Today's Lectionary Text
James 5:13-18Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
We all pray, but when, how, and why we pray may be different for everyone. We may lift our voices in prayer together in worship, and we may pray in silence when we are alone. Often our prayers will be specific: recovery from an illness, safety from storms, mending of broken relationships.
Prayer is powerful and can have miraculous results, but God's answer to our prayers usually isn't a miracle. At least not the spectacular, instantaneous, and unexplainable events we read in the Bible. The most common way God works in our world is through God’s children—us. While we are watching for the spectacular, we may miss God at work around us every day.
God may answer our prayers with medical professionals who care for our ailing bodies. The scientists and engineers who build and use technology to forecast storms can be a life-saving miracle. Sometimes it is even simpler; an act of kindness or an encouraging word can transform someone who feels alone. But to be miracle workers, we need to do more than talk to God when we pray. We need to listen. God may not speak with a booming voice from the heavens. It may be a gentle nudge; nothing more than a gut feeling pushing us to do something.
That something can be God’s answer to someone’s prayer. We may pray for God to provide for those who don’t have enough to eat or to shelter someone with no home of their own. God’s answer may nudge us to act, and then we answer a call for volunteers to help feed the hungry.
We pray God changes the world, but God’s answer is to change our hearts. Mother Teresa said, “I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do… I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things."
-Michael Turner, Pastor
Osage City and Reading UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, help me to see your work in our world every day. When I pray, hear my prayers, and speak to me so I may serve you by helping to answer someone else’s prayer. Amen.
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