Luke 11:9-13 & James 5:13-18
Read these verses. In Luke, the disciples just asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus replied with the Lord’s Prayer and then these words. James is writing to all the believers from the twelve tribes of Israel. When we first become a Christian and receive the Holy Spirit, prayer comes naturally to us, but as we continue in life, we can begin to forget the truth about prayer. After struggles and distractions set in, we start to lose focus on what prayer actually is.
We know prayer is crucial to our faith in God. Being able to talk to our Father in heaven is a privilege, as well as a responsibility and a power, bought for us by Jesus. But we often get the feeling our prayers are in vain, or we are limited by our own ideas of what is and is not possible. Here, Jesus shows us in Luke that regardless of what we think, God hears our prayers and answers us. James shows us that prayer should be one of our responses to God about what is happening in our lives. Haven’t we all stopped ourselves before from praying about something in particular and simply said “Thy will be done”? God’s will shall always be done, and He wants us to submit to it in our lives. But God also wants us to talk to Him, give Him our requests, tell Him our troubles, and ask for His guidance in the day to day. Prayer is more than just making ourselves godlier. Prayer is drawing closer to God and daily admitting we cannot do this alone and we are not alone.
Prayer is a power. Jesus and James both tell us about the power of prayer. As God’s children, we have a Father that is the Creator and King of the entire universe, and He wants to help us become more like Jesus. That is pretty amazing in my opinion. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Sometimes we misinterpret this, thinking it means that the godlier you are the more pull your prayers have. What it really means is the prayers of any true follower of God are “powerful and effective.”
James gives us some examples of this power: praying about troubles in your life, praying for a sick person, and praying for you personally to be healed. These are some of the biggest areas Christians are afraid to pray about, which is unfortunate. We think if there are troubles in our lives we should accept them because God put them there. We think we should only pray “Thy will be done” when someone is sick because God may not want that person to get better. And when we suffer physically, we ask for the strength to take it, not for God to remove it. Why do we treat God as if He is not a miracle-worker? If it is God’s will for something to remain as it is, He will let us know, but we should go to Him in prayer confidently through the blood of Christ and respectfully ask Him to help us in this situation, remembering all things are possible for God. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask God for certain things to happen either, as long as we are seeking the will of God, because we have the Holy Spirit actively helping us pray for the will of God: “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:27b) Prayer is a mighty power for those who have faith in our Lord.
Prayer is a privilege. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to our heavenly Father Who loves us. Our all-powerful God is willing and wanting for us to call on Him for help at all times. “God never sleeps”—that’s something we tell children a lot. What child doesn’t at some point wake up in the middle of the night, terrified by a bad dream? Who gets called into action when this happens? The answer is the child’s parents, but mom and dad are usually asleep when this happens and eager to get back to sleep as soon as possible. But our Father is never asleep and never busy. He never pushes us aside for something else; we have His full attention. In the Old Testament (and until Jesus died for us), people were not allowed to talk to God. Once a year, and with many sacrifices, the high priest alone was able to go to the temple and enter into the presence of God. But now we have been given the gift of being able to talk to God wherever we are through the Holy Spirit. Our loving Father wants us to come to Him in prayer because He knows its power. When we pray, we give our problems over to God, and God gives us peace, comfort, hope, faith, and joy. God readily comes to our aid when we call Him.
Prayer is a responsibility. Since we have been given this great power and privilege, it is our responsibility to use it according to God’s will. There are many things in the Bible we are told to pray about. We are told to pray for those who are hurting, lost, and persecuted. We are also specifically called to pray for those in authority, like government officials and the pastors of our churches. This is more than just asking God to bless them and keep them healthy and safe; we should also pray that God will give them the wisdom and courage to make the right decisions. We are called to pray for all believers, our entire family in God. Jesus also tells us to pray for God’s kingdom, so that it may be built and advanced here. When we are in trouble, we should pray to God for help. When we are tempted, we should pray for deliverance. We should especially pray for God to forgive us when we sin and to help us forgive those who have wronged us. With the amazing gift of prayer, we have no excuse to not come before God for help.
Prayer strengthens us in our faith by reminding us our lives are in the hands of God. With our loving Father in control, we can live courageously for our Lord Jesus. Finally, read Ephesians 3:14-21 (which is Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus) for an example of how we should pray for one another.
“Stay on your knees, for this is where the battle is won.”—Babbie Mason