Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
When we pray, we hold in tension two undeniable theological truths. First, we believe on the basis of Biblical teaching and numerous personal experiences that God listens to our prayers and answers our requests according to his wisdom and timing. Second, we also acknowledge that God never does anything outside of his perfect will, and therefore our prayers can’t move God to do something He doesn’t want to do. It’s this second truth that we struggle with and that makes us accept the often unpleasant reality of unanswered prayers. What happens when a “righteous person” prays for something that is outside of God’s will? How should we feel when God doesn’t give us what we ask for? Why do we keep praying if our prayers don’t always produce “wonderful results”?
These hard questions may threaten to weaken our faith or diminish our motivation to pray. I’m sure James wrestled with similar concerns, as do all faithful followers of Jesus. In fact, James wrote these verses – inspired by the Holy Spirit – to draw our attention back to the first truth about the effective power of prayer and to remind us that it is God who gives our prayers power. Ours is not to challenge God’s will or to question his goodness. Rather, we remember that it is by grace that God listens to our prayers and it is according to his mercy that He allows our supplications to unleash his power. What a glorious truth it is that Almighty God allows our requests to make a difference in this world! When we pray, we ask our Lord to do the miraculous, to intervene in the normal course of events. That is no small thing, and while some prayers seem to go unanswered, we rejoice in the knowledge that God does listen and does respond according to his good and perfect will.
Keep in mind also that knowing God’s will before you pray can give you the assurance that He will answer. For instance, God’s word calls us to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), so if we pray earnestly for unity and peace in the church, God will certainly provide. In the same way, if you ask God to help you love your neighbor, you can be sure that He will, because that’s just what Jesus commanded us to do. So, don’t stop praying. Jesus told us to keep knocking at the door (Matthew 7:7-8). Pray with faith and gratitude for God’s goodness and mercy. There is great power in faithful prayer, and when God knows the time is right, He will answer in the way He knows is best.
Father in Heaven, I know You always listen to me. Give me faith to keep praying and to accept what You provide. Bless me and send me to be a blessing to others. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian