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.
Apparently, James heard that certain members of local churches were guilty of criticizing one another, slandering one another, and judging one another, so James writes in no uncertain terms that this is wrong. I believe James is telling us that it is wrong to think we know what another person is going through or understand the pain the drives their actions. It is wrong to assume we can see a person’s heart and know their motives. It is wrong to judge another person when we have never taken the time to talk with them, weep with them or pray with them. James addresses this issue head on in verse 11 and 12.
Have you ever met someone, as the saying goes, who was “all talk and no action”? They went to church religiously but they never got engaged in kingdom work. They claimed to love Jesus but outside of church no one could tell by how they talked or walked that they even knew Jesus. Religion for the sake of religion, or religion as a set of repetitive rituals, is empty and powerless, but religion as the overflow of a right relationship with Jesus Christ is a powerful force in the world.
In a fallen world we cannot keep the devil from putting things in our path that appeal to natural human desires, but by the same token the devil cannot force us to pursue anything we don’t want to pursue. One preacher observed that we cannot keep the devil from knocking on our door, but that doesn’t mean we have to open the door and let him in. The reason Satan has been so successful with temptation is because too many people are looking for the opportunity and temptation is just an excuse to open the door and do what they already wanted to do.
In a world of such uncertainty, the only thing we know for sure is that everything changes. Things that seem permanent and unshakable, tremble and fall. Empires may last a thousand years, but in time every empire that has ever existed met its demise at the hands of fallen and corrupt humanity. There is only one kingdom that shall never pass away.
When God looks at you and me, He sees our potential; He sees people who are able to do great things through Christ who strengthens us. He sees more than conquerors; He sees champions. But the only way we are going to discover our own true capability in Christ is to go through the hard times to learn that we can get through the storms and struggles of life when our faith is fixed on Jesus.
The personal journey from being the unbelieving brother of Jesus to a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, had been difficult, but James shows us that it doesn’t matter how you get there, just get there.