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Prayer is for Weak People

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 9, 2020 7:00 am

Prayer is for Weak People

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 9, 2020 7:00 am

When someone first becomes a Christian, we often advise them to go to church, read the Bible, and, of course, to pray. Prayer is an important part of the Christian life, but when we consider that believers of other major religions also practice prayer, we must ask, What is it that makes true prayer true?

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce more information, please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically become denied in our study of James to the very last verses of that letter and to traverse led to has been a problem to Manny one let I'm convinced is often been misinterpreted like to begin by reading these verses, then we want to look at the problem in the passage in its fullest context.

James 513 through 20. Is anyone of you in trouble. He should pray.

Is anyone happy, let him sing songs of praise.

Anyone of you sick he should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well Lord will raise him up if he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us.

He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for 3 1/2 years.

Again he prayed in the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back. Remember, this whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins verse in that passage that has been a problem for many people, and has been often misinterpreted as I'm convinced is the verse that speaks of anointing with oil.

James 514 is anyone of you sick should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord is versus been misinterpreted. On one hand, I believe, by the Roman Catholic Church who has found it to be a basis for one of its sacraments.

The sacrament of final or extreme unction. This fits within the sacramental system of the church of Rome. According to which grace is administered through the sacraments by a priest specifically commissioned to perform the sacrament and is gift of final unction, the anointing with oil just before a person expires is supposed to be based upon this at any rate, it's the only text in Scripture that really gives any basis whatsoever. It's wrong of course it's understandable from the perspective of Roman Catholic theology were grace conceived to be not so much the unmerited favor of God, but a commodity that can be meted out like dispensing money from a bank account, but it certainly wrong on the basis of this text.

Whatever other merits or demerits. It may have, quite obviously, this verse is not speaking of anointing of a person just before they died because it has in view of the person's restoration and it certainly not a public activist six. Dream unction is rather a very private kind of thing on the other hand, I think we have to say that this verse of business has been misinterpreted in some areas of Protestantism by those of the founding of the basis for healing and the promise of healing to all Christians in all circumstances at any time.

Many of our healing services. Appeal to verses like this and others as well. As the miracles that were done by Christ and the apostles and the argument runs that it is the birthright of every Christian to be healthy is even a kind of false linguistic argument which says that the word salvation is based upon the word for health solace in Latin health and wholeness and therefore when your Savior save the wholeness of body as well as of soul how it may well be, we have to acknowledge this, that God does sometimes grant the fullness of health and even that he does sometimes grant what we would regard as miraculous healings know from the point of view of God.

These things are not miraculous, they only seem so to us what we do have to deny is that health is the birthright of the Christian God. Nowhere promises anything like that. Certainly our study last week which involved the case of Joe suffered a great deal of ill health should dispel any notions along those lines. Job suffered not only by the loss of his possessions and his family, but also by the loss of his health. The sole reason was that God might be glorified. And although God restored them to health and the fullness of time certainly health was not his birthright as some say, when we dismiss false interpretations. However, we come back with the responsibility of interpreting what this really means, but say first of all we have to say this clearly that what James is talking about in these verses is not so much anointing with oil, whatever that may be, rather prayer. The passage is a hold is urging us to pray and encouraging us in prayer by saying that God does hear the prayer of the righteous. When the righteous one prays as Elijah did gives that example. Specifically, God hears prayer and does important things. The King James version of verse 16 says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man available much very significant in that it says much doesn't say that anything a righteous man prays for, he will get including health, but certainly is efficacious.

So the gist of the packaging passages to encourage us to prayer. Now what are we to say about that.

First of all we have to say that when we're encouraged in prayer and when these promises are given to prayer certainly is true prayer that is prayer according to the rules. God sits down prayer that James has in mind. Certainly when you look out over the world. You can say that men and women pray evil and all religions pray but prayer defined in these categories is not what James is talking about.

What is it that makes prayer to true prayer according to the Bible well in the first place. True prayer is prayer that is offered to the true God, and is prayer that is really offered to God not other people. I think sometimes at least in my experience, and I imagine experience of many others.

When we kneel to pray. We instinctively not intentionally, necessarily, but instinctively kind of go through a ritual of prayer. There are certain things we pray for certain ways in which we pray when we get to the end we say amen. That's not really prayer in the full biblical sense.

