This week I've tried to be brave in school by offering to pray with students and staff and parents when we meet to discuss important things. It's something that's very much allowed in school (which I find fantastically strange) and I felt God saying to me - 'Dave, what are you waiting for?!' So I've been praying for and with others all week in my school and it's been great!
Today James ends his letter by talking about how the amazing 'vertical' relationships we have with God should affect all the 'horizontal' relationships we have with others...
James is so down-to-earth and straight-forward when he describes what life lived with God should look like. He makes it sound so simple: Troubled? Pray! Happy? Praise! Sick? Pray! But then he says something really important. It's one thing to respond to God with all of our feelings and issues but he also says that because God is so gracious and forgiving and helpful, we should involve one another in this process (v16). We shouldn't just ask God to forgive us but we should confess our sins to each other. This is partly so we can have helpful accountability but mainly I believe it's about us enjoying and celebrating God's forgiveness together! Plus there's also the assurance that if we team up with other Christians who are more mature than ourselves, the prayers will somehow be wiser and carry more weight because they know what to ask God for in difficult situations.
Prayer is powerful. James uses Elijah as an example but not because Elijah was powerful but because prayer is! Elijah wasn't an example of a powerful person. He's an example of a weak person who prayed. When weak people pray - great things can happen. Especially when they pray in the centre of the will of God.
James also gets practical with his ideas about our relationships with others. As well as teaming up to pray together and enjoy God's forgiveness together, he tells us to push each other to drop bad habits and pick up good ones. We can be God's agents in rescuing each other from deadly sins that will do us a world of damage. And we can ask for others to help us. I have 2 great mates who I meet with each week to pray with and we do this for each other regularly. I've given them permission to ask me the difficult questions about my habits and I know I have to answer them honestly and they will accept me and pray for me and help me. I do the same for them in return.
Do you make the most of your 'vertical' relationship with God? Do you make the most of your 'horizontal' relationships with other believers? What do you need to ask a friend for help with this week so that your relationships will be about enjoying and strengthening your life with God? Is God also saying to you - 'What are you waiting for?!'