Day 47 – When Jesus Prays — Part 6

Romans 8:34 — “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Hebrews 7:25 — “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Jesus is Risen! He is alive! And what is he doing with his time? Golfing on the heavenly back nine? Singing with the angels in chorus? Standing as an all time worship figurine? He is praying for us. We often talk about prayer as a way to intercede for others. But what does that mean? Well let’s look at a couple of words, Precede means to “go before.” Recede is to “go back” (someone that is going bald has a receding hairline). Concede means to “go along with.” Intercede means to “go between.” When we pray/intercede for someone we are going between, God and that person. We are asking God on behalf of that person or family to step in and act, to bring healing, strength, mercy, joy, love.

Jesus brought us forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross, and now that God raised Him from the dead, He is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus is praying for us! Going in between God and us, standing in the gap, asking God to complete us, perfect us, mature us, and protect us. Jesus has not stopped working for us! He is still at work on our behalf, and He knows what we need even before we ask.

So, when you think you’ve blown it, messed up your testimony, stumbled in sin again (and again)…Jesus is praying for you. When you think you can’t go on anymore, someone has hurt you, you’re all alone…Jesus is praying for you. In any and every situation, Jesus is praying for you. That is why Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) Jesus, is ready for your prayers, and he will ask the Father on your behalf. When Jesus prays, he prays for you.

Father, today will You please tell Your Son, thank You. Please thank Him for offering His body for mine and for purchasing salvation for me. Jesus, please tell Abba (daddy) that I am so grateful for His acceptance of Your sacrifice. Please ask Daddy to forgive me for my sinful heart. Please ask Him to help me in my weakness and give me His divine wisdom for every move I make. Please tell Him I love Him, even when my actions say otherwise. Today I am overwhelmed by Your amazing love for me. Help me continue to live in faith at all times in my life. Father, I love You. Jesus, I love You. Holy Spirit, I love You. You are high and lifted up, mighty to save, and glorious! I worship You and glorify You Father in the Name of Your Son Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Day 46 – When Jesus Prays — Part 5

Luke 23:34-35 — Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

Jesus on the cross. God himself, clothed in human flesh, taking our place and paying the penalty for all the sins of humankind. What an amazing picture of God’s love for us. I am still amazed at this picture of God’s love today. Jesus, thank you.

As Jesus begins to labor for breath, every agonizing draw of air tearing more of his flesh, every slight move putting more pressure on the nails in his hands and feet — Jesus says an incredibly brief prayer for those present at this event of torture…“Father, forgive them.”

The crux of all Christianity is forgiveness. Divine forgiveness imparted to all mankind, yes, but more than that — the ability for human beings to forgive in the same way as our divine Father. Jesus, not after the pain has ended, not when he could process and find some perspective, right in the midst of the pain asked God to forgive his tormentors. While they still stood mocking, “Save yourself!” While they gambled for his clothes. Jesus forgave.

This puts to rest all our objections, “I can’t forgive them, the pain is still too much.” “I can forgive, but I certainly won’t forget!” “You don’t understand how much they hurt me and you want me to forgive them?” “Yes, but I’m not Jesus, I’m not God…how can I forgive like they did?” There is no easy answer for these questions, but they have all been answered by Jesus on the cross. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Still think you can do this Christianity thing on your own? Think again. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it is impossible…in our own strength. But all things are possible for God! Nothing is too hard for Him! You must rely on the Holy Spirit and the power of God for everything in faith! The flesh counts for nothing! Love is the ultimate ethic of Christianity, but the outworking of that love is forgiveness. When Jesus prays he asks God to forgive the very people who were mocking, maligning and murdering him. Only a Savior like that can save us, because he chose not to save himself but to save the very ones that hated him — now that is Amazing Grace.

Jesus, thank You. Amen.

Day 45 – When Jesus Prays — Part 4

John 17:20-21 — “‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’”

Jesus has one more prayer request in John chapter 17, and this one is not for him or his disciples…it is for you. Or more specifically, “for all those who will believe in me through their message.” Jesus is praying for every believer throughout all time. For every follower of all time, Jesus is asking the Heavenly Father for one thing: that all of them may be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one. The same unity that Jesus desired for his first disciples, is the same unity he desires for his last disciples…for all of his disciples.

