Summary: Sermon from the series "Practical Christian Living" on powerful and effective prayer.
Powerful and Effective Prayer
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.
INTRO: I am excited to share with you this message today. For the past 11 weeks we have taken a journey through the Book of James, and we have learned how to live out our faith in Christ in some very practical ways. As we conclude the series this morning, I believe God has given us a very powerful, and life-changing message on powerful and effective prayer.
(Elijah) In our passage of Scripture, James references Elijah the Prophet to give us a powerful example of what God can do through His people when we pray.
The prophet Elijah is one of the most interesting people in the Bible. God used him during an important time in Israel’s history to oppose a wicked king and bring revival to the land. Like most of us, Elijah’s life was filled with contrasts. At times he was bold and decisive, and at other times fearful and tentative. Elijah experienced both the power of God and the depths of depression in his life. James reminds us that Elijah was a flesh and blood person just like us.
Elijah, a prophet of God whose name means “my God is the Lord,” came from Tishbeh in Gilead, but nothing is known of his family or birth. We first meet Elijah in 1 Kings 17:1 when he suddenly appears to challenge Ahab, an evil king who ruled the Northern Kingdom from 874 to 853 BC. Elijah prophesies a drought to come upon the whole land as consequence for Ahab’s evil (1 Kings 17:1–7).
After calling for the drought, Elijah's life was threatened. Being warned by God, Elijah hides near the brook of Cherith where he is fed by ravens. As the drought and famine in the land grow worse, Elijah meets with a widow in a neighboring country, and, through her obedience to Elijah’s request, God provides food enough for Elijah, the woman, and her son. Miraculously, the widow’s barrel of flour and jar of oil never run out (1 Kings 17:8–16). The lesson for the believer is that, when we obey God and are in God’s will, He fulfills all of our needs, and His mercy to us never runs short.
We next see Elijah in a show down with the prophets of the false god Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-40). The prophets of Baal call upon their god all day long to rain fire from heaven to no avail. Then Elijah builds an altar of stones, digs a ditch around it, puts the sacrifice on the top of wood and calls for water to be poured over his sacrifice three times. Elijah calls upon God, and God sends fire down from heaven, burns the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones and dries up the water in the ditch. God proved He was more powerful than false gods. Friends listen, we have access to the same power as God’s Word works through us and demonstrates the power of His Spirit in our lives. Elijah is an illustration that it is not the person, but God in the person that demonstrates power.
After the great victory over the false prophets, the people repent and turn back to God. Then Elijah prays and rain once again falls on the land (1 Kings 18:41-46).
Once again, I would remind you that Elijah struggled with typical human frailties, just like all of us, yet he was used mightily of God. James uses this illustration to teach us what can be accomplished through prayer.
Today as we examine this passage of Scripture, we will ask and answer 4 questions: 1) What is prayer? 2) Why should we pray? 3) When should we pray? 4) How should we pray?
I. WHAT IS PRAYER?
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.