Sermon:  Power Through Prayer (pt 2)

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 

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:  Eph 6:17-18

1.  Still talking about how to respond in various situations in Jas 5.13-18
	a.  When you are flourishing or when suffering, first response is to pray
	b.  Now will deal with another situation most of this text deals with
2.  This is the most misunderstood text in James
	a.  This is not about extreme unction or last rites
		- Nothing about a priest, nothing about dying, no holy water here
	b.  This passage raises questions about miraculous gifts
		- But this passage not say to call for one with gift of healing
		- Says call for elders - are we to assume every elder could perform 
		   miracles or had the gift of healing?  Experience says no
		- Text says the prayer in faith raises them up, not a spiritual gift
	c.  Some say this is medicinal, that the oil was medicine
		- Text does not say call for a doctor, but an elder
		- Oil not a cure-all  Would it heal liver infection, blood disease, etc.?
	d.  None of the explanations fits the context very well
		- Context deals with oppressive suffering of Christians
		- They suffering at hands of rich and powerful unbelievers
		- Chapter ends with saving a soul from sin
		- What does sickness and anointing with oil have to do with this?
3.  This passage is about one thing only - prayer
	a.  v.13 - Deals with situations for prayer, v.14-18 - Is still about prayer
	b.  I convinced that this passage has nothing to do with miraculous gifts
4.  Message:  Do not pray alone, especially when you are beat down
	-  We will look at reasons why you should not pray alone

I.  May be too weakened
	A.  A few years ago, I would have said too "sick" from this passage
		1.  Most translations render this word, "sick"
		2.  Can include those who are ill, but this not what James is saying
	B.  Reasons sick is not a good translation:
		1.  Theological
			a.  Suggests connection between illness and personal sin
			b.  Jn 9:1-4 - Indicates sickness not result of personal sin
				- This was the assumption they made in Job
				- They were proved wrong in the end
		2.  Language - Greek word used not nosew or malakia,(to be sick)
			a.  Word root is asqen, much more general word
				- vb: asqenew - To be weak, powerless, infirm, sick
				- n:  asqeneia - Weakness, timidity, infirmity
				- adj: asqenhs - Weak, feeble, impotent, infirm
				- Lexical:  "Weakness is the opposite of strength 
				  (sqenos) and embraces the full range of physical, 
				   emotional, social, economic and even spiritual 
			b.  Examples of uses of this Grk word:
				- Rom 5:6 - While we were still helpless Christ died
				- Rom 14:1 - Accept on who is weak in faith
				- Mk 14:38 - Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
				- 1 Cor 1:25 - Weakness of God is stronger than
				- 1 Cor 9:22 - To the weak I became weak that
				- Heb 4:15 - High Priest sympathize with weaknesses
			c.  Tally:  asthen root in the New Testament
				- 44 Times, it refers to weakness
				- 33 Times, it refers to physical sickness
				-Majority of times refers to weakness
			d.  Other Grk word - "Prayer will raise the one who is sick"
				- Kamnw - To be weary, fatigued, ill, or to die
				- Idea is to be weary, even to the point of death
				- Word used only 2 other times in the New Testament
					= Heb 12:3 - Consider him who endured such 
					   hostility so that you will not grow weary
					= Rev 2:3 - You have endured and not grown 
					= In both verses, weary result of persecution
		3.  Who is this passage addressed to?  
			a.  Not the diseased, but the weak, weary, beat down
			b.  James has been addressing those distressed by various 
			     trials at the hands of rich and powerful persecutors
			c.  They are tired, weary, exhausted, discouraged, 
			     depressed, beat down, bruised, worn out
		4.  Improved translation - Weakened/weary, exhausted, depressed
			a.  Picture the people James is addressing here
			b.  Have endured all kinds of persecution and trouble
				- Property seized, lost job, beaten, public humiliated
				- Family members persecuted, prison, killed
				- They have been weakened, worn out, beat down
			c.  This may have even led to some sort of sin
				- It can happen
				- Even Peter denied Christ when faced with difficulties
	C.  ILL:  Sometimes brethren get beat down and have no strength left
		1.  Like a missionary family to Brazil
			a.  As young minister, his wife died.  Very difficult
			b.  Re-Married, prepare to go again, child sick and die
			c.  Went to Brazil, targeted by thieves because American
				- Wife was shot and made vegetable by the thieves
				- They let him live when they found out he a holy man
				- They were superstitious 
			d.  Man fell apart, had no strength left
				- No desire to go on and live
				- Tired of being a Christian, nothing but trouble
				- Did not even have the will to pray anymore
		2.  This is the type of person James is talking to
		3.  Maybe you know someone like this - No strength left, beat down
			a.  Weary and weak
			b.  Maybe weary of even praying
		4.  Maybe you are someone like this
	D.  Text says - If you are weakened/weary, do not try to pray alone
		1.  If beat down, not have strength or will to pray
		2.  Need those strong enough to support you and carry you
		3.  Text says to call for the elders

