“The Lone Ranger” was a popular radio and television program starring a mysterious masked man in the Old West. The story goes that the Lone Ranger was attacked by “Butch” Cavendish’s unruly gang and was left for dead by the roadside when his friend Tonto found him, cared for him and later stayed on as his faithful sidekick.
If we’re honest, many Christians today want to be like the Lone Ranger. We want an independent spiritual life in which no one bothers us. We don’t like it when people ask us how we’re doing spiritually. We get frustrated when people ask us to share our prayer requests. We want to be left alone.
The truth is we need Tontos in our lives. The Lone Ranger calls Tonto his kemosabe meaning “trusty scout” or “faithful friend” in the Potawatomi language. We need kemosabes, because faithful prayer partners bring us healing and confidence in God.
I. Prayer is necessary at all times (
Prayer is necessary for us at all times. James conveys the importance of prayer by giving us a sampling of life’s moments when we need to pray—in times of trouble, happiness and sickness—at all times. James also encourages Christians to find trusted prayer partners. Specifically, he indicates we’ll benefit from having spiritual kemosabes in and to whom we can confide and confess our sins. Often we ask: “Isn’t it enough that I confess my sins to God? Why do I have to share my inner struggles with others?”
II. Prayer brings healing (
James’ answer is that confession brings about healing. Every individual is prone to particular sins that linger as pesky thorns on our sides. This ongoing battle with sin is a direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. We often can’t overcome sin single-handedly. When we try to fight sin by our own strength, we find ourselves repeatedly falling back into destructive patterns.
Truthfully, many of us don’t share our intimate sins with others because we’re afraid they’ll supply fodder for gossip at the Wednesday morning prayer group. James says that when we confess our sins and pray for each other, we will be healed. That’s a certainty, not just wishful thinking! Our confession of sins allows us to be free in Christ. It allows us to admit we have a problem and need to be healed.
One of the reasons why I believe Alcoholics Anonymous is so successful is because members must admit and confess they have a problem with drinking. Because the support group also struggles with alcohol abuse, it becomes a powerful source of help and hope. Members are confessing openly they can’t fight their problem on their own and need help.
In a similar way, we would be well-served to establish trusted prayer partners or kemosabes.
III. Prayer brings greater confidence in God (
In verses 17-20, James provides the example of Elijah as a person whose prayers were “powerful and effective.” Elijah, the great Old Testament prophet, walked closely with God. In many ways, Elijah served as Israel’s indirect spiritual kemosabe. The text does not say he possessed super-human faith. Rather, verse 17 states clearly: “Elijah was a man just like us.” As a result of his faithful prayers, God changed the weather pattern by causing a severe three-and-a-half-year drought to show Israel the ugliness of its idolatrous ways. Later, Elijah relented and prayed for rain; and the crops are given new life as Israel is given yet another chance. Elijah’s faithful prayer demonstrated confidence in the great power of our God.
Like the Lone Ranger, we need fellow Tontos on whom we are able to lean. We need kemosabes because faithful prayer partners bring us healing and confidence in God.