All through the centuries God has shown Himself mighty and done so great things in order to answer the prayers of His children.
God has healed the sick, raised the dead to life, brought drought, then rain, sent fire down from heaven, gave baby boys to barren women, saved nations and destroyed nations, and so much more in answer to the prayers of His people.
Besides the accounts in scripture, biographies of the saints are full of God’s miraculous interventions in answer to prayer.
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But, you know what? God wants to avail much in answer to our prayers, too! God so wants to manifest Himself and His power and love for us that He has James make sure that we understand what He looks for when we pray…that we know what prayers have power with God.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b
The book of James tells us 3 things God looks for when we pray.
First, God looks for faith.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. James 1:5-7
When we pray, God first looks for faith. Not enough faith, but faith. Period. We sometimes get tripped up thinking that we have to have a certain amount of faith for God to hear us and answer.
So, like the little boy who is asked to “Show us your muscles,” we stand and strain to muster up enough faith, or prayer “muscle”— as if to produce our own miracle.
However, it isn’t the quantity of faith that matters. Because even faith the size of a mustard seed is acceptable to God. It is the quality and focus of our faith that makes the difference…and gets results when we pray!
Unwavering faith in the God Who has promised, is all we need.
Oh, how God delights to avail much for His children, yet many times He must hold back. Why? Because of unbelief.
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
God has not changed. He is still the miracle-working God He has always been. Do you believe that? Then take God at His Word and pray fervently, believing in the God of miracles.
And don’t give up until God gives His answer—a Yes, or a definite No.
Then keep on praying to the One who loves you, died for you, and has a perfect plan, His plan, for your life.
Second, God looks for righteousness.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16
God tells us here that it is the righteous man’s prayers that avail much. Does this mean that only the Old Testament prophets or “super spiritual” people, like “missionaries” or “those in full-time ministry” can have their prayers avail much?
Evidently not, because in the next verse, God makes a point to remind us that the prophet Elias was a “regular” man just like we are. We also know Elias was a sinner, because “all have sinned”. (Romans 3:23) Yet, his prayers availed much!
What hope for all of us sinners!
When we pray, God looks at our hearts and our lives.
He looks for righteousness—first, Christ’s righteousness. For we cannot hope to be righteous, and cleansed from iniquity, apart from Christ’s righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Do you have Christ’s righteousness? Is He your Saviour? Do you belong to Him?
God then looks for personal righteousness. He isn’t expecting sinless perfection. That isn’t the righteousness we can achieve in this life.
What God does look for is a heart desiring to do right in obedience to His commands and who quickly repents when confronted with their sin by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The righteousness God looks for is found in the heart of those who want only what God wants. And who will still love Him, if His answer is “Wait.” Or even “No.”
Third, God looks for a right request.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:3
When we pray, God looks at our request and our motives for making it to determine whether it is a request He can honor. If our request is not in line with His Word or is a self-centered request, it will not be granted.
Does that mean we aren’t to pray for ourselves? Of course not. It means we aren’t to pray to be rich, for example, so that we can live only for selfish enjoyment.
So what can we pray for?
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6
God tells us here that we are to pray about anything we need or want from God. He is waiting to hear us.
And even when we don’t know for sure what the right thing is to ask, the Spirit helps us to pray always in the will of God. (Romans 8:26)
All we have to do is just pray according to His Word as best we know how, and the Spirit does the rest! Praise God!
God is still the miracle-working God. God forgive our unbelief. God performs a miracle in our lives each time He answers a prayer for us that would not have happened unless we had prayed and He had intervened in our life.
I have asked for some mighty big things from God over the years, and believe me, these things happened only through God’s intervention. One being the salvation of my husband after 14 years of marriage and prayers! Praise the Lord!
God wants to do mighty things in answer to your prayers, too.
So, ask Him!
Drawing nigh to Him,
This post is part of our James Bible Study.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
What miracles has God done in your life? I’m sure there isn’t enough space here to share them all, but would you share with us one or two that stand out in your mind right now?
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