Text: James 5:16
Prayer does not equip you for greater works.
Prayer is the greater work. ---- Oswald Chambers
As mature Christians we are naive to ignore or deny the reality of spiritual conflicts between good and evil and our role in them as believing saints. Our main weapon in a prayer offensive is a keen knowledge and application of scripture "declared verbally" in the same way Jesus fought the devil in his wilderness experience.
1. Prayer is a vital key that connects us with our heavenly Father.
2. Prayer is both an incredible privilege and an awesome responsibility. It can move the hand of God in situations where there is no other hope.
3. Biblical prayer is crying to God out of the depths; it is the pouring out of the soul before God.
4. "Prayer is like the dove that Noah sent forth, which blessed him not only when it returned with an olive-leaf in its mouth, but when it never returned at all."
James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
• When a person is RIGHT with God, the power of his sincere prayer is tremendous!"
• The conditions for that promise: "when a person is right with God and prays sincerely".
• Effectual fervent prayer is the hardest kind of work there is to do. Not only does it take more out of a person than any other kind of work, we have to handle ourselves with a strong discipline to make time for effectual fervent prayer.
I. Our natural tendency is to shrink back when it comes to praying for the impossible.
A. The problem is that we rest the power of prayer too much upon ourselves.
B. We think that we are the ones making things happen in prayer.
C. Instead we are to see ourselves as instruments in the Lord’s hands for accomplishing his purposes through prayer.
D. Prayer is an act of obedience and privilege for the believer.
E. We are commanded to pray. But we are also invited to bring our needs before the Lord.
F. We are to anchor ourselves in his faithfulness and promises.
G. We are to see that the very fact that God commands us to pray is a foundation for effectiveness in our prayers
II. We hesitate to pray, thinking that it will do no good, but James calls our attention once again to the means God has established for doing his work among us—prayer. Do you believe this? We are so accustomed to neglecting prayer that it is hard for us to think of its power through God among us.
The Power of Fervent Prayer
A. Peter was in prison awaiting his execution. The Church had neither human power nor influence to save him. There was no earthly help, but there was help to be obtained by the way of Heaven. They gave themselves to fervent, importunate prayer. God sent His angel, who aroused Peter from sleep and led him out through the first and second wards of the prison; and when they came to the iron gate, it opened to them of its own accord, and Peter was free.
B. ‘Prayer has divided seas, rolled up flowing rivers, made rocks gush into fountains, quenched flames of fire, muzzled lions, disarmed vipers and poisons, marshaled the stars against the wicked, stopped the course of the moon, arrested the sun in its rapid race, burst open iron gates, released souls from eternity, conquered the strongest devils, commanded legions of angels down from heaven. Prayer has bridled and chained the raging passions of man and routed and destroyed vast armies of proud, daring, blustering atheists. Prayer has brought one man from the bottom of the sea and carried another in a chariot of fire to heaven. What has prayer not done?’
What is it that makes our prayer effectual (or effective)?
1. Fervent prayer is putting your whole self---all of your attention, your mind, your will, and your emotions---on that thing you’re praying about. That means your mind is focused on prayer instead of drifting off on other things. Fervent prayer will make a difference in the lives of people, but we must understand that it takes an effort and a sacrifice of our time.
2. In Matthew 15:22-28, the Canaanite woman would not take no for an answer. She asked for her daughter’s healing, and three times she was rejected. But she wouldn’t give up. She understood the heart and character of the Lord Jesus. She not only received the healing of her daughter, but was commended by Jesus: "Woman, you have great FAITH!"
3. James gives us Elijah as the example of effective prayer in action (see verses 17-18). What gave Elijah the boldness to pray that the rain would stop, and then, at his word, start again? (1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-45).
• Elijah’s prayer was BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD!
All of Israel had turned away from the Lord to worship Baal, the idol-god of a cruel heathen religion. Up stands one solitary man, a total unknown, and boldly proclaims to the king that "there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word!’’ But his authority was based on a promise and warning found in Deuteronomy 11:13-17:
4. Daniel also Discovered the Secret
In Daniel 9:3-19. Daniel poured out his heart in prayer before God that his people, who had been taken out of their homeland and held as captives in Babylon, would return to their land. The basis of his prayer can be seen in verse 2:
" . . . I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years’’.
The Lord had spoken right at the time when Judah had gone into captivity that they would be in Babylon for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel, reading the Scriptures one day, came across that promise and realized that the 70-year period was almost completed. However, he didn’t just sit back and wait for God to do it. Daniel began to PRAY that what God had promised would be fulfilled. The Lord has chosen to give us the privilege and responsibility of being involved with Him in His purposes on earth. Daniel lived to see his people return!
• Effectual prayer, then, is prayer that is based on God’s Word. When we know the promises that He has given, and understand His character and the principles by which He works as revealed in His Word, we can pray with confidence and authority, knowing that our prayers will be answered.
• Seek God’s Prayer Plan for Your Life!
There are many levels of prayer. God knows exactly where each of us are in our prayer life and our knowledge and understanding of prayer.
He will honor even the most pitiful prayer a person offers in faith, if that is all they know to do. But He will not let us stay at that level.
He wants us to move to greater levels of understanding, faith, and power.
And the best way to progress is to simply say, "Lord, teach me to pray powerful and effective prayers."
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