Category: Daily Devotionals

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:16b-18 “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

All along James’ point in these last verses has been humility in prayer, not as a prescription for answered prayer, but as a reminder of needed prayer.  Now he makes the connection between our sanctification in righteousness and our prayer lives.  Elijah’s righteousness did not come from his position as a prophet.  His righteousness came from his dependence on God through prayer.  He struggled with so many of the same things we struggle with.  He despaired and lost hope and grumbled and complained, but he never ceased in prayer.  He never ceased seeking after His Father.  James is telling us that everything about our lives must be centered on God.  That is where power lies.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Study/Meditation:  How do you think your righteousness is connected to a fruitful prayer life?  How does sin inhibit your prayer life?

*Father, sanctify me in Your ways and to Your will so that I may do Your work.  To You be all glory, praise, and honor.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:16a “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

Again, taking this verse out of context will prove misleading and theologically dangerous.  James is reminding us of the importance of confession to each other, especially if there is contention between us, and those cleared relationships make way for healing.  The healing can be relational, spiritual, emotional, or physical.  Confession is necessary for the believer, not in order to be forgiven since God clearly says that when we repent of our sins to Him they are cast as far as the east is from the west.  Confession is important for cleansed relationships and clear consciences.  Confession to one another is humility in action and it is extraordinarily important that we do so, especially if we have sinned against another.  Again, this is not about prescriptions for getting what we desire from God.  This is about God telling us how to be sanctified before Him as we strive together in this life toward His Kingdom.

Study/Meditation:  What is the difference between “confession” and “repentance”?  Why is the latter the necessary one for forgiveness of our sins?  How might we get those confused?

*Father, thank You for telling me in Your Word how I might live in harmony and humility with my fellow brothers and sisters.  Forgive me when I sin against them and help me in my path to humbly going to them and talking through these things toward reconciliation.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:15 “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

We must remember as we continue to look at these last verses in James’ letter that his point is prayer, but prayer in humble submission to God.  We need to pray in all times, good and bad, and it is good that we lean on each other, especially our church leaders, to pray for us when we are in serious distress.  Now James is encouraging us by reminding us of the reason for the prayer of faith—to save us.  In this light, this verse tells us that God does at times heal us from physical malady, but His healing power over our lives is always complete in His promises to heal us completely one day.  We cannot limit verses like this one to physical healing, though not to include it would be equally incorrect; He does heal.  However, our faith doesn’t put God into an “obedience box” where He is forced to do what we ask.  His promise is for healing, but the means and timing of that healing is His to determine.  At times it is here and at times it will be later.  We have been promised salvation and healing from this world, and that we will receive.  James’ point is that we pray knowing that God will answer; it may simply look differently than the way we think it should.

Study/Meditation:  There are many examples of great men in the Bible who went home to the Lord while still ill. (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20; Philippians 2:25-26; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)  What does that teach us?

*Father, thank You for Your promises to heal me and forgive me.  Help me to remember that it is You who determines these things and to ask while submitting to Your sovereignty.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:14 “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.”

Even though for the sake of time and space we deal with verses in a somewhat independent fashion in this devotion, we must not separate verses like verse 14 from the context of what James just wrote in the verse preceding it.  He has been calling us to a life of prayer, or complete dependence on God for all things.  In verse 13 he told us to pray in good and bad times, and now in verse 14 he reminds us that we are a part of a body of believers.  Isolating ourselves from this body in times of sickness is sad and incorrect.  James is promoting community here, telling us to lift each other up and to come to our appointed leaders in the church to pray over us in these desperate times.  Lean on the men who God has called to lead you in your church family.  God certainly calls on us to full dependence  on Him, but He has also established His church here on earth so that we can support one another in Him.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think it is important to call on church leadership to pray over you in times of serious distress?  How does this keep us from sad isolation?

*Father, thank You for establishing Your church here on earth as we wait for Your return.  Help me to lean on my brothers and sisters in my times of distress, looking to You for help and healing.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praise.”

As James begins to draw his letter to a close, he continues in the same theme—humility—but now he is drawing attention to our communication with God.  An attitude of humility will present itself in our attitudes towards all circumstances in life, whether good or bad.  Do we see every situation in which we find ourselves as one where we seek our Father?  When things are horrible, is He the first One we turn to?  When life is wonderful, do we thank Him first?  Recognizing that He is the Creator God, the Sovereign One, means giving Him recognition and glory in every facet of life.  James followed his exhortation about oaths, or senseless speech, in verse 12 with one that tells us how we should be speaking, in praise and humility to our Father in verse 13.  Brothers and sisters, make your life one that looks to your Father in all things first.

Study/Meditation:  Look at Jesus’ example of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.  How does He exemplify a correct means of speaking to our Father?

*Father, thank You for the many blessings in this life.  I pray Your guidance and deliverance from the trials and tribulations I face today.  Thank You for giving me this avenue by which I can speak to You at any time.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:7-12

James 5:12 “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”

During James’ time, it was quite common for people to swear oaths to reinforce their truthfulness, often despite the follow-through or the lack thereof.  Since James’ point in this section of his letter is about trials and patience and endurance in the midst of worldliness, the apostle is simply admonitioning his readers to let their actions speak, not their words.  Patience and godliness are not manifested in grandiose words or gestures.  These things honor God when they are lived quietly, with no need of audiences and attention.  Remember, at the heart of all that James has said in this letter is a call to humility.  Serve the Lord and give Him all glory, praise, and honor without drawing attention to yourself.  That’s the way believers live who have an eye on the Lord’s coming.
Study/Meditation:  We may not swear oaths as much today to make ourselves look good, but what is more common now?  How do these sorts of gestures set us up for condemnation?

*Father, You are everything and solely deserving of the honor and praise and adoration of Your people.  You are glorious and You are my King.  Praise be to You!  Amen.