II.  The Elders can help you find strength
	A.  Not a suggestion, text simply says to do it!
	B.  What do the elders do when they come?
		1.  Pray over you - You may not have will to pray, but they do
			a.  Most important ministry for a Christian leader is prayer
			b.  (Acts 6:1-4) - Leaders in the Jerusalem Church
				- Did not say - Counseling & Ministry of word
				- First priority in their ministry was prayer
				- Christian leadership affected by secular psychology 
					= Minister's study became office with hours
					= Problem - Secular psychologist low success 
				   	   rate, many discouraged
						< Ignored central part of human nature
						< We are spiritual beings
					= Recent years a resurgence of interest in 
					   spiritual discipline, transformation happening
				- Rely foremost on prayer, not secular counseling
			c.  Source of strength & transformation is God, not us
			d.  Prayer offered in faith will save the weary one
				- Word used is not iaomai - which means to heal
				- Word used is swzw - which means to save
				- Weary, weak, feeble in danger of being lost
				- No wonder text says to call for elders!
		2.  Anoint with oil - What is this all about?
			a.  Raises questions
				- What kind of oil?  How much oil?  Pour it or dab it?
				- Why anoint with oil?  What does it mean?
			b.  Background on anointing - 2 kinds of anointing
				- Criw - Ceremonial anointing - To set apart
					= Kings and priests inaugurated with anointing
					= Where the word Cristos, Christ, comes from
					= This is NOT the word used here
				- Aleijw - To rub oil, sometimes to pour oil
					= Used for hygiene - Anoint face with oil to 
					   refresh self, clean self, like aftershave
					= Used for medicinal ointment - Like when 
					   Samaritan clean wound with wine and put oil
				- Also used metaphorically - Ministry of 
				  restoration/refreshing a weak or weary soul
			c.  Examples of metaphorical use of anointing
				- (Isa 1:6) - Bruises and wounds softened with oil
					= In context, this is not literal, but figurative
					= Anointing is talking about ministry of spiritual 
					   restoration, refreshing, healing
					= About refreshing a parched, dry, weary soul
				- (Ps 23) - Anoint my head with oil.  Not literal. . .
					= Context - Been in a dark valley on the run
					= Shepherd leads him to green pastures and 
					   clean, refreshing waters 
					= Shepherd refreshes him at his table
					= Shepherd restores his weary soul
			d.  Here in James, probably also metaphorical, makes sense
				- "Anointing" a participle, connected to the verb pray
				- Suggests that the anointing, or the refreshing, 
				   comes from the ministry of prayer itself
				- Elder is strengthening the weary, worn out, soul
				- ILL:  John, a brother in Vermont, used to be member 
				  at Central C of  C in Amarillo
					= Elders there made prayer priority
					= John said there was something strengthening 
					    and empowering about their prayer
					= These battle worn warriors lay hands on him 
					    and pray for him, he was strengthened
		3.  If he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him
			a.  Person could be beat down so much, it led to sin
			b.  Person could be beat down because of sin as well
			c.  Either way, he needs to call for elders to pray
		4.  This is image of shepherd Jesus gives in a parable, Lk 15:4-7
			a.  Shepherd leaves the 99 in the fold to find the 1 lost 
			b.  Finds the lost sheep, what does the shepherd do?
				- Not beat it, lecture it, shame it, etc.
				- Picks up that beat down sheep, carries on shoulders
				- Sometimes we need to be carried
				- Not quietly hide sheep away, but rejoice with friends 
				  and neighbors - I have found the lost sheep
			c.  He has restored, strengthened, forgiven
				- Sometimes need to hear words, be reminded, "God 
				  has forgiven your sins"
	C.  ILL:  Reminds me of a skit I saw year ago.  Man and Jesus on stage
		1.  Man apologizing to Jesus for sinning, promise not to do it again
			a.  Third person run across the stage, knocked him down
			b.  On third persons back was the word, "Sin"
		2.  Man slowly pulls self up, walks back to Jesus, apologize again
			a.  After promising not to do it again, sin knocks him over
			b.  This happens several times
			c.  Each time, man is weaker, harder to get up
			d.  Finally, man can barely stand up to talk to Jesus
		3.  Man finally says, "Jesus, I not have it in me, I try, please help"
			a.  Sin runs toward him for the final blow
			b.  Jesus steps in front of man and knocks sin over
			c.  Sin is down for the count and never gets back up
			d.  Jesus then carries the man who prayed off the stage
		4.  This is the sort of thing we are talking about here
			a.  Sometimes we just don't have the strength
			b.  Like father with demon possessed boy wanted healing, 
				- Jesus said all things possible to them that believe 
				- The father said, "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"
				- Sometimes we need help  Mk 9:24
	D.  Sometimes we need help
		1.  Maybe we are weakened by something and need help
		2.  Jesus will help, but he often works through other people
		3.  The chief shepherd works through his under-shepherds prayer
		4.  Do not pray alone - call for the shepherds.  Text not stop there... 

