For One Another
I want to start this morning by making a little confession.
Very often when we were pregnant someone would ask me if I wanted a boy or a
girl. Well if you know our history, then you know really I just wanted a
living-breathing child. I wanted a healthy child, one that had all of their
fingers and toes, two beautiful little ears, and eyes and a nose.
But deep down, if God had let me pick, I would have chosen
boys. It’s not that I wouldn’t have loved little girls; I have four beautiful nieces,
and my good friend Ella is here today and I love her to pieces. But I would
have chosen boys because I understand them. I know what it’s like to have a
frog in your pocket, or jump your bike across a creek, or get a mowhawk in the
summer. And I understand what it is to play with the toys that boys play with.
It’s amazing that many of the toys that I loved as a kid I
got to share with my boys. And because I loved Batman, Aquaman, Spiderman, and
Superman as a kid I wanted to share them with the boys who loved them as much
as I did.
And to be honest, I believe we all have a little affection
for those Super Hero’s, that’s why they have such staying power. They are
filled with action, drama, good verses the evil. And Superman even has that
whole thing with Lois Lane to keep the ladies interested, I mean what more
could you want?
Another reason that these Super Heroes are so attractive is
that there is a whole different side to them as well, their secret identity. I mean
Superman wasn’t always Superman, for most of the show he was just plain old
ordinary Clark Kent. Sure the power was there for him when he needed it but for
the most part he was just ordinary. But you let him step into that phone booth
and he would come out ready and able to take on whatever evil came around.
Today, as we continue our look at the One
Another’s found in scripture, I want us to look at something that we
all have with in us. A power that we all possess, and if we are willing to use
it then we will deeply bless one another, this church, and this community. But just
like Clark Kent started in the phone booth, we have a place that we must start
as well, if we are going to tap into real power. Look with me at our text this
morning, it’s found in James 5:13-20.
James says that our power, the power we find in prayer, is available
to every one of us. It is a power that is not just for Superman but to every
Clark Kent here today. As we see in James’ letter there are three instances
that we are to pray for one another, so let’s look at those reasons this
First we need to
pray for those who are suffering or enduring sickness.
James 5:13-15 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. 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. And the prayer of faith will save
the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
I believe that we understand this part of the verse pretty
well. As a matter of fact most of the
prayers that we offer on the behalf of others fall into this category. After national tragedies like the attack on
America during 9-11 or as recent as the tornadoes that ripped through the
country in April, churches and individual Christians have lifted people that we
didn’t even know up in prayer.
I have been called to the hospital for people I didn’t know,
folks who didn’t go to church to pray.
People who didn’t know how to call upon the name of God wanted someone
to ask Him to give the family comfort, and peace as they watched a loved one
take their last breaths. We know how to pray for those who are suffering.
Weekly we take time before our Bible classes and our worship
to stop and talk about those that are sick or struggling and pray for them. We
put their names in the Bulletin or send out e-mails so that you can go to your
home and have a written reminder of those you are called to pray for. We make
every effort for you to know who is hurting because we believe that we know how
to pray for those who are suffering.
The question that we have to answer is not do we know how to
pray for those who are suffering but do we pray for those who are
You see James is not saying that we pray for a mass of
people during a church service. He is not advocating that we go and roam the
hospitals looking for people that are crying so we can say a short prayer on
their behalf. He is not even saying that we need to have bulletins or WebPages
of prayer requests. Now while I believe
that there is nothing wrong with saying those types of prayers; I don’t believe
that is at the heart of what James is saying here.
Rather, When I am
given the opportunity to pray for someone’s suffering I am given the
opportunity to empathize with them.
You know what it means to empathize with someone don’t you? It means to feel their pain, to feel what
they are feeling. Our call to pray for
someone who is suffering means that I am to pray in a way that I try to feel
their struggle and their pain. Sometimes that is easy, if you have had a
similar experience you remember all to well what you felt. You remember your
personal struggle, your remember the story of what happened to you. Pray for them through your own story.
Sometimes it is a little harder because you have never undergone
the struggle. So when we pray we have to come to the best understanding that we
can. Ask yourself good questions like What is the current struggle doing with
their relationship to God? What is the current struggle doing to their
relationship to their family? Then think and see if there was a time that you
felt alienated from God, or a time where you struggled with your family. That’s the pain that we take before the
throne on others behalf.
Next James says
that we are to pray when we have success.
James 5:13 Is anyone
cheerful? Let him sing praise. Praise, is a wonderful thing. James
says in times of happiness sing praises, offer thanks to the giver of all good
gifts. Paul says in Romans 12:15 that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice.
As easy as it is for us to offer up prayers when someone is
suffering why is it so hard to offer up prayers when things are right, during
times of rejoicing?
