James 5:13-20 – The Power of Prayer


James 5:13-20


The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.


Just as for Solomon, the letter and its vision of God’s faithfulness begins with the exercise of prayer for God’s gift of wisdom (see 1 Kings 3:5-14). The whole Letter of James exhorts the community in confidence that this wisdom will shape that community in practical acts of love and mercy. Now, at the book’s conclusion, the importance and the power of prayer is persistently and persuasively accented as the final exhortation. If, as evidenced in God’s gifts, the purpose of the Lord is disposed to be merciful and to show compassion (James 5:11), then words–in particular the words of prayer–have power for effective action on behalf of the needs of God’s people. So one’s words should be carefully chosen. Let a “Yes” be yes and a “No” be no. If any are suffering, pray for healing. If any are happy, pray in songs of praise. If any are sick, pray in confidence that the Lord will heal. If any have done wrong, pray in confidence that God will forgive. All of this is to be exercised in the context of a community in which mutual prayer is the bond that creates, sustains, and restores that community.