The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16b NLT).
I work hard at prayer because I believe prayer works. The Bible promises powerful results for the righteous person who prays sincerely and fervently. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not righteous enough to earn the answers to my prayers. No one is. It’s only because of the enormous price Jesus paid on the cross to secure my righteousness (right standing with God) that I have the privilege to come boldly to the Father with my requests.
But when it comes to prayer, I have to do my part. Granted, sometimes prayer is restful, like breathing. Simply communing with the Lord. At other times, the Bible exhorts us to be intentional, even fervent, in our prayers.
Let’s take a look at the Greek translation of James 5:16b:
The active prayer of a righteous person has great power (James 5:16b MOUNCE).
The word active, energeo, means earnest and energetic. The word in this verse for prayer, deesis, implies specificity and fervor. It takes time, energy, and focus to pray like this. It takes work. Are you willing to work hard at prayer?
Let’s focus on Step Five: ARM YOURSELF WITH SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. So far in our 40-Day Challenge, we’ve concentrated on remaining ALERT, being specific when we ASK, praying with AUTHORITY and praying in AGREEMENT.
The 40-Day Challenge is about developing a sustainable pattern of prayer that lasts long after our challenge is over. It makes no sense to create a habit that’s too exhausting to maintain and enjoy. Rather, I hope you will train yourself to sustain yourself. And trust me. If you are faithful in this process, the rewards will come. I hope as you continue your daily reading in John, you’re growing more sensitive to God’s voice.
Dailyness in anything takes practice and discipline. Prayer is no different. It’s not that prayer itself is hard. But to remain alert and watchful—ready to listen and obey God’s voice—takes practice. And it takes discipline to carve out time to read God’s Word and pray every day.
Recently while at the beach, I noticed a group of lifeguards preparing for duty. Their intense regime included running, stretching, and rescue drills. They train to be alert and watchful—always ready to save lives. In much the same way, our daily training routine of prayer and time in God’s prepares us to be alert, watchful. We train our heart to hear and obey His voice. To help save souls….for eternity.
Assignment: Read Chapter 8, Temple Upkeep, and Chapter 9, Strength in Weakness in Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars: Learning to Hear the Voice of God,
Answer the Personal Reflection Questions on page 192.
1. What would help you be more alert for prayer? Earlier to bed? Fewer activities? Observe your energy. How much rest do you need to stay strong? Perhaps you need to add a power nap. Try adding a 30 minute walk to your day. I find it refreshes me mentally and physically to take my Chubby Book and head out for a brisk walk in my neighborhood.
2. What are your power hours? These are the hours when you’re most effective and creative. Mine are early in the morning. Consider spending time in God’s Word and prayer during your power hours. This is also a good time for creative work—the work you feel is most important. It’s been estimated that 80 percent of your impact comes from 20 percent of your work!
3. Experiment with your life pattern this week as described in Chapter 8, “Temple Upkeep.” The goal is to create a daily rhythm rather than a rigid schedule. Your life pattern should help you carve out consistent time with God. When it comes to humans, one size does not fit all. The Bible exhorts us to holiness, and conformity to Christ—not to each other.
As you read Chapter 9, “Strength in Weakness,” I encourage you to reflect on your own “broken places.” Consider reaching out to someone else who is hurting. Pray for God to use your life experiences to help others and expand the scope of your prayers.
Prayer: Lord, it all begins with prayer. Help me to seek You daily. Draw me close to You in love. Let that love spill over to my family and everyone around me. And Lord, remind me to be like a lifeguard. Help me to remain alert and ready to seek and save the lost and the broken. Arm me with the strength I need to wage war with the world, the devil, and with my own flesh. Restore my soul so that I may better love and serve You–day by day. Amen.
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