Topic: Powerful Prayer [December 27, 2016]
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. — James 5:16
For prayer to be effective it must be fervent. However, if we misunderstand the word fervent, we may feel that we have to "work up" some strong emotion before we pray; otherwise, our prayers will not be effective. At times I experience a great deal of emotion while at prayer, sometimes I even cry. But there are plenty of times when I don't feel emotional and don't cry. I am sincere in my praying, but I don't feel anything out of the ordinary. We can't base the value of our prayers on feelings. I remember enjoying so much those prayer times when I could feel God's presence, and then wondering what was wrong during the times when I didn't feel anything. I learned after a while that faith is not based on feelings in the emotions, but on knowledge in the heart.
Also, James 5:16 states that the fervent prayer of a "righteous" man is powerful. This means a man who is not under condemnation—one who has confidence in God and in the power of prayer. It does not mean a man without any imperfection in his life.
The book of James goes on to talk about Elijah. Elijah was a powerful man of God who did not always behave perfectly, but he still prayed powerful prayers. He loved God and wanted to know His will and fulfill His call upon his life. But sometimes he gave in to human weaknesses and tried to avoid the consequences of that will and calling. In many ways, Elijah was a lot like you and me. In 1 Kings 18, we see him moving in tremendous power, calling down fire from heaven and slaying 450 prophets of Baal at God's command. Then immediately afterwards, in 1 Kings 19, we see him fearfully running from Jezebel, becoming negative and depressed, and even wanting to die. Like many of us, Elijah let his emotions get the upper hand.
The fact that James instructs us to pray powerful effective prayers like the righteous men and women of God—and then gives a discourse on Elijah and how he was a human being just like us, and yet prayed powerful prayers—should give us enough "scriptural power" to defeat condemnation when it rises up to tell us we cannot pray powerfully because of our weaknesses and faults.