Now to be sure, the purpose of this unity is similar to that which he asks for his disciples earlier…it is a unity in the Name of Jesus, and power and protection are the purpose. However, Jesus now discloses a further purpose or benefit of this unity: so that the world may believe. This unity of purpose, in the Name of Jesus, will be a tangible sign for all who do not believe that Jesus is truly “sent” from the Father…a testimony that He is who He claims to be. Many of us have not fully understood the tremendous testimony or witness that our unity in Christ can be. The converse is also true, many of us have not fully understood the horrible devastation our divided witness and testimony has unleashed upon the world. How much more important in our day, in this hour, will it be for unbelievers to see the witness of a united body of believers working together for the Kingdom of God! We must be one!

But this oneness is further spelled out in this passage as well…our oneness is not “in Name only” but we must be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. What does this mean? It means that just as the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father…so we must be in them. Jesus said consistently, “I don’t speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say.” (John 12:49 CEV) When the Father is in him, Jesus doesn’t say what he wants to say, but only what the Father tells him. How does he know what the Father has told him? Because he is in the Father! Jesus is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) But how can we be one with Jesus and the Father?

In verse 23, it tells us, “I in them and you in me…” We can be in the Father, by being in the Son. And if Jesus is the Word, we can be in Jesus by being in His Word! Or more importantly, His Word in us! “I in them” (the Word in us) and “they in me” (through the Holy Spirit). Then how does this Spirit get in us? The people who heard the message (the Word) that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, were “cut to the heart” (convicted) and asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repent. Turn from your sin and turn to God. Be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ (there is power in the Name of Jesus!). And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God in you. You in God (in His Word and baptized into Jesus’ Name). There is no greater unity…until we are in unity together in Christ.

Because when we are one as Jesus and the Father, we surrender what we want to what God wants. When we are not surrendered or in disunity, we do as we please. When we are one as Jesus and the Father, we love one another, never daring to speak ill of our brother or sister in Christ. When we are not in unity we blast whoever we like with disparaging words or painful remarks. When we are in unity with Jesus and the Father and one another — we love like God loved us and we surrender our lives to show that love to the world. And when they see this unity, all people will be drawn to Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen!

Lord, forgive us for not being in unity. We are so desirous that all people come to You, and You tell us that happens — through our unity. Father make us one, as You and the Son are one. Help us in our infirmities, we are so weak in our flesh. Help us to be filled with Your Spirit and to walk as Jesus walked. Thank You for Your promises — that You will complete what You have started in us, and we will accomplish that with which You have tasked us to do, in Your power and strength. We love You Father, and we thank You for Your Son Jesus. Amen.

Day 42 – When Jesus Prays — Part 2

John 17:1 — After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”

The prayer in John 17 is often called the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. It is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Jesus is about to complete His sacrifice on the Cross for all humanity — this is a picture of what the High Priest did each year on the Day of Atonement, making an offering first for his own sins then the sins of the people. But, unlike the High Priest of the Old Testament, Jesus did not need sacrifice for his own sins…He was sinless, perfect. And he offered not an animal, but his own perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty of all of our sins. Jesus completed the work of testifying about God his Father….by bringing Him glory and by making his sacrifice.

As Jesus prays he asks God to glorify him — “Glorify your Son.”

To glorify, means to “praise, extol, magnify, celebrate.” “To honor, make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendor.” “To make renowned, render illustrious, cause dignity and worth to become manifest and acknowledged.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I thought we were supposed to be humble, never seeking glory for ourselves, and certainly never taking any glory away from God. This statement may seem to be a little out of character for Jesus. But, Jesus shows his intention very quickly as he completes the thought, “Glorify your Son, (in order) that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus’ prayer for God to glorify him is not a selfish desire for his own glory, but so that all people that see him would glorify God!

This is in full alignment with the question that the Westminster Catechism asks, “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?” and the answer is: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” My life as a disciple of Jesus Christ is meant to glorify God. I want to be made known, acknowledged, rendered illustrious — glorified — in my life or death so that glory, all glory, will go to God my Father! “God, please put me on display publicly so that people will glorify Your Name!”

Before you get carried away with visions of glory, please understand the “glory” that came to Jesus from this request…Jesus was betrayed, arrested, beaten, spat upon, scourged, mocked, and crucified. He suffered the most humiliating and excruciating death possible…not exactly what we would call illustrious or honorable. However, millions have seen the beauty, splendor and glory of this death for over two thousand years. We celebrate it every year and live our lives to honor this death. We wear golden, lustrous, crosses around our necks and give glory to God through Jesus, His Son.

Are you ready to glorify and exalt God the Father by asking God to glorify you? Are you ready to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? When Jesus prays, He asks for glory…so that God may be glorified through him.

Father, You alone deserve all honor and power and praise and glory. Thank You for bringing glory to Your Son Jesus and thereby bringing glory to Yourself. Today Lord, I want to be bold like Jesus. Glorify me so that You may be glorified. If I may bring honor and glory to You, either by my life or by my death, Lord have Your way and maximize glory for You and Your Great Name! You are worthy of all my praise! You are high and exalted, glorious above all things…praise be to the Great God of heaven and earth! Please forgive me if I have ever stolen glory from You, or brought shame to Your Great Name. Please use me as You will, and I submit to every joy and happiness, as well as every pain and sorrow…no matter what, I will put my trust in You. Thank You, Father. Amen.

Day 39 – When Jesus Prays — Part 1

Mark 1:35 — Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I am still amazed at the thought of Jesus praying.  As fully God, he has no unmet needs (see Devotion – Day 1…The Why of Prayer? — we need God).  But as fully human, he has the same needs that we do…food, water, shelter, rest, God…I guess it makes it all the more profound just how much this human flesh prevents connection with our holy Father God.  So when Jesus prays, it may be helpful to go about it the way that he does and to pray for the things he prays for.  

Today’s Scripture reading points out that Jesus got up very early (while it was still dark) in the morning to pray.  Oh, I can hear the great groan of the masses as they read that last line!!!  I know for many of you morning doesn’t start till 10am!! (Or certainly not before coffee!!)  And believe me, your body will object to this disturbance…but remember what we said about fasting…“our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.”  Many of you have told me (and I’ve said it too), “if I get up early to pray or read my Bible I just fall asleep.”  You’re in good company (or bad, depending on how you look at it), because when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, he is praying so intensely that sweat drops (like drops of blood) are falling off of him (and his disciples are supposed to be praying too) — But we find out,  “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.  ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” (Luke 22:45-46)

I know it’s hard to pray early in the morning…believe me, I know.  Nevertheless, there is something quite powerful about starting your day with prayer.  It does several things:

It gives the First Fruit of your time to God. — Now some of you will say, “the morning hours are not the best part of me or my time.”  That may be true.  But it is certainly not the leftover of what you have either.  It is acknowledging God with the first words you have in the morning.  It is putting Him in mind as your very first thoughts.  It reminds you to not forget Him all day and then suddenly say, “Oh yes, I almost forgot! Maybe I should thank God for my food, or ask God to help me in this situation now that I’ve worked my way into trouble!” It also sets the stage for speaking to your wife, your children, your coworkers, your boss…whoever you come into contact with — you are ready to speak with a mouth sanctified by communication with a holy God.  It’s a lot harder to cuss at someone after you’ve just spoken with God (or it should be, at least).

It shows your body who’s boss. — Your body will fight back in innumerable ways, aches, pains, hunger, nausea, tiredness, weakness — and let’s be honest, most of the time it wins (it gets what it wants, sleep, food, medicine, etc.)…this is one way you can gain some victory over your body.  You tell your body, “I don’t care if you’re tired…man up/woman up!”  I’m calling the shots because the Holy Spirit has given me, not a Spirit of fear but a Spirit of Power and of Love and of Self-Control!  When you weaken the flesh, the Spirit increases!  When you deny the body sleep, it will be weaker and you will be tired — but your Spirit will be stronger and stronger!