I think one reason for this is that we think if things are
wrong then God needs to help us out but when things are right then we did
something great! You see anything that is good in my life must have come from
my hard work, dedication, and shrewd business plan. That’s why it is so hard to
be happy for someone else’s good fortune. It’s an admittal that they worked
harder; were more dedicated, and had better business practices. And we aren’t ready to make that kind of
Let’s take a step back here for a little remedial
learning. Look quickly at what Jesus
says in Matthew 7:11 how
much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
According to Christ good gifts come from the Father in
heaven. They are not a result of my
goodness but a result of God’s goodness and His desire to lavish those gifts
upon His children. If that is the case then the only reason that I could not
pray a prayer of praise when something good happens to my brother or sister is
because of the evil in my own heart.
So James exhortation for us to pray a prayer of thanksgiving
shows the content of our heart. If my heart is right with God then I am able to
rejoice when good things come your way, I am able to pray a prayer of thanks on
The second reason that this is so hard is because we tend to
focus on the bad or evil things in our lives and communities. As a matter of fact when I ask you to
look at the screen behind me what do you see? (A white screen with a
black smudge on it) We are naturally drawn to see the black spot and forget
about the white in the background. That is a great representation of how we
look at life. We are so conditioned to
look at the black dots that we forget about the blessings that God has so
abundantly poured out into our lives.
James uses this text to remind us to look for the blessings
of God. To look at them in our lives so
that we can share those with others and to look for them in the lives of others
What is it that makes you cheerful? What is it that makes
you happy? What is it that brings you a
sense of joy? Those are the things that
we are to share with one another, those are the things that we together as a
family and individually need to say a prayer of thanksgiving about.
We received word Friday that Brayden arrived with no
complications; did you say a prayer of thanksgiving? Families connected to this
family are getting great reports from the Doctor, recoveries are going well, do
you say a prayer of thanksgiving? You were able to meet in this place today and
lift your voice in song, pray, hear this message from God’s word, will you say
a prayer of thanksgiving?
We have so much to be thankful for in our own lives and in
the lives of the members of this body, we need to stop and truly count our many
blessings, naming them one by one.
Finally we need to
pray so we can confess.
James 5:16 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
For most of us we don’t get real excited talking about
confessions. The very word brings images
to our minds of a dark room and a bright light in your eyes, while some big
police officer bullies us to take the blame for something.
But once again James tells us that we are to pray for one
another, and this time it is a prayer of confession. Now the way that this
usually works out is that we get to this part and we say, James says that we
need to confess to one another so that we can pray about it. I believe that we
need to do just that so you go first.
It is so easy to appear to be hyper-spiritual and to want to
pray for everyone else’s sins while keeping yours a secret. But what we have yet to realize is that this three-point
plan for praying for one another has built on itself.
We have talked about praying for someone who is sick and
struggling and it doesn’t take any type of relationship for that to happen. You
can ask me to pray for your first cousin’s nephew’s wife’s brother’s dad’s next
door neighbors best friend’s boss at work and I can do that with out having any
type of relationship with them.
Then we talked about praying a prayer of thanksgiving on
someone’s behalf and that requires two things. First that I know them, and
second that there is nothing in my life that would hinder my honest prayers for
their good will.
But now that we get to praying for each others sins well
that brings us to a completely different level of intimacy. Before I can trust
you with the sins in my life I have to trust you.
I have to trust that you love me and care enough about me to
hold what I tell you.
I have to trust that you will not use what I have told you against
I have to trust that you care enough about me to want what
is best for me and even go the extra mile of holding me accountable for doing
the right thing.
And finally I have to trust that you want me to get right.
Unfortunately that type of trust is very rare in our
churches today because it is very rare in our world today. But we are not
called to act like the world. Let me read you Peterson’s paraphrase of what
Paul says in Romans 12:2
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your
culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention
on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants
from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always
dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops
well-formed maturity in you.
Did you get that? Don’t
become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even
thinking… God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
God wants His children to live a life of maturity not a life
like the world that cruses through without thinking. Before we can honestly
fulfill this command to pray for one another we have to be mature enough to trust
one another, and that’s where the problem lies. Psychologists tell us that the
reason that we have trouble trusting others is because we know deep down that
we can’t be trusted. Maybe today before we even begin to try to pray for one
another we need to get ourselves right first.
You see like Clark Kent, the power is always
there, always available for the Christian. God has promised us that as long as
we have breath we have a chance to tap into His power. His power to heal the sick, sooth the
suffering, cleanse us of our sins. His power to make us what He desires for us
Today we get a great opportunity to pray for one
another. If you are sick or suffering I
hope that you trust us enough to love you, and pray for you. We want to help you carry that burden and
show you how important you are to this family.
If you have reason to rejoice I hope that you trust us
enough to let us bask in the blessings that God has given you. I hope that we
understand that when God blesses one member of this body that He blesses every
member of this body.
And if your relationship with God is not right today I hope
that you can trust us. Trust us to hold what you tell us, and to petition God
on your behalf.
Do you find it easier to pray for someone who is struggling
What does Galatians 6:2 have to do with praying for one
There are two sides to this passage; sharing someone else’s
load and letting others share your load. Which one is harder for you?
Why do we struggle letting others see us struggle?
How does being in real Christian community make this easier?
What can you do to promote real Christian community at our church?
What can you do to help others get right with God?
How can you allow others to help you get right with God?
How does Luke 6:31 apply to this one another?