Summary: Prayer changes the course of events, changes the nature of circumstances and changes me.
Most of us treat prayer like the five-year old. One mother writes, “As my five year old son and I were headed to McDonald’s one day, we passed a car accident. Usually when we see something terrible like that, we say a prayer for those who might be hurt, so I pointed and said to my son, “We should pray.”
From the back seat I heard his earnest request: “Please, God, don’t let those cars block the entrance to McDonald’s.”
1. The Prayers of the Righteous are Expected
We are commanded to pray. We are to ask others to pray for us. We are to pray with others and bring them back to God.
And God hears all prayer. This verse says – the prayers of the righteous are effective and I would like to say that the opposite is also true – the prayers of the unrighteous are ineffective. But I did not say that God does not hear them. God, by his very nature, hears all prayer. And all prayers to God are good. They indicate at some level an acknowledgement of God and who he is.
In the Psalms or Proverbs it says that “if I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me.” But regarding iniquity in my heart indicates a rebelling, a turning away, a holding on to one certain part of my life and refusing to let God have access to it. And you cannot do that, and be able to turn to God in any kind of prayer and expect him to answer. But someone who is away from God, who prays to God for miracles, for a job, for help, for family members who are grieving, and the list goes on – God hears, and many times answers those prayers in his mercy thru prevenient grace.
The Christian’s most powerful resource is communion with God through prayer. The results are often greater than we thought were possible. Some people see prayer as a last resort to be tried when all else fails. This approach is backward. Prayer should come first. Because God’s power is infinitely greater than ours, it only makes sense to rely on it — especially because God encourages us to do so. —Life Application Bible Notes; Bible Explorer 4
2. The Prayers of the Righteous are Effective
But we need to return to what this verse is really saying – that the prayers of someone who is righteous have great effectiveness with God. God many times will “change his plans” or will be persuaded to come to the aid of the prevailing prayer of a righteous person.
You see, we usually pray according to the desires of our heart – and for a truly righteous person – I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. God has changed our heart, but we always should pray according to his will. The righteous person by very definition is wholly conformed to the will of God in his thoughts, feelings and actions. Righteous people live by love, are submitted to God’s will in all things, have a close relationship with God, are familiar with the ways of God, talk with him constantly, and their daily life shows evidence of this.
But I want to be careful here not to imply that if our prayers don’t “work” that is must be because it is not God’s will. Wait, do you mean you equate your ineffective prayer with the will of God? No, far too often, our prayers are ineffective for a number of reasons. We pray for things according to our own desires, we pray for the wrong things…
Scriptures indicate that the prayers of the righteous…
Are a delight to the Lord – Proverbs 15:8
Have strength and ability to prevail James 5
Are listened to by God Psalms 145:19 & 34:15
Have delayed judgment Genesis 18
Have opened the wombs of the childless Genesis 20
Have revealed secrets and mysteries Daniel 2 & 9
Prayer changes the course of events, things and me.
3. The Prayers of the Righteous are Eternal
"The prayer offered in faith" does not refer to the faith of the sick person, but to the faith of the people praying. God heals, faith doesn’t, and all prayers are subject to God’s will. But our prayers are part of God’s healing process. That is why God often waits for our prayers of faith before intervening to heal a person. —Life Application Bible Notes
Physical healing is always connected with the condition of the soul. And if we pray for healing for someone else or for ourselves, we should always be willing to accept God’s intentions for our hearts and souls.