30th June 2017

Prayer works…but how?

James 5 v. 16 – 18

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. 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.’

James has encouraged us to pray – when we’re in trouble, when we’re sick, when we’ve sinned.
Here, in v. 16, he claims that prayer is ‘powerful and effective’. We may know that there have been times when our prayers have seemed to have been that powerful and effective, and other times when not.
If we’re tempted to lay the blame on ourselves entirely for this – we weren’t ‘righteous’ enough – we need to remember that our ‘righteousness’ is a gift, freely given through Jesus, not something we can earn or manufacture ourselves.

The example given is of Elijah – who James claims was merely human like the rest of us. Notably, he prayed ‘earnestly’, which suggests repeatedly, consistently, with passion.
It’s an interesting example too (read 1 Kings 17 and 18), for Elijah was so deeply concerned about the spiritual landscape he was living in, he wanted God to act to turn people back to Him, for the nation to ‘repent’, and once they did, to become fruitful again. His prayers were not self-serving, but for God’s influence on the nation, for ‘the honour of God’s name, for the whole-heartedness of God’s people (the purpose of James’ letter, also), and for the salvation of more people.’

Lord Jesus,
as James concludes his letter,
he draws us back to a life of prayer,
of seeking Your purposes,
Your will,
Your reign and rule.

Lord, for our land, in this our generation
Spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care
For young and old, for commonwealth and nation
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

Lord, for ourselves, in living power remake us
Self on the cross and Christ upon the throne
Past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.