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Preached at Straightway Bible Church on Sept 8, 2013.  Below you will find the study notes I handed out. James instructs us to pray when we are suffering, sing when we are joyful, and seek out some spiritually strong people to come along side us when we are weary and downtrodden.

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Here are the study notes:

James 5:13-18 Pray When Suffering

Brent Riggs –

  • James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray… If you’re in trouble call on the Lord
  • Suffering here is talking about discouragement, feeling defeated, prolonged persecution, significant hardship, maybe even wanting vengeance
  • We tend to think of “suffering” as physical illness because we are not subjected to persecution
  • Remember, to properly interpret a verse you must consider:  Who wrote it? Who did they write to? In what historical and cultural context? What did it mean to the original hearers? Given that true meaning, how does it apply to me today?
  • James is telling his listeners: if you are suffering, discouraged, defeated, beat down, disillusioned and down then PRAY… that’s where you’ll find strength AND emotional/spiritual HEALING
  • James 5:13 James reminds us that suffering is not the only reason to turn focus on God. We should focus on God at ALL times in life, good or bad
  • We are reminded by singing where our blessings and good things come from: James 1:17
  • James 5:14 continues and goes further into the idea of what to do when you suffer and who and what can help you through it…. It is clear from context here that James is speaking of spiritual and emotional “sickness”, weakness, weariness, lack because of the persecution and deprivation going on during that time
  • “Is anyone among you weary, downtrodden, emotionally drained, discouraged, defeated and wanting to give up?”
  • It is more correctly translated as “is any among you WEAK” or “sick and tired” instead of “sick”
  • Sometimes it’s hard to pray, Sometimes you don’t know what to pray. Sometimes you need some help, some strength, someone to lean on, someone to guide you, someone to step in and lift you up when you are so far down, you want to give up the fight, or our losing hope…
  • So James says “call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”
  • Who is spiritually strong? Elders/Shepherds
  • Pastors/Bishops/Elders/Presbyters/Overseer… all the same word and meaning in Scripture
  • ‎… above reproach, … sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  ‎…  not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome… … blameless … a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money…  hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
  • God requires the Shepherd/Pastor to be available to those who are weak and need prayer, and to respond to those who ask for prayer.
  • “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” There has been lots of interpretations and speculation about how this applies to us today
  • Symbolic of the Holy Spirit
  • Symbolic of the Shepherds desire to emotionally heal, care for and soothe
  • Symbolic of comforting and cleansing
  • Or a real physical act of soothing, relieving stress, giving comfort and showing affection and physical caring touch
  • James is saying to us: Those who are weak and downtrodden spiritually and emotionally, those whose bodies are stressed and labored and weak from suffering and persecution… go to the Shepherds for strength, prayer, compassion, comfort and restoration.
  • This was a common of the Apostles: Mark 6:12–13
  • When the shepherd brought all the sheep in to the fold on the hillside after they had grazed all day, he put his staff down in front of the entry; only one sheep went through at a time; He checked over the whole sheep body for injury or disease or anything that needed care. Wherever there was a wound, he poured oil and soothed it. Wherever the skin was parched, he rubbed it soft and then let the sheep go in. That’s the shepherd’s ministry… the ministry of caring and restoration.
  • Do you understand the situation and circumstances James was addressing?
  • Have you ever experienced a time of weariness, suffering, discouragement?
  • Was it ever so bad you could have really used someone strong to come along side you and pray with you, comfort you, soothe you, care for you?
  • That’s what “church” is about… that’s what Pastors and Shepherds are supposed to be for along with equipping you for ministry
  • Have you ever been that “shepherd” for someone else? Are you strong enough spiritually to fulfill that purpose?