As believers, we have been forgiven and continue to be forgiven as we confess and repent for our failures. We have been forgiven because through the cross, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is 1:18). If we believe the promises of God, and if we have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on an old rugged cross, then we should not allow Satan to beat us over the head with our past. I once heard someone say, “When Satan tries to remind me of my past, I remind him of his future.”
In the case of our text, what Jesus has to say about prayer and faith must be never be isolated from the larger story and used to justify some kind of hyper-faith doctrine, which argues that any of us can have anything we want, any time we want it if we just have enough faith and are willing to speak our miracle into existence. That is not what the Bible teaches, therefore, that cannot be what this passage teaches. With all that, said, look again at our passage.
Once people realized how special Jesus was, everywhere Jesus went the people crowded around Him. Eventually some of the religious elites began to worry that Jesus might challenge their positions or their authority, so they also began to show up in order to critique and criticize Jesus. They were constantly watching with a critical eye and listening for something with which to accuse Jesus of, such as, fraud or blasphemy. Sadly, in process of their criticism, they likely deprived themselves of the ministry that could have been for them. People who come to church only to pick apart the sermon and criticize the preacher are rarely blessed.
In closing, James reminds us of the power of prayer. This truth could not have come at a better time for first century believers, or for the twenty-first century believers. There is power in payer. Power to bring relief to those who suffer, power to heal the sick, power to forgive sin, and power to turn the heart of the wayward back to the Lord. James tells us that we don’t have to be a priest, a prophet, or an apostle to pray powerful prayers; we just have to live right and know who to call upon. The words “pray” or “prayer” occur seven times in eight verses, so prayer is clearly the theme of James at the end the letter.
In verse 5 John refers to “the message,” from the Greek anggelia, meaning “announcement, information, or message.” He says they received the message, the information, from Jesus and they were declaring it without distortion or apology. What is the message? It is “that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” God is pure light, meaning there is no impurity or imperfection in God. It is this message, this light from God, that exposes the lies, the falsehoods, and the deception of the heretics and opens the door for people of faith to have fellowship with one another.