disease are among those consequences. God forgives our sin, however, He doesn't always remove it's consequences.
Paul confronts this issue in Romans 5, when he says "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." Ultimately, illness, and death, is the result of sin.  Many people sin and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, while others finally realize just how destructive sin can be.
In verse 17, he says "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months." Here, James gives us a remarkable illustration. Elijah is thirty mentioned in the New Testament. He was a man with "homoiopathés," which means having similar passions and feelings, of like infirmities. Elijah suffered like we do. He was human. He knew fear, he knew weariness. And he passionately prayed that it might not rain, and you what? It didn't rain for three and a half years! You can read all about that in I Kings 17, that's a wonderful illustration of what powerful prayer can accomplish.
As a footnote, if James was talking about healing physical illness, he could have used an illustration of praying for someone who was sick and was healed by prayer. Therefore, I am convinced that he was instead speaking about the power of prayer to restore blessing, to restore joy, and to to bring refreshment to the spiritually weary, the spiritually exhausted and the spiritually weak.
Look at verse 18, "Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."  Prayer brought rain to the parched soil, you see? Just as prayer brings restoration, wholeness and healing to the parched soul.
Hebrews 10 says "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
That means we don’t keep secrets, we don't want to hide ourselves, we stimulate one another to love and good deeds. And, if you’re struggling then you need to share that with others in the church. I believe that people often think think that because I’m a pastor, my prayers somehow, go to the head of the list with God. That’s not true. The prayers of any obedient Christian, who is spiritually strong, can carry the weight of those who are struggling. I believe that pastors just set the pace and everyone else just sort of follows. But any spiritually strong believer can pray effectively. So, you need to share your need for prayer.  
You know I find, that even in the Christian community, there are people who are bitter, angry or jealous because of what someone else has.  Or they resent that someone life seems to be smooth sailing, and maybe theirs isn't. We expect that attitude of the unregenerate, that is not acceptable behavior however, for a true Christian. If you're feeling that way, it's probably because of some unconfessed sin and you need to deal with that, confess them before the Lord and come along side someone who is spiritually strong and lean on their strength.
Paul says in Ephesians 6, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel."
 Jude 1:20-21 says "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."  
II Chronicles 7 tells us "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Nehemiah's prayer in chapter 9, is one of corporate repentance and confession of guilt before God. God will always do His part, the decision every person has to make, is whether or not we will do ours. 
In Closing..
Don’t expect that others know when you need prayer! If we do not share our struggles and burdens with others, they cannot help bear our burdens. And, more importantly, they will not rejoice with us when God answers. 
I believe that every prayer should be a prayer of faith, because we should not ask God anything, unless we believe that He is able to answer. Because we are part of this fallen world, we are not immune to the struggles associated with this life. We are fallen creatures living in the midst of a fallen world. We bear the marks of sin and suffer because of the sin that has contaminated the world in which we live. A stress-filled life will eventually take a major toll on our health.
As Christians, we are empowered to respond differently to difficulty than those of the world, through prayer. Obviously, God can and does miraculously heal in every age when it is His will to do so. I believe that there is plenty of applications here for all of us. 
There may be some of you may need to find a godly brother or sister, who is strong in the faith to confess your sins to and to pray with, so that you may be healed. None of us are perfect, and we all have our battles, so, we all need to help one another as we each fight our own battles, it's the way we get back on our feet.
As God puts it on your heart, respond in obedience and you will be blessed. The best way to fight any battle, is on your knees, in prayer.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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