I have been thinking about prayer, and how and when we pray. Please read this passage from James 5, in which he gets right to the point about prayer.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 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.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. 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. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
The word James uses for pray here is a present verb which means to pray and keep praying.
Ephesians 6:16 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Then, James takes it a step further when he says, “Let them pray if they’re happy.” He actually uses the word praise. Praise is just a form of prayer.
I don’t know about you, but I am actually pretty good at asking God for things. I’m pretty good at praying when things go badly, but when things are going good, I just get busy when things are going good, and I don’t necessarily stop to pray.
Sometimes we ask God for whatever we need, and if it doesn’t seem to happen, we think, “Well, that went nowhere. I just talked into the air, and it did nothing.”
That is not the case. God hears every single one of our prayers, but we have to seek him, and we have to seek his priorities. For God, what’s most important is our eternal salvation, our eternal healing. We’ve all been separated from God because of our sin. God wants to heal that first, so if that’s not right in our hearts, then everything else follows. We have to have that first.
God does not ever create evil. We live in a broken world where broken things happen. They happen because we have an Enemy who seeks to destroy. That’s what he wants to do: destroy, kill, and separate in every way possible. God came to give life to the fullest. That’s his priority. Yet, we still live in this time waiting for him to return so pain will be gone forever, asking the big questions. “God, why is this happening in my life? How is it possible you allow this to happen?”
1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
This is Jesus’ darkest hour, and he gets down on his knees, and he says this to God in Matthew 26: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Look at the boldness of that prayer! We can learn so much just from that. You see how clearly he asks God for exactly what he wants with no apologies and no doubts. “God, is there some other way, any other way, we can do this? But God, give me the strength to endure and do as you will.”
Let’s ask God, as Jesus prays, with boldness, with faith, putting ourselves out there fully.
Practice praying continually and with boldness today. Whatever you need, whatever you can praise God for, do so.