Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.James 5:13(NASB)
Prayer and praise are two vital elements in the Christian life, and yet they are perhaps the two essential components of a believer's spiritual walk that are most frequently lacking.
Too often, prayer and praise have been infiltrated with new age philosophies, tainted with occultic thinking, or simply infused with a worldly mindset. And yet, godly living through ceaseless prayer and thankful praise, is the Father's will for all His children - for it demonstrates a trust in the Lord which pleases His heart and glorifies His holy name.
There is much need for prayer and intercession in this suffering world, and there is much cause for praise and rejoicing... for God's gracious sufficiency. The psalmist reminds us that men should pray to Him continually and praise him all day long... while Paul calls us to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks - for this is God's will for each one of us.
Suffering is the segment of life that should cause us to engage in much prayer and earnest entreaties, while Christ's gracious provision should elicit much rejoicing and cheerfulness of heart. No surprise, therefore, that James asks, "Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray! Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises!"
Throughout the Word of God, we are encouraged to call on the name of the Lord in time of trouble. Indeed, Paul exhorts, "in everything by prayer and supplication, with praise and thanksgiving, make your requests known to Him."
In every circumstance of life it should be a duty and delight to fly to the Lord in prayer - especially in times of trouble, for He is a God Whose ears are open to the cries of His children, and Who is our ever present help in times of need. Indeed, no matter what changing moods and interchanging moments we face in life, we are wise when we lift up cheerful hearts of joyful thanksgiving to the Lord... through continuous prayer and trusting praise.
James, in the closing chapter of his epistle, repeatedly emphasises the need for prayer and the importance of praise. Approaching God's throne of grace, for mercy for help in time of need, should not be a last hope when all else has failed - but should be our first delight and dear desire.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His arm is ever-ready to provide the help we need, and His ear is always open to our cry, but He wants us to approach Him through earnest prayer and cheerful praise so that our faith in Him and our trust in His Word may germinate, grow, blossom, and bud - and bring forth much fruit to His praise and glory, as we journey through life to our promised heavenly home.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the encouragement and truth that is contained in this short but important little verse. May I seek You in all life's needs and necessities through prayer and intercession, and may I rejoice in Your never-failing faithfulness and unchanging goodness and grace. Keep me low at the Cross and rejoicing in my heart for all that You are to me... and to all who have trusted in You for their salvation. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.