Why is it that prayer is always the last recourse when we have problems? Is there something embarrassing about having to depend on prayer?
In our text, James has come full circle from commanding us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (1:2) to commanding us to “continually or habitually be praying” during “suffering” (Gk., kakopatheo, “endure evil, hardships, or trouble”). In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul wrote to “endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, [and] fulfill your ministry.”
There is no suggestion here as to what the object of their prayer should be. It could be an exhortation to pray to understand the wisdom of God in the face of loss and horrible pain and to learn to be content. They will never endure without this inner strength from time spent in the presence of God.
Humanly speaking, if Christ needed to pray for strength to go through the day of His crucifixion, how much more did they (and we) need the same?
Paul went through not only persecution from without but also physical affliction. Three times he prayed to be freed from it. God answered his prayer by helping him understand that his physical affliction was necessary. God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
His response was “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The “power of God” is defined as the manifested sufficiency of the “grace” of God in agonizing situations. This is good.
James also wrote to those who were “in good spirits,” or “cheerful.” This is not a reference to happiness dependent on circumstances, but “cheerfulness” from the heart, as when Paul and Silas sang in the prison at Philippi (Acts 16:25).
“Continually sing praises” is what Paul wrote of those “filled with the Spirit”; you should be “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19–-20a). A positive attitude and a trusting spirit are contagious. This is how we are to “encourage one another” (1 Thes 5:11).
“Dear Jesus, it is wonderful to be able to ask for Your help when life is difficult. I am grateful that Your grace is sufficient and that You will restore my joy as I cling to You.”
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