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:
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!’”
During this season of #covid-19 as our government mandates #socialdistancing in NC, people from the mountains to the ocean have come home…. and returned to family.
At the same time, I believe our Father in heaven is inviting His children to come home….and return to family.
The Bullard Pack has been responding to that invitation since 2007. When the Lord called our children home from public school, He simultaneously called me to be a full-time teacher, to “train them in the way that they should go.” Let me be perfectly clear: I did NOT want to #homeschool. Just like many of you who have been mandated by the state to do so because of the #pandemic, I feared I didn’t have what it takes. I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough, patient enough, blah, blah, blah. It’s true, I wasn’t. It’s the reason for the call. The call to homeschool was a call to follow Him. A call to know the Son. A call to know the Father. A call to receive more of His Spirit. A call to be a daughter. A call to be a wife. A call to be a mother. A call to become a family.
In 2018 the Lord would call our family again. It was a call to leave everything and everyone to follow Him on a new path through the desert. That call, for me, has been excruciating (you can read more about it, here). The call uprooted us from something familiar and transplanted us into something new. When we left the mega church system we also left our friends, our platforms and our positions to return home. The call was an invitation to return to family, an invitation to return to the upper room, an invitation to become one, as the Father, Son and Spirit are one. Dads, moms, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters now meet together each week in our home to worship, pray, study Scripture, share communion and a meal.
We’ve returned home.
We’ve returned to family.
A family that is called to love one another, build one another up, encourage, and strengthen one another (Yes. That includes correction and rebuke!) Last week I was prompted by the Spirit to do something. I immediately obeyed. But… I can be a bit impetuous, like Peter and DO before I think, so my spiritual mommas offered a course correction; wisdom on how to dothe thing. I’ll admit, the spanking didn’t feel very good in the moment, but this little girl quickly realized it was for my good. Because they love me, they were parenting me, in love. And I know they love me, because they spend time with me……talking, praying, studying Scripture, worshipping, sharing communion and meals. If they weren’t family, I would have taken their correction as rejection, like an orphan. An orphan without spiritual parents. An orphan who feels unloved and unwanted when religious leaders use and abuse them to build their empires. An orphan who is commanded to serve and use spiritual gifts, but never invited to be a part of the family. Sadly, many religious leaders are orphans themselves. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know that they are part of a system that produces religious slaves, not sons and daughters in the Kingdom.
Despite the harsh reality that many orphans are still in bondage, making bricks in Egypt, there is also a remnant, a Church, a body, a Bride, that is returning to the promise of family!!!! A family where moms and dads are building up sons and daughters that know the Father, Son and Spirit!
It’s now 2020, and the Lord is calling our family- and yours to come home. To return to family.
It’s time to come hometo the Father. It’s time to come home to the Son. It’s time to come home to the Spirit. Come home! Return to family.
It’s time to come home to your spouse. It’s time to come home to your children. Come home! Return to family.
It’s time to come home to spiritual moms and dads. It’s time to come home to brothers and sisters in the Lord. Come home! Return to family.
46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”[a]
48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
3 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.