Summary: Most Christians say they believe in prayer but in reality, they don’t see much power in it. I think the reason for this is they don’t pray much. Like the subject of love it is easy to talk about but not as easy to put into practice.
Praying With Power
James 5: 13-18
Do you remember the TV commercial for the investment firm of E.F. Hutton? What was their catch slogan? When E.F. Hutton speaks people listen.
Well you know what? When Christians pray, God listens.
I read of a town in the mid-west that had two churches and one whiskey distillery. The members of both churches claimed that the distillery gave the community a bad image. To make matters worse, the owner of the distillery was an out-spoken atheist. The church people had tried unsuccessfully, for years, to shut down the distillery.
They decided to hold a joint prayer meeting on Saturday night to ask God to intervene and settle the matter once and for all. The people met on Saturday night and all through the prayer meeting, a terrible electrical storm raged. Then to the delight of the church folks, a lightning bolt hit the distillery and burned it down.
The next morning, the sermon in the two churches was on the power of prayer.
Insurance adjusters promptly advised the distillery that they would not pay for the damages because the fire was caused by an act of God, and that was an exclusion in the insurance policy. The distillery owner was furious and decided to sue both churches, claiming they had conspired with God to destroy the building and his business.
The churches then denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire. The judge who presided over the case opened the trial with these words, “I find one thing in this case most perplexing. We have a situation here where the Plaintiff, who is an atheist, is professing his belief in the power of prayer. And the Defendant who is made up of faithful church members is denying the very same power.
I want to talk today about the power of prayer. Most Christians say they believe in prayer but in reality, they don’t see much power in it. I think the reason for that kind of attitude is they don’t pray much. Like the subject of love, it’s easy to talk about but not as easy to put into practice.
While we hold prayer meetings and say we believe in prayer, it’s not frankly, a potent force in many of our churches or our lives. Now, we all feel inadequate and we say with the disciples of Christ, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
James was an expert in prayer. Tradition has it that James had a nickname, anyone know what that nickname was? Old Camel’s Knees. He spent so much time on his knees praying that calluses had developed.
When we read his letter, it’s evident that prayer was a very important power in his life. In chapter 1 he says, “If you lack wisdom, ask God.” In chapter 4 he says, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.” In chapter 5 he mentions prayer 7 times. He writes about prayer that is powerful and effective. The Greek word for effective is the word from which we get the word “energy.”
Prayer can take the average Christian life and turn it into an effective powerful life if we put it into practice.
It can also change churches. You know, I can remember when we had prayer meetings in the church that I was brought up in and when we had prayer time nearly everyone there would take their turn praying. We would have sentence prayers. The men prayed, the women prayed and even children prayed.
Prayer is a wonderful thing because the God we pray to is a living and powerful God who hears and answers our prayers.
I want us to learn from James what makes prayer an energizing force in our personal lives and in our church life as well.
This morning let’s first of all learn some…
#1: Specific Reasons For Prayer:
The first reason for us to have healthy prayer lives is because of
? Deliverance from trouble:
Listen to what James says in verse 13 of chapter 5, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” You would think that would come naturally, that people would automatically pray during times of trouble. A federal Aviation inspector said when they listened to the words of airline pilots right before a crash they frequently hear profanity. The last words recorded in that little black box is not prayer, but cursing. When faced with trouble people instinctively return to lifelong habits.
James is saying; you get into the habit of calling upon God during times of trouble, not just deep distresses but everyday kinds of problems. When you walk in the class unprepared and the teacher says, “Pop quiz,” it’s time to pray, “Lord, come quickly.” When you find a lump on your body . . . it’s time to pray, “Lord, help it not to be cancer.” When the boss wants to meet with you . . . it’s time to pray, “Lord, help my job to be secure.” When your dad calls you down right in the middle of his sermon because you’re cutting up…it’s time to pray, “Lord, just take me now.” When churches have problems . . . it’s time to pray, “Lord, may the grace of Christ rule in our hearts.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.”