Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. (James 5:13)
Trouble? What’s your reaction to times of trouble? James gives a simple prescription: Prayer. But instead of being our first response, prayer is often a distant afterthought. We remember to pray only after we’ve exhausted ourselves trying to fix the trouble. If we remember at all.
The word for troublein the Greek is kakopatheo. It comes from two words meaning “to suffer,” and “evil.” James uses a broad brush to describe most any kind of hardship we might endure.
Take a minute to read James 5:13-16. You’ll notice several different kinds of prayer in the passage. Petition, praise, healing-prayer, confession, and the prayer of agreement. All have their place in the life of a believer. Let’s look at the first two: petition and praise:
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise (James 5:13).
When trouble hits, we’re to petition God for help. The word for prayer used here comes from a word that means “to wish.” It can be very specific in nature. When you’re in trouble you need help. Prayer helps when I’m in trouble because God has the power to change my situation.
But what about those times when you’re happy? Also time to pray. James reminds us to praise—another kind of prayer. We can sing songs in our heart (or out loud) to God. Through the prayer of praise, we invite Him into our times of happiness.
Sometimes life is good. Other times, it’s marred by trouble. In either situation, we can draw comfort, encouragement and joy through prayer, because as James reminds us, prayer works! The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
Lord, remind me to pray. Let prayer become my first response. When prayer is foremost in my mind Lord, it shows that You are on my mind. It’s about the relationship with You. Prayer does work, and the more I am watchful, the more I notice Your answers. But prayer is my pipeline to Your heart. And as I am learning, that’s the best reward of all.