James 5, 13-16
Something to read
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
The authorship of the letter of James is unknown, but references to endurance and oppression earlier in the chapter suggest that it was written to the early Christian church in a context of persecution. As the letter draws to its end, the author entreats his audience to pray in all situations, in good times and in bad.
Seeing the suffering of the world may test our faith. And yet many people who travel to areas of disaster and extreme suffering speak of the extraordinary faith of the people they meet there.
Praying in all things means engaging with the suffering we see in the world; it means engaging with the times and the places that seem to make no sense, and praying through the times when we don’t seem to get any answers at all, and certainly not ones that we understand or we want.
The previous verses speak of the promise of a God who is compassionate and merciful. If our prayer is not offered as a way out of suffering, but as a means of somehow entering into the suffering of the world, we may find that we too can rejoice with James and with the people who hold faith in extreme areas of the world’s suffering.
And if we enter this suffering, we enter into something of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, where the world’s suffering is transformed into new life and possibility and hope is possible, even through death.
Something to do
Consider a situation of senseless suffering in the world and hold it in prayer. Resist the urge to pray for any outcome. Simply stay with it; perhaps imagine yourself in the situation of individuals within that context, and then give it to God.
Something to pray
Loving God, help us to believe in your compassion and mercy, and strengthen us to pray. Amen.
Kate Tuckett is a former Church Resources Manager for Christian Aid and is now a Curate in the Diocese of Southwark.