If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander from the truth and someone turns back the wanderer, recognize that whoever brings a sinner back from the wrong path will save them from death and will bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
Real community is a powerful, even life-saving thing.
When things are hard – when you’re facing illness or adversity – there’s no substitute for family and friends to keep you encouraged and help care for practical needs when you have a hard time caring for yourself. When we are straying from the path, heading toward self-destruction, we need someone we trust to call us back to ourselves. Even when we have joyful news, it’s not really worth much without someone to share it with, is it?
This last section of James is all about the power of prayer, which is really the power of faith lived out in community. When you find those people who will do anything for you, who won’t let you go, who will follow you into the darkest corners of your life and to the highest mountaintops, you have found evidence of a loving God and a living Christ. When you are surrounded by that level of care and faith, your own love and trust in Jesus can’t help but grow. You will see amazing things happen in yourself and others – amazing works of transformation and healing.
This was the beauty of James’ Jerusalem church. These were friends who felt like family – in fact, even better than family. This is a vision of what Church could and should be.
For Pondering & Prayer
When and with whom have you experienced this kind of community? Was it in the church or somewhere else? How did it influence your faith?
Community like this requires an investment of time and self. Where are you investing to build this kind of community? Where might you need to step up your efforts?