Summary: There is real power in real prayer

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James 5:16

Children’s letters to God:

Dear GOD, Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. -Joyce

Dear GOD, It rained for our whole vacation and is my father mad! He said some things about you that people are not supposed to say, but I hope you will not hurt him anyway. Your friend, (But I am not going to tell you who I am).

Dear GOD, Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up. -Bruce

Dear GOD, If we come back as something - please don’t let me be Mary Horton because I hate her. -Denise

Dear GOD, If you give me a genie like Aladdin, I will give you anything you want, except my money or my chess set. -Raphael

Dear GOD, We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said you did it. So I bet he stole your idea. -Sincerely, Donna

Dear GOD, Why is Sunday school on Sunday? I thought it was supposed to be our day of rest. -Tom

Today I would like to talk with you about the power of prayer. While the reality of the topic has overwhelmed me this week, I have also been faced with the reality that, for the great majority of believers, the power of prayer is a theoretical topic. The power of prayer is something we claim to believer but have never experienced. We nod our heads in agreement to its claims, but seldom, except in times of extreme distress, take hold of it. We preach about praying, pray about praying, talk about praying, teach about praying, read about praying….but never really pray.

I am personally captivated by the relationship of the power of prayer to preaching. Such men as:

James Duncan, preaching with great unction and power, was asked what was the secret of such powerful preaching. "The secret," he said, was "thirteen hours of consecutive prayer." When asked the secret of his spiritual power, Charles Spurgeon said: "Knee work! Knee work!" Livingston of Shotts, on two different occasions, preached with such power that in each service 500 were converted. Both sermons were preceded by a night of prayer. Charles Finney, after spending a day in the woods in prayer and fasting, preached that night in a phenomenally irreligious congregation. The sermon was accompanied by such divine power that the whole congregation, except one man, fell prostrate upon the floor, and voiced their agony under conviction of sin, in such loud outcries that the preacher was forced to stop. Christ Life Newsletter.

My heart’s desire is that we might know the truth about the power of prayer! So often we think “well, the least I can do is pray” when in reality THE MOST YOU CAN DO IS PRAY. Through your own personal encounters with prayer I want you to know its power: power to change, power to heal, power to convict, power to release, power to bring down and raise up, power to completely grant the petition and change the petitioner.


Note: Very difficult to interpret exactly.

KJV – “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”

RSV – “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”

NASB – “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

NIV- “The Prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Wuest’s expanded translation – “The prayer of a righteous person is able to do much as it operates.”

Amplified Bible – “The earnest [heartfelt, continued] prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

We might understand it best as “The prayer of a righteous person has much strength to prevail when it is exercised.”

Note: effectual = in its energy, when it works, when it is exercised.”

Note: This passage emphasizes:

1. The need for fervency in praying

2. The need for righteousness in the prayer


A. Lack of faith binds the working of God

1. Jesus could do no miracles at Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people.

2. “And He could do no miracles there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.” Mark 6:5-6a

B. Lack of prayer hinders the power of faith

1. The demon-possessed boy of Matt 17:14-21 could not be exorcised by the regular methods of the disciples (usually successful)

2. Rather, Jesus said, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”. (21)

Note: There are then varying degrees of spiritual power. Prayer and fasting is the means by which spiritual power is acquired.

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