When you face hardship, what do you do? Text your spouse, complain to your friend, or call your mom? When you’re happy, what do you do? Treat yourself to a new outfit, go out with your family for a celebratory dinner, or call your mom? And when you’re sick, what do you do? Go to the doctor, microwave a bowl of chicken noodle soup, or call your mom? Joyful hope and patience in affliction go against the grain of our own natures. Despair and self-pity come much more easily. In times like that, it’s important to turn to God in prayer. We pray for many reasons: to thank God for blessings, to praise God, to confess sins, to seek God’s guidance. In addition, we pray to ask God for help. Asking God for help may be the most natural prayer of all. Sometimes God answers our requests for help exactly as we ask, but sometimes not. Whether we’re hurting or celebrating, there’s plenty of outlets in this world, and if we’re being real, calling our mom is like a lifeline for all things. But James directs God’s people to go to Him first. Truth be told, He alone is greater and stronger, but we sometimes think we are—so we try to fix the problem ourselves, make plans for a better outcome, and research advice from experts who must know how to turn things around. But whether we are suffering, joyful, or sick, God is the only true Source of comfort and help. He wants to come to our aid when we face hardship, He wants to sing along with us when we are happy, and He wants to heal the iniquities of our soul. However, the only way to experience this power is by praying and making it your first priority. The Bible calls us to be faithful in prayer. Prayer—thanking, praising, confessing, asking for help—connects us with God. Prayer builds relationship. Prayer strengthens the bond between God and us. When you have a good relationship with someone, hopefulness and patience become a little easier, especially when that Someone is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Questions for further thought:
1. What is your most natural outlet—the person or place you turn to when you’re struggling, happy, or sick?
2. Reflect on James 5:16 today: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Challenge: Pray in all circumstances, at all times, for all things. Prayer is powerful. Do not ignore prayer. Do not neglect prayer.
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