Prayer Works!!! A Lot!!!
In James 5:13-18, James makes the case that prayer is the proper response to every situation. He was the brother of the Lord and a pastor over a primarily scattered Jewish congregation that was thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament. If we are suffering, he tells us we are to pray. If we are cheerful he tells us to sing Psalms. If we are weak, he tells us to call the elders of church to pray for us. if we are together, he tells us we should confess out sins to one another so that we might pray for one another. Prayer is the proper response to whatever goes on in our lives. By the way, even a pandemic.
James then makes a very simple but profound statement. He tells his reader that “The fervent prayer of a righteous person works a lot” (The Watsonian Translation). Wow, what a promise! Passionate prayer works and it works in abundance. This motivates me to pray and hope it does the same for you.
James then gives us an example of such a person and such a prayer. He uses the story of Elijah who prayed, and it didn’t rain for three and ½ years and then he prayed again and rained. The story is found in 1 Kings 18:41-45 where we learned that Elijah prayed not just fervently and specially but also persistently because he prayed not once but 7x before it rained.
James uses Elijah and his circumstance with King Ahab as one amazing example of prayer working a lot. He could have used countless other examples though. The Scriptures are full of examples of people praying and God answering specially because prayer works a lot. For instance:
Request – Genesis 18:25 – Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
Answer – Genesis 19:15–16 – As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
Request – Exodus 3:7–8 – Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.”
Answer – Exodus 14:30–31 – Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Request – Exodus 17:10–12 – So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Answer – Exodus 17:13 – And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
Request – Joshua 10:12 – At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
Answer – Joshua 10:13 – And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.
Request – 1 Samuel 1:15–16 – But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”
Answer – 1 Samuel 1:20 – And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
Request – 1 Chronicles 21:26 – And David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering.
Answer – 1 Chronicles 21:27 – Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.
Request – 2 Kings 19:14–15 – Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.
Answer – 2 Kings 19:35–37 – And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Request – Nehemiah 2:4 – Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Answer – Nehemiah 2:8 – And a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
Request – Esther 4:16–17 – “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Answer – Esther 5:2–3 – And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.”
Request – Daniel 9:2 & 20 – In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years…. While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God…
Answer – Daniel 9:21 -22 – While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.
Request – Jonah 3:6–7 – The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water…9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
Answer – Jonah 3:10 – When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Request – Luke 2:25&36-37 – Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him… And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
Answer – Luke 2:28–30 – He took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation…. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Request – Mark 10:51 – And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
Answer – Mark 10:52 – And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Request – Luke 23:42 – And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Answer – Luke 23:43 – And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Request – Acts 1:14 -All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Answer – Acts 2:1–3 – When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
Request – Acts 4:29 – And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness….
Answer – Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Request – Acts 10:3–4, 9 – About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. ….9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Answer – Acts 10:34–37 – So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed:
Request – Acts 12:5 – So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Answer – Acts 12:12–14 – When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate.
Request – Acts 13:2–3 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Answer – Romans 15:18–19 – For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ…
Request – Ephesians 6:19–20 – And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (see Also Colossians 4:2-4)
Answer – Acts 28:30–31 – He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
I really could go on and on with more examples from Scriptures beyond the 20 I have just listed. The truth is that prayer works, and that it works a lot. I could give examples from our church getting a building or our associate Pastor Schooling going from stage 3 cancer to stage one to our church paying of it mortgage. All are examples of prayer working and prayer working a lot.
We are presently seeing the “curve flattening” in regard to this pandemic. It looks like the models are all wrong. It looks like the loss of life will be less than expected, a lot less. Praise God. Many politicians are saying it was their strategies. Maybe. But I think I know why the models were all wrong and wrong a lot. God’s people have been praying and prayer works and prayer works a lot.
Pastor Dave Watson
The Bible clearly admonishes to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In fact, during this pandemic this verse has become the go to Scripture for a lot of people. Can I be perfectly honest with you? Right now, I am having trouble being still. With everything happening right now, my pulse rate is up, way up. My ability to focus in prayer is affected by how fast my heart is beating. My attention span is short because my mind is racing. How can I be still when everything else is moving at the speed of light? If you can relate to that question please read on.
The one tool that I have found in my nearly 50 years of being a follower of Jesus Christ that slows up my RPM’s (revolutions per minute) and facilitates “being still” in my life is journaling. When I say journaling, I don’t mean what you might think I mean. I am not talking about keeping a diary. I am talking about following the tried and true example of believers in times past of keeping a record of what God is saying to them and what God is doing in their lives. Two Old Testament saints provide us with a powerful example:
I would define journaling this way – “Journaling is keeping a written record of God’s work in one’s life through His Word, through circumstances, through people we come into contact with and through life in general.”
Here is what I have found to be the five major benefits of journaling:
So, are you at least sold on giving it a try? Here is a basic methodology that I think will work for most of us. (See the pictures at the bottom of the page for more clarity)
– C= Confession – Spend some time making sure you heart is right with God by confessing the sins committed the past day.
– A = Adoration – Write a few of the attributes of God or names of God and praise Him just for who He is.
– T = Thanksgiving – What has the Lord done for you that you are thankful for? Is there an answer to prayer or a provision He has given to you to praise Him for?
– S = Supplication – What are some requests you have specifically for this day in front of you. If you are stuck insert the outline of the Lord’s prayer here.
Beyond this simple methodology here are a few further suggestions:
If I am going “know that He is God” I first am going to have to “be still”. Journaling provides a simple way to put “being still” back in our lives. Try it for three weeks and let me know if it makes a difference in your heart and life. I look forward to hearing from you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pastor Dave Watson
Downloadable Outline for tonight’s Good Friday Service
Temptation in the Time of Isolation
Human beings do better in community. We are social beings and no one is an Island to themselves. We need others. All cliches but all true. This is a fact. We are social beings created in the image of a God who is revealed to us as a social being, three persons in One essence (The Trinity – Matthew 28:19-20).
There is great spiritual danger when we withdraw from others. That is because an individual often pulls away so that they can do what they want to do without others interfering. Proverbs 18:1 tells us that “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Because of the dangers involved in going it alone Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 reminds that “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
On account of Covid 19 we are all physically isolating on some level or another from each another. Because of this isolation, it is my opinion that we are more vulnerable to temptation. We are alone. We have idle time on our hands. We are out of sync schedule wise. We may be discouraged or feel somewhat deserted at times. That is why I believe we are so vulnerable.
Let me suggest five simple things we can do to deal with temptation in the time of isolation. In examining the life of Jesus, who is our example as well as Lord and Savior, we note a time that He was isolated. We also see how He handled the temptations that came His way in that isolation. Let’s look at Luke 4:1-13, aptly titled Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, to learn from His example. Please read it now then check out my thoughts below.
As we read the story we find the first principle in Luke 4:1 which says “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness”
Next, we read in Luke 4:2 that “For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.”
In Luke 4:3-12 we read of Jesus being tempted in three areas: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life.
Also in Luke 4:3-12 we see Jesus using the Word of God to combat temptation. Three times He says “it is written” as He does battle with Satan and temptation.
Finally in Luke 4:13 we read that “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” In other words, this was not the last of Jesus being tempted by the devil.
In overcoming the temptations He faced in Luke 4 our Lord is giving us a model for overcoming the temptations we will face in and out of isolation. He isolated himself purposefully. We would be wise not to isolate ourselves unless we absolutely have too. He had to be tempted from the outside. Most of our temptations come from within. James tells us “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15).
In closing let’s have a little review by way of a few simple questions.
Jesus gives us an amazing example in Luke 4 of how to deal with temptation. He demonstrates the truths for dealing with temptation while alone for 40 days in the wilderness. Each of us need to latch onto how Jesus dealt with temptation in this story. As we do, we will have success in our own temptation in isolation.
Pastor Dave Watson