December 3, 2021

The Prayer and Service of Faith 26-09-2021

26th September 2021 Pentecost 18 (Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost)
Title: The Prayer and Service of Faith
(Scripture Reading: James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50)
By Heeyoung Lim
We can communicate with God by praying. James 5 invites us to pray both in times of trouble and in times of joy. Trouble includes physical and emotional stress arising from both ordinary trials and special difficulties. We can pray in all of life’s situations such as sickness, confession of sin, seeking God’s will, the recovery of broken hearts, and the revival of spiritual stagnation. In times of joy, may we sing songs of praise to God instead of complacency in life or worldly contentment that can cause people to distance themselves from God. It can be expressions of our thankful responses. We are to keep on praying to God as the creator during tough times too.
Christians who face difficulties often lose their awareness of the presence of God due to their anxiety and gloom. Christians who are in the joy of abundance tend to forget God. May we pray and praise God in both the darkness and sunshine of our lives.
The prayer offered in faith is based on confidence that God is our healer. In accordance with today’s text, the prayer of faith will make the sick person well and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, because the Lord will raise them up. God hears the prayers of righteous people who pray with passion. Effective and powerful prayer comes from righteous person and the heart of a believer whose passion is to see the will of God worked out in life. May we remember that believers have a right to faithfully respond to God in all of life’s situations.
However, this does not imply that if a person has a strong faith, God will answer the prayer the way they want. God does His will and work in the ways best for the kingdom of God. Prayer can bring healing, but lack of healing does not show that the one praying lacks faith. It does not mean that God is incapable of healing, or the prayer is invalid. Verses 14 and 15 refer to physical healing and not to spiritual deliverance and verse 16 teaches us to confess our sins to each other so that we will be forgiven and pray for each other to be healed. It is confession to dedicated, trusted prayer warriors who will intercede for us with God. If we have sinned, we will be forgiven through our repentance and confession. God hears the prayers of penitent people and forgives sin. May we offer faithful prayer support for struggling or stumbling Christians as trusted spiritual friends.
Elijah in verse 17 was able to perceive when God wanted to begin and end the drought. The example of Elijah challenges us to seek a closeness in our walk with God so that we know and follow His will. Those prayers which accord with the will of God will be answered. May we walk in God’s will that we love what God loves and reject what he rejects.
Verse 19 focuses on the spiritually sick and outlines how to restore them; Whoever will save them from death and cover over a multiple of sins if someone bring sinners or wanderers back to Christ. The act of bringing someone back is not about conversion, it is about reclaiming a Christian who has wandered into sin. Today’s text invites us to do our best to bring wandering believers back to full commitment to Christ.
We do not want someone will experience eternal separation from God. Christians who encourage straying believers back to Christ obey God and lead the sinner to forgiveness. For restoring wanderers and finding the lost, we would expect the starting point to be prayer for the repentance of wanderers and a ministry of love in supporting and encouraging them.
The world is still full of sin, tragedy, and those who wander, but Jesus’ disciples can continue to engage the world in hope for a time when faith community can be reunited, and the kingdom of God can be extended in and through prayer. We pray for others who are in need and the wider world. This allows us to see the image of God embodied in others, to share in their suffering, and to add our prayer for the good of the world. I believe that the power of prayer is seen most clearly in the praying church. The prayers of the community build up community and allow the people to become more like Jesus. The faith community is empowered to carry out Christ’s mission through prayer. It is a faith expression and response in which all ages can participate from children to the elderly. Prayer changes relationships, lives, and communities, and the prayer of a righteous person works powerfully. May we pray in strong faith to God both in times of trouble and in times of joy and we be truly to walk with Jesus.
A faith community enhances the lives of its members, shapes values, and provides protection and support. It is a place of identity, where people have a sense of worthiness and sense of belonging because they are recognized and cared. There is a constant tension between being inclusive and being exclusive. When John sees a man healing people and overcoming demonic forces and claiming to be doing it on the authority of Jesus, John knows that this man is unknown to Jesus, so he tries to have the man stopped. (Mark 9)
However, Jesus doesn’t treat the Good News as his exclusive matter. He wants other people to hear about it and to live by it. Can we use someone else’s name without their permission? I do not think we can use someone else’s music, writings, art, and inventions without their permission due to the copyright. Jesus gives people the credit when they serve others in the name of Jesus.
In Mark 9:41, Jesus pointed to service again as he told his disciples that humble acts of service when done because of Christ will be rewarded. Jesus tells us about the service of “a cup of waters”, which was a great act of hospitality and kindness in the dry climate of the Middle East. Our actions and our words carry significant weight.
Jesus warned His disciples and us about the risk that we may stumble ourselves, and these words were spoken not to everyone but to those who were seeking to follow Him. He talked to the disciples about the salt and saltiness, the qualities that would purify, preserve, and enhance their community. Their saltiness involves being humble in their relationships, giving of themselves for others, reaching out people around them. Jesus tells His disciples, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another,” (50) In Matthew 5:13, the disciples are called to be the salt of the earth, but they must be aware of losing their flavour and so becoming worthless. Jesus wants us to have salt among ourselves and be at peace with each other. May we live in peace with one another.
God hears the prayers of His people as they cry out for peace. The Love of Christ encourages Christians to pray for others and to love others. I hope we can be righteous people who pray with passion, and I pray we live at peace in Christ. May we be passionate praying church.
Thanks be to God! Amen. 
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)