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.
If you want to pray with great power, you need to have a personal relationship with the Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. Then you need to cultivate that relationship through constant communion with Him.
When things are going well, thank and praise Him. When things are not going so well, ask for His help. The Bible says, “In EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Pray about everything. Pray your way through the day, for the delight of answered prayer comes from the discipline of constant prayer. If you want to pray with great power, then pray constantly. 2nd, if you want to pray with great power, then…
You who have faith, ask God to deliver those who are struggling with their faith, trusting Him to grant your request. Or as James puts it right here in the next few verses, pray “the prayer of faith.”
James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (ESV)
Years ago, I was asked to pray for a lady who was in the hospital dying of cancer. Some well-meaning “friends” had come to visit her, and they read to her the verses I just read to you. Then they prayed for her and anointed her with oil, but nothing happened. She was never healed. In fact, the cancer spread, and she grew sicker by the day. Her so-called “friends” accused her of a lack of faith, and stopped visiting her. The lady was devastated!