Prayer is the key that allows believers to experience the power of heaven on earth – but prayer has to be prioritized. The last chapter of James emphasizes the importance of prayer simply by the number of times prayer is mentioned in verses 13 through 18. While God has decided in eternity what He is going to do on earth, some of those decisions will not be actualized until those who believe in Him request them in prayer. In the creation mandate (Gen 1:28, 2:15), God said “let them rule,” and designated human beings to exercise dominion. His sovereign plan is to work through people on earth. One of God’s primary methods of working through people is through prayer. Prayer allows God to release an answer He already has for you, but will only give to you when requested. Prayer is the key that makes it possible for some things to come into reality in the visible, physical realm.
Calling on God to answer our requests is part of the process of receiving answers to prayer. However, there are other components of answered prayer. In fact, these prerequisites allow believers to experience the power of effectively communicating with God. Spiritual purity, passion, and persistence are of great importance. We must live lives that are pure by walking in obedience, so that we don’t limit God’s answers to prayer in life due to our sin (Deut 11:13-17; Jas 4:1-3). Since prayer is a serious matter, we must also be willing to passionately pursue God in what we ask for in prayer. Like Elijah, we should be fervent in our prayer and persistent, seeking God until He answers our prayer (1 Kings 18:36-46). While God may answer in His own timing, we shouldn’t let God go or stop praying until He responds with an answer to our prayer of either yes, no, or wait.
Just like rain stopped and started again because of Elijah’s prayers, our prayers can provide divine reversals. Our prayers can also provide physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. Nothing is off limits in prayer and we should pray about as much as we can as often as we can (1 Thess 5:17). Whatever concerns we have, instead of anxiously worrying about them or trying to solve our problems on our own, we should intentionally present those concerns and questions to God. In addition, we should trust that He has the power to work in the supernatural to answer (Jonah 2). Kingdom prayer, getting heaven to come down to earth, is the link that allows us to access heaven’s help and to release God’s full involvement and engagement in our lives.
- While we are encouraged in God’s Word to pray without ceasing, often having a set aside time for talking to God helps, too. Do you have a time or place of prayer that works well for you?
- Many of us are quick to tell others we will pray for them, but while we have good intentions, we may or may not actually get around to praying. How do you ensure that you remember to pray about the concerns of others after they have shared their request with you?
Let’s Get Personal
- Have you ever prayed to God about something and He took a long time to answer? Tell your group about your experience of waiting on God. If He answered, did you get a “yes,” “no,” or “wait”? How did you know He answered?
- Spiritual purity, passion, and persistence are prerequisites to prayer. What prerequisites do you still need to meet to experience the power of prayer?
- Sometimes it simply seems easier to talk about it instead of actually praying about it. What current concern do you have that you’ve talked about more than you prayed about?
Take the Next Step
- Consider the reasons that you may not have prayed thus far. Does your lack of prayer indicate a distrust of God’s ability to help? Do you hesitate to pray because you don’t feel comfortable praying? Are you struggling to pray as a matter of exercising the spiritual discipline? Do you know if there is unaddressed sin in your life, which will hinder the answers to your prayers?
- What will you do differently this week to begin or continue using the power of prayer to release God’s full involvement in your life?
- Want to go deeper? Take a look at the following passages: 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Deuteronomy 11:13-17; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:1, 36-46; Isa 65:24; Jonah 2:1-10; James 4:1-3
Renew Your Mind
. . . pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17