If you are over the age of 4, I would imagine you have heard the wonderful phrase, “Because, I said so.” I would also imagine that if you, like me, heard it a lot (no offense, Dad) that you would have rather heard about anything else in the world rather than those dreaded words. But do you know why??? Because those dreaded words were always a one-way street. It was basically do it…or else. And, for me, it was pretty effective. So, even though I hated those words when I was younger, I find myself saying them today, as a parent to my own children. Why? Because…it works.
As we continue our discussion of James 5:16-18, from earlier this week, I promised that we would be able to cover the rest of the verses in the passage I am supposed to discuss. Today, that’s exactly what we’ll do. So, to be fair, and let you get caught up if you did not read part one, here is the passage, in full. It comes from the NLT Version of the Bible:
James 5:16-18, “16Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”
So, if you remember from part one, seen here, we talked about the power of accountability…and the power of being righteous, that can come from the cleansing process of holding yourself accountable to what God wants us to do. As the title of this post suggests, with God, the very one who created all of us, when He commands us to do something, it is always in exchange for something. When we’re willing to conform to His authority, and work for His will to be done, He offers His faithfulness. As seen in the text, when Elijah asked for a drought, it came…and when he asked for the heavenly spigot to be turned back on? Sure enough, it came. Why? Because Elijah, being “as human as we are”, was righteous.
As I wrote this post, I asked my wonderful ten-year old step-son, Owen, his thoughts on prayer. I asked him what he thought of when we, as a family, prayed. His answers were very insightful and showed Natalie, my wife, and I that we have some work to do. First, he thought that our prayers were very thankful in scope. We are thankful for our family, our health, our home, the food we eat, our church family…all wonderful things, to be sure. The answer to my next question hit me like a punch to the gut. I asked him, “How often do you think prayers are answered?” His answer? “Very rarely.”
What we’ve taken away from this conversation is that even though we’ve been walking closer to God than ever before, and as close to righteous as we’ve ever been, we tend to pray for guidance and direction, and lay real needs on the hands of our Lord when it is just Natalie and I. We tend to leave the children out of these “higher-level” prayers. The prayers for God’s help, the ones that get answered each and every single day, are not the ones that we ever let the children see. Over the past year, God has answered every prayer we’ve asked, with a Yes, No, or a Not Now. We’ve seen some amazing things happen in 2015 and our faith in God…and prayer, is bigger than ever. Still, with all of those answered prayers we’ve missed an opportunity to use those experiences to help our kids understand the power of prayer. I will tell you this, and to go back to our accountability post from earlier this week, you can call me out anytime you see me…but we will focus, as a family, on the mighty power of prayer each and every opportunity we can.
Desperately seeking the heart of God, being obedient, transparent, and righteous will give you favor in the eyes of the Lord through answered prayers. Answered prayers are a wonderful personal blessing, but make no mistake that with each and every answered prayer comes the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and help others experience the blessings we do. Elijah, as human as we are, by living in this way, brought many to see the power of God, and we have that same opportunity…being as human as Elijah was.
Interestingly enough, I took on this opportunity to write for our God, through our church, in an effort to share my worldview with you. What I’ve seen, however, is the opposite continues to happen, and I instead see that my worldview changes from my studies of the Word of God, each and every time that I write.
If you latch onto just one thing through these two posts, let it be this: Cleanse yourself and open your heart to God’s will, and you will have the same power Elijah had in having your prayers be answered in powerful ways.
Finally, remember when Elijah invited the people to crowd around him, and fix the altar for the sacrifice, (1 Kings 18:30-39) it was not to show how great he was, it was in fact, to make sure that people knew how great He was. Brothers and sisters, do not forget to show others His majesty as it happens in answering the prayers in your life. We’re blessed to serve a God who is so full of grace, patience, kindness, justice, and faithfulness. We need to show people who do not know Him, now more than ever, that our God is a loving creator…and His heart is made happy when He connects with each and every person He has created. The Lord, He is God. Yes, the Lord is God.
Thanks for reading, and I wish you a blessed week.
In His Name,
Eric J. Wasson