James 5:16b - The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
As I was studying on prayer for this talk, I wanted to see what the first instances of prayer were in the Old Testament. Check how these people felt about prayer.
In Genesis 20 Abraham has told Sarah to say that she is his sister to Abimalech -
20:1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.These people were expecting that by the act of Abraham praying to God for them, they would live!
In verse 17 the story ends with:
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.Here's another Old Testament example. In 1 Samuel we read about Samuel reminding the Israelites of past sins and punishments of their fathers by not following God, and now they once again are going against God’s instructions by asking for a king. 1Samuel 12:13-25
And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, 'No, but a king shall reign over us,' when the LORD your God was your king. 13And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 15But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 16Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king." 18So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.Samuel prayed to God to destroy their wheat harvest, and it happened!
19And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king."The Isrealites believe in the power of prayer and that it would save their lives.
20And Samuel said to the people, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
It was a sin for Samuel to not pray for them!
Do you see prayer as powerful? Do you use it the way you should? Are you praying for your kids? Have you ever thought of it as a sin not to pray?
2 Chronicles 7:14- "if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
In here we have the humility, the praying, and the seeking Him.
Psalm 102:17 - he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.
Proverbs 15:8 - The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
Jeremiah 29:12 - Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
God works through prayers of righteous and humble people. Are you praying?
John 16: 23b-24 - Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Are you asking God for help?
And when you don’t even know what to ask for…
Romans 8:26 - Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The point is not having the right words, it’s having the right heart. Understanding that you are dependent on God for everything.
Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And finally, do not grow weary in doing good-