“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” — James 5:13
With little exception, every adult experiences trouble, and the key to what James says our response should be is to pray. He tells us, “…as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered....The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (5:10-11).
Trouble does not evaporate, but through prayer, we find the patience and perseverance to endure. James says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:16). We may think we are far from righteous, so will our prayers be effective? Righteousness in the New Testament does not mean perfect, but it means to be forgiven of our sin, united to Christ and clothed in His righteousness. This is the person who is powerful in their prayers, not because prayers are powerful, but because God is listening and He is powerful.
James gives Elijah as an example and says, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (5:17-18). We know Elijah was a human being, but we may not agree that he was just like us. He was a prophet—in fact, a super prophet: one of the few who performed miracles and a hero of the Old Testament. He also appears with Moses and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
From where we stand, it does not appear Elijah was just as human as we are, but that is only part of the story. After he had seen the prophets of Baal defeated, he went into a dark valley of depression and said, “I, only I, am left.” Why? Because he was a human being. When he spoke courageously to King Ahab, his wife, Jezebel, said she would kill him. Elijah was fearful and went into hiding—one moment courageous and full of faith; the next, cowardly and full of failure. Why? Because Elijah was as human as we are.
James is saying Elijah was a man of prayer who saw things happen, not because he was favoured in any way, but because he was an ordinary man who had learned to relate everything to God. There was nothing intrinsically special about Elijah, but as a man of prayer, God intervened in his life. For God to intervene in our lives, we need to be people of prayer, and in times of trouble, be patient and persevere, trusting God to bring about His purpose.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may I never neglect my prayer life, not just in times of trouble, but every day. It is my lifeline to You and I would be lost without it. Thank You, Lord.