We presented these thoughts on the subject of praying men to a men’s prayer breakfast in the mid-1970’s. We invite you to use these notes in any way God leads you.
[These notes are from a talk presented more than 40 years ago.]
As I prayed and thought about this time of sharing with you on the subject of prayer, especially for the upcoming crusade, my mind began sifting through all the verses I’ve been exposed to on prayer. I thought about the prayers of the great saints of ages past…I thought of the prayers of Paul in his epistles…I thought of the heart-stirring prayers of Jesus in the garden…and then my mind rested on one of the most fascinating Scriptures on prayer in the Bible, James 5:16-18:
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”
In verses 15 and 16, the words pray and prayer are used three times. However, they originate with three different Greek words. The “prayer” of verse 15 speaks of a vow while the “pray” of verse 16 is a sacred prayer to God for general benefits. But I want especially to look at the word “prayer” at the close of verse 16. The prayer here is a sacred prayer to God for specific or particular benefits.
[Give examples of specific prayers.]
There are two things that are inherent in this type of prayer. First, there is the existence of a need, and second, there is the expression of that need. God knows whether we have a real need or if it’s just a selfish desire. As you and I pray for the crusade, we must be specific in our requests but we must also pray with pure motives.
[Examples of whether we are praying for the glory of man or the glory of God.]
I. What are the qualifications of this type of prayer?
It must be effectual and fervent. This is one word in the Greek and is in the passive voice. Prayer is effectual because of the energy of God not because of our energies. It’s fervent because of God’s fervency. In other words, do we make prayer happen because of our working at it or because of God’s sovereignty? Are prayers answered because it’s according to our will or because it’s in accordance to the will of God? When the sovereign God puts His eternal energy behind our prayers, things happen.
II. What is the qualification of the person making the prayer?
The Scripture says “a righteous man.” The one praying is qualified by the word righteous. How then do we approach a holy God when our righteousness is as filthy rags? Certainly not through anything that we have done. We approach God on the merit of Jesus Christ. It is being in Christ that makes us righteous. We must be totally lost in Christ, lost in His will. The Scriptures speak of God giving us the “desires of our hearts.” When our desires are His desires He will most certainly give us what we desire. When we pray according to His will, we most certainly will receive what we have prayed for.
III. What is the result of this prayer?
It avails much. Look at verses 17 and 18.
Was Elijah powerful in his prayer because he was a super human being? No. He was just like you and me, but he totally submitted himself to the will of God.
If this crusade is a success, it will not be because of our amassing committees…it will be because of our amazing Christ.
It will not be our first-rate promotion…it will be God’s First-Person Power.
It will not be our ideal organization…It will be our instant obedience.
It will not be our professional presentations…It will be God’s powerful probing.
It will not be our educated counseling…It will be God’s effectual calling.
In God there is success…out of God there is defeat. Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing.”
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you, your family and your ministry.]