Friday, May 04, 2007

The Prayers Of The Righteous

James 5:16 says this:

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV)

Am I Righteous Enough? 
I've often looked with admiration at people who seem to see frequent answers to prayer. In the light of this verse I've always assumed they must be more righteous than me.

But this week I have realised that is nonsense.

Scripture clearly teaches that "righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Rom 3:22, NIV). Later in the same passage, Paul reasons that there is no room for boasting because our justification is by faith and not through anything we have done. We should not be looking at one another assessing how righteous we are in comparison with another believer. We all have the righteousness of Christ.

Powerful and Effective
So, as righteous people we can expect our prayers to be as powerful and effective as James describes. In the context of this verse, he is talking about prayers for the healing of the sick. I have become very aware recently that very many Christians are going through difficult times. Some have been contending with major health problems for themselves or their families. Others have been experiencing times of quite severe stress. Many are feeling spiritually or emotionally weary.

At such a time we need to remember that we are righteous and our prayers are powerful and effective. In our own church we have seen some true miracles of healing in response to prayer, but we have to continue to stand firm in praying for all the saints.

Preventative Prayer
There is a lot of talk these days about preventative medicine - preventing medical problems by intervening before they arise. An example might be encouraging people to give up smoking so as to avoid lung cancer. I believe there is a role for preventative prayer - praying for protection from the various onslaughts of the enemy before they occur. We have to be alert because the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for people to devour (2 Pet 5:8). But he is only like a lion. We have the Lion of the Tribe of Judah with us and He has triumphed (Rev 5:5).

Prayer College Assignment
Make a point this week or reminding yourself of your righteousness in Christ each time you come to intercede for others. Remember that your prayers are powerful and effective because you are righteous.

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