|Vol. 12 No. 12 December 2010||
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:13-18)
In the above passage, pray, or a form of the word, is mentioned seven times in these six short verses. James emphasized the importance of prayer in our lives by listing various times that it is good for a Christian to pray – when suffering, when sick, to repent and pray for the forgiveness of sins, and James encourages us to ask others to pray on our behalf. After telling us when to pray, James instructed us why we should pray. A diligent, active prayer of the child of God gets results. This inspired writer, then, gives a biblical example of the power of prayer taken from 1 Kings 17:1-18:46. Jesus also referred to this great example of prayer in Luke 4:25.
While James discussed the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian, he did not teach one how to pray. We must look elsewhere in our Bibles for this knowledge. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray in Luke 11:1. He responded with the following example of a prayer.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:2-4)
Jesus did not intend for the disciples or any of His followers to recite these words in our prayers to God. This passage should be used as an example or model for our own personal prayers to God. With this in mind, let me suggest some things to think about as we pray to God.
These are just a few points gleaned from Jesus’ example of prayer. We should reflect upon these and the many other Scriptures discussing prayer. Doing so will assist us in a meaningful prayer life rather than one filled with vain repetitions.