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When Should You Pray? - Forward with Back to the Bible - March 29

  • 2022 Mar 29

When Should You Pray?

March 29

Read James 5:13-14 (ESV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.


What emotions are you feeling right now? Are you in difficult or happy circumstances? Regardless of your feelings or situation, how should you respond?

Have you ever stopped to think about what a privilege prayer is? The all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God of the universe allows us—sinful and rebellious humans—to talk to Him. But not just to praise Him, though we certainly should, and He is worthy of our praise! But God also welcomes our concerns, our fears, and our requests. Any time of the day or night, we can call out to God. In fact, as believers in Jesus Christ, that should be our response to whatever life throws at us.

In today’s verses, prayer is what James prescribed no matter the circumstance. If you’re suffering, prayer is the solution. If you are happy and blessed, singing your prayers in praise is the proper response. If you’re sick, praying and getting others to pray for you is his prescription.

James specifically mentioned that those who are sick should call on the elders of the church to pray for them and anoint them with oil. There is some debate about how to interpret this verse. The first debate is about the nature of the sickness. Is this a spiritual sickness as a result of sin or a literal, physical illness? The second debate is about the purpose for anointing with oil. Was this intended to be a ceremonial type of anointing or for medicinal purposes? Honestly, we don’t know for sure.

In Mark 6:13, we see that anointing the sick with oil during a healing was practiced by Jesus’s disciples: “And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” But again, this verse doesn’t necessarily address our questions about the purpose of anointing them with oil.

But even if the historical interpretation is less clear, the personal application for our lives is clear. If we are spiritually sick as a result of our sin, we should pray. We should confess our sins to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

If you are in a cheerful mood because life is good and God has blessed you, then you should pray. Direct your thanks and praise to God. “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name” (Psalm 100:1-5).

Prayer for health and well-being is also modeled in Scripture: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2).

The whole counsel of Scripture is clear that there is always an occasion to pray. In fact, Paul tells us that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and that we should be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).

Friends, are you suffering? Are you sick? Are you blessed beyond measure and overflowing with joy? Regardless of your answer to these questions, turning to God in prayer is always the right response. “...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).


Father, I know that prayer is a merciful and gracious blessing that You have given me. I don’t deserve to approach You at all and yet, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, You made a way for me to talk to You. You restored our broken relationship. Help me to remember that no matter what I am facing in life, reaching out to You in prayer is the proper response. Amen.

~ Pastor Nat Crawford

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