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Prayer Questions

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power” James 5:16

I wonder, since I sin so stinking much, how powerful is my prayer? I can’t really talk a lot about this topic without this scripture in context. It’s sooooo Good!

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[b]17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Prayer is very powerful, but if we get too caught up in one little phrase out of all of this we can begin to think our prayers are only as powerful and we are righteous. I want to explain how this is both true and false at the same time, and of course when something is as confusing and contradictory as that, Jesus is smack dab in the middle of it. And he’s saying, “Really guys, you still don’t get it?”

Let me use my buddy Chris as an example. Chris is probably the best prayer I know, or have prayed with at length many times. He’s very open to the Spirit and let’s God speak through him. Often times he strings together 50 different passages of the bible from Genesis through Revelation and it sounds like he added a chapter to Isaiah. But more impressive to me is that he’s a righteous dude. He lives out his prayers and is  blameless. I on the other hand stumble through words grabbing on to anything that completes a sentence and barely do anything right, much less live righteously. (That doesn’t mean I’m okay with my faults; I’m just being honest). When we pray “O beloved, return to rest. And you exploited, return to rest.” Does God hear Chis louder and clearer than me? Do Chris’ prayers carry more weight?
I don’t think so. Because it’s not about the one praying, it’s about through whom we’re praying. See, we both pray in Jesus’ name. See, all fall short of righteousness, but Jesus came to pick us back up. He came and lived a sinless life, breaking the Satan’s dominion of the earth by overcoming it, and then became an atonement for our sins. In doing so Jesus became that stairway between heaven and earth like Jacob saw in his vision (Genesis 28:12) and Jesus said himself in John 1:51. I could quote scripture all day, it’s easy if you’ve read John, about Jesus being the way to the father. It’s Jesus’ righteousness that overcomes our sin and he intercedes for us, so that we may intercede for others. He is the great intercessor and now we are an extension of his work interceding for the lost and brokenhearted.
That being said, yes a righteous prayer is more powerful than an unrighteous prayer. But no prayer is more righteous than the prayer said in Jesus’ name, and a prayer said in any other name does not go to the father, for no one goes to the father except through the son. I do want to note that our own guilt and shame can hinder us from being praying powerful prayers. When I lead worship I like to do a song where I sing “The shame can’t hold me, the guilt has no grip.” If for nothing else than to prepare my mind for open worship and prayer to the father through the grace of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:16,17

  1. June 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    You know intercessory prayer doesn’t work, right, that it is not ‘powerful’, that it is not efficacious, that it is not causal? In this sense of affecting reality, prayer is not powerful but benign. It has no power. But praying does have the benefit of allowing people who pray to believe they are doing something more than nothing. In this sense alone, prayer – like introspection and meditation – can be therapeutic. This benefit comes from us and not some external agency.

  2. June 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Tildeb, I disagree. I pray often and with people who pray more than I do. I’ve seen the power of prayer, it’s effectiveness and it’s causal…ing? I wonder, do you pray often and are you with people who pray often when they’re praying? If so, what your saying carries great weight, if not, then…. well… it’s basically an opinion of someone who has no basis for having an opinion. In other words, I don’t care. haha, sorry if that sounds harsh.

    Thank you for reading, and I encourage you to spend time in prayer with people who pray powerfully through the spirit. It’s a nice experience.

  3. June 26, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Well, I have spent time with people in 100’s of prayer meetings and the such and I can honestly say – waste of time (most of it). I think it is therapeutic and can heal our spirit’s/mind – but as for others – I am not sure does prayer does anything without us actually getting up from praying, doing something about it, because we actually believe what we are saying.

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