Summary: If you want to pray with great power, pray constantly, confidently, corporately, and fervently to pray effectively.
Three pastors were talking about prayer as a telephone repairman was working in the room. One pastor said that the key to effective prayer was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a symbol of worship.
The second pastor suggested that real prayer was conducted on the knees.
The third pastor suggested that they both had it wrong. The only position worth anything was to pray while stretched out flat on your face.
By this time, the telephone repairman couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. He interjected, “I found that the most powerful prayer I ever prayed was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended 40 feet above the ground” (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p.418).
Do you know? I think that telephone repairman had it right! In times of trial, when people are desperate, that’s when they pray their most powerful prayers.
Today, we come to the end of our series from the book of James on passing the tests of life. James told us in the introduction to his book (James 1:1-8) to persevere and pray when we meet trials of various kinds. Now, in the conclusion to his book (James 5:7-20), he tells us something very similar: be patient and pray in those times of persecution and pain.
Last week, we saw what it meant to be patient in your pain: don’t lose your cool; don’t complain; and don’t quit.
Today, we’re going to see how to pray with power in the midst of our trials. So, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 5, James 5, where the Bible tells us how to pray with “great power”.
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (ESV)
Don’t just come to God when there’s an emergency. Come to God at all times – in times of suffering, to be sure! But also in times of sufficiency. If you want to pray with great power, then…
Pray all the time. Come to God not only when you’re hurting; come to Him when you’re happy, as well.
In his book on Prayer, Tim Keller describes mining in Norway years ago. He writes:
Demolition to create mine shafts took two basic kinds of actions. There were long periods of time when the deep holes were being bored with great effort into the hard rock. To bore the holes deeply enough into the most strategic spots for removing the main body of rock was work that took patience, steadiness, and a great deal of skill. Once the holes were finished, however, the “shot” was inserted and connected to a fuse. To light the fuse and fire the shot was not only easy but also very interesting… One sees “results” … Shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction. (Tim Keller, Prayer, Dutton, 2014, page 137; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s the way it is with prayer. There are the “shot” prayers where you see great results. You pray, “Lord, please intervene,” and POW! Mountains are moved! But those kinds of prayer could never happen without the long periods of time boring into the rock of your relationship with God.