‘The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ James 5:16
James tells us that prayer is powerful (has inherent strength) and effective (literally ‘gets things done’), i.e. that prayer works. When faced with troubles (economic uncertainty, a difficult boss, impossible deadlines, redundancy threats, etc.) what is our normal response?
- Is our first course of action to pray?
- Do we continue to pray until a way forward opens up or we gain God’s perspective?
- Do we work at prayer, expecting prayer to work on the situation we face?
- Is prayer our first port of call or our last resort?
- Does prayer take priority in our day?
Our response will indicate whether we believe that prayer works – that it is effective and powerful. Yet to say that prayer ‘works’ can bring us back to the concept of the slot machine and that would be wrong. We all have known times when our prayers seem to go unanswered – when God appears to be silent. As C. S. Lewis put it, ‘For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already’ (‘Letters to Malcolm’ by C S Lewis, p.61). None of us wants to jump through religious hoops for the sake of it … we need to know that our prayers matter. So often the key to a renewed prayer life is not more discipline but a renewed mind; a renewed belief that my prayers count – that God hears and cares. Believing in the power of prayer will cause me to seek his face, however long that might take, because I trust him and know that he is good.