James 5:13-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
Over the last two decades, we’ve been a part of several churches in the various cities we’ve lived. Sadly, we’ve observed a common trait among them all: a lack of prayer. Not just individually, but corporately. We joined small groups on prayer, but very few actually prayed. We heard yearly sermon series on prayer, which stoked the fire, but eventually it dwindled to a flickering flame when the corporate prayer nights ended, and the masses returned to the more important work. Believe me, I’ve seen the same splinter in my own eye. I too have traded sitting at the feet of Jesus (like Mary), for my own feet to stay busy serving, serving, serving (like Martha). I mean, someone has to do the work, right? And there’s only a few of us, right? Yes, but what did the Lord say we should do?
We should pray.
Why don’t we pray?
Why don’t we call on the elders to pray over us?
Why don’t we confess our sins to one another?
To bow before the Lord in prayer is HARD. It requires humility. It requires us to be stripped naked, pick up our cross, and crucify our flesh before the Father. It requires us to die to our desires, our wants, our will. It requires us to keep asking, seeking, and knocking until our hearts are resurrected by His heart. To bow in front of our elders is even HARDER. It requires even more humility. It requires even more stripping, and standing naked- in front of other people!
- Who are our elders?
They aren’t necessarily those that carry the title Elder, Pastor, or Leader (that shouldn’t be the case, but sadly, it is all too common- for man often promotes and assigns positions based on gifts or talents. The Lord however, promotes & assigns based on fruitfulness). An elder is a man or woman who is older in the Lord than us. An elder is a person who is “like a tree planted along a riverbank…” that continues to produce good fruit in every season. Elders are among the remnant of Gods people. They are the ones who prefer the prayer room, not the platform. They are the ones who do not crave the spotlight or the applause. They are elders in the Kingdom whose intercession may go unnoticed by Elders in the religious system, but not in their Fathers house. They are the ones who will meet with you at home, at a coffee shop, or a park to listen, encourage, and pray with you. They are the ones you can call, text, or facetime, at all hours of the day or night. They are the ones who’s joy it is to train you in the way that you should go. They are mothers and fathers in the Spirit.
- Why should we call our elders to pray?
Because the bible tells us so. The bible says that if we humble ourselves, and ask our elders to pray, then we may be healed. Did you hear me? HEALED!Humility proceeds healing. Humility releases blessing. Because God blesses those who are humble. God blesses those who are poor in Spirit. God blesses those who recognize their need for Him.God blesses those who seek His face. God blesses those who confess their sins. God blesses those who repent. God blesses those who mourn. God blesses those who forgive. God blesses those who submit to one another out of reverence for Him.
Can the Lord heal us when we meet with Him alone? Absolutely! He has been faithful to do so in my life. BUT, He has also required me to humble myself and ask others for help. It’s become a repeated pattern. He will do great things in my heart as I sit as His feet, but there comes a time when I need the gifts and the grace that others carry in the family of God to minister to the places I cannot see. By asking others to pray over me and confessing my sins in their presence, I’ve received more of the Fathers love, more of the Sons righteousness, and more of the Spirits refining fire and power. My elders have prayed over me in living rooms, ministry rooms and digital rooms for almost a decade. These elders- these spiritual moms and dads- have trained this strong-willed child in the way that she should go. I am no longer a rebellious orphan who performs in the spotlight for the applause of the crowd. I am no longer an exhausted orphan who serves, serves, serves for the approval of religious leaders. I am no longer an independent orphan who tries to provide for myself. I am no longer a lonely orphan without a family.
I am a child! I am a daughter. I am a sister. I have been adopted by the Father. I have been redeemed by the Son. I have been resurrected by the Spirit. I have an eternal family. I have moms and dads. I have brothers and sisters. And now, I have the joy of training the next generation of sons and daughters in prayer.
Are you suffering hardship? (physically, emotionally, spiritually)
You should pray.
Are you sick? (physically, emotionally, spiritually)
You should ask your elders to pray over you.
Searching for an elder? Here are some of mine:
And… our ministry, where I have the privilege of praying for others with my elders:
Isaiah 43:19 New Living Translation (NLT)
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
2020 is almost here. A New Year. A New Decade. A New Vision. The Lord is about to do something new! This morning He revealed two old things from 2019 that could hinder me from following His new path in 2020:
Number 1: STOP throwing pearls to pigs
Matthew 7:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.[a] Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
I’m not calling people pigs; the BIBLE makes the analogy! I readily admit, I’ve actedlike a pig; eating the slop of the world and rolling around in the mud. The only reason I’m no longer in the pig pen is the grace of God. By the power of His Spirit, I came to my senses and ran home to my Father 20 years ago. As His daughter, I am continually being cleansed from the mud and muck to be made holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He rescued me from death & filled me with His Spirit, giving me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand how long, how wide and how deep His love is for me (Ephesians 3:19). Only by receiving His love am I able to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37). Only by loving Him am I able to love myself. Only by loving myself am I able to love my neighbor. Only by loving my neighbor am I able to preach the gospel & teach people how to obey Jesus.
Sometimes they act like pigs.
In 2019, I received a lot of pearls from the Lord- in fact, an entire strand of them. In my impetuousness, however, I foolishly shared those pearls with people who SAID they love God, but who’s lives continued to SHOW they didn’t. Because I loved them, I ignored the fact that their words could not be trusted. Instead of guarding my heart, I received rejection as they rejected the pearls (dreams, visions, prophesy) I shared. As a result, I felt trampled (betrayed, denied) & attacked (falsely accused).
But the Lord is doing something new in 2020! He says I must forgive those people for lying, but stop wasting what is holy. He has given them the freedom to live like pigs, and I must do the same. He says I must continue to love, but I cannot wallow in the mud with them.
Number 2: STOP chasing prodigals
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
As previously mentioned, I was a prodigal daughter & regrettably I’ve also acted like a prodigal sister .
But the Lord is doing something new in 2020! He’s showing me how to love prodigals as HE loves them: He gives His children their inheritance and the freedom to choose to stay at home or waste their lives on immoral living. He allows them to experience poverty, be in need with no one to help them, and be hungry for pig slop. And when a prodigal finally comes to their senses, He runs out to greet them and throws a party. The Father knows which sons and daughters will return home and which will reject His love for eternity. He says I must love them all. He says I must intercede for some. He says I must seek His will in heaven and pray it on the earth. He says I must not chase after prodigals. He says I must not beg, manipulate or control circumstances to make them return to Him.
A New Year. No Resolution.
Instead, I confess: I’ve tried to save people who act like pigs. I’ve tried to save prodigals who ran away from home.
A New Year. No Resolution.
Instead, I repent: I’ve foolishly asked God “but Lord, what about _________?!”
A New Year. No Resolution.
Instead, I receive His rebuke: “What’s that to you? Follow Me!” (John 21:20-22).
A New Year. No Resolution.
Instead, I submit to His pathway through the wilderness.
A New Year. No Resolution.
Instead, I chose to be in the river that runs through the dry wasteland.