James 5:13-20 (NRSV)
Verse 13Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Verse 14Are 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. Verse 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Verse 16Therefore 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. Verse 17Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Verse 18Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. Verse 19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, Verse 20you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
The author of James concludes with words of confidence about the power of prayer. He encourages them to pray in times of suffering, joy, illness, and when forgiveness is needed. My own excitement regarding prayer has been for prayers of health in times of illness. Somewhere in my ministry, my prayers for a person’s health changed. When praying with someone in the hospital, my prayers began to focus on a thankfulness that the Holy Spirit has given us so much medical science to help our healing. I would pray for the patient’s doctors, nurses, and technicians to have wisdom and understanding regarding that science so they might bring the patient back to health. I hoped that combining the gift of prayer with the gift of science empowered the one I was praying with to see both as coming from an amazing God and to have confidence that healing would come as well.
Guide us Lord in our prayer life to be excited by the power of prayer. May that excitement lead us to better understand the ways your Holy Spirit continues to enlighten us in understanding the gifts you give us in each generation. Amen.