“…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
I was thinking back to this past Lord’s Day when Pastor Cook took us
back to the life of David. In 2 Samuel 8 we have the account of many of
David’s victories. In Pastor’s message he said that we see David acting
on God’s promises, promises that were found in chapter 7; promises that
God would make a great name for David; promises that God would give
David rest from his enemies; promises that God would raise up his
offspring and establish his kingdom, a kingdom that would be forever.
Then Pastor Cook went on and told us that in response to these promises
of God David took action. That really struck me, David acted on the
promises; David went out onto the battlefield; he battled against the
enemies of God; he trusted that God would be true to His promises and
that God would give him the victory. Then God blessed David’s acts of
faith by giving David many victories. As we heard on Sunday night, it
was the Lord that was the one that gave David the victory wherever he
As we come to pray this evening, it’s right for us to remember that
God has given us as well many promises. Those promises even include
promises regarding prayer. One of those promises is found here in James
5:16. I see this as a promise; a promise that “The prayer of a righteous
person has great power as it is working.” A promise that our prayers
have great power and the power isn’t coming from the words that we use
when we pray. No, the power is coming from our God, our God who hears
and answers our prayers; God who is sovereign; God who is all powerful;
God who can and who will accomplish all that He intends, all that He has
ordained. Nothing can stay the hand of God. Even when we are faced with
circumstances that may seem hopeless from a human perspective, we know
we have a God who is greater than anything that we face. God is more
powerful than any enemy that we might have. Because of God, we can have
confidence that our prayers have great power while they are working.
James helps us to understand and get a sense of that great power by
giving us the example of Elijah who prayed fervently that it would not
rain. For three years and six months, think of it, it did not rain. Then
he prayed again and then the heavens opened and God gave rain.
We all know this, that nobody has power over the weather, no one can
control the rain even with our modern technology and everything we know
we have no control over the weather. We can hardly predict what the
weather will be the next day.
But Elijah had faith. He trusted in God, he trusted that God was able
to control the rain, that God would be able to hear his prayer and
withhold the rain. Then when he prayed for it again to come, that God
would give the rain just at the time when God was pleased to do so.
Knowing God’s power, Elijah prayed and God answered Elijah’s prayers.
God withheld the rain. It was a judgment on the earth demonstrating that
God had great power, power over all of creation, power that no man has.
But even more so he is demonstrating that God is the one true God. He
has power greater than any of the manmade gods, the Baals of Elijah’s
day. None of those false gods had any power over rain. But Elijah’s God,
our God, is the only God. He is the sovereign God, He is the king of
kings and lord of lords. So therefore we can have confidence that our
prayers would be used by God to accomplish great things.
Again, thinking back to Sunday night’s message, Pastor Cook quoted
William Cary saying, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things
for God.” So we should take hold of God’s promises regarding prayer. A
promise that prayer has great power and in faith we should pray
expecting that God would do great things. That He will hear our prayers
and He will accomplish great things.
As you are listening to me this evening, there might be someone here
that is saying, “Wait, look at this verse again. It says a righteous
person, it’s the prayers of a righteous person. You might lock onto that
term it’s only for a righteous person that this promise is for.” It’s
true. And granted that is correct. And I agree that none of us are
righteous, no, not one. But when we pray, we are not to pray in our own
righteousness, not relying on ourselves in our own righteousness. No, we
are to come praying relying on the righteousness of Christ. Christ who
died for us, Christ who redeemed us, Christ is the one who clothes us in
His righteousness and therefore we can now come boldly to the throne of
grace. Christ is our advocate, He is our mediator, and therefore we can
come with confidence that God will hear us and that He will do great
things as He works great power in our prayers as they are working. So
may this brief meditation even encourage us to pray.