A message for the week starting on Sunday 26 September 2021
Lectionary Week: Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Prescribed Texts: Esther 7:1-6, Psalm 124, James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50
The Prayer Dilemma
Focus Text: James 5:13-20
Prayer has been part of our Christian faith (and of many other religions too). For some, prayer has become a ritual; for others, it has become something you do in absolute solitude and with reverence. My personal walk with the Lord has made prayer to be conversational and relational. It is in prayer towards our Heavenly Father that I express my excitement, celebrations, joy, disappointment — and at times even anger.
The question is: anger? How can you express anger towards God, is that not blasphemy? Well, at times I am respectfully angry towards God, partly because I do not always understand Him. Isaiah 55:8-9 says that God’s way is higher than our ways. God, in his sovereignty, does not always meet our expectations. One of the areas where our expectations are not always met, is when we pray for healing.
Firstly, I believe we should always pray for the sick, but this should be done with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we need to have a biblical perspective of healing and God’s response. Paul prayed for a young man that fell to his death (Acts 20:9). The same Paul tells Timothy to drink wine for his stomach, which some scholars say was a chronic illness that Timothy had. Definitely less faith was needed in praying for Timothy’s healing than raising the dead man! While healing is seemingly very spectacular, maintaining good health through medication is just as miraculous, as it is divine wisdom that brought medical science to where we are today.
Thirdly, death is no defeat. I was stunned whilst listening to a priest who said that death was healing. How could he say that? But as I became quiet within myself and meditated on his words and the Word of the Lord, I came to the realization that he was absolutely right. To be released from this world’s constant pain and suffering, is indeed healing to the suffering.
As I conclude, prayer is not about who you are, but your faith in God. Our status, our achievements, our privileges or the lack thereof in any way, have no impact whether to be heard by God or not.” . . . Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:17).
To think about:
When you pray, do you feel that you can really be honest with God?
When we pray publicly for sick people, do we pray for healing or their well-being? And what is the difference?
Why should the COVID vaccines not be Wisdom from the Holy Spirit, to bring protection and preservation of life, like all the vaccines and medications before?
Written By: Rev Clive Swartz, Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) Programme Coordinator