It helps drown out distraction. — Distraction is the enemy.  Satan may not be able to steal everything from us, but if he can distract us he can steal our time.  If he can distract us, he can steal our focus.  If he can distract us, he can steal our joy.  Our verse says that Jesus went to a “solitary place.”  Away from kids, spouse, work, hobbies, tv, cell phone, computer…the list starts to get big doesn’t it?  Can you find solitude in the middle of the day? At the end? While you’re working? While you’re cleaning the house or fixing dinner? Maybe, and if you can great…but Jesus found solitude at the beginning of the day…before most anyone else was awake…while it was still dark.  Because it is hard to fight distraction in all its forms throughout a 24-hour day that never stops.  Sometimes you have to fight the fight on ground that already gives you an advantage.  At least the kids are asleep.  At least my phone is not ringing non-stop.  At least I don’t have to be at work in 10 minutes and I’m late and I’m in a hurry and I need to…get on high ground to fight this battle against distraction, where you have at least a couple of advantages to start with. Find a solitary place.

When Jesus prays, he does so very early in the morning, in a solitary place.

Father God, thank You for Your Son Jesus.  Thank You for the example He set for us in all things, but particularly in prayer.  Help us to be more like Him in all things and in all ways.  Help us to engage in prayer the way He did.  Help us to fight off the pull of our bodies — your Son understands just how hard it is to resist the pull of our bodies toward temptation and sin. Thank You that we have victory over sin, death, and our bodies through the blood of Jesus.  Thank You that we can be victorious over our sinful flesh…help us have more victories than defeats.  But even if we do not have more success than failure, help us rest in Your grace and mercy that covers our sin and defeats even our failures.  I love You, Father.  And I ask for a restoration (or a new beginning) of the solitude and fellowship of early morning prayer with You for each end every one of my brothers and sisters (and for myself as well) in the Name above all names, in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Day 36 – Fasting Brings Power

Matthew 17:21 — “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Jesus is once again ministering to the crowds in Matthew 17, when a man comes and throws himself at Jesus’ feet. He pleads with Jesus asking him to cast a demon out of his son. This demon had often caused his son to have seizures that threw him into both fire and water. His life was in danger. The man had asked Jesus’ disciples to cast out this demon but they could not. Jesus’ response was rather interesting:

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17)

Unbelieving? Perverse? How long will I put up (literally: endure, bear with, suffer, have patience with) with you? A little harsh don’t you think? Seems like the tolerant, loving, patient Jesus took the day off! Maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense right away, but you must consider what experience this came on the heels of…Peter, James and John had just witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus, seeing Moses and Elijah communing with Jesus! The very voice of God spoke and they heard it! You may say, “well and good, but not all of the apostles were privileged to witness this.” You are correct, however they did witness Jesus feed 5,000 and 4,000 people. They saw Jesus walk on water (along with Peter) and watched him calm a storm at sea. They saw him restore sight to the blind, heal the lame and paralyzed, cast out demons – multiple times, even raise a young girl from the dead!

In John 10:1, Jesus had sent out the twelve to the lost sheep of Israel, but before he did he “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Jesus had already given them the authority and power he possessed to accomplish the task! So, on the heals of a few successful exorcisms and healings, the disciples’ question was understandable: “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied simply, “Because you have so little faith.” and “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Faith is spiritual. Unbelief/doubt is carnal, it’s physical, it’s worldly. If we have little faith, it is because our bodies have become “fat” off of things of this earth…we are feeding ourselves: too much food, too much wealth, to many toys, etc. But when our faith increases, it is because we have weakened the flesh by denying ourselves physical things that will hinder our spiritual growth and fed ourselves on God’s Word, on prayer, on praise. When we have fasted and then pray… demons beware! — fasting brings power.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I have little faith just like the disciples. Thank You for Your instruction to them and to me. Lord, I believe that our wants are in alignment on this — I want demons to flee and no longer plague the people of this earth. Help me to be ready to cast out demons and continue Your work until You come back for Your people. Lord, fasting is difficult and my body resists when I seek to weaken it. Help me to discipline my body and to find power through fasting and prayer. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Day 35 – In the Name of Jesus

Exodus 20:7 — “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

The third commandment handed down at Mount Sinai — Do not misuse (or take in vain) the name of the Lord your God.  As Daniel encouraged us to pray in Jesus’ Name, how do we keep from “misusing the name of the Lord?”

