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Time To Pray

13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13-14)

In the final section, from verses 13 to 20, James emphasizes the usage of prayer in all aspects of life, both in the positive and negative. With verse 13, we see James encourage believers to pray when life is going up and down, “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.” When we are in times of troubles, we can have the tendency to wallow in our sadness, lash out in anger, or come up with bad explanations as to why these things are happening. Yet, James bluntly is stating here that the first response should be to pray. The Greek here for the word is to be in continual prayer, not just a one-off prayer for quick assistance. As Anders states, “They must live in an attitude of prayer.”

And the same is for the positive. When life is going well and there are no hardships at all, we can fall into the mindset of forgetting God. James states that our response during these times is to “sing praises,” to worship the Lord, to praise Him in prayer for blessing us with such a wonderful season of life! Our lives should be filled with worship to God, giving thanks, as also stated by Paul in Ephesians 5:19-20, “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Then, in verse 14, James urges the sick individual to take the initiative to call upon the church elders, the leaders who were in charge of pastoral care and visitation, to ask to be prayed for. There are two tasks specifically that James tells the elders to do. First, to “pray over him (the sick individual).” Thomas Lea states, “[The elders] stand over the bed of the sick person. This is a special participation in prayer beyond the normal experiences of intercession.” Second, the elders are to anoint the sick “with oil in the name of the Lord.” The oil itself had no real healing powers, but it was symbolic to call upon God’s healing on the sick person.

This type of visitation and prayer served two purposes. First, as a form of encouragement, having the sick person physically see these believers praying over them. Second, the believers or elders visiting would be praying with more vigor, seeing the one they are lifting up in prayer.

In light of these two verses, whether we are going through good times or bad times, may we always first and foremost go to God in prayer. Also, may we not hesitate to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters and ask for their assistance in prayer.


Isaac De Guzman


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