Read: 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 man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James’ whole point here is that humans, real people like you and I, can make a huge difference in this world if we pray. He frames his words around a theological truth and the story of a prophet who changed his world through prayer. But the truth is neither one of them is the point of this scripture. The point is you and I can pray and make a huge difference in the lives of those around us.
The reason James began this verse with a theological declaration is because he knew many of us would doubt the possibility God could use us to move mountains and heal human hearts. His statement, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” seems too many of us to be an exclusion, a boundary that leaves us out, but it is actually the opposite impact He intended this statement to have. What he is saying is any who have been touched by the blood of Jesus and made new in Him are righteous or right with God and can pray with power.
Romans 4 deals with this issue of our righteousness at length. Paul tells the story of Abraham’s faith in Romans 4, and then he describes how Abraham was righteous in God’s eyes because he believed God’s promise even when he couldn’t see what God was up to.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
The Holy Spirit is very clear here through the writings of Paul that our faith builds a bridge to Jesus and Jesus brings us righteousness. We don’t earn it, our faith doesn’t buy it, but our faith ties us to Jesus and all that God the Father has done through Him. When the Father looks on Jesus He sees righteousness and when I am connected to Jesus by faith in Him the Father sees me only in His righteousness. So when I pray and I am found in Jesus, I am praying the prayer of a righteous person which James says is powerful and effective. So don’t hang on your emotions, they will betray you on a regular basis. Hang on the truth, you are in Christ and Christ is in you and when you pray you are a powerful weapon that can change your world.
Father, teach me to trust your Word not my feelings or even my perspective especially when it comes to prayer. You have declared me righteous in Jesus and as I come to intercede and pray for others I believe you will use me with a power and authority that can only come from Jesus.