We heard community leaders and pastors call for renewal and revival in the United States and around the world. We read various commands and exhortations near the end of the Epistle of James.
In Chapter 5, verses 13-18, we find that if you are in trouble, or happy or sick, then you ought to pray to God and praise God for the blessings.
Praying to God in times of suffering is not new. We seem to go to God when we are in pain or in trouble more than when times are good.
In our context, sufferings are seen in sickness, grief, disappointments, persecutions, frustrations, poor health, loss and damage of property, unemployment and a whole host of other not-so-good situations. In these bad times, what are we to pray for? We can pray for the removal of the suffering. Experience informs us that suffering usually does not go away immediately. Therefore, we also ought to pray for strength and courage to endure the suffering.
In the midst of praying, we may come to understand God’s will better so we can use our suffering and pending relief to glorify God. It is a wonderful privilege to pray to the one true and living God who hears and answers our prayers. This can provide sufferers with a great source of comfort during tough times.
Praising God for blessings is not new. We see biblical celebrations thanking God for bringing people through tough times. We can become cheerful in these blessings, which means we have obtained a state of mind that is free from trouble.
In this grateful state, we ought to sing praises; they demonstrate that God is our God and we are God’s people. The remarkable result of praising God is that our good situation continues to get even better. James teaches us that singing praises to God is just as important as praying to God.
I would venture to say that, perhaps, prayers would be answered more quickly if we would praise God more often.
Please know that I view prayer and praise as special privileges for God’s people! The Apostle Paul encourages us to pray constantly. Therefore, James and Paul, when taken together, remind us that there is no time in our lives when we shouldn’t be praying and praising. My prayer is that we never underestimate the power of prayer or the importance of praise.
I hope that you answer this call to prayer and praise in your lives!
Wright is the senior pastor of Hinesville First United Methodist Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.