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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Instead, Pray (5:13-18)
Instead, Pray (5:13-18)

These next verses, then, are a continuation of 5:12 and give the alternative to swearing, which is praying. Most commentators miss this connection between 5:12 and 5:13, which should be noted because it is based on the letter's underlying theme of faith. See, for example, the interpretations attempted by Moo (1985:175), Motyer (1985:187), Laws (1980:224) and Davids (1982:181). Tasker seems to perceive the connection (1983:126). Martin suggests that the praying is perhaps James's proposed alternative to fighting (1988:205). This is certainly true in the verse's larger context, but in the more immediate context praying is the alternative to swearing. In James's view, oaths and prayers are simply the verbal expressions of underlying stances of unbelief and faith, respectively. Because James is a man of faith, he has a passion for prayer. For his concluding instructions to suffering Christians, he dwells on this matter of prayer with three emphases: when to pray, how to pray and why pray.

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