POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE PRAYERS
When studying (James 5:13-17), the last line stood out like a flashing, neon sign: "The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective." The Holy Spirit then directed me to focus on one word—righteous.
We all want our prayers to be powerful and effective. What would be the point of praying, if our prayers were not powerful and effective? However, the strength and effectiveness of those prayers are predicated on righteousness, the Word, and faith in our Creator.
The dictionary defines righteous as being virtuous, upstanding, decent, ethical, having high moral principles, law-abiding, honest, honorable, and irreproachable. "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (Peter 3:12 ESV).
How do we attain the standard of righteousness? The Word tells us that "God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In our own strength, it is impossible to achieve righteousness. However when we are totally surrendered to Christ and invite the Holy Spirit to operate in and through us, the Spirit of God makes it possible for us to walk in righteousness.
The word, unrighteous,is defined as wicked, because unrighteousness is sin. Thus, the unrighteous reveal their hearts and attitudes in their behaviors, thoughts, words, deeds, and beliefs, all of which contradict and oppose the eternal laws of God (Revelations 21:8). They accept the world's morals and ethics, with the mindset that "we live in different times." However, God says, "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6). He does not and will not accept what He has already called sin.
God's Word is firmly fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89). "His counsel stands forever— the plans of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:11). We can depend on this truth: "God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19 NIV).
God listens to anyone who repents of sin and is a worshiper of Him and does His will (John 9:31 ESV). He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
God calls us to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us. "Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded (James 4:8 ESV). God specifically calls the sinners double-minded, because they are undecided, unstable, and waver and vacillate in their relationship with Him. Like the Israelites who worshipped both idols and God, many Christians are double-minded. They "worship" God yet entertain all forms of sin, which is apostasy.
Apostasy is rampant within today's churches, and Pastor Allen Jackson of World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, TN, succinctly states a fact about the Church and her apostasy:
"Apostasy is a religious word that means literally 'falling away.' The children of Israel struggled with falling away. They didn't stop worshiping God or celebrating Passover and the festivals. They just expanded their options and also began worshipping Baal and other Canaanite gods. That's the imagery we get of apostasy. It's not that we reject Christianity completely; it's that we start to say, "We don't want to be hardcore about it.' We live in a generation of unprecedented apostasy. Never in the history of the Christian church have we seen so many people standing beneath the umbrella of Christianity, who no longer feel bound to the authority of Scripture as their rule of faith and practice—and many of them are leading churches and religious groups."
God addressed the church of Laodicea, "Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:16). Where are the bold Christians who stand for God's Word? Why is the Church remaining silent and not speaking against the abominations that have turned us into a pagan culture that justifies blatant sin and infanticide? The answer is fairly simple. Boldness can only come when we are convinced that God's Word is the one true authority governing man.
Bold faith rests on the authority of God's Word. That faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for those who come to Him must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Our hearts should be like David's when he said, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV).
Are we thirsting for God? Are we diligently seeking Him? Do we desire to draw closer to Him, or are we satisfied with the status quo and ignore the sin we see? The Bible's truths prepare us and warn us that those who do not seek God and His Word will be blind to the Antichrist and his evil agenda, because the they will be looking for that man who will solve the world's problems and bring peace to the earth.
Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Prophet Isaiah foretold of Jesus' coming, "Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV). Jesus is the Prince of Peace, whom humanity should be seeking.
Israel became a nation in 1948. That extraordinary event started the countdown to Christ's return. And with that countdown, the Word warns that in the last days, men will be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, despisers of those who are good, traitors, and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
We must examine our hearts, while there is still time, and see if we have truly invested our lives in knowing God. Jesus said, "I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father, I have made known to you" (John 15:15 NKJV). We might know about God, and maybe at times we pray to Him, but do we pursue Him daily in sweet fellowship that enables Him to call us friend? Have we really surrendered our hearts and will to Him? Are we walking in righteousness, faith, and obedience to Him? Only then will our prayers be powerful and effectual.
PRAYER: FATHER, Your Son warned, "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3 ESV). I ask for the gift of discernment that I may know and understand the signs of the times in which I live. Help me pursue You with my whole heart. If there is anything that is preventing me from serving and loving You with my whole heart, show me those things that must be cast off. With the help of the Holy Spirit, direct me that I may walk in righteousness, so that my prayers will be powerful and effectual. In Jesus name, amen.