Sermon:  Power Through Prayer (pt 1)

Summary:  In any situation in life, whether good or bad times, the first response 
should be prayer, which can in include praises or petition.  Even in times when 
one is beat down emotionally and spiritual by circumstances or sin, one should not 
pray alone, but involve others in times of prayer and confession so they can pray for 
him and strengthen him.

Know:  Fervent prayers of the righteous are powerful

Feel:  Empowerment through prayer

Do:  Examine your attitudes about prayer in various situations in life and identify 
the source of those attitudes and compare them with the attitude we should have 
according to the text.  Formulate ways for your attitude to be transformed and list 
ways this transformation would change you.

Text:  James 5:13-18

Scripture Reading:  Phil 4:6-7

1.  Have you ever been in a "situation?"
	a.  Years ago, on a support trip from Vermont to Arkansas
		- In Kentucky, van kept dying, hard to start back up
		- At one point, almost couldn't get it started
		- All got out, laid hands on the hood and prayed!
		- Rest of the trip was okay
	b.  Something more serious - Before Jeremy born, had to see specialist
		- Told us he possibly may be deformed, have brain damage
		- Devastated, told church, they prayed
		- Went to specialist, he did his tests, later said it was formality
		- He could not understand why there was no problem
	c.  Maybe your situation is a "good" situation
		- Everything just seems perfect, couldn't get any better
		- Ever had one of those "perfect" days?
		- We did, we climb Black Mountain in Vermont, see 5 states 
	d.  We all have various "situations" good or bad
2.  Question:  What is your response to a situation?
	a.  Maybe worry, obsess over it, talk about it, lose sleep, depression 
	b.  If it is a good situation, feel generous, share, smile a lot, 
	c.  Does the Bible speak of our "situations?"  Yes
3.  Text:  James 5:13-18 - 
	a.  One of the most misunderstood, misapplied passages in James
		- Always brings up questions about miracles, especially healing
		- Brings up questions about connection of sickness to sin
		- Anointing evolved into the practice of Extreme Unction
	b.  I don't think this passage is about miraculous healing of disease
	c.  I think this passage is about one thing - PRAYER
		- It fits very neatly with the context
			= These were people that suffered persecution
			= Chap 1 - They were encountering various trials
			= Chap 5 - Powerful and rich oppressing & exploiting them
		- Instructions so far in James
			= Consider it all joy when encounter various trials
			= Do not say God is tempting you
			= Not show favoritism to the rich oppressors
			= Watch your tongue
		- Then, in chap 5, he says to Be patient, God will make it right
	d.  Now, the text says to pray
		- An appropriate way to conclude the book
		- James began with prayer - "Let him ask of God who gives 
		   generously without reproach"
		- Now, once again, he says to pray
4.  This text instructs us to pray in various situations
	a.  When are you in a situation?  ALWAYS
	b.  We will talk about three specific situations to pray through
		- Will not deal with all of them in one sermon
		- The third situation will be in another sermon

I.  Situation 1:  When you are cheerful
	A.  Some Bibles use other words
		1.  Are any of you cheerful, merry, happy, of good cheer
		2.  Phillips translation says, "flourishing"
		3.  Idea is things are just peachy
		4.  Easy to forget, but don't' forget
	B.  Text literally says to "sing a song of praise" 
		1.  A song of praise is a prayer 
			a.  We can say prayers of thanksgiving
			b.  Even more, we can lift up our voices and sing
		2.  Look at some examples of this - Going to read a lot...
			a.  (Exodus 15:1-18)
				- Yahweh is a warrior that rescued them
				- Yahweh leads them to their new home
			b.  (Rev 5:9-10, 11-14) - Praise to the Lamb
				- Purchased us with his blood
				- Made us a kingdom of priests to God
			c.  (Rev 15:2-4) - Song of Moses and the Lamb
				- This is a song of deliverance
				- There is a lot of singing in the Bible
		3.  We have a whole book in the Bible devoted to songs
			a.  The book of Psalms, a collection of praises, thanksgiving, 
			      requests, laments, and other kinds of songs
			b.  Do you think singing is important way to pray?
	C.  Music is very, very powerful - It touches a part of us in ways we can't 
	      always adequately explain
		1.  Ever been to a concert, recital, or something else like it?  
			a.  Watch people's reaction to the music
			b.  Went to Air Force Band recently - People react to music
			c.  Excitement, tears, uplifted, inspired, sad, patriotic, etc.
			d.  I remember first time I heard York Acappella Chorus
				-  Hallelujah Chorus took my breath away
				-  Make me my Thine Instrument and The Lord Bless 
				    you and Keep You
				-  Taking good music and Christian lyrics even MORE 
		2.  BUT, as uplifting as it is, James doesn't say merely to listen to 
		     praises, but to SING praises
			a.  As you know, it is much different singing than listening
			b.  Words and music go together to communicate something 
			     from your heart hard to express with just words 
			c.  Think about it:
				- Can communicate self with words, that's one level
				- Can communicate with poetry, that another level
				- Can communicate with music, 
				- Music touches and comes from soul in a different 
			d.  Music so powerful, it can affect your mood
				- Can strengthen it, or even change it
				- Not a bad thing, we are created that way
				- What better thing to do than sing praises?
		3.  I remember growing up, we were always singing
			a.  Potlucks, in homes, teen get together, etc.
			b.  Even after worship was over, group in corner sing
			c.  Someone always started us in singing
		4.  Song:
	D.  So, when you are flourishing, don't forget to sing praises!
		1.  Do it spontaneously, by yourself or with others
		2.  Don't only pray when things are bad

