Patience and prayer

(The following is taken from a sermon that was preached by Michael Larsen on Nov 25, 2018.)

Text: James 5:7-30

Today we're going to look at what James has to say on “How to Develop Patience.” In this passage, James uses the word "patience" or "perseverance" six times. He uses three different illustrations to teach us when to be patient, why to be patient, and how to be patient.


1. When circumstances are uncontrollable.

James uses a farmer as an example of when circumstances are uncontrollable. James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.”

2. When people are unchangeable.

He gives an example of the prophets in James 5:10: “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” What was the duty of prophets? To help people change, bring them back to God, to be different in their behavior. We need patience with people.

3. When problems are unexplainable.

The classic example he gives is in James 5:11: “You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.”

Life is not fair! That is true. God never said it would be fair. A lot of things in life just don't make sense. Maybe we'll never understand on this side of heaven. Job didn't understand. However, in all of those unexplained problems, Job maintained his faith. When circumstances are uncontrollable, when people are unchangeable, and when problems are unexplainable you really need patience.


1. Because God is in control. James 5:8 says “Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.” Although I can't control everything that happens in my life, God can, so I ought to trust Him. Because God is in control and everything is working out, be patient.

2. God rewards patience. James 5:11: “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. The second half of Job's life was more blessed than the first half. There will also be rewards in heaven.

You need to be patient because God is in control and He's going to reward patience.

3. Because God is working things out. James 5:11: “You have heard of Job's perseverance, and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” God is at work even when we don't see Him at work. A delay does not mean a denial.


James says consider these three illustrations: look at them and realize what they did and do what they did while you're waiting on God.

First the farmer. What did the farmer do?

1. Wait expectantly.

2. Wait quietly.

  James warns us of two things to avoid.

  a.  James 5:9 “Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”

  b. James 5:12 “Above all, my brothers, don't swear.”

3. Wait confidently.

How do you wait confidently? Be still. Don't get worried. Don't try to take matters into your own hands and work things out. Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.”

So, what’s the best thing to do while you’re waiting? Pray, of course. James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”


1. When I am hurting emotionally (v. 13) “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.”

2. When I'm hurting physically, I ought to pray. (v.14-15) “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick

person well. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned he will be forgiven.” The Scripture teaches that there are three different kinds of sickness.

1) sickness for death.

2) sickness is for discipline.

3) sickness for the glory of God.

There are maybe five different attitudes or approaches to healing.

Sensation. You see this approach faith healers who advertise miracles. I

Confession. This approach says that it is always God's will for everybody to be healed. This is the Name It and Claim It group.

Evangelism. Some people say the gifts of healing were only for evangelism in the New Testament times and they're no longer around anymore.

Rational. Some people say sickness is just all in your mind.

I think James would be Realistic. This recognizes two facts: 1) the fact that God still does heal, but 2) He doesn't heal everybody. So what does James say to do when you are sick? Ask your church members to pray for you. The results: “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” Sometimes we pray for people and the Lord's taken them on home. So we must be prepared to humbly accept the will of the Lord in that matter.

3. When I'm hurting spiritually. (v.16) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Why isn't everybody healed? I don't know. God has the power, but it isn't His purpose in different situations. It is always in God's power to heal, but it is not always in God's purpose to heal.


You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to pray with or for someone and get those kinds of answers. James 5:17 is specifically says that “Elijah was a man (or person) just like us.” In 1 Kings 18, Elijah got alone with God and humbled himself praying for rain. It says he prayed seven times. He was persistent. He would not give up. And the result was spectacular. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things through prayer.


1. I must ask. James 4:2 says “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Be specific.

2. Have the right motive. James 4:3 says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” If you're going to ask in prayer, make sure your motives are right. Not for selfishness, but for a genuine reason -- the glory of God.

3. Clean life. James 5:16 says that “The prayer of a righteous man ( or person) is powerful and effective.” Psalm 66:18 says that “If we hide sin in our heart, then the Lord will not listen.” Isaiah 59:2 says “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

4. Ask in faith. Expect an answer. James 1:6 says that when we ask, we “must believe and not doubt.” When you come to God, believe that He wants to answer your prayer. Trust Him. Don't doubt. Really believe.