Friday, September 25, 2020

The Power of Prayer

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16

Back in the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. Helen Roseveare served as a missionary to The Congo, Africa. She told this true story. "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So, we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister.

“One of the girls responded. 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely.' That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so boldly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, 'If God sent that, I'm sure He also sent a doll!' And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere requests, and five months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include both of those specific articles.

Our God hears and answers prayer. As the Book of James tells us in chapter 5, “Is anyone among you in trouble? He should pray” (v. 13). From the very beginning of his message to Christians, James made it clear that much of our spiritual growth comes through trials. In the first chapter, he wrote: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Now, as he closes his letter, James once again shines the spotlight on our trials.

James doesn’t tell us what kinds of trials and hardships he has in mind. It really doesn’t matter, because this principle applies to all troubles and all hardships that Christians face. Regardless of what trouble comes our way, we need to pray. If your marriage is falling apart, you need to pray. If your kids are driving your crazy, you need to pray. If your boss or coworkers are acting like jerks, you need to pray. If your bills are due and you have no money, you REALLY need to pray. If your doctor says he doesn’t like the results of your blood work, you need to pray. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, when you are in trouble—no matter what kind of trouble you are in—you should pray.

Now, you may have heard that God answers our prayers in one of three ways: He answers with a “Yes,” a “No” or a “Wait.” But when does God give us each of these three answers? Pastor Pastor Bill Hybels answers that question this way: If the request is wrong, God says, "No." If the timing is wrong, God says, "Slow." If you are wrong, God says, "Grow." But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, "Go!"

At the end of verse 16, we read these life-changing words: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” It goes without saying that this verse doesn’t just apply to men. After all, most of us have known God-fearing women whose prayers were powerful and effective. James points to Elijah in verses 17-18 as an example of a godly man whose prayers were powerful and effective. He prayed that it wouldn’t rain in Northern Israel, and it didn’t rain. Three and a half years later, he prayed for rain, and guess what happened? Surprise, surprise! It started raining again.

Can prayer be just as powerful and effective today? Your answer to that question will largely determine whether or not your own prayers will be powerful and effective. We’re told in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. That being the case, without faith it is impossible for your prayers to be powerful and effective. But with faith…the prayers of a righteous man or woman, or teenager or child, are powerful and effective.

James ends his message to Christians with this final thought in verses 19-20: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” When we lead a backsliding Christian back to Christ, it could literally save their life here on earth. And when we lead a nonChristian to Christ, it will literally save their life in eternity.

The greatest mission ever given to men by God was our mission to lead lost and dying sinners to Christ. But James reminds us that it’s not just about winning the lost. God also calls us to win the saved. There are millions of backsliding Christians out there who need to return to Christ. If you’re one of them, I urge you to return to Christ with your whole heart. Or, if you have a backsliding Christian in your life, God is calling you to urge him or her to return to Christ with their whole heart.

It’s been over six months since the start of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. So, don’t you agree that—one way or another—it’s time to get back to church? This Sunday at Impact Christian Church, we’re celebrating Back to Church Sunday. So, it’s the perfect time for you and your family and friends to return to the house of the Lord. Join us for our Live Outdoor Service at 9 a.m., or for our Online Service at 10 a.m. If my prayer for you is “powerful and effective,” I’ll see you at church Sunday.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our live outdoor worship service this week, on Back to Church Sunday, at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.

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