The last day of devotions from James. I pray this has been useful.
James 5:13-20 (NIV) Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
v. 16 “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The word “prayer” is mentioned seven times in this passage. That’s what it’s about. Prayer. James had a reputation for being a man of prayer. His nickname was James, the Camel Knees, because he had such big knots on his knees from spending hours and hours in prayer. There is tremendous power in prayer. Prayer is the greatest privilege of the Christian life, being able to talk to God, and it’s the greatest power in the Christian life. What prayer can do is what God can do. Anything that God can do can be done through prayer. Jesus said, “The things that I do, you’ll do also even greater works.” How do you do greater works than Jesus? Jesus said in the verse underneath that, “It’s by prayer”. Anything you ask, you pray for. It’s our greatest responsibility. It’s probably our greatest failure in the Christian life. We talk a lot about prayer, we study about prayer. A lot of us are not too satisfied with our prayer life.
HOW CAN I PRAY EFFECTIVELY?
#1. I must ask. That sounds simple but in a lot of our prayers we never ask for anything. We say “Thank you for…” and “Bless…” and that’s it. We never pray specifically. The more specific your prayers are the greater you’re going to be blessed in the answer. When I was in college I taped a huge sheet of butcher paper up on the wall. It had four columns: Date, Prayer Request, Promise to base my prayers on, Answer and Date. That was a real faith building time in my life. I saw God answer in little things and I saw him answer in big things. I trust Him for great things. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Be specific. Throw away all your cliches. I love to hear new Christians pray because they don’t know all the language, and they’re so honest. It’s refreshing.
#2. Have the right motive. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” If you’re going to ask in prayer, make sure your motives are right. Not for selfishness but for a genuine reason — the glory of God.
#3. Clean life. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 . Notice the word “righteous”. If you’re a Christian you are righteous. We’re not talking about perfection. We’re talking about righteousness. Righteousness is your standing before God when you became a believer. It has nothing to do with your perfection. If God only answered the prayers of perfect people, how many prayers would get answered? None. But God does want us to have a clean life. Psalm 66:18 says, David said, “If I hide [regard, conceal] iniquity [sin] in my heart then the Lord will not hear.” If I am willfully and knowingly doing something I know is displeasing to God and say, “God, I’m going to continue doing this but, by the way, help me out.” It’s like saying “Dad, will you loan me the keys to the car, but I’m never going to do a single thing you ask.” We need to have a clean life before Him. Proverbs 28:9 says, “He that turneth his back from the hearing of the law, even his prayers are an abomination.” Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your sins have separated you between you. Your God has hid His face so He cannot hear.”
#4. Ask in faith. Expect an answer. James 1:6 says, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…” When you come to God, believe that He wants to answer your prayer. Trust Him. Don’t doubt. Really believe.
How important is your prayer life to you? I struggle with this more than any other area in my life — this area of being consistent in prayer. I talk to the Lord all the time, but I don’t really have the prayer life I want to have. I’m never satisfied with it. I want to know Him in a deeper way. I want our church to be a miracle. I want it only to be explained by the fact that God did it. I want our church to be an embarrassment to the devil. I want people to look at our church and say, “Only God could have done that.”