Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:13-18)
When my sister found out she had cancer, I asked my friends to pray. When she had surgery, we prayed that the surgeon would be able to remove all of the cancer and that she wouldn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. And God answered yes! When I reported the news, one friend remarked, “I’m so glad there’s power in prayer.” I responded, “I’m thankful that God answered with a yes this time.”
James says that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16). But does “effective” and “fervent” mean the harder we pray, or the more people we ask to pray, the more likely God is to answer with a yes? I’ve had enough “no” and “wait” answers to wonder about that.
Prayer is powerful, but it’s such a mystery. We’re taught to have faith, to ask earnestly and boldly, to persevere, to be surrendered to His will. Yet God answers in His wisdom and His answers are best. I’m just thankful that God wants to hear our hearts and that no matter the answer, He is still good.
I like Ole Hallesby’s words: “Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray. . . . Your helplessness is your best prayer.” We can do helplessness quite well.
Lord, I’ve been taught many things about prayer—be
specific, be bold, be surrendered, be strong in faith,
be persistent. Today I recognize my helplessness and
Your power as I share my heart with You. Amen.
Prayer is the child’s helpless cry to the Father’s attentive ear.