But we have to do is we come to Prius pause and be conscious of the one to whom we are praying and really not utter a word of prayer until we're sure were really praying to the father.

The second thing that needs to be said about true prayer is that it is prayer through the Lord Jesus Christ, which means through the efficacy of his death upon the cross where he shed his own blood for our sins, author of Hebrews is writing about that in the 10th chapter verse 19 where he encourages us to pray with through Christ and through the value of his blood see the importance of that is in this observation. God is a holy God. Though we would come to that God and pray that God if this should be our intention nevertheless were unable to do it in less the way into the holy places made for us by the blood of Christ, we have no ability to come to God on our own. You hear prayers given in public, especially political prayers or some such things. It is quite often the case that the name of Jesus Christ is not even mentioned. Obviously, because their people would consider it a fence dimension, Jesus Christ, God vaguely ask Jesus Christ. No. Yet according to the Bible's teaching a prayer like that is not true prayer is not heard by God because it does not plead the work of Jesus Christ is the basis upon which the prayer to be heard and then finally I think we have to say as well and to understand my outline because I'm referring to each person of the Godhead.

Not only is prayer to God the father through the Lord Jesus Christ. It must be in the Holy Spirit is what is said very clearly in Ephesians 2nd chapter verse 18 where we read through him we both have access by one Spirit under the father is a verse that has the Trinity and it father at the end. Him being Jesus Christ and by means of work in the Holy Spirit when we pray we mean when we say that we pray in the Holy Spirit is simply a confession that we don't know how we should pray don't know how to pray as we ought, we come to God and we have all kinds of requests.

But how do we know that the things that we are requesting are in accordance with his well how do we even know how to address them properly.

How do we know in what sense the plead for the things that line up on our hearts this point the Holy Spirit helps us and teaches us and interprets our prayer right God the father is an interesting word that occurs in Ephesians 218. It's worse that were the really means an introduction and is used of the Holy Spirit in the sense that it is the Holy Spirit who introduces us to God and introduces God to us in our prayer you know what it's like when you introduce Mary to John use a Marriott like you to meet John. John works here in the city of Philadelphia. He does so and so he has an interest in skydiving and John, I'd like you to meet Mary. Mary hates skydiving, but she works in the same kind of work you do in Philadelphia and you begin to tell each person a little bit about the other.

This is what the Holy Spirit does as we pray. Holy Spirit opens the mind of God's and directs us as we make our request to him to make them properly know it's true prayer full sense an outline. That's what the Bible is talking about when is talking about prayer to God the father through the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, on the basis of his death, and in the power of the Holy Spirit on the second thing that needs to be said about prayer and it applies very much for this passage. Not only is James talking about true prayer is obviously talking about prayer. According to the will of God see their great passages in the Bible about prayer are more Jesus Christ said if you ask anything in my name I will do it.

John was there in the upper room and heard the Lord Jesus Christ speaking said whenever we pray we always get what we pray for because we do his commandments, and we seek to do what pleases him. There you have on the one hand, Jesus saying whatever you pray for you.

Get John one of the apostles. On the other hand claiming whatever we pray for. We get the same time is quite obvious when our Lord said that you ask anything in my name I will do it.

He gave a condition by which he would do whatever we pray for and it is that we might pray his name John when he says great boldness. Whenever we pray for God does explains why that's the case of the conditions under which is the case when he goes on to say, because we keep his commandments. And we do that which is pleasing in his sight as a people in Christian circles sometimes get this all out of whack a rate of two or three will agree on earth as touching anything it will be done in heaven.

And so there's something they want, they get two or three Christian brothers and sisters together and they say come on I want you to pray with me about the certain thing I wanted to be done. They pray they pray and they pray and it's not done, and then they say, well, God doesn't keep his promises nothing of the sort.

God keeps his promises, but he doesn't. According to the conditions under which he makes the promises.

What is it mean to pray in the name of Christ means to pray according to the will of Christ in the manner of Christ according to that which Jesus Christ would himself. Pray for where he and your shoes in your condition. When John says as he does in first John 322 because we keep his commandments and do what pleases them is obviously saying, as I study the word of God and find something in it that tells me what I should do I do it. And furthermore, in addition to doing what I know is commandments are searching them out and doing them.

I seek whatever possible even in areas for which I do not have an explicit commandment to do what I know or hope will please my heavenly father of somebody comes and says, well, I'm having a great deal of difficulty in my prayer life. I pray but God doesn't answer my prayers.

Question to ask is this you praying according to the will of God, you, keeping his commandments. Everything you know the word of God says for you to do. Do you do and finally are you seeking out his will in order that you might please them is to people like that that these promises are given.

I think we do a very funny thing in our prayer life. When we use this phrase the will of God.

We use it. I'm convinced many instances to save face. We pray all Lord I very much want you to do so and so live if it's your will and what we mean by that is I know it's not your well and therefore I'm throwing in that phrase. So when you don't do it you won't be embarrassed and neither will I I'm convinced that the Christians send the home of Mary, who was the mother of John Mark must been praying that way on the occasion of Peter's imprisonment, at least most of them were because God delivered Peter when he delivered Peter. They didn't even believe it ever been in a prayer meeting on the telephone rings. Nobody knows who should answer it. The hostess looks up and the person closest to the telephone looks up and that person is praying keeps on praying and there's all kinds of shuffling and pointing and then finally one person goes, I think that happened.

Mary lifted her head. Rhoda lifted her head wrote it was the servant girl and Mary went and Rhoda said all right, not out loud, but you got went to the door and opened it a crack. Maybe that little trapdoor. She looked out to see it was there was Peter. I got an answer to prayer. Come she went back into the prayer meeting and she said it and stop praying now. Peter's Audi series knocking at the door and you know what they said they said no he's not Peter's imprisonment.

Why do you think where praying. Well, she said he's at the dorms. I saw him very wise.

You think I'd mistake Peter and they said well I guess Herod already killed him. It must be his ghost but then there was this knocking and as far as they knew ghosts don't lock and saw there was no escaping the knocking and they went to the door and sure enough it really was Peter. The dancer got an answer their prayer and Peter came in he told them how God delivered them out of the prison you see they were praying it would be thy well but not with much faith that it was.

Every time I think of that story in verses like this. I think of my favorite story about prayer is exactly the opposite concerns Martin Luther Martin Luther was a bold man and he was bold in prayer as in many other things in the year 1540 manner was his very close friend of the great assistance to him in the work of the Reformation, Frederick Mike Kony us grew very sick and was expected to die in a short time he wrote a farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand, it still preserved was carried to Luther Luther read by Kony us saying farewell.

God bless you. I'm about to die. Remember me in such things. Luther wrote a reply.

His reply was very abrupt and very bold. Luther said I forbid you to die because I still have work I still in need of you in the work of reforming the church, God will never let me hear that thou art dead. This is my will and may my will be done because I want nothing but the glory of God. I don't know if I would ever said anything like that, let alone written it down, but at any rate, Luther did in that note was dispatched to Laconia, stop by the time it came to my Kony is Laconia's had sunk so far and so close to death that he lost the power of speech. He couldn't even read the note. The note was read to him but it was of God because meconium is revived, he lived six more years in the outlived Luther himself by two months say Luther may have said this is my will and may my will be done. The only reason Luther said that is that he was determined that his will was to be the will of God, but Luther was really saying was if it be thy well and I know that this is I will because we need Laconia's there's work still for us to do is see when we talk about praying boldly and effectively and in faith. This is the kind of thing that's involved in certainly this is what James is thinking about in this passage, let's come back to this matter of the anointing with oil several things we have to do about that. This is the kind of passage that protects tests the exegetes it's what you can really get it in perspective or not is he saying that oil the process of anointing by oil saves the sick know he doesn't say anything of the sort. What James is doing there is describing something that undoubtedly took place in his day. He wasn't prescribing a right, he wasn't saying now I've got something new I want to tell you about anybody get sick. Here's what you do.

First of all, you go get some oil and secondly you anoint. And third, you pray in the anointing and the prayers go to save the sick person is not doing anything of the sort. Oil was used in all sorts of ways.

