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Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. - James 5:13 (NLT)
If you could only pray for one thing over the next 30 days what would it be? What is the first thing that comes to mind? For lots of folks it would be a hardship they’re walking through.
Hardship comes in all shapes and sizes and most times comes unannounced - so we find we are not always prepared to handle it. It could be a new job, a grave test result, an internal struggle, the loss of a child, an unfaithful spouse, a hurting heart; the list could go on and on. And waiting for an answer disrupts our peace.
Anyone suffering hardships? James tells us we should pray. Can it be that simple? Can it really make a difference… this pairing of suffering and prayer?
When hardships rise to the surface of our lives, they land us at the feet of Jesus where we find ourselves pleading for Him to intervene. But when we’re weighed down by the burden of our everyday personal battles, we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture of God’s heart for us - and the world around us. It can cause us to lose our focus and passion for life.
In times like these, I tend to pray Isaiah 43:2... “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
One way I have found light in the midst of a dark valley of hardship is to pray prayers of thankfulness. I pray scriptures that remind me of God’s promises and His nature. God responds. God moves. Even in the midst of the hardship.
Take some time today to re-read Isaiah 43:2 and pray it aloud. Replace “you” with your name. See how God shows Himself strong in and through your hardship.
Invite a trusted friend into the situation or circumstance and ask them to pray alongside you. You can also share your prayer request with Southland’s Prayer Team by texting them at 859.428.7729.Share Tweet
Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. - James 5:14 (NLT)
Our daughter was about 6 weeks old. She lay there, almost lifeless on our bed. We did not know what was going on. She was extremely sick and not responding to us. We took her to the pediatrician and they immediately admitted her to the hospital. It was a scary time.
I will never forget the dear friends who came over to take care of our son. And other friends who came and sat with us in the hospital. They prayed with us - and for us. They sat with us while we had no answers and were awaiting the next test result. It was such a difficult time for us as young parents, but the prayers of friends and their support were extensions of Jesus Himself.
Jesus pretty much guaranteed we would face hardship in life. And He gave us some incredible tools to use when it hits. The tools? Prayer and people. When we pray to invite the Lord to be with us in our suffering - and when we allow others to be there, too… even though the trial may not be removed at the time, He provides strength to fill the void that suffering can bring.
Prayer and people. When we are anxious, worried, or restless about anything we take it to God, on our own or with others. Then the peace of God, which we may never understand, will guard our hearts and minds. I like to think of it as a gate at the doorstep. Prayer brings peace. The presence of people brings comfort. Both prayer and the people God puts in our lives ultimately connect us to the heart of God. And can literally carry us through tough seasons in life.
Take some time today to pray aloud Philippians 4:4-6. Take a minute to jot down what encourages you!Share Tweet
Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. - James 5:15 (NLT)
I love the simplicity of hearing kids pray. One prayer I will never forget, Dear God, I need help. Thank you, Amen. It’s kind of amazing how, in whatever our condition, whether sick or healthy, suffering or rejoicing, in pain or in joy - we can pray to our Good Father for help and healing.
Psalm 121:1-3 is a great passage of Scripture to pray when we need to be reminded of where to go for help: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip -- he who watches over you will not slumber.”
The Good Father we turn to happens to be the King of the Universe. Why would we ever find ourselves hesitant to ask for help? And yet we do. I don’t know about you, but my view of God has been greatly sharpened over time as I learn how to ask Him for help... and embrace the fact that He cares, He’s listening, and is able to do something about my need. As a friend once illustrated for me, when we are in our pit of despair due to disease, illness, depression, or darkness - God is not calling from the top of the pit telling us to come out; rather God climbs down into it with us, ministering to us, and leading us out.
Sometimes we are discouraged by thoughts like... What if He doesn’t heal? What if He doesn’t help? What if He doesn’t hear and answer? These can deter us from entrusting Him with what is most precious to us, therefore missing a moment to encounter who HE is!
As we see in James, the prayer of faith will save the sick… because sometimes it’s not just physical healing that’s needed; it’s healing of the soul. It’s healing from sin. It’s healing from bitterness. And it could also be a healing of our image of God Himself. But, rest assured God always gives us what we need... even if it comes in a package we couldn’t see or didn’t expect.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. - James 5:16 (NLT)
I walked through a very dark time in high school, keeping a lot of my inner pain to myself for fear of judgment or rejection. I carried around sin and was isolated for a long time. Sitting in a hospital bed, I remember calling out to God and begging for His help and asking Him to deliver me. It was at that point I began to see the freedom that comes along with honesty and confession.
I then invited safe people into my journey. We prayed together and I experienced so much healing in that season of my life. As James says, those earnest prayers were filled with power and produced wonderful results in my life.
Self-induced hardship is a weight that needs to be lifted off of us so we can walk according to God’s Word and in God’s Way. God’s patience with us is unmatched. His ultimate goal is to make us like His Son. His patience with us affords us an opportunity to receive His grace with gratitude. Often it’s our honesty that lifts the sorrow and the pain of our suffering begins to diminish.
In times like this, we can pray a prayer like David did in Psalm 51:1-2… “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from sin.”
How does this prayer resonate with you? God can use our sin, our disappointment, our despair to refine us. Come to find out; we cannot live Christ-like lives on our own. We need His help to revive those dormant places in our hearts. We can embrace the times God highlights our sin, shortcomings, fear, or lies - it’s His love for us. How about you? Can you see God renewing broken places in your life?
Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. - James 5:17-18 (NLT)
About a year or so ago our family started a prayer board. My husband gave each of us a few index cards to write down a prayer request and date it. We clipped them to the board and it serves as a reminder to pray - for our own request and the requests of the rest of the family. There are still requests on the board awaiting God’s answer. But it has been so cool to see God answer prayer!
In today’s scripture, we see the perseverance of earnest prayer. And the harvest that comes when we pray. I love a good farming illustration... and harvest-time is what farming is all about! There is definitely a process to get there. My husband grew up on a farm and he always tells us how important that process is!
God can use our hardship, suffering, pain, and loss to bring us to a place of acknowledging our need for Him - a need for comfort, a need for a breath of fresh air, and a need for His help. Sometimes like nothing else can.
In difficult times like these - and really at all times - Scripture serves as fuel for our prayer life. Especially as we are waiting for God to move in our circumstance. As we walk in faith and with perseverance, we can be strengthened greatly through His Word.
1 John 5:14-15 says, “We are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
What prayers are on your heart today? In what ways are you looking for God to move in and through your current circumstance? Write those down and persevere in prayer over them. Feel free to invite others to join you in your journey.
1 John 5:14-15 from today’s devo is well worth your time to memorize. Start this weekend, and let this become a daily prayer of encouragement for you. He hears and responds to our prayers!Share Tweet