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.
As I meditated upon this account I started thinking about “those hands.” Does anyone know what I’m talking about when I say, “those hands”? I thank God for my mother, and for the hands that fed me and clothed me, and every once in a while, spanked me, but I’m not talking about my mother’s hands today. I’m talking about “those hands.” I thank God for doctors and for the many men and women who have helped me in my times of sickness or during surgery, but I’m not talking about the doctor’s hands today. I’m talking about “those hands.”
What do you have faith for? Do you have faith for God to heal a headache? Do you have faith for God to supply the funds you need to pay a bill? Do you have faith for God to provide employment? We talk about having faith and we say we believe, but there will be times when our faith is tested, and this is part of the process by which God works in us to “purify” our faith (1 Pt. 1:6-9), to take us from shallow faith concerned only about our own wants in the moment, to larger concerns that comprehend the implications of eternity in all that we do, or think, or believe. It is through this process that we become mature believers who endure to the end, who remain faithful when the pressure is on, and who learn patience when everything in us is crying for Jesus to do it now (Ja. 1:3).