Peninsula Community Church
August 25, 2013
James – Do Your Prayers Count Part 2
James 5:16-18 The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 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. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
We began looking at this passage last week but did not finish the study. In our discussion, we looked at what makes one righteous and where righteousness comes from. Today, we will look at the claim James makes that Elijah was a man just like us. From this, we understand that Elijah, the great spiritual giant of the Old Testament, was no more special than any of us when it comes to our prayers.
Before we move to Elijah, let us rehearse a couple of thoughts from last week. Last week, we saw that true righteousness is a work of grace that comes by way of salvation through Christ’s work on the cross. We also discovered that righteousness is a response to the work of God in our lives and it is a response to God’s will and His ways. Righteousness is like a two-sided coin. The one side of the coin is the work of the cross and the righteousness that comes by way of accepting Christ as our Savior. On the other side of the coin is the action that is required on our part as we seek to live out righteousness in our lives by honoring God and aligning ourselves with the truth of God’s word. In other words, our outward actions are evidences of the inward work of righteousness already enacted on our behalf. We saw this evidenced in Romans 3:21. We will not reread this today, but this can be your homework.
When we understand that we are already righteous in Christ as a work of the cross, and that our righteousness is a walk of faith, then we will choose rightly when it comes to our actions and our lifestyle choices. It is interesting to note that we live in a time where situational ethics rule the day. We live in a time that society says you only have to be righteous if the situation allows it, but as passionate followers of Christ, we know that righteousness is consistent and is not measured by the moment.
Society today says it is all right to lie; if it means getting a raise on the job, if it means getting ahead in life, or if it is not going to hurt someone’s feelings. Society says that it is all right to gossip; if it is true, if it doesn’t hurt anyone, or if I tell it in confidence. It is all right to betray a trust or stab a friend in the back; if it means I get ahead, if it advances me in some way, or if I get what I want. This is just the day and age we live in some would say. But as righteous followers of Christ we cannot and must fall into such unrighteousness acts.
We wonder why we don’t see more answered prayer. Could it be that our righteousness is based in a faulty system of belief? Yes, prayer is a matter of faith but our prayers can be hindered if we are walking in unrighteousness. If we are righteous through salvation and we act out that righteousness in the way we live, then our prayers will be effective and our prayers will bring about God’s will.
The Bible is clear, however, that there are acts of unrighteousness that can prevent our prayers from being answered.
(1) When we ask for things that are outside God’s will, He is not obligated to answer (1 John 5:14). And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
(2) When we ask from the motivation of pride and arrogance, God is not obligated to answer (James 4:3).You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
(3) When we are living in unconfessed sin and in direct disobedience, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. Psalm 66:18-19 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
(4) When we abuse or misuse our spouses, God may not answer your prayer (1Peter 3:7). Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
(5) A double minded man will not have his prayer answered (James 1:5-8). If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(6) We show no diligence to assist God in the answer (1 Thessalonians 3:10). For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.