Summary: Do you want to see the power of God at work in your life and in the lives of others? Do you want to be used by God to change the world? Then, pray.
Prayer – The Power That Changes the World – James 5:13-20 (Part 2)
Sept. 16, 2012
Prayer is the power that changes the world.
Sam Chadwick wrote, "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil. He mocks at our wisdom. But he trembles when we pray."
Dr. A. C. Dixon said, "When we depend upon organization, we get what organization can do—and that is something. When we depend upon our preaching, we get what our preaching can do—that is something. When we depend upon money—we get what money can do — and that is something. When we depend upon education, we get what education can do—and that is something. But when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do. And what all of us need is what God can do."
Do you want to see the power of God at work in your life and in the lives of others? Do you want to be used by God to change the world? Then, pray. This morning we will be continuing in James 5:13-20 and we will be continuing to look at prayer. Let’s look at the passage again (read verses). Pray.
A couple of weeks ago we looked at the first aspect of prayer mentioned in this passage: pray at all times. The second aspect is: pray to heal. This morning we will be looking at the final three aspects of prayer. The third aspect is: pray in mutual confession. Look at verse 16 (read verse). It is powerful to confess our sins to one another. I know as Protestants we may have problems with the idea of confession. When confession is mentioned we think of the idea of going to a confessional and repeating all of our sins to a priest who tells us to perform acts of penance. In fact, we’re afraid that such confession can do more harm than anything. It reminds me of the story of a young teenage boy who went to confession. He said:
"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl."
The priest asks, "Is that you, little Joey Pagano?"
"'Yes, Father, it is."
"And who was the girl you were with?"
"I can't tell you, Father. I don't want to ruin her reputation."
"Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?"
"I cannot say."
"Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?"
"I'll never tell."
"Was it Nina Capelli?"
"I'm sorry, but I cannot name her."
"Was it Cathy Piriano?"
"My lips are sealed."
"Was it Rosa DiAngelo, then?"
"Please, Father, I cannot tell you."
The priest sighs in frustration. "You're very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself."
Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, "What'd you get?"
"Four months vacation and five good leads!"
We know that we don’t need a human intercessor to reach God. Jesus Christ Himself intercedes for us and we can take our sins directly to God Himself. But though that is true, there is power in confessing our sins to another human being. We need to share our deepest sins with someone with skin on. And we need to hear the words of forgiveness from a living person. Whenever we hide our sin it grows and rots. When we expose our sin and hear the healing words of God declaring forgiveness, then sin loses it’s power.
Richard Foster writes in the book, “The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Money, Sex and Power,” the following story:
A friend of mine once counseled a 78-year-old woman. She had been a missionary for fifty years, but now her life, it seemed, was in shambles. She had fears day and night. She was afraid of crowds; she was afraid of stairs; she was afraid of everything. And she was depressed; a deep sadness hung over her entire life. So total was her misery that she was preparing to have shock treatments.
"My friend, who is very wise in the care of souls, asked if she had been happy as a child. “Oh, yes!” she responded. The next question was a simple one, “When did you begin to feel this sadness and depression? The reply was quick, “When I was sixteen.” And so my friend asked, “Why? What happened when you were sixteen that caused the sadness?” For the first time in her life, this woman admitted that at sixteen she had had an affair with a young man. Fortunately she did not become pregnant, and the young man soon went away, but she had carried this deep wound in her spirit for over sixty years.