Summary: This sermon challenges us as Christians to evalute the effectieness of our prayer lives and prayerfully causes us to improve upon them.
How Effective Are Your Prayers
How Effective Are Your Prayers James 5:13-18
Introduction: T. J. Bach once wrote this prayer: I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things, I asked God for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn to obey. I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for the power and the praise of men; I was given weakness to sense my need for God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for but everything I hoped for; In spite of myself, my prayers were answered— I am among all men most richly blest. Walk softly, speak tenderly, and pray fervently. Orient to the text: About three weeks or so ago, we ended our study in the book of James. It was near the end of the last chapter that I read these words "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. " This is the last part of verse 16. We are not going to spend a great deal of time here this morning but I do want to give you the context for this statement and the following two verses. We have to remember that this book was written to saved Jews. They were being persecuted by the others Jews. They were being driven from their homes, robbed of their possessions, and in some cases murdered by the courts under Jewish control. James is trying to encourage them in this book and urge them to look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is then that justice will be served. James. In this portion of the book, in verse 13 tells them to pray if they are sick, and to sing psalms if they are happy. In Verse 14 he says; those of you who are sick, call for the elders to come and to pray over you an anoint you with oil, I am not going to explain this verse this morning, suffice it say that I feel this is to take place in the privacy of ones home not in a public forum. In verse 15 James reminds those who do call for the elders that it is the Lord who heals them and further more, it is the Lord who does much more, He forgives them of their sins. This brings us to verse 16 were James says: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” What’s the deal with this confession? You might ask. Well we are instructed by James to confess our sins to one another. This is to be done in great care. You want to find someone that can be trusted with what you tell them. You need to choose someone that you know will pray for you. This does help relieve the guilt. However, this person is not to replace God. We are to always confess our sins to God. Then James adds this statement; "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This part of the verse has really caused to me probe deep into my own heart. Do you, sometimes, feel like your prayers go no higher than the ceiling? Do you feel like God should have answered a prayer in a certain way but has not and for that reason you think He has not heard your prayer? I have. Our first response is to shake our fist and finger at God and say; "Why have you not answered my prayers?" Well, maybe God is not the problem, we are. Let us look at this verse. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” What does effectual fervent mean? This phrase comes from the Greek word evEpyeo) from which we get our English
word energy or energetic. From this we first note that our prayers are to be filled with energy, they must be energetic. Now that doesn’t mean we have to jump up and down while praying but it does mean that they are to have our undivided attention. We are to pray as though we fully expect something great to happen and that should excite us. Then James states that this energized prayer is to come from a righteous man. This would include women as well. Well, what is a righteous man or woman? We must first of all understand that we, as human beings are not righteous, nor can we be on our own. Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Since we are not righteous God had to provide a way for us to be declared righteous and this he did through his Son 2Co 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. So we must conclude, based upon Scripture that any righteousness that is found in us comes from God through His Son alone. With that understanding, are there any examples of righteous men in the Bible? Yes, who comes to mind? Well I think of Job, Moses, and David but they are not the example that James uses he uses Elias, which is Greek for Elijah let us look at the man and the event that James uses here in the text. Note first of all that he was an ordinary man.