Prayer

Text: James 5:17-18 

Importance of basics.  When things breakdown it is at the basic level.  Businesses, families, churches, people’s lives.

You and I don’t fail at the big things in Christianity, in service to God Almighty.  You know where we fail?  In the little fundamental things.  We bite our fingernails over some decision that needs to be made, waiting on God without considering the question, well how much time have you spent with Jesus Christ?

Excuses in prayer – see prayer promises and say well those apply to someone else because we have no power with God; there is no effect with our prayer.

He have not because you ask not.  If you got everything you asked the Lord for this morning what would you have right now?

Prayer is of such importance that in Acts 6:4 it is necessary to appoint men over church business in order that the pastors would be able to devote more time to prayer and the ministry of the word.

Prayer made the difference

  • Great men of God had great prayer lives.  But it’s not that great men of God happened to have great prayer lives, rather that the great prayer lives of these men helped them become great men. James 5:16 – effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
  • Elijah lead a miraculous life.  7 miracles recorded being performed by Elijah
    • Stops the rain
    • Widow’s cruse of oil and barrel of meal lasted –
    • Widow’s son dies and is resurrected.
    • Fire of God on Mt. Carmel
    • Elijah restores the rain
    • Elijah burns up Ahaziah’s men
    • Elijah is taken up in a chariot of fire

Anyone can have the prayer life of Elijah

  • James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are
  • Why add that caveat?  Because it tells us that Elijah was just a man.  You have problems?  Well, he had problems too.  Bible characters are not comic book heroes.  One temptation of the devil is to think of the people you and I read about lived on a higher level you and I do.
  • God is AVAILABLE for you and I just like He was for Elijah.
  • We serve a God who wants us to come to Him for help.  Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 – time of need.  I’m guilty of saying you shouldn’t just be praying in time of need.  There is something wrong with that:  When are you not in need of God’s help?
  • Regret is going to be with the Lord and realizing the opportunity that was set before us in prayer that we didn’t take advantage of. We serve a living God who says, Ye have not because ye ask not.
  • Answered prayer means you got a hold of the Creator of all things and He agreed with you and moved in a direction you wanted Him to.

Ineffectual prayers are prayed by unaffected people

  • James 5:17 … and he prayed earnestly…
  • You may be saying, “When I pray, nothing shakes or fire doesn’t come down from heaven.”  This isn’t the only time Elijah prayed about rain.  EARNESTLY doesn’t mean he prayed once and quit.
  • Continuous – Pray without ceasing. 2 Timothy 1:3 tells you it means you’re bringing the same things before God’s throne on a regular basis.
  • It has an effect on God because it has an effect on you
    • Do you know you can pray better about some things than someone else can.  Did you know you have more effect in prayer if you’ve lost a child and praying for someone who’s lost a child?  Because you can enter into that struggle and understand it.  That makes you better equipped to talk to God about it.
  • Your heart is truly tried in prayer.  Pray without ceasing means you pray until there is an answer.  It means continually bringing the same thing before God until He has worked all the angles and answered your prayer.
  • How many people have you begun to pray for, but your praying has ceased?  Wouldn’t it be bad to know that God began working things out the minute you started praying and then stopped working when you stopped praying?

Prayer changes things

  • James 5:17…that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
  • The implication is that would not have happened had Elijah not prayed
  • Elijah got a hold of God and God moved.  Prayer is powerful because God answers prayer.
  • It is effective when offered in faith
    • Jesus Christ said child like faith because children have no doubts.  They haven’t convinced themselves why it CAN’T be done.  Like the 12 spies sent to Canaan, 10 returned with an evil report about the giants and all the reasons Israel would be defeated.  Only Joshua and Caleb returned seeing the opportunities.  And God blessed the men with the vision – not the men without the vision.
  • You can know all the Bible you like, but a prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian.  The sword can be sharp, but if there is no strength to wield it, it lays there.
  • God moves on the prayers of His people.  Consider Moses.  God is ready to wipe out millions of people and Moses prays that changes the course of history.  
    • Acts 4:31 when they had prayed the place was shaken
    • Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up
    • Acts 16:25 prayed and sang praises and there was a great earthquake
    • Acts 28:8 prayed and laid his hands on him and healed him
    • This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.  The power of God was not at work because there was a prayer deficit.