III.  Brethren can help you find strength
	A.  Text continues with "therefore" and then includes what we all are to do
	B.  What is it that we are all to do?
		1.  Confess your sins to another - Probably neglected practice
			a.  Why neglected?
				- Not feel this a safe place to be vulnerable?
				- No one else does it, it seems so unusual?
				- Illusion that church is place of the perfect, 
				- For any number of reasons we often hide sin
			b.  But if hide it, it will eat away at your soul - Ps 32:3
				- When I kept silent about my sin, I wasted away
				- My vitality was drained away
				- I acknowledged my sin, you forgave
				- Beatitude-"How blessed is he who sins are forgiven
			c.  So we confess - mutual confession, to one another
				- Need to have attitude of tax collector in Lk 18:13
				- "Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner!"
			d.  God's promise:
				- 1 Jn 1:9 - If confess, he faithful & righteous to forgive 
		2.  Pray for one another
			a.  This is mutual prayer - for one another
			b.  Priesthood of all believers, means prayer our ministry
			c.  Not just elders who pray, but we all are to pray
		3.  So that you may be healed
			a.  What kind of healing?  
			b.  Context:  emotional, psychological, spiritual healing
			c.  Healing comes with confession and prayer
			d.  This is one way we "bear one another's burdens", Gal 6:1
	C.  ILL:  Man struggled for years with pornography before days of internet
		1.  He would view it, then feel bad about it, but then do it again
			a.  He had every intention of stopping, but just couldn't
			b.  He just didn't seem to have the will to do so
		2.  Finally, he decided to confess it to the church during invitation
			a.  Nobody caught him in the act, this his own decision
			b.  He didn't just say, "I have sinned," but named the sin
			c.  He even confessed the manner of how he procured it
			d.  He exposed it all to the light, made a full confession
		3.  Later, he said that a huge transformation cam about in his heart
			a.  It was no longer a temptation - Even the desire was gone
			b.  Said he began to understand, "Confess sins, and pray so 
			     that you may be healed"
			c.  He was weakened, beat down by sin, but refreshed, 
			     strengthened, renewed, restored by confession & prayer
		4.  His only disappointment - How the brethren reacted
			a.  They prayed for him that morning at church, that was all
			b.  No one followed up, no one asked him how he was doing
			c.  Finally talked to a couple of the brothers about it
				- They did not like his confession, uncomfortable
				- One claimed it should not have been specific
				- Why? Couldn't give bible reason, just uncomfortable
					= Was Jesus uncomfortable?
					= Made him who knew no sin to be sin
					= He was well acquainted with our weakness
				- Why uncomfortable?
					= Perhaps sin in their life, light got too close
					= Maybe false impression Christians perfect
					= Not God work through confession & prayer?
			d.  But, even if they didn't approve, God approved 
				- God changed this man's heart
				- Just like Elijah, God answers prayer
	D.  Confession is shining the light on sin
		1. Power of sin to keep hold of you is keeping it in the dark
		2.  Confession brings it to the light, robs it of its power
		3.  If beat down, at mercy of a sin, confess and pray

1.  Is any weak, worn out, exhausted?   Don't pray alone
2.  Maybe worn out and beat down by sin
	a.  If you not a Christian.  First step is to obey the Gospel (inv)
	b.  If you are a Christian, confess and let's pray
3.  Maybe some other hardship in your life sapped your strength
4.  Acknowledge it, and lets pray about it


Small Group Notes:  Power Through Prayer (pt 2)

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.

- What was a time you found it most difficult to pray?

Explore:  (James 5:13-18)

1.  How does knowing that in Greek, "sick" in verse 14 actually means "weak, helpless, weary, 
feeble, powerless, infirm" and "sick" in verse 15 typically means "weary, worn out" affect 
your understanding of who this passage is speaking to?  How does this fit with the context?

2.   Why are the elders to be called?  If the anointing is metaphorical as in Isaiah 1:6 or 
the 23rd Psalm, then what does the anointing here in James refer to?  How does the ministry 
of the shepherd "anoint"  the weary?  What does this say about the ministry of elders and 
other leaders?

3.  How does confession of sin fit in with weariness and weakness?  What should be the results 
of confession and prayer?  Why?

4.  Since this passage is not directed at those with a disease, but those who are worn out, 
bruised, and beat down, discuss the kinds of "healing" this passage is referring to.


5.  List and discuss possible reasons why we don't put these things into practice more?

6.  What can you do to strengthen one who is weary?

7.  What should you do when you find it difficult to pray?  How would you go about it?