Ever since our week in Florida in December, I have been experiencing an excitement in prayer that is extraordinary. The Holy Spirit stirs me with anticipation, and I want to be with Him and hear His exciting news. He has assured me the waiting is over. Thank you, God—I hate to wait. Like the cloud by day and the fire by night, I see Him in the Spirit telling me to move forward! His presence is moving. Pack light, get focused, let’s go with Him! Satan wants us to believe that what is ahead will be just like what has always been. “Things will never change,” he whispers to us. He is a LIAR!
Several years ago, I memorized the book of James. His writing style is so unlike Paul, whose writing flows with eloquence. It feels choppy like Proverbs. I always pictured James yelling at me—Where is your faith! Don’t just listen—do it! Shut your mouth and get wise! Beware of the pursuit of riches! The final chapter is about patience, waiting, and the rewards of prayer. But I think when I memorized each verse, I thought of it like the Proverbs. Each sentence seemed disconnected from those around it, and I never put them together for the purpose of cause and effect…until now.
Let me start with the example. Elijah was a man just like me—James says so, so it must be true. God moved in response to his prayers about the weather (James 5:17-18). The corollary is this—I am an ordinary praying person, and in response to my prayers, God wants to do extraordinary things. He wants to restore the world around me. GOD WANTS TO CHANGE THE WAY THINGS ARE!
My prayer life hasn’t moved any mountains lately, so I asked God to teach me how to pray like Elijah. I’ve stopped assuming God will just say wait, and I’m left on my own to sort it out. That’s wimpy faith. When you connect all the conditions of James 5 together, the big picture is astounding! Here are some things I have learned:
- The pursuit of riches and pleasure are a barrier to effective prayer (5:1-5).
- Pray for justice for all people, rich and poor (5:6).
- Pray like a farmer—plant seeds, water the seeds, persist in patience, don’t quit (5:7-8)
- Forgive. If you want answered prayer, you CANNOT hold a grudge against anyone (5:9).
- Don’t bargain with God, keep it simple, and say yes to His mercy (5:12).
What should I pray about?
- The afflicted—I am interceding for those in trouble, miserable, worried, upset, distressed—God will change it all! Pray in faith; He is on the move.
- The sick—I have had dreams about a young man in our church who has been sick for 12 years. God is on the move—this is his year to be made whole!
- Our faults—yuck. Can’t God make you perfect so we can get along? OK, God, me too. We have to live real life with each other. I need you to pray for me so I can be whole (5:16)
- The sinner whose soul will die unless WE convert him (5:19-20). I know it’s God who does the work, but James says the burden is on us—it’s in the prayer list of this chapter. “He which converts a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death.”
So, my dear reader, let me talk to you like wild-eyed James. Get moving! What are you waiting for! The waiting is over—God told me so! God wants to bring justice; He wants to heal; He wants to deliver; He wants to forgive. It is our prayer that opens the way for God to do what He desires—that is His design. I’m on it—will you join me?