Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. - James 5:13
I’m sitting in Bible Read Through after share time and Emma asks, 'any prayer requests for this week?'. I search my brain. My health is good, there are no family illnesses, our finances are stable, my baby is feeding well (and as a bonus — sleeping!), our jobs are secure, I don't feel anxious or tired or run down. I look at David, we both pause, 'ermm..' and confirm that we have no prayer requests.
The first part of this verse is sometimes easier to apply. When there is something wrong, we turn to God, right? We ask our Bible Read Through to pray for us. Even people who don't know God often turn to Him when life is bad. As a Christian, our knee jerk reaction when we face difficulties, should be to run to our heavenly Father in prayer. Simple? Often not.
Are you the person who, when faced with difficulty, tends to worry, to complain, to grumble? Or is your first response to call a friend, use your own knowledge, start putting an action plan together, call in a favour, and finally when all options are exhausted turn to God for help?
Or are you the opposite? The person who comes with their list, begs for help, and feels guilty that the only time they talk to God is when they are asking for things?
Whichever person you are, God is loving, God is patient, God is understanding, God is kind, God is waiting for us; knowing what we will ask before we do (Psalm
139:2). He wants us to turn to Him, He wants to be your first option when things are tough, the Bible tells us this over and over again.
When we call on Him, He hears us (Jeremiah 29:12). He doesn't want us to
be anxious but to bring our needs before Him (Philippians 4:6). He hears us every time we come to Him, not getting bored if it's the hundredth time that hour! (1 John 5:14).
Today’s scripture doesn't tell us how to pray. It doesn't tell us how long or short to make our prayers, or whether God will answer straight away. But it reminds us simply that praying to God for our needs, shouldn't be a last hope but our first desire.
‘Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.’
Getting back to the scenario above, it's funny isn't it, how often we gloss over the fact that, 'life is normal', 'everything's ok', 'there's not much drama'. We may see this as the product of being extremely organised that week and give ourselves a pat on the back, rather than acknowledging that God is in our midst doing business. He has kept Covid-19 from your door, He has provided the furlough scheme, He has given you
a miraculous baby, He has given your mum a quick doctor's appointment for her breast lump, He has placed that friend and that text of encouragement just at the right time, and often with no acknowledgement.
When was the last time we thanked God for the ‘normal’? When was the last time we
were cheerful and sang God's praise? When was the last time when asked for a prayer request, you said: ‘Life is good, let's praise God for His goodness!’. Life is often tricky, but life is also great!
Let's use our breath to praise the God of heaven, who loves us and cares for us, and is doing more among us than we give Him credit for. Let's hear the birds and see the trees and not only be in awe, but verbally praise.
'Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.'
The aim of my life is to love God and to love people, and to see my circle of people come to know Him. These verses, although they seem extremely simple, if acted out every day, could be our biggest evangelistic tool. These verses, when applied, not only bring us closer to our heavenly Father, but make us stand apart from the world.
Tell people that you are praying, for your sufferings and theirs, and what you expect God to do. Acknowledge God for all the good things He has done recently, tell your co-workers, sing down the corridor at work, add, 'praise God' to the end of your sentences. Let people see that we live differently, we live daily in connection with the God who loves us, and it really is the best news.
1. What is your first thought when faced with suffering? Today make a conscious decision to write your life problem down and take it to God in prayer.
2. When you feel anxious, or have a negative thought this week, send a quick fire sentence of prayer to God.
3. Put on your favourite worship song and sing loudly, God loves it and your soul will feel good (even if you're like me and can't hold a tune!)