Sunday, 26 June 2016

James 5 : (2)Prayer, Faith and Wooing Back those who have strayed. HCFC 26th June 2016

In  James 5 we see James as being a master of prayer. He was known as James the Just but was equally known for his intercession for others and called 'the man with camel's knees' due to the calluses that were formed on his knees during his  lengthy prayer times. He knew his half brother Jesus in the flesh but he also knew his Lord and heavenly Father in prayer. Here he encourages us to do the same.
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray.
Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 
14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 
15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 
16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

It should be the first thing we do -take it to the Lord in prayer.

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming
God in my watching, God in my waiting
God in my laughing, there in my weeping
God in my hurting, God in my healing
Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

 'If you are afflicted 'says James : 'Pray' If you are cheerful and in good humour : sing praise.

Are we close enough to take it to the Lord in prayer first. He wants us to be.
The Master taught us 'Men always ought to pray and not faint' think of the parable of the widow and the unjust judge or the man who went to his neighbour banging on the door and would not leave until he got some bread. Or the invitation of Jesus to go into our rooms and close the door and pray to our heavenly Father in secret and he would reward us openly. Jesus is our model who prayed sometimes all night, and before meals, when he was harassed, or before his crucifixion and even when he was dying on the cross- and he taught us how to pray. And gave us a prayer to pray.

Have you ever read St Patrick's confession which is an inspiring read. He wrote about his time after being kidnapped and brought to Ireland for the first time. In this short passage we see  his prayers of need and his prayers of praise  mixed together.

After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of ,God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time.

It was those prayers and others which were significant in his future ministry in Ireland.
We have also only to think of the Psalms of David and others to see how the Old Testament saints turned to God.
David was often in trouble and would  call on God's name for help. I remember a book called 'Towards spiritual Maturity' by William Still which was extremely helpful as a young Christian. In it he showed us how we should stand against Satan and his cohorts. However he also said sometimes our enemy can seem so strong that we feel we are too weak to resist him even in the Lord. It is then that we should go into what he called  strategic retreat. To hide in God. The name of the Lord, says Solomon, is a strong tower  and the righteous can run into Him and are safe. David called God his rock, his fortress and refuge.
One prayer from David we can pray when in any sort of trouble  is from

Psalm 57
David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in thee my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Luther was a mighty man of prayer and  loved his pet dog. One day when he saw his dog watching him eating his meal he said:
''Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.” Martin Luther

The Psalms are a perfect prayer, praise and even confessional book for us. Many of us know these Scripture songs from years gone by  taken from the Psalms. We have started to sing them at the Men's Group.

 Psalm 104 I WILL sing onto the Lord as long as I live  or Psalm 113 From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised.

We can and should pour our hearts out to God in good times or in bad

Psalm 6
 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Draw close to God and he will draw close to us.
(see part 3)

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