The power of a trustworthy community

September 30, 2022
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Daily Scripture

James 5:16-18

16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. 17 Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. 18 He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

As we reach the end of the James study, we hope you’ll remember all five memory verses used during this series. If you didn’t memorize and/or download all of them during the series, all five are at www.cor.org/jamesdownloads.

Reflection Questions

Dr. David Hubbard saw four key ideas James wrote about prayer: “1) Prayer is always appropriate—no circumstance puts us out of reach of God; 2) prayer is often corporate—other members of Christ’s body can share the experience with us; 3) prayer is totally subject to God’s will—we must trust him for guidance in how to pray; 4) prayer is frequently an encouragement to restoration.” * Valuing all the ways God acts through prayer can avoid either over-promising or disappointment.

  • One of James’ phrases might scare some of us: “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” We often limit our sharing (“fellowship” is the main Bible word) to only positive, uplifting feelings and events. But John Wesley’s early Methodist groups got much of their spiritual power from regular, honest confession that created accountability and prayer support for each other. How can you find trustworthy spiritual companions for all parts of your faith journey?
  • You can read about Elijah in 1 Kings 17-18. James stressed what the story said about the power of prayer. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “Every Christian has not only the right but the vocation to engage in…prayer for one another, prayer for the sick, prayer for the sinners, prayer for the nation and the world. If everyone who reads these words were to determine to devote half an hour every day to this task, the effect could be incalculable.” ** Will you consider a half hour of prayer daily?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, you (God in the flesh) prayed seriously and often. Thank you for the invitation to talk with you, and listen for your inner leading, often. Amen.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* David A. Hubbard, The Book of James: Wisdom That Works. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1980, p. 127.

** Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 43). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

Today’s commentary includes an admonition from one of my favorite theologians, N.T. Wright, that we should devote a half-hour each day to prayer. (Disclosure: I think I still have a T-Shirt from his 2014 Book Tour when he spoke in Kansas City.) At this point, you are probably spitting up your coffee. Many of us already struggle with time management, what with our favorite podcasts, facebook scrolling, binge-watching TV series, and, on occasion, even work. How could we possibly manage a ½ hour of prayer each day?

Aside: I bought a product on Amazon that was supposed to help with time management. Turns out it was just a spice rack with slots for oregano, rosemary, & thyme. I also tried to subscribe to a time management tips podcast. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was very helpful. It was 7-hours long.

But what if we didn’t think of prayer as a ½ hour chunk of time, but rather tried to incorporate it into our daily routines? We could pray at the start of the day while we shower or brush our teeth, we could pray for family members as we fold laundry or wash dishes, or we could praise God for creation as we did our yard work.

For me, I have a traditional time of prayer as I walk our dogs. Twenty-five years ago I started telecommuting with my job. Several articles recommended starting & ending each day with a walk outside. Feeling the weather (hot/cold, dry/rainy, etc.) provides a good boundary for your workday. So, each morning & evening, with the exception of lightning storms, I make a 1-mile circuit through the neighborhood with our beagles. Below is an abbreviated journal from one morning’s prayer walk this week, with Daisy-Doo (18 months) & Susie Q. (6 months) & their “thoughts” in italics. (For the record, our family thinks Susie would speak with an adorable lisp.)

Susie: (Biting Daisy’s ear) Let’s play, Thister!

Daisy: Stop. I want to get started on our walk. Where is the sun? Why are the days getting shorter? Shouldn’t we still be snoozing?

As we begin our trek, my mind is flooded with all sorts of worries & concerns. Isn’t it amazing how all sorts of problems can quickly swamp a perfectly good morning? I use this portion of my walk to clear them off my plate & turn them over to God.

Susie: (Biting Daisy’s ear) Let’s play, Thister!

Daisy: Enough. I want to check the fire hydrant to see if there have been any new visitors.

As we pause at the fire hydrant, I, too, think of others. I pray for a friend beginning cancer treatment, for those downsizing & preparing to move into retirement homes, those who care for family members with dementia, & young people searching for summer internships or 1st permanent jobs.

Susie: Yelp! Help, Papa. I’m tangled up in my leash.

Daisy: Again? (Sigh.)

Every time Susie gets a case of the “zooms’ while we walk, she gets tangled in her leash. As I untangle her, I think of my own instances when I have made a mess of things & said things I shouldn’t have, done things I shouldn’t have, or not done things I should have done. I once again ask for God’s grace & forgiveness. Realizing I can’t erase the past, I focus on being better from this moment forward. And I once again thank God for His patience.

Susie: Ooh. There’s a bunny! Let’s get him!

Daisy: Augh! He keeps hopping just a few yards ahead of us! Why isn’t he scared? Why won’t he run off? This is maddening. (Violent shake.) Let’s move on.

The rabbit, which has been teasing the sisters, finally skedaddles through a gap in the fence into a neighbor’s yard. As the pups continue on, I think of my own frustrations & things that make me upset, ranging in importance from the Chiefs to Ukraine. I figuratively shake off these irritants & turn these annoyances over to God & ask Him to grant me patience & peace & not let them impact my mood for the entire day.

Daisy: We are at the halfway point. Remember the other morning when we saw that strange creature? Dad called it an opossum.

Susie: Yeth. We just stood & stared. That was one weird looking dog.

I now begin to chat with God about “God-questions.” Sometimes it is about a verse I am contemplating. Today I’m grinding on an ice-breaker question, “If you could be a ‘fly on the wall’ of any scene from the Bible, which one would you choose?” Do I go old school with Moses parting the Red Sea, or intense like the Last Supper, or mind-boggling like Easter morning, or reflective like Jesus’ beach party in John 21?

Susie: Oh. Now we have the hill. Who keeps saying Kansas is flat?

Daisy: Hang on. We’re almost home.

I thank God for Creation. Regardless of season, it never ceases to amaze. Now I am just quiet. As we stroll down the home stretch, I just listen for God.

Daisy: Home at last! Time to get a drink & see what Mom’s cooking.

Susie: (Biting Daisy’s ear) Let’s play, Thister!

Amen.

Here is a picture of Daisy & Susie resting up for their next adventure: