Let Him Pray
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
When I am asked what I do, I often simply say, “I’m a writer.” That’s not the total sum of my work—but it encompasses much of it. Almost always someone will respond, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. How did you become one?” I typically reply (sincerely, and not sarcastically), “Writers write.”
Those who will write, write. Those who cannot do anything but write, do, whether they are experts or amateurs, or something in between. In the same way, those who would pray, pray. They have to. They must. Pray-ers pray.
A recent online search for books on prayer yielded no less than 116,314 results. Clearly prayer is a topic of great interest: how to go about it, how it works, what it can do. We wonder what things might be too big for God to affect or too small for him to bother with. But almost always, we think of prayer in human terms, because these are the terms we know.
James says something deceptively simple about prayer: Let him who would, pray. Perhaps imagining more explanation will be wanted, he adds:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
James’ list hints that there is no inappropriate time to pray. In joy or sorrow, in sickness or sadness, let the one who would pray, pray, he says—because a way has been made for us through the blood of Christ to approach the very throne of God and be heard.
Does anything happen when we pray, we may wonder? James tells us it does: the prayer of a righteous man who asks in faith has “great power as it is working.” That power exists, whether or not my prayer achieves what I desire. And one thing is certain: I will not learn the deep mysteries of prayer unless I pray, and keep on praying.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
What difference has prayer made in your life? How does prayer change you?
Father, teach me to attend to you in prayer—to present not just my requests but my whole heart for your good examination. Let me pray, because you have already made a way for me to come into your presence. May your will be done in my life today, Father. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
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