The prayer that effects change

Stewart HuntFeatured, From Stewart

An outstanding promise is found in the book of James,

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16b 

Of course – subconsciously – it’s easy to translate the word righteous as “good” and so end up with a rather ridiculous promise, “The prayer of a good person is powerful and effective”. It’s not just a ridiculous thought, it’s actually heretical to suggest a direct cause effect relationship based on our behaviour. The goodness of God has shifted to the goodness of people.

Righteousness correctly understood, refers to the confidence we have in our right standing with God through Jesus Christ. That is to say, because of Christ we are “right with God” and (amazingly) “right like God”. The context of confession affirms this.

It’s why James can say in the previous verse,

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” – James 5:15 

What he has in view here is faith-filled prayer. Prayer that is offered out of the confidence of our right standing with God.

If we are confident of our standing with God and the ability of God, why should we doubt the answer of God?

To say that we are in right standing with God implies the very abiding relationship of which Jesus promised,

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:

(Note that it is impossible to be aligned with God, and not be aligned with his will. When we’re confused about the will of God, focus on being aligned to God. Rom 12:1-2).

It is this kind of boldness that Samuel Baxter says marks the prayer of faith;

“… our Lord has the right to expect of those who name His Name and have His nature in them, an understanding confidence in Him… God expects of us the one thing that glorifies Him and that is to remain absolutely confident in Him, remembering what He has said beforehand, and be sure that His purposes will be fulfilled.”

Again (through a synthesis of scripture), Oswald Chambers captures the same sentiment;

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? …I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”