Readings for the day: 1 Kings 18, 19; 2 Chronicles 32; James 5
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:16
James is instructing his congregations in ethical ways of living out their faith. He tells the suffering to pray and the cheerful to praise and the sick to ask the elders to pray for them and anoint them. He reminds his congregations of the power of prayer to heal and reconcile.
“I’ll pray for you.” “All we can do is pray.” “You’re in my prayers.” We say this and similar things so often, almost as a cliché. Do we really pray every time we tell someone we will? Or is that just something we say when we can’t think of anything else to say?We often act as if prayer is the last resort. It’s the thing we do after we’ve tried everything else. And we should pray then. But prayer should be our first act! Prayer is the most powerful force in heaven and earth. Think about what happens when we pray: we are talking to the Creator of the universe! Prayer works!
Of course, we all know that we don’t always get what we prayed for. Jobs are still lost or new jobs not found. Illnesses continue, tragedies happen. But our prayer is answered, every time. Sometimes the answer is radically different from what we expect. Sometimes, instead of changing the situation, God chooses to change us.
And that’s really the most powerful thing about prayer – its effect on our own hearts and minds. It softens our hearts and turns our minds to God. Prayer makes us receptive to hear God’s voice, and to begin to recognize God’s actions in our own lives and around us. Prayer fills us with God’s love and compassion. Prayer enables us to be agents of healing and reconciliation, bringers of the Kingdom of God.
Gracious God, thank you that I can come to you in prayer, to tell you what is on my heart, to listen for your voice, to wait in your presence. Make me hunger and thirst to spend time with you in prayer. Amen.