Praying About Problems
"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray."
The word afflicted alludes to “suffering
in difficult circumstances, to under-go hardships or suffer trouble.
As God’s people go through life, they often must endure
difficulties that are not the results of sin or the chastening of God.
What should we do when we find ourselves in such trying circumstances? A spiritually mature person knows that in addition to confiding problems to a trusted friend, they must learn to stand up and take responsibility for themselves and pray. Prayer can remove affliction, if that is God’s will. But prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure troubles and use them to accomplish God’s perfect will. God can transform troubles into triumphs. In this Scripture James is talking about an internal distress caused by external circumstances. It may be financial crisis, relational crisis or pressures from without. The distress is heavy and you have no answers. What is the solution? Pray. Are you going through a difficult time in your life that is causing a lot of grief? Pray.
In the Greek text the word afflicted also associates sacrifice and surrender to its meaning. Our God wants us to open our hearts to Him, tell Him how we feel and be willing to surrender ourselves to Him completely.
In Psalm 18:6 David called out to the Lord: "In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears."
The word "cried" in the above verse indicates a fervency in his request.
As a Pastor I receive many calls from the distressed believers. Sometimes their difficulties are beyond what counseling can accomplish. It is good to have the ear of a trusted friend, but according to this Scripture James gives the solution. He says, "pray." You have a high priest that understands your weaknesses and is able to empathize with your problems.
Heb 4:15-16, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (NIV).
Then the text continues - "Is any merry? let him sing psalms.."
As a believer, we have all noticed that many times life is a series of alternating between problems to joys. God balances our lives and gives us hours of suffering and days of singing. The mature Christian knows how to sing while he is suffering. (Anybody can sing after the trouble has passed.) God is able to give us songs in the night. Anyone can sing when the suns shining bright, but God can give us songs in the midst of our problems. He did this for Paul and Silas when they were suffering in that Philippian jail. Paul and Silas were beaten, bound and thrown in the prison cell for preaching Jesus. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God” (Act_16:25). Praying and singing were important elements of worship in the early church and singing and worshipping God should always be our expression of joy regardless of the circumstances at the moment.
The word "Praise" is used 500 times in the Scriptures. Praise is the lifestyle of the mature Christian. In my own personal life singing praises to the Lord brings a lift in my spirit. It is a must for a rich, spiritual life.
merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart
the spirit is broken.
5:14, Is any sick among you? let
him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Notice that the sick individual is doing the calling. They take the initiative to call. If you are so sick that you cannot go to them then you call for them. Of course, this implies support of a local church. A free floating Christian that does not belong to a local body of believers may have some problems here. In the New Testament church they knew who to call because they were part of a local body.
Sometimes people complain that no-one called on them when they were sick. Well, did you do what the Word said to do? Did you call for the elders? You see, in this scenario you take the initiative to do the contact first.
The elders anoint the sick one with oil. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As the elder prays, they are to anoint the sick person symbolizing that the sick person is being set apart for God's special attention and care. The power is not in the oil but faith in God and His Word through the name of Jesus Christ.
Also note that prayer for the sick not only is a physical healing, but a spiritual healing--"if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him". This is an indication that sometimes there could be an un-confessed sin that has caused problems in the physical because of distress in the spiritual. If there is an un-confessed sin it has to be taken care of - confess it and let Jesus cleanse you. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). I am not saying that sickness is caused by sin, but sometimes it could be possible.
James 5:16, Confess your
faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Matthew 6:14-15, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.