The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)Though James 5:16 might be a familiar verse to many, church leaders would do well to revisit the context in which that verse is found. You will be reminded that prayer is the responsibility of the total church body, not just the leaders. This truth is significant for leaders because it is too easy to feel like the burden for accomplishing effective ministry lies on your shoulders.
Everyone has a part in praying for God's work in the church.
1) All members of the Body are each personally responsible to pray for themselves in times of trouble.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. (James 5:13)
The order of content in these verses is quite important. Members of the Body need to first go to God with their praise and prayer requests (v. 13) and then, if needed, go to church leaders (v. 14).
Leaders: When people come to you with their problems, don't be afraid to ask if they prayed about it first. You should not usurp God's place, nor allow members to put you before God.2) Church leaders do have a strategic responsibility to pray for members of the Body.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15)
The word "sick" extends beyond physical illness. The original Greek word also includes "to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless, to be weak in means, needy, poor" (Strong's Concordance). Consequently, there would be numerous ways God could make the person well and raise him up.
Leaders: The needs within the Body are great and varied. Prayer is a tremendous means of tapping into God's power for the church. Be careful not to limit God by your own theology.3) Church leaders and members, alike, have a responsibility to pray for one another.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
One's position within the church does not qualify a person to see answers to prayer any more than another person. The effective prayer that accomplishes much is the one prayed by a person who is right with God.
Leaders: Guard against feeling and acting like you are the one to whom people must turn for help. And, don't think yourself above seeking out a member of the Body for prayer. Members of the Body can and should be ministering to one another ... and that includes you in the mix.Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble" (Jn. 16:33). The church isn't exempt. Jesus went on to remind us that He is the Overcomer. He is our source of peace and courage when pressed in on all sides. We must turn to Him as our first line of defense for in Him we are more than conquerors. He, not some ministry position, program, or strategy, is the One who will make the church into a dynamic and life-changing place filled with people who love God with all of who they are and consequently also love one another.
Cultivate a culture of prayer wherein people know that turning to God is the first response, whether that be as individuals, a leadership team, or corporate body.
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