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Lesson 23 - Real Faith Prays Part 2

Lesson 23

As we began to look at the last passage in James chapter 5, we see that James turns our attention to prayer. Real faith prays!

A real faith prays in times of trouble or in times of delight. A real faith calls on the elders to pray when there is sickness. And the prayer of faith accomplishes three things according to verse 15. It restores or makes whole the sick, it raises them up, and brings about the confession and forgiveness of sin. Today we want to look at two things. The accountability of prayer and the accomplishment of prayer.

Read James 5:15 -18

The accountability of prayer:

We see the list of three things in verse 15 that prayer effects when a prayer of faith is offered in time of sickness.

In verse 16, James emphasizes the confession of sin. The Word says confess your sin to one another and pray for one another. Three things regarding this admonition to us in relationship to healing..

1.  Sickness is not always due to sin. In John 9, Jesus refers to the healing of a blind man who was blind from birth and states that his blindness is not due to sickness, but so that the glory of God would be seen. All sickness is not from personal sin.

2.  Confession of sin is important so that we can be forgiven, healed and heard.

Isaiah 59:2 - It is clear in the word that sin separates us from God.

Proverbs 28:13 - States that we will not prosper if we hide sin, yet we find mercy when we confess our sin.

John 9:31 - Says, "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will."

I John 1:9 - God assures us of forgiveness and cleansing when we confess sin - agreeing with God that we have taken a sidestep off his path of righteousness and acknowledging to others that we have sinned.

3.  Confess to others- This is important whether you have sinned against another and need to ask for forgiveness or you need to be held accountable, so that you have victory over sin. This is not an indiscriminate confession of sin to all, but a confession of sin to those your sin has influenced, as well as a confession of sin to a small accountability group of people who will hold your confession in confidence. And pray for you for victory! Confess and pray for one another. There is an accountability in prayer. Verse 16 is in the imperative mood and the present tense. We need to keep on confessing to and keep on praying for one another! We need each other. There is an accountability as we pray for one another.

The Accomplishment of prayer:The later part of verse 16 summarizes what James has just taught us. Let’s look at it. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Here again he stresses the spiritual position of the one praying. He is righteous – meaning that he is walking uprightly before the Lord. He has experienced God’s salvation and has a lifestyle that reflects his relationship with the Lord. What does the prayer of faith do? This man’s prayer of faith works! Results are produced. It has been said that prayer is not to effect man’s will in heaven, but God’s will on earth. As one prays effectively, God’s power is released to align us with the will of God. We’ve seen that this pray that accomplishes much is a believing prayer and it includes confession of sin. And through Elijah’s life we se the perseverance and the boldness of prayer.

James again gives us the way to walk out our faith and then gives us the example so that we can grasp it. And he uses the life of Elijah recorded for us in I Kings 16-19. We see Elijah is a prophet of God living in a nation that is sinning against God (I Kings 16: 29-33). How is he our model for prayer?

1.  An ordinary man: James makes a point that he is a man just like us. There is nothing supernatural about Elijah. He is subject to the same passions as we are. He is human. When Jezebel the queen threatened him, he became afraid and ran for his life! (I Kings 19:1-3) He became so discouraged and felt so alone and wanted to die ( I Kings 19:4). God can use you and me!

2.  A bold man: How did Elijah ever get the boldness - the confidence - to shut up the heavens for three and half years, when he was just an ordinary man? James 5:17-18 gives us the summary of Elijah’s prayer. We see the account begin to unfold in history in I Kings 17:1, the first mention of Elijah in the scriptures. Elijah spoke to evil King Ahab and said that there would be no rain or dew except by his word. His words were based on the Word of God. Elijah knew that God had said that if the nation obeyed God, it would rain and the land would produce. If they disobeyed God there would be drought and starvation (Deuteronomy 11:23-27, 28:15, 23-24). Elijah could be so bold because his focus was on God and he knew God’s Word. His boldness was based on his faith in God’s word. How we need to know the Word of God in order to pray boldly and effectively. We need to listen for the Word of the Lord to pray boldly and effectively for the situation at hand. Elijah did. He waited through the time of drought until God spoke to him again and said he would send rain on the nation. In I Kings 18 we see a miraculous display of God’s power as Elijah called on the Lord to consume by fire the water soaked sacrifice and altar. The prophets of the god of Baal called upon Baal – their god - to burn up the sacrifice with fire and it didn’t happen, Elijah had his sacrifice and altar water soaked and called on the one true God to show his glory (I Kings 18:36-39). We must follow Elijah’s example, knowing God’s word and giving him the glory when he answers prayer. Elijah did not receive the glory. God did! In fact not long after this great display of God’s power through prayer, Elijah ran for his life – a man just like us.

3.  He prayed persistently – He persevered in prayer –he did not give up (I Kings 18: 40-44). Elijah told Ahab the rain would be coming to go and eat and drink as he waited. Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel and prayed – bending down to the ground with his head between his knees. Seven times he told his servant to look toward the sea to see the first sign of the rain clouds coming. Elijah kept on praying and the seventh time, the servant saw the rain clouds on the horizon. The rain was coming in response to his persistent prayer. He did not give up!

Do we know and boldly pray God’s Word for each other? Do we press in and not give up in prayer for one another? In Luke 18:1-8 we have the parable that teaches us to pray and not give up. The persistent widow who cries out to the judge for justice and finally the judge answers her. Verse 7 Jesus says, "Will not God bring about justice to those who cry out to him night and day?" We have a great and loving Father. He hears our prayers! Yet Jesus says when the Son of man comes will he find such faith on the earth? What’s your faith like? What’s your prayer life like? Do you prayer believing boldly and persisting because you know your God and His word?

What an admonition to us to keep on praying, to keep on believing, to keep on expecting!

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective!