In James 5:13-20 seven prayer topics are considered: Trouble, Happy, Sick, Sin, Prophetic (Elijah concerned with political situation), Environmental, and for those who are Lost. But, everything James says is prefaced by a discussion of the prayer-less attitude many have towards life. In James 413-15 we are cautioned not be drawn into thinking that we have a god-less solution to the troubles of this world.
Some people deal with trouble by saying “Let’s eat drink and be merry.” How many of those in church are struggling with a substance abuse, whether it’s alcohol, over eating, or the accumulation of material things. What can we say to help them shift from drowning their troubles to James’ advice that we simply pray?
Some people live by the mantra, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” With this prayer-less attitude, they post notes on their bathroom mirror encouraging themselves to believe in themselves. But James shakes his head. He suggests that we live the motto heard everywhere in the Arab world, Insha’Allah, “if God wills it.” There is a mindful dependency upon our higher power that is universal among the great religions. James would tell us that prayer is not a matter of saying the right words or knowing your religion’s secret password, it is instead an attitude that accepts this moment, lives fully in it, and offers it up to the Holy One.