I remember Francis Chan saying one time that he had learned a prayer in Chinese that his family would say before every meal.  It was kind of a sing-song prayer, much like the prayers we teach our children before bedtime (Now I lay me down to sleep…).  He said that even as an adult and being away from home for years he found it very hard to not pray that same prayer because it had become so much a habit that he often could do it “without thinking.”

The danger of ending all our prayers with “in Jesus’ Name, amen,” is that it becomes a thoughtless tag line done out of ritual and tradition rather than out of conviction and faith.  If you go back through the devotionals you will see that none of my prayers ended with this tagline…that was very much deliberate.  It was to show you the same thing we find in the New Testament — none of the New Testament writers’ prayers ended with “in Jesus’ Name, amen.”  Paul’s great prayer for the Ephesians (3:14-21) does not carry this tagline.  Paul’s prayer in his letter to Jude (1:24-25) does not contain this line.  Even when Jesus teaches the disciples to pray (the Lord’s prayer: Matthew 6:9-13) he does not conclude with “in My Name, amen!.”

Am I saying not to end your prayers this way, or that if you have you are wrong…absolutely not!  I have ended many of my prayers this way and will most likely continue to.  I simply present a loving but firm warning: a danger exists any time we turn something spiritual into a mindless, mechanical activity, we are in danger of misusing the Name of Jesus, our Lord.  I am not wagging my finger, I am humbly asking you my brothers and sisters, to simply think about why and when you are using this precious phrase, “in Jesus’ Name, amen.”  Because the second half of that verse should bring us a sobering reality: “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  

Father God, I thank You for giving us Your Name.  I thank You that Your Name is powerful.  I thank You that Your Name is awesome.  I thank You that we can call upon Your Name and be saved.  Please forgive us when we have misused Your Name.  Please forgive us when we have mindlessly uttered prayers without believing that You are God and that You will answer.  Today we commit to You that we will pray prayers that are in alignment with Your Word.  We will trust the promises that You have given us. Today, in the Name of Jesus, we ask that You would help us to keep these commitments.  Today, we say that we believe in You, but in the Name of Jesus, please help our unbelief.  We love You Lord, and we give You thanks and praise for all Your many blessings. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  And all God’s people said:  Amen. 

Day 31 – Fasting Brings Protection

Matthew 4:1-2 — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

You thought I forgot about fasting didn’t you? I know the last time we talked about it was day 4, and I’m sure that many of you were probably hoping that it was the last time we would! When we think of athletes facing incredible challenges, they go into training for big matches or tournaments. When they face these challenges they go into strict training, exercising, strength training, studying their opponents — their bodies are machines and what is the fuel for those machines? FOOD!!!

So Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness for his greatest challenge to date — being tempted by, going toe-to-toe with the devil himself! His first move to prepare for this huge encounter…deprive His body of food. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, we know that Jesus is quite literally on the brink of starvation. Physically He is as low as you can get before death occurs. Why would Jesus put Himself in such a “weak” position?

Because our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:6-7

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:17, 24

Jesus knew that to face Satan and his temptations with His body full of fleshly, worldly strength would be disaster. When our bodies are weakened through the denial of food, or comfort of any kind really (TV, wealth, sex or pornography — yes these can be used to comfort, gossip, entertainment, etc.), then our Spirit begins to have greater power and strength than our flesh. Jesus knew that fasting was a pathway to protection. When he stepped into the arena with Satan, He was physically at His weakest…but Spiritually at His strongest! When we pray, we are engaging in Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare (Ephesians 6:12). If you want greater protection, weaken your flesh that wars against you by fasting. Fasting brings protection.

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I cannot win a spiritual battle through physical means. Help me to strategically and consistently weaken my flesh in order to obtain protection and power. Lord, I admit that this scares me. I fear that my body will react strongly, I may get sick, or it may hurt me. Help me to seek the aid of physicians who can help me do this correctly and safely. But please don’t let me talk myself out of this important discipline. Maybe forsaking food is too much for me, help me forsake other fleshly appetites that keep me from spiritual success. God I trust You. And I believe that You will help me to apply this appropriately and successfully in my spiritual walk. Thank You for hearing me and helping me. I love You. Amen.

