I know it may be hard to do, but I’m going to ask you guys to remember something from a long, long time ago. Who remembers how people communicated with one another before there was email or telephones? LETTERS! Crazy now that we do everything in front of a screen huh? Sometimes I go weeks without using an actual pen and paper because everything I need to do I can do on my laptop or phone. Anywho, for those of you who can remember such times, when someone writes another person a letter, and they were nearing the end of that letter you’ll often find a wish of well-being. Something like, “Tell the rest of the family we said hello and wish them well for us!” or “Give our love to the grandkids!” or “Be careful during your trip!” We do this because when our letter nears the end we think of what’s most important to us, and therefore we usually express some kind of closing blessing or well-wishing statement. This is not original to us. Near the conclusion of a letter in 1st century Greek culture one normally wished, by the gods of course, that the recipients of the letter would be in good health.
James (a child of 1st century Greek culture) does the same, but better. As he neared the end of his letter he didn’t merely wish them well, he reminded his readers of the way God can make them well – prayer. Friends, hear the Word of God, James 5:13-18:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”