“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for
you.” 1 Thess 5:16-18
“The one urge which should never be resisted is the urge to pray.” -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
The whole of the Christian life is to be lived in communion with God, the good and the bad, manifested by prayer. Pray
without ceasing. There is no time where God does not invite us to himself, thus it is wise to perform what is most
seasonable. The Christian life is to be consecrated by prayer so that every pleasure is hallowed and every pain is
” Afflictions should put us upon prayer, and prosperity should make us abound in praise. ” Matthew Henry
Whatever affections are stirred from worldly circumstances, convert them to a religious use: (Jer 22:10, Luke 23:28) May
we learn to take the advantage of a passion, not to fulfil it, but to employ it for the use of communion with God.
We have great cause in afflictions to use the help of prayer. In sufferings, we should ask patience, faithfulness (Ps 125:3),
hope, gracious improvement in obedience (Ps 119:67), and ultimately deliverance (Ps 34:7, 107:16).
We seek mercy in the morning (Lam 3:23), but usually we forget praise at night (Psalm 92:2).
Praising God in times of blessing is one of the best gifts we’ve been given to deliver us from the lurking and ever present
idolatry of our hearts and the pride of life. Singing reformulates our affections, teaching us to not seize and love the gift,
but sing in thanksgiving to the giver! Return to the fountain of all graces!
What should we sing in praise? Chiefly, the Psalms! AV: “ Is any merry? let him sing psalms.”
Calvin called the Psalms “The anatomy of all parts of the soul.” So, whenever we might look for suitable songs of praise,
he says, “we shall not find better songs nor more fitting for the purpose, than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit
spoke and made through him…(quoting Augustine), when we sing them, we are certain that God puts in our mouths these,
as if He Himself were singing in us exalt His glory.”
Singing psalms is a gospel duty of worship and a means of grace. (Ps 95:1-2, Matt 26:30, Acts 16:25, Col 3:16, Eph 5:19)
14 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.
There is much discrepancy even among the reformed about what to do with this passage. Is the sickness bodily or
spiritual? How sick does one need to be? Do we still anoint with oil even though we believe the gift of healings has
ceased? Is the oil a symbol for medicine or the Holy Spirit or hearkening to OT imagery (oil of gladness, blessing etc)?
James instructs the despairing sick to call for the church (elders are the spiritual representatives- note that Presbyterian
church polity is assumed) to gather together and beseech the Lord, anointing with oil in the name of Christ.
At Parish, we follow James 5 literally in simple faith. If you are seriously ill, you can call upon the elders and we will
meet with and pray over you, anointing with oil. You must call believingly that the Lord will heal, not the oil, not the
elders, but that God would hear the cries of the prayer of the faithful saints and answer. (Psalm 3:4)
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he
will be forgiven.
What is this prayer of faith? Is this different than normal prayer? James tells us that faithless prayer is no faith at all. (1:6)
Faith is not the cause but the necessary instrument, the empty hand of the soul assigned to receive everything from God.
If the affliction was a chastisement from the Lord for a specific sin, it will be forgiven.
All sickness is the result of sin, but not all sickness is the result of specific sins. (1 Cor 11:30, Matt 8:17)
Note: sickness is not always judgement/ chastisement and we should never speculate about others (remember Job’s friends
and John 9:3), but we should make the best use of sickness as a provocation to examination and repentance and fervent
prayer. “ Sickness is God’s messenger to call us to meet with him. ” Manton
Remember Asa’s mistake that “even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” (2
Chron 16:12) First, seek pardon for your soul. The best medicine deals with the cause, “Bless the Lord…He forgives all
my sins and heals all my diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3)
16a Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
This is not RC auricular confession to a priest, but reciprocal confession among Christians. Confession might be in front
of the church before admission or after public scandal (Matt 3:6, 1 Tim 5:20), in private for reconciliation (Luke 17:4,
Matt 5:24 Note: Do this immediately! ), to an elder or mature Christian to be comforted with the gospel and for guidance
unto holy living. Note that it is the duty of Christians to relieve one another by their prayers. (1 John 5:16) Praying for one
another is a tangible way of bearing one anothers’ burdens and fulfilling the Law of Christ. (Gal 6:2) Pray for the church
at large, your fellow brothers in the congregation, and especially your pastors.
“ Oh! That we would pay attention to this neglected duty! Not praying for others in unloving, not to expect it from others is
pride. Do not stand alone; two, indeed many, are better than one. ” -Manton
“That you may be healed” is speaking indiscriminately of bodily and spiritual sickness. Sin is the soul’s sickness.
16b The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working.
Who is this righteous man? The bible teaches none is righteous; how can we in our sinfulness be bold in our prayers?
1. We are counted as righteous in Christ due to imputed righteousness in justification. (Romans 5:19)
2. The confession of known sins and the pursuit of sanctification unto holiness (1 John 1:9, Psalm 66:18, John 9:31)
3. Christ Jesus, the righteous, our Mediator, prays for us and intercedes on our behalf. (1 John 2:1, Rev 8:4).
Effectual prayer is the fervent pleading to God out of helplessness, “filling our mouths with his arguments.” Spurgeon
(Luke 11:5-13) Pray with this encouragement, no one will seek his face in vain. (Isa 45:19) The helplessness and
weakness shown in faithful and fervent prayer is what makes it powerful! (Joel 3:10, Rom 8:26, 2 Cor 12:9-10)
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six
months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
To alleviate those disheartened by the previous verse, James gives the example of Elijah as encouragement. We must see
from Elijah’s example, although there may be less miracle in our answer, there will be just as much grace when we
fervently (heart and tongue) PRAY a prayer. Elijah was a sinner with the same weaknesses as us, yet God used his prayers
for great means. (2 Chron 30:18-19) Jesus Christ does away with the weakness of service. Thus, we pray in the name of
Christ Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that
whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
We are our brother’s keeper. All Christians have the duty to graciously correct one another who wander from from
orthodoxy or orthopraxy. In fact, we are to be continually exhorting one another to believe rightly and live holily, that is
our calling as a community of saints. (Heb 3:12, 10:24, 12:15) Correcting one who is erring is actually the most loving
thing that we can do. (Proverbs 27:6, Psalm 141:5, Gal 4:16) There is a way that seems right to man, but it ends it death.
When we see one habitually drifting from the truth in thought or in deed, we must warn, divert, and encourage them back
to the path that leads to life (Matt 18:15-18) (Titus 1:13, 3:10) (2 Tim 2:24-26). This is a grace that multiplies, “And when
you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Lk 22:32) Matt 18 gives the biblical pattern to follow if the diverting
one does not listen, so that church discipline can be rightly done, all with the hope of reclaiming the wandering soul.
In one sense, these closing verses are a summary of what the book of James is for- to set forth the path of holiness that a
Christian must walk and to admonish us where we have strayed- that we might be both humbled by our failures and
encouraged to return and rest in the Christ Jesus the fountain of all our graces and endeavor to live our calling. “ For God
has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives
his Holy Spirit to you. ” (1 Thess 4:7-8)