Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.
Have you ever served in ministry without being there? I have. I didn’t help set up. I didn’t help with crafts or drama or meals. I didn’t even attend the event; I was actually not even in the area. But I served. I served in a powerful way. I served in prayer. Yes, prayer. I may not have been physically present at the outreach, but my prayers were heard by the One in control of it. And I know He honored them as well.
Oftentimes we don’t give prayer enough credit; we know we should pray (and we do pray over meals, at bedtime, and during “important” times), but we don’t always believe our prayers have much of an impact. We think of prayer as passive—as something we offer up when things go awry or when “there’s nothing else I can do.”
But prayer is powerful–very powerful. Prayer has great power to prevail. Do you know what “prevail” means? It means more powerful than the opposing forces. This means whatever opposes us–fear, doubt, sickness, uncertainty, failure–no matter how seemingly impossible a situation looms before us this very moment–the prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail. Not just power; great power. The prayer of righteous man is more powerful than whatever or whoever is opposing him.
Now before you allow the enemy to whisper in your ear, “Well, you’re not righteous, so your prayer has no power,” let me remind you of something very important: we can come boldly before the throne of grace because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. By tearing in two that wall of separation and by clothing us in His righteousness, Jesus also equipped us with the ultimate defensive and offensive weapon: prayer. We can talk with God, cry out to God, worship God, and ask God anything and everything in prayer. And we can do so knowing God hears and God answers, for according to 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Although in essence prayer is simply talking to God, there is nothing “simple” about it. Prayer is active, prayer is effective, and prayer is powerful. It is also a privilege. We must never lose sight of the honor it is to have access to the One who rules the universe. The God of all creation–the very One who created each of us–the holy, righteous, omniscient, omnipotent God of all–has granted us access to Him through prayer. And not only does He provide access; He answers!
Read with me what James reminds his readers right after telling them about the power of prayer: 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 (James 5:17-18). This means, in the same way Elijah as a child of God (which you are in Christ Jesus) asked of God, expected God, and saw God move through prayer, so too you can approach God in prayer expecting mighty things–expecting to prevail.
No, I’m not saying God is the great vending machine in the sky. You can’t put your prayers in like money, press your selection, and wait for Him to deliver. But I am saying that when you seek Him in prayer with a heart that longs to hear His voice and see His will, you can expect Him to move. You can know the prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.
Therefore, let me encourage you today in a few ways. First of all, don’t limit prayer. Pray to God daily. Talk with Him about everything; He’s always listening. He wants to hear from you. There is great power in His presence; and when you pray, you are in His presence. Second, don’t be afraid to pray. Pray for people you know. Pray for people you don’t. Pray as you’re walking, driving, riding–in whatever you are doing, pray. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God hears every prayer you pray; and He answers as well. And finally, if you are facing a struggle today, pray with confidence. Pray knowing you are accessing God–the God of all who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above anything you could ever ask or think. Pray for that person you long to come to know the Lord. Pray for that job you so desperately need. Pray for the child who has gone astray or the husband who needs healing. Pray. And as you pray, know. Know that the prayer of a righteous man (which you are) has great power to prevail. Yes. Great. Power. To. Prevail.