James was a leader of the first Christian community ever. He was in a leadership role for 20 years and during this time the church fell on hard times; famine, persecution, and poverty. James lived with wisdom and courage during this difficult time. The book of James is really a letter of wisdom. Instead of writing to one church community, like Paul did, James wrote to all of the Christians to encourage them to live out their faith. For this series I will write some of the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.
Small Group Questions | Bold Prayers | James 5:13-20
After nine weeks we come to the conclusion of the letter that James wrote to the early church. The church was dispersed and spread out in various areas due to persecution. James was a caring leader in the early church. He loved the church and throughout the letter we’ve seen that expressed in how he addressed them. In the final verses of the letter we read about having a thriving prayer life. James could have written about anything but he knew that a thriving prayer life was an overflow of a thriving relationship with Jesus. James encourages the church to pray in all situations. One of the most powerful examples might be how James reminds us of the power of prayer from the Life of Elijah the prophet.
1) With your group think about your personal prayer life. Think about a time when God didn’t answer your prayer. How did it feel? Now, think about a time when God answered your prayer but it was better than you could imagine. How did that feel?
2) Read James 5:13-16. James asks several questions to the church about prayer. He exhorts us to pray in all situations (read Job 35:9-10, 2 Corinthians 12:6-10, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17) When you’re in trouble what is your first response?
3) Looking at the life of Jesus we read that He healed many (read Matthew 8:5-13, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 9:37-43. We are encouraged to seek prayer from the elders of the church during times of sickness. What hinders us from doing that?
4) It seems that James includes an aspect of sin that can bring about sickness and/or hurt our relationship with others. Share about a time in your life where your sin brought about a sickness or broken relationship with someone in church.
5) Read James 5:17-18. To fully understand the story of Elijah we have to look back to his life. Take some time in your group to read 1 Kings 17 and 18. After reading these stories of Elijah, what stands out to most about his life?
6) James said that Elijah was a man just like us. Elijah prayed earnestly and God answered his prayers. How does Elijah’s prayer life encourage you? Are there times that you give up on praying and resign yourself to apathy in your prayers?
7) The letter of James ends with a reminder to reach those who are living a life of sin (read James 5:19-20). Share about the person who told you about Jesus. Who is God inviting you to share your faith with? What will that take?
Close your time in prayer.