I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: James 5:13-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Years ago, Mother Teresa was interviewed on a television program broadcast internationally. The interviewer reminded her that the show was carried all over the United States and in many foreign countries, including her native Yugoslavia. He asked her if there was one message that she would like to convey to all those viewers. Her response was, “Yes, tell them to pray. And tell them to teach their children to pray.”
One of the ways we care for one another is to pray for one another. We pray for those who are ill and those who are suffering. We share our lives with one another and hold one another accountable in love.
Over the years, I have talked with countless people who were ill, recovering from surgery, or grieving the loss of a loved one. So often, they have expressed deep gratitude for the prayers and expressions of concern and care they have received from others. I know the feeling. I have been the recipient of those gifts of prayer and expressions of concern in the past.
James 5:13-18 reminds the Church that part of what it means to be the Church is to care for one another, challenge one another in love to be our best, and pray for one another.
Prayer, Community, and Healing go hand in hand. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of how much we need one another. We need to pray for one another, share with one another, and experience human touch. Human prayers and caring human touch are both powerful and healing. No wonder James puts them together in today’s passage of scripture.
Have you experienced that? I can think of a few difficult times in my life when someone held my hand and prayed for me. It is a powerful experience.
It’s always comforting to have someone’s hand to hold and to know that someone is praying for us—especially in times of need.
Protestant reformer Martin Luther said that we are “Little Christs” to one another. We can be for others, and others can be for us, the very presence of Christ to comfort and strengthen in difficult times. We need one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love and serve one another. We need to comfort one another.
Leonard Griffith, who was the pastor of Wesley’s Chapel in London, told the story of a mother who was putting her little daughter to bed during a thunderstorm. She told her daughter that she did not need to be frightened, that she and her father were close by in the living room—and besides that, God was with her.
The girl replied to her mother, “Mommy, but when it thunders this way, I want somebody who has skin on.”
The gospel of John says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us—God with skin on. Now, we can be that to one another—the comforting, loving, presence of God, like “Little Christs.”
Hymn: “Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire”
by James Montgomery (1818)
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
uttered or unexpressed;
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
that infant lips can try,
prayer the sublimest strains that reach
the Majesty on high.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
the Christian’s native air,
his watchword at the gates of death:
he enters heaven with prayer.
Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
returning from his ways;
while angels in their songs rejoice,
and cry, ‘Behold, he prays!
The saints in prayer appear as one,
in word and deed and mind;
while with the Father and the Son
sweet fellowship they find.
Nor prayer is made on earth alone:
the Holy Spirit pleads,
and Jesus on the eternal throne
for sinners intercedes.
O Thou by whom we come to God,
the Life, the Truth, the Way,
the path of prayer thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray!
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster