Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. (James 5:13 KJV)
James instructs us on what to do when we are afflicted and when we are merry. If we find ourselves being afflicted, he urges us to pray. But when we are merry, he says we should sing psalms. Prayer and praise are therefore weapons or instruments we can use in different settings of life. In this devotional, we examine what it means to pray when we are afflicted.
The term “afflicted” in James 5:13 means to suffer (pain) or to experience harm or emotional pain. It describes a state of emotional or mental anguish and pain caused by something injurious in our lives or circumstances. Such afflictions could be physical, emotional, financial, social, demonic, etc.; they are almost synonymous to living on earth after the Fall.
The Scripture instructs us to pray when we are afflicted. This instruction implies prayer is part of heaven’s strategy to deal with afflictions in our life. When we are afflicted or in emotional anguish, prayer initiates activities to directly or indirectly relieve our suffering.
So, what does prayer do to combat affliction? Why does it work? James explains:
“ …The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (James 5:16 AMPC).
This is the reason prayer works when we are afflicted: it makes tremendous power available, power that is dynamic in its working. Therefore, the solution to any affliction is power that break the chains, relieve the oppression or lift up any burden. And when we pray, that dynamic, effective and overcoming power is released to subdue the enemies of our souls. Although this power works in all circumstances, it is most dramatic when the affliction, especially mental or emotional torment, is demonic in its origin. This is the reason why the best thing you should immediately do sometimes when you feel down, discouraged, overwhelmed, depressed or hopeless is to pray. As you pray in such oppression, you will sometimes notice a lifting of a dark atmosphere off of you.
Are you afflicted by a financial or social crises in your life? The Lord says pray. Is it a health, family, emotional or demonic torment? The Lord’s instruction is the same—pray! As ministers often remark, it is sad that the prayer is often the last thing we consider after we have exhausted all more feasible options. Since God is our primary Help in time of need, prayer should be the first weapon to consider when life throws an affliction on us.
What affliction are you dealing with right now? What keeps you awake at night? What makes you cry at night or in your heart continually before God?
Apply the Word
Many believers sincerely belittle prayer because it does not seem to work for them. Prayer only works when it is “effectual and fervent”; the prayer that destroys affliction is the prayer that God hears. Learn to pray effectively.
Ask the Father to teach us how to pray.