Day 26 – Can MY Prayers Be Effective?

James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

So we focused on one part of this verse in our devotion asking “Are My Prayers Effective?” But I could almost hear you thinking to yourself as you read that, “That’s great Scott, but the verse says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective…If I’m not a righteous person, can MY prayers be effective?” It’s a fair question that requires us to define what a righteous person is and who can be a righteous person.

A righteous person is a person who is in right standing, or right relationship with God. God cannot be in relationship with sin, Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates and breaks relationship. Sin in families brings about broken relationships, marriages end in divorce, children are alienated from their parents…sin separates. So as sinful people (because all of us sin), it is impossible for us to be in right relationship with God because only a sinless person could be in right standing/relationship with God. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Then who can be a righteous person? The good news is that Jesus was a perfect, sinless and therefore righteous person. As God’s Son, he came to earth and lived the perfect life we could not and became a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. When he paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, our sins were taken away and no longer are they held against us. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12) So, who can be a righteous person? “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22) The answer is simple: all who believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can be and is righteous (in right standing/relationship with God) that puts their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. How great to know that we cannot earn righteousness, it is accomplished by Jesus and given to us by God through faith in Jesus. Wow. Place your faith in Jesus and your prayers can be powerful and effective.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your death on the cross. Thank You for purchasing my salvation and giving me Your righteousness. Thank You for paying my sin debt and forgiving me for all my unrighteousness. Today, I place my faith in You alone for my hope of salvation, and I trust You to lead me in all my ways. I commit to study Your Word and seek Your will for my life. May my prayers be answered, not because of anything I have done, but because You have accomplished righteousness on my behalf. Teach me to pray, and may Your heart become my heart. I love You, and I am so grateful to be called Your friend. Amen.

Day 25 – Are My Prayers Effective?

James 5:16 — “ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

We asked the question earlier (Day 9), “Does God Hear Me?” But that certainly doesn’t address all our uncertainty when it comes to prayer. In reality, beyond being listened to and being heard, what we ultimately want to know is, “Are my prayers accomplishing anything?” “Are they working?” “Are they doing anything at all?” “Are my prayers effective?”

James says that Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t. That’s pretty effective. He says that Elijah prayed that it would rain and it did. Again, that is pretty effective if you ask me.

I don’t know about you, but I would love to walk into a children’s hospital, pray for each child with a terminal illness or a lifelong disease and walk out of that hospital followed by children who were miraculously healed and no longer in need of the hospital’s services. I would love for every family member of mine to never struggle again with sin, or need of money, or shelter, or food. Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Please allow me to repeat that: Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Because effective prayer is not about you.

Let’s go back to Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. The point at which he prays for rain is in verses 41-46. But we have to look back at the first verse of chapter 18 for the reason Elijah’s prayer worked: “Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’” Did you catch it? The Lord said “I will soon send rain!” Even though I’m sure he wanted rain to come and heal the land, Elijah wasn’t praying for what he wanted…he was praying for what God wanted! He was agreeing with God.

When we take the focus off of what we want in prayer and learn what God wants, we begin to pray powerful and effective prayers. Because when our prayers are in alignment with God and with His Word, we just simply ask God — as Jesus taught us to, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prepare to see your prayers become more powerful and effective than ever.

Father, please forgive me. Sometimes when I pray my heart runs to the things I need, the things I want, and to be honest I am often disappointed when I don’t see things happen the way I want…I become surprised when my prayers are ineffective. God, today I am ready to listen for what You want. I am ready to pray for what You want. I am ready to see my prayers be effective! So Lord, I submit my will to Yours. May my heart be Your heart. May my mind be Your mind. I want Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Bring Your Kingdom promises, Your Kingdom power, Your righteousness to the ends of the earth. Lord, restore, heal, provide, meet every need at Your move and in Your time. Have Your way in my life, and may I be astounded by the way You answer through Your Word and through answered prayers. Thank You Lord. Amen.