Faith that works when the pressure’s on: A faith that keeps me hopeful
As followers of Jesus, we don’t only care about people’s spiritual needs — we care about their physical needs, as well. In fact, a major element of Jesus’ ministry on Earth was physical healing. In this message, we continue our study through the Book of James by explaining how to pray for healing for ourselves and others.
Something To Talk About:
- When should I pray for healing? James tells us there are specific times to pray for healing. Anytime I’m hurting, sick, tired, or empty, that’s it. Anytime I’m hurting, I should pray for healing. Anytime I’m sick, I should pray for healing. Anytime I’m tired, I should pray for healing, and anytime I feel empty, I should pray for healing. When I pray for healing, why aren’t people healed every time? The answer is we simply don’t know God’s will. God’s not going to give you something against His will because God always wants what’s best for you. So we are to pray what you ask for, pray what you desire, pray the desires of your heart. But then trust God that if it’s not His will, because He knows something else, He’s not going to answer with a yes on that.
- To get my attention or to redirect me: Sometimes God has to let you fall flat on your back in order to get you to look up to God. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 119:71 says this: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Sometimes God uses illness to just get my attention, and head me in a different direction. Look at this verse, Proverbs 20:30, Today’s English Version, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.” Now, this first reason is what the Bible calls a sickness for discipline or sickness for training.
- To be a testimony to others: Did you know that? He knows He can trust you with an illness, and He knows that you’ll be a good example to other people, particularly unbelievers. Paul says in Philippians 1:12, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.” Paul is sick and in prison in a lonely damp, dank, dark, cold prison dungeon. And he says, “I want you to know that what’s happened has helped spread the good news.” One of the greatest witnesses, you will ever have in front of unbelievers and other people who don’t know Jesus yet is your example of the way you handle pain. God can use your circumstances and your pain to witness to your neighbors and to the world. Did you know that there have been illnesses in your life that God wanted to use to bring glory to himself?
- To take us into eternity: Hebrews 9:27 says this: And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. Death is one appointment you’re not going to be late for. God has already appointed the time that each of us will die, and then our lives will be judged by God. So, one of the reasons God allows illness is sometimes He wants to take you home. Okay? He wants to take you to heaven, your time on earth is done, and if you could be healed every time by everything, then you’d never die. We should pray for healing, trusting for God’s will to be done as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, ” Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42)
- What has motivated you the most to pray more?
- What are some common reactions to suffering?
- Suffering should drive us to prayer. Agree or disagree and why? If we are suffering, what should we pray for?
- Sufficiency should drive us to prayer. Agree or disagree and why?
- Shouldn’t praise be spontaneous? How then can we work at it?
- Which of the four questions to ask about healing do you tend to ask first?
- Each of us can identify with each of these four circumstances – being hurt, sick, tired or feeling empty. Give an example of how you prayed during one of those trying times.
- Has God ever used suffering in your life to get your attention or redirect you, or has he used your experiences as a testimony for others? Talk about some of the unexpected blessings that came about as a result.
- How does James 5:16-18 bring comfort and assurance to anyone who is hurting and needing prayer?
- How does confessing our faults and praying for each other help in the healing process?
- What point in this message was most impactful for you? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
- How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
Who can pray for healing?
Do you have to be a pastor or missionary or somebody super Holy to pray for healing? Any child of God can pray for healing. You can come to your Heavenly Father and say, “LORD, I’m sick, I need your healing.” This is what James says,”The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” It doesn’t say you have to be a super saint, you just have to be a believing person, and you have to be earnest. The earnest prayer of a believing person is powerful and effective. For example, he says, Elijah was a human being just like us, yet when he prayed earnestly and you know the rest of the story, all those miracles happened. Elijah’s life was filled with one miracle after another, but the most comforting thing about that verse is this, Elijah was just like us. That means he had the same temptations, he had the same weaknesses, he had the same sins, same faults. If God only heard the prayers of perfect people, nobody’s prayers would ever be heard. God hears the prayers of sinners, of failures, of all of us who are imperfect.