II.  Situation 2 - When suffering
	A.  Once again, the first response should always be prayer
	B.  We know that these believers had their share of suffering:
		1.  James indicates the way they suffered
			a.  5:1-7 - Suffered exploitation at hands of rich oppressors
			b.  First response?
				- Not to lash back, not go on a crusade, not rebel
				- Not even try to figure out what to do about it
				- Very first thing - PRAY
			c.  What to pray for?  How to pray?
		2.  See examples of this throughout scripture
			a.  (Acts 4:23-31) - Disciples prayed when persecuted
				- Warned & threatened not to speak in name of Jesus
				- So they prayed, and God answered
				- What they pray for?  God's Purpose to be done.
			b.  (Num 14:5; 16:1-4; 20:2-6)-Moses when people quarreled
				- First reaction, fell on his face
				- He was acutely aware of the presence of God
				- Ex 33:11 - Talked to God like one talks to friend
				- How did Moses pray?  In Humility
			c.  (Neh 1:3-11; 2:1-4; 4:4-5; 4:9; 5:19) - Nehemiah
				- Nehemiah often study on leadership
				- First response was always prayer
				- Pray was a lifestyle, he always talked to God
				- Nehemiah prayed for guidance
		3.  Song:  Steadfast Love of Lord never ceases - From Bible
			a. Are you aware of the context of this song?
			b. Unspeakable devastation (Lam 2:10-13, 19-22)
			c. Then comes a declaration of faith (Lam 3:22-24)
		4.  Sometimes might not know how to pray of what for
			a.  Chap 1 - When encounter various trials, pray for wisdom
			b.  Sometimes we simply do not know what to ask for
			c.  Perhaps the best thing is simply to pray for wisdom 
	C.  ILL:  Need to understand place prayer is to have in our lives
		1.  ILL:  It is our lifeline for help, but not like a talisman
			a.  In some stories, given a talisman, box, etc.
			b.  They say, only use it in case of dire emergency
			c.  Not to use whenever, only in special cases
			d.  But prayer is not just for extreme circumstances
		2.  ILL:  I remember some anger, quarreling going on years ago
			a.  In the midst of it, I suggested we pray for each other
			b.  Some got indignant, did not want or "need" prayer
			c.  Why?- Pride?  Thinking prayer for extreme circumstance?  
			d.  If Moses fall flat on face, Nehemiah pray at drop of hat, 
			     why we think we not have to?
		3.  1 Thess 5:17 - Pray without ceasing 
	D.  When facing difficulty or suffering, first response should be prayer
		1.  What kind of difficulty are you facing?
		2.  What have you done about it?  
		3.  Have you done the most important thing?  Pray

1.  The rest of the passage deals with another "situation" for prayer
	a.  Will deal with this in the next sermon in this series
	b.  I had choice - One really long sermon, or two shorter ones
2.  For now, remember the first response - Prayer
	a.  God wants to hear your prayers
	b.  Revelation says prayers are like incense to God 
3.  What situation are you in today?   Good, difficult?  Pray
4.  Remember God wants only good for you (inv)


Small Group Questions:  Power Through Prayer (pt 1)

Summary:  In any situation in life, whether good or bad times, the first response 
should be prayer, which can in include praises or petition.  

- What describes what you are like when you are in need of help?  A rock.  A tree.  
A vine.  Dirt.  A stream.  A fence.  A road.  Other____________.


1.  James 1:5; 5:13 - James begins and ends his epistle talking about prayer.  What does 
this imply about prayer?  

2.  Mt 6:7-8 - What can you learn about God and prayer from this passage?  Why would God 
want you to pray if he already knows what you need?

3.  What kinds of situations call for prayer?  Why?

4.  What can you learn from some of these examples of prayer/praise?
	a.  Psalm 146 - 
	b.  Psalm 147 - 
	c.  Neh 1:3-11; 2:1-4; 4:4-5; 4:9; 5:19 - 
	d.  John 17 - 
	e.  Acts 4:23-31 - 


5.  What are some reasons you do not pray more than you do?  What might this reveal about 

6.  What changes might you need to make?