Summary: To establish that “the prayer of the righteous man availeth much" when it is prayed in passion, in piety and with the assurance of God's promise to hear and answer it.
1. The Passion of the Petitioner:
2. The Piety of the Petitioner:
3. The Promise to the Petitioner:
1. This is a letter to the saints from James, the Lord’s brother. This is the same James that stood up at the Jerusalem Council for the Gentiles in (Acts 15:13-21). It is believed that he also was part of the “Circumcision” that caused Peter to act in an unchristian manner to the Galatians (Galatians 2:11-12). To the Jews – those scatter abroad as a result of persecution he now writes. The time of this Letter is believed to be around 62 A.D. In this Letter he speaks of the Jew’s certain afflictions, sufferings and their need to be patient and ardent in prayers. One cannot expect God’s work or assistance in their daily affairs without a passionate and persistent prayer life. Jesus said it like this: “that men ought always to pray and not to faint,” (Luke 18:1).
2. First, let us notice the “passionate nature of the petitioner.” James reminds us of an Old Testament prophet Elias who “prayed earnestly” that it would not rain. James states: “the effectual and fervent prayer” is what avails. The Greek word is ??e???? (energeo), which means the active work (inwardly) in prayer through a solemn and earnest faith in God’s ability and willingness to grant the request “of the righteous.” The petitioner should “be operative, active, at work, putting forth power and energy in his requests to God.” This is also the meaning of Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh (energeo) in us…,” (Ephesians 3:20).
3. Secondly, let us consider the character and piety of the petitioner. He notes that the prayers that receive answers are from “a righteous man.” A man that totally trusts in God and abides in his teaching before Him and men. Many prayers go unanswered because the petitioners pray without faith, earnesty and godliness. We are all men of like passion – but when we stand in the presence of God he knows our inner strengths and weaknesses; he has seen our miss deeds and secret sins; he has judge our hearts as righteous or unrighteous. “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil,” (1 Peter 3:12).
4. Finally, let us review “the promise to the petitioner.” James concludes his instruction on prayer by affirming that this type of prayer “availeth much.” It is from the Greek word “?s???” which means to avail, prevail or to succeed. It is the same word that Paul uses in (Philippians 4:13), “I can do (ischuo) all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Elias prayed earnestly that it would not rain. The windows of heaven withheld its early and latter rains. He prayed again to God that it would rain. And the heavens brought forth its showers. When we pray in faith, in accordance with the will of God and with persistency and fervor; God will grant the request of our hearts and shower upon us his blessings.
BODY OF LESSON
I THE PASSION OF THE PETITIONER
A. In our first point, James explains the passion and fervor of prayer. It is the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man that availeth much.” The word here is: energeo, which means “to work effectually in, to be mighty in, to do or to show forth one’s self.” Let it be understood, that this is a prayer of faith, one that does not waver or doubt that God is able to perform and provide that which we are requesting. He says earlier, “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him,” (James 5:15). Looking closer at the idea of faith in ones prayer, the writer also says: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, not wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any things of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways,” (James 1:5-8). James illustrates the prophet Elias “he prayed earnestly that s might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” (James 5:17-18). Jesus said to Peter, “Oh he of little faith,” (Matthew 8:26).