In Judaism was used in the rights in the tabernacle and the temple and undoubtedly what is describing here is something that was simply done. He saying all right. When you do that, make sure that you pray and what he really says here and it's very clear from the passage is that it is the prayer of faith which is effective by God's grace in the healing of the one I was sick of course that the basis of what we said to the Lord anybody the nature of the statement that he's making. What is it pray in faith is faith simply saying, oh Lord, I'm sure you're going to do that, then praying and God's going to do it because all I am to assure the gods going to do it. Nothing of the store. Faith is responding to God's revelation, faith is hearing God acting on the basis of what God says you have a case here of those who have been convinced by God in one way or another. Perhaps subjectively, perhaps on the basis of the study of the word of God is the circumstance which seems to of been the case with Luther and my Kony is the God was really going to do something. Then, on the basis of that conviction that revelation that God is given, praying in faith that very thing might be done.

James says, in such circumstances. God was first of all, given the revelation of his intention will in response to the believing faith do that which he is promised. Certainly when he goes on to speak of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is thinking in these terms shall we point out, in addition that even here are certain clear indications of the kind of person is to pray, it's not a backsliding Christian, not a wayward Christian is not a doubting Christian it's a righteous Christian one was living according to the commands of God is best. He knows how and who can pray effectively and fervently.

This is what James has in mind how that point a person might very well say, I suppose we would all say at one time or another. That's the case that I certainly am not going to be able to pray boldly because I doubt my own righteousness.

I know I'm not sinless and I understand what he means when I'm not even righteous in that sense certainly ice in Dalian thought, word and deed, and I hardly know how to pray. Well I guess this is just for other people probably anticipated that kind of objection. That's why I am convinced in verse 17 he goes on to give the example that he does the case of the prophet Elijah reminds us that Elijah was a man just like us.

That is, with all of the weaknesses that we are rare to recall that after Elijah's great victory on Mount Carmel.

When the fire of God came down from heaven and consume the altar to Jehovah all of the profits of bail 450 others were taken away and killed Jezebel a woman said boy I am going to get you and come this time tomorrow night I'm going to make you like them was terrified. He ran away and he hit God, who brought down fire out of heaven was not sufficient to defend Elijah according to his thinking at that particular moment.

Certainly he was a man who at times in his life, vacillated and was weak was afraid. Nevertheless, as James reminds us a man who vacillated was nevertheless used by God in a remarkable way speak spiritual things to King Ahab and bring judgment upon the kingdom is see James is reminding his hearers of how God worked through that man in that time. What is encouraging us to do. I am convinced to be men and women of prayer on men and women of presumption and women to get an idea in their heads which comes solid, our own foolishness and nonsense and then baptizes it by prayer and says this is what God is going to do that, that's presumption, but men and women who feed upon the word of desire to do the commandments of God and do them want to please God and seek out as well and know what he wants to do then is gone.

In his grace begins to reveal such people.

People like us what it is.

He really wants to do and women will pray in faith, claiming that revelation of God by prayer actually become agents and participants in the blessing which God is determined to bring. I think is Damon's James ends his book he perhaps has in mind a place where we could start because way you say always want to start with something spectacular wouldn't it be nice if one of our members was terminally ill just a little while of course we could all pray that person a get well I think I'll spiritual we could be. We could go around the city and say will in my church it out when somebody has cancer.

We pray for them and they get better. We'd like to do that.

James says look at. There are times when God perhaps will operate like that. But if you really want to pray as a starter. The place where we know God desires to bless consider what I say as I close, remember this, whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save them from death and cover a multitude of sins. He says begin by praying for sinners, begin by praying for those who need the gospel because God hears that prayer and saves those people they will be saved from death and all that and multitude of sins would be committed by them in their lifetime will be saved from the sins I've already committed will be covered over finally done away with by the blood of Christ on the spray all our great God and our heavenly father we confess so many times that we pray not really thinking of you. Certainly not seeking your will, but rather trying to impose our ideas, our desires upon you forgiveness for that teach us to pray, teach us to pray individually teach us to pray collectively teach us to pray earnestly teach us to pray specifically above all, teach us to hear your voice as you speak to us in Scripture and respond to that voice and then as we respond as we pray together to see your hand work and power in our midst. The saving men and women building up the body of Christ and the outward ministry to those were in such desperate need.

We pray in the person through the understanding of the Holy Spirit on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1C 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians. Thank you again for your continued support of this ministry

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