Thursday, February 02, 2006

Effectual, Fervent, Prayer

When James Wrote about prayer, he told us that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. To often we settle for checking prayer off our to do list or rushing through the list of names that we have accumulated. Last night as we gathered for prayer, something happened that changed the tenor of the "prayer meeting" and brought it back to the raw reality of what prayer was meant to be. Details of what happened are immaterial, but one prayer request that usually would have fallen in the "unspoken" category, was transparently laid out along with the personal grief and pain of the individual involved. God used this to remind us that prayer is more than listing problems and difficulties. It is connecting with the God of the universe in order to lay our burdens at His feet. By the end of the night, we never opened a Bible; the whole service was taken over by real genuine prayer.

In James 5:16, he gives some qualifying statements concerning prayer and what makes them powerful. First, he says that our prayer should be effectual. The word here denotes activity. Another translation could read energetic. Too often our prayers are lacking in power because we are indifferent to the problem we are praying for. However, when we see the hurt in the life of someone we love, our prayer comes alive, it becomes active. Secondly, James tells us that our prayer should be fervent. Our prayers should not be passive requests, but pleading with God to intervene. When was the last time we begged God to do something? To often our prayers are weak because we do not display faith that God could help and the earnest desire for Him to do so. The third qualification for powerful prayer is righteousness. Too often we pray to God with dirty hands and hearts. The first thing we should do when we pray is to confess all known sin. Come - clean. When we strive for righteousness, display faith, and actively pray our prayer will become powerful.

Every Wednesday night we gather as a church for prayer. It is my earnest hope that every time we come together we will see the Spirit of God move as He did last night. No more settling for praying the list, no more settling for "unspoken" requests. Let's open up and let God and His wonder working power into our prayer.