“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”
James now turns from improper actions when a person is under duress and takes up two proper ways to deal with life: prayer and praise – two neglected areas of the Christian life (5:13-18).
Is anyone among you suffering?
The word “suffering” signifies to suffer hardship. James now addresses his comments to those enduring hardship, misfortune, and trouble. Many of his readers fled from Palestine under the persecution of Acts 8:1-4 and dispersed through the Roman Empire (1:1). The context of healing from this verse forward is not physical healing but the healing of hurts from people through prayer.
2 Ti 2:8-9, “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.”
2 Ti 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Let him pray.
The New Testament always uses the word “pray” for prayer to God. The antidote to hardship is to pray. When a Christian endures hardships, he must commit himself to intense prayer. The Greek indicates that we are to keep on praying when we engage trouble.
Eph 6:18, “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…”
Prayer is the believer’s great weapon in times of adversity.
Nothing is more important during the trial than prayer. We need to pray as individuals, and we need to pray with others. If we do not pray, we will grumble, fret, and complain about everything. We find relief from affliction in prayer. Paul prayed three times about a physical problem he endured.
2 Co 12:7-10, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Times of affliction are times for prayer in God’s economy. We can become upset, perplexed, unhappy, provoked, irritated, or resentful in times of stress, or we can put our tensions in the hands of God by prayer. We keep praying until we get an answer – “Yes” or “No.” We may not get an answer right away. God will answer in His timing. “Don’t get discouraged in prayer. Keep it up.” Prayer is the believer’s great weapon in times of adversity.
Php 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Prayer will keep us from capitulating to outside pressure.
Ps. 27:13-14, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!”