Summary: This sermon contains some observations about effective prayer and a discussion of healing prayer.
A. The story is told of a man who went and made a sales presentation to the leadership of a church.
1. When the presentation was over, one of the men in leadership when into the auditorium, knelt down and after a minute of silent prayer, returned and announced in a solemn tone, “The Lord says we should wait.”
2. Without flinching, the salesman went into the auditorium, knelt down, and after a moment of silent prayer, returned and said to the leader who had just prayed, “The Lord wants to talk with you again.”
3. I’m not really sure that either man was actually praying, but it is interesting that they both saw prayer as a way of getting what they wanted.
B. Please don’t misunderstand this statement, but in some respects, there is nothing wrong with using prayer to get what you want.
1. In James 4:2, James wrote, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”
2. In James 1:5, James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
3. In today’s passage, James says that if we are in trouble or sick, then we should pray to God about it.
4. In other words, if there is something we want from God, then we should pray about it, and we should ask others to pray on our behalf.
C. But we all know that there is more to effective prayer than just asking God.
1. The Bible teaches that not all praying is effective.
2. According to Psalm 66:18, those who pray while they cherish sin in their hearts will find that God doesn’t listen to that prayer.
3. According to Matthew 6:5, those who pray only to be seen by men will not receive the reward of answered prayer, because their reward was to be seen by men.
4. According to James 1:7, those who waver in faith should not expect to receive an answer to prayer.
5. And according to James 4:3, those who pray for things simply because of selfish desires will not receive what they ask for.
6. But at the same time, James wants us to know that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
D. I think we all would agree that the great people of God in any generation are those Christians who pray.
1. These people do not necessarily talk more about prayer.
2. They don’t advertise their belief in prayer.
3. They don’t try to explain everything about prayer.
4. No, they are those humble, dedicated ones who simply and obediently pray.
5. They don’t necessarily have more time than the rest of us to pray, they just consider prayer more important than the things with which most of us fill our lives.
6. They have disciplined themselves and have worked out a time, a place and a system for prayer.
7. And believing in a God who hears and answers prayer, these people have claimed the power of prayer.
8. Brothers and sisters, I don’t know about you, but I’m not there yet.
9. I have a long way to go in becoming more faithful in prayer.
E. James, the writer of this letter we have been studying, was a person of prayer.
1. His contemporaries knew him by the nickname “camel-knees.”