(Reading List Theme 3.1)

I started this blog last Spring, committed to blog through a Bible Reading List I created that, I feel, give a really good introductory overview of some of the key issues of the Bible. The first focus (Theme 1) was all about prayer. Prayer is about how we talk to God, and how we think about God. The possibility of having a relationship with God, and what that relationship will look like, is highly dependent on what we think of God in the first place. Talking to him, whether yelling, or asking, or having a running dialogue through ordinary parts of one’s day – all are forms of prayer. Prayer is where we start.

Now that I am starting the third theme I want to read about together, the focus comes back to prayer, as we finish up the book of James. In the reading list and reflection prompts, I suggest praying through the themes of James 5. Here is my prayer:

(5:1-5) Lord, though I don’t consider myself rich by American standards, I know I am rich by the world’s standards. Forgive me for my times of ungratefulness, and my sometimes stingy attitude toward money. Whether it is by the size tip I leave at a restaurant, the places I shop and that company’s attitude toward employee treatment, or the products I buy, I do not want to take advantage of anyone else in my use of money. I don’t want to support poor working conditions around the world, or unfair treatment of people, or contribute to global poverty by the things I buy to save a buck or two. WIth all those who give me assistance and provide services, help me to be fair and generous, and help me to be satisfied with what I have, realizing how truly fortunate I am.

(5:7-11) Sometimes it is easy to look around at a sin-filled world full of abuse, war, and broken lives, and just long for your return. And though I do believe you want us to long for your coming, I need to remember that here and now, there is a job to do, and I can make a difference for the better if I am living in your love. Eager expectation, patient and courageous action. That is what you ask. And when I am fed up with life, help me remember that the things that may consume my attention now, and the problems of life, probably aren’t all that big a deal in light of eternity. Help me, Father. After all, my troubles are nothing compared to Job’s! I know your mercy and tenderness, and perfect timing are all I need to carry me through.

(5:13) Thank you for your many blessings. A great, healthy family, a loving husband, growing friendships, wonderful extended family, a place to live and no worries about where our next meal will come from. Even as we look and eagerly seek a place to live of our own, I am thankful for what I have in my parents‘ home. When I feel envy and dissatisfaction creep up by looking at all the places I canNOT afford to live, help me remember that you have a perfect place for us, at the perfect time, in the perfect price. And though it may not be everything I ever dreamed of, it will meet our needs. I know you will provide, and I thank you for all you have provided all along. I praise you for your unending faithfulness and perfect plan! And I also thank you for the lessons we’ve had along the way.

(5:14) Lord, there are many I know who need healing right now, and I seek that for them, and thank you for those you have already healed. For the man at church who is now cancer-free, thank you. For the friend whose sister lost a baby just days after birth, comfort them as they grieve and consider how to move forward while still honoring that little life. For the one with the hernia, please bring a successful treatment. For the one healed and just released to return to work, thank you. For the family whose marriage and home life has just been restored, and who are now walking with you, thank you. For the one who has been off drugs for nine months, but now struggles with weight issues, be with her and help her make the right choices for her life and body and health. For the one who lost a sister this week, and another family who lost a husband/father, thank you that the suffering of the deceased has ended, and comfort those who mourn and miss them. 

“The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (5:15-16, NRSV)

Thank you that our righteousness comes not from our own lives or works, but from faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. Thank you that as I try to keep my heart pure before you (which is impossible without your help), submit to your will, and ask from motives of love instead of selfishness, I can be confident of your attentiveness and perfect care in these matters. Amen.