The Power of
James 5 : 13-20
October 10, 2021
For Rev. Dick Pettit (former pastor of Magazine UMC) are Tuesday, October 12th at 2pm at Edwards Van Alma Funeral Home Chapel. Visitation will be 9am until time of the service. Cards may be sent to Pettit Family c/o Tammi Smith 2406 Shealei Circle Alma AR 72921
Parisnormal Walking Tour
Our church will participate in the Oct 22 Parisnormal Walking Tour sponsored by the PACC. More information to come.
Next Sunday, Oct 17. Please join us for a special service led by our UMW.
Wednesday, October 20th at 7pm, in-person and by Zoom.
will be held for David Rayburn on Monday, October 18th at 2pm at Paris First UMC. Contact the UMW about help with the meal before the service.
will be held for Kay Lowder on Tuesday, October 13 at 1pm at Paris First UMC.
Church Without Walls
Sunday, October 17th for Magazine UMC. You may bring packaged homemade or bought cookies (3 per package?) or cards or drawings for residents to the church at 11am or we can pick them up. Those who are working on lawn care can meet at Oak Manor and need to bring tools and gloves. We will have brief worship at the church and then gather at Oak Manor for a prayer and blessing after 11:45.
Chamber of Commerce Event
Need Help for October 22 Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Event – we will be offering parking, tours of our church sanctuary, an open restroom, and two firepit fires. We will be making 80 smore packets with inserts for our guests.
We are at the end of the road with James today. And he saved the best for last it seems. I just figured out this is not a letter, but a sermon. One with instructions and homework.
Pray. Because prayer does something in us, something for us, and something through us. It doesn’t get any simpler or more complicated than that. Thanks James.
But we are sort of like the minister who had waited in a long line forever to get gas. The attendant was directing traffic. He recognized the minister and apologized for the long wait. “It seems everyone waits to the last minute when they are going on a long trip.” The minister answered, “I know what you mean, it’s the same in my business.”
Surely that is not us. Or is it?
Surely as believers, we know something about prayer. But can we learn something new? Or have we forgotten a good way to use it? I cannot think of one among us, seasoned well or fresh off the vine that doesn’t need some improvement, some boost, some lesson, some rethinking, some opportunity, to refresh our prayer life.
Who among us doesn’t need refreshing. This life is hard. Exhausting sometimes. Whether from good or difficult or that ebb and flow between them. And prayer can help with any or all of that. Because prayer is our constant connection to the one who wants to see the kingdom built, holds the power, and is worthy of all the glory in seeing that done forever and ever amen.
So tell us what we need to know – or rather do about our prayer life.
James doesn’t have the first or last word on prayer. But this word is a good one. Not everything covered we need to know in his sermon or mine, but enough.
In fact, James nails it. He really does. Because he starts off with trouble. And not the kind that we cause ourselves. He starts off with trouble that comes from the outside, outside of God’s will, caused by the evil in this world done upon the righteous. Things like persecution and hatred. Lord we need to pray about those things more than we do. Let us find power of prayer to overcome these things.
Not to meet violence with violence, but to pray asking God to help us find a way to deal with all of this, root out its cause in ourselves and others and do the hard work to stop it.
Where are you in trouble in that way, or see trouble, or even prepared to stop or take action to rescue someone in trouble? How are we praying for answers and naming the problems so we might see those answers more clearly.
Now, he surprises us. We think of praying when we need something. But he flips it (he learned that from his brother Jesus) and he says, oh! Pray when you are happy. Don’t forget. Sing it out, praise God, don’t take happiness for granted. Stop and take notice and give God the glory and do it everywhere anytime you see happiness or experience. I want to break out singing “O Happy Day” or I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Down in my Heart right now.
And then we shift again to sickness. But there is something different here. We aren’t to pray for ourselves, but call on someone to pray for us, with us. The truth is if we are really sick, it is hard to pray for ourselves. We might even get pitiful asking “why me Lord?” why is this happening to me? Well, in my experience the only answer you get to that prayer is “Why not you?” But if we can muster up the strength to call someone to pray, we are admitting we are weak, vulnerable and in need. There is power in that. There is the power of prayers for us when we are sick. So call an elder – not a healer – did you catch that? I mean we need healers and the elder will call one surely, but first call a church folk who will rally the troops. Then you will get all you need to be healed. The church will care for you. They will remind you that God is with you. They offer prayers in faith that God can and will take care of you. It is not our prayers that heal, but God’s power. God working sometimes through us.
Now isn’t it interesting that James says the sick person doesn’t need faith, but the one praying does. So be ready faithful ones, to be called upon. And through the power of prayer the sick will come again to their own faith.
Now we get to the toe stepping. If we have sinned, pray. Because we need forgiveness. And prayers will help us to receive it. I have often seen people who are physically sick, but cannot get well until they repent and receive forgiveness. Some people cannot even die until those prayers are prayed. They are important.
Sin might not have caused an illness, but it will certainly help us to not be whole or holy. It hinders the healing God intends.
So confess your sin to God and one another in prayer. Sometimes this is best done in private, sometimes it needs to be public. God is listening, waiting and we need to help one another and prompt one another and offer assurance to one another of the grace of God.
Prayers are powerful and effective. And we know that if we are concerned about messing up – don’t be, because the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
Now lastly, as if that is not enough. We have to be concerned about those of us who wander and most of us do at some point or another. Whether it is over being mad, distraught, feeling neglected, overworked, or thinking we are not worthy. It happens. And James says, pray for these.
I’m sure we can all name someone in that camp right now. Some of us may even be on the verge of camping there. Pray for them. Let God lead in what to do or not do, but pray knowing restoration is the goal.
Sometimes that cannot happen if there is not repentance. It leads to forgivenss. And listen again James says. It is not always THEY who need to repent, it might be we do also. So pray first and God will help us sort all of that out.
Pray it seems is the action that snaps shut the gates of hell. It will rescue us, cover us, and saves us from death. All of this reminds of who we are and whose we are.
Max Lucado is right when he said, “The power of prayer is not in the one who prays–but in the One who hears it.” How true that is.
So James is done. And we don’t end with some beautiful blessing or benediction. We leave with an opportunity. To not just hear what he has said, but act on it. To say no to the devil and yes to God. To become the church Jesus intended.
Let’s do just that. By ending with prayer, what James is really saying is start with prayer. In all we do as a church and as a Christian. In all circumstances, at all times.
Pray because practice makes perfect. And James is leading us on to perfection in love. As we learn to be Doers of the Word and understand that begins and ends and involves knowing of the power of prayer.
The Prayer of Faith
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? 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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months, it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Continued prayers for…
Kay Lowder, Tom Miller, Bernadine Reed, Roy Lloyd, the Blaschke family, Chester “Bud” Parsons, Billy Duncan, Patsy Miller, Mabel Serpa, Joye Cooper, John & Glee Deichmann, Hal & Harriet Lee, David & Jackie Rayburn