James 5:13-18 – The Error of an Ineffective Prayer Life

Introduction: “Whereas patience is to be a dominant attitude of the Christian, prayer is to be a dominant activity.”

Theme: We are exhorted to pray when we enter into afflictions as we wait for the Lord’s return.

Command:  “Let him pray”– Present imperative — “make it a practice to turn to God” (vs.13)

 I. The Conditions that move us to call upon God in prayer:

A. Emotional hardship because of some misfortune or calamity (vs.13). Personal prayer

  •  Note the contrast with – is any merry . . .let him sing.
  • “The gloomy valley and the sunny height can both be dynamic instruments in strengthening the believer’s conscious relation to God.” Hiebert p.318

B. Physical sickness (vs.14-15). Group prayer – support from the brethren

  • Vs. 14 “is any sick” –Lit. – Without strength – mental, moral, or physical weakness that incapacitates you from normal work, activities, and ministries.
  •  All sickness is not due to personal sin – John 9:2-3
  •  Some sickness is due to personal sin –1 Corinthians 11:29-31
  • “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
  •  The sick person has the responsibility to call the elders – not a public healing meeting!
  • Vs. 15 “the sick” – to be weary, fatigued – pictures physical exhaustion that prostrating sickness produces.

C. Spiritual sickness– Recognition that the condition may be a consequence of previous sin (vs.16)

  • Confess – Identify sin by its true name and admit it is sin- full and open acknowledgement of personal guilt – Lit- to say the same thing about yourself – to agree with God- I John 1:9-10
  • Faults — “sin” Romans 3:23,
  • One to another – Gal 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

II. The Qualifications needed to call on God in prayer (vs.16b)

A. Prayer must be in the Name of the Lord (vs.14). If the oil was put on in the name of the Lord, certainly the prayer must be in the name of the Lord.

  • John 14:13 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it”.

 B. Prayer must be made in faith (vs.15) Chapter 1 “not double minded”

 C. Prayer must be fervent (vs.16)“Effectual fervent” “The desire of the righteous man, expressing itself in his petition, keeps on putting forth its energy to get the petition answered.” (Hiebert p.327).

  • Example: The Persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8).

D. Prayer must be made in righteousness (vs.16) Righteous in Christ – Righteous by Christ

III. The Example of Elijah who effectively called on God in prayer (vs.17-18).




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