Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Best Advice I Can Give”
James 5:13-18 (NASB)
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
As a young pastor still learning a lot about what it means to lead and care for others, I often find myself in situations where I am unsure what advice to give to people. I find myself often seeking the wise counsel of older, more experienced pastors. I ask them how they would handle certain situations or their thoughts on what I believe I’m receiving in prayer. But more times than not, our conversations end up in a place where there really is no other solution than this: they need to pray.
And I’m starting to realize how the best advice I could give as a pastor is really this—you need to pray. I would often feel the pressure of wanting to say the right thing or have that nugget of wisdom that will help them to see things more clearly. But in the end, I’m learning that there is no substitute, no alternative to someone humbling themselves before God and Him speaking to them.
James is often considered one of the most practical books found in scripture. And you can see this in his final exhortation to the believers. James speaks to those who are suffering, those who are cheerful, those who are sick, those in sin; in other words, in all circumstances of life, James’ practical direction is prayer. And the language here is not suggestive, that is, the verb tense used here is an imperative: He must pray.
The question I want to challenge all of us here today is how practical is prayer in your life? When we are sick, when we are stressed, or when we are confused, is prayer the practical next step for you? What about times when you are rejoicing or celebrating, is prayer or worship the immediate response?
As practical as the book of James is, it is also profoundly theological. For James, the idea that every good and perfect gift comes from God is not merely an ideal—it is a reality in which we are to live daily. Our everyday interactions are not just between two people; there is another Person involved, meaning the practical workings of our lives have a profound spiritual reality. Therefore, we must pray. And the promise is that prayer that is right before God can accomplish much.
Brothers and sisters, it’s already December. Another year is ending, and the question I want to ask is how’s your prayer life? In less religious words, basically what I want to ask is how’s your relationship with the Lord? The vibrancy of our relationship with God dictates our ability to see how interconnected and involved He is in our lives. So I pray that every moment and aspect of our lives would be in and through and for God.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of prayer. Thank You that when we humble ourselves and pray, You are a God who is there. Thank You that we have been given such a practical tool to build our relationship with You. Help us to use it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 2