James 5:16-18

Thanks for sharing!

Confess 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. Elijah 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! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”

In yesterday’s post, we talked about prayer and about how to read the Bible well. Our experience is tainted and always held underneath Scripture as a less reliable understanding of the truth. But it is fair to ask questions of the Bible when something doesn’t seem to line up. It claims prayer will heal, but sometimes it doesn’t. What’s that about? Today’s verses help clarify some of those questions.

Prayer for an American Christian is usually a closet affair. In groups, sometimes it is a gossip affair. It is rare that we allow it to be a vulnerable affair. In these verses, public confession is described as a part of the prayer experience, listed just before another reference to healing. The word “earnest” strikes me — are we truly honest and humble when we pray? Do we even take the time to position ourselves that way with a small group of other believers? In the example given here, we see Elijah’s faithfulness to pray for three and a half years. Have any of us been able to be consistently honest, humble, and vulnerable for several years at a time? It seems like that posture is a critical piece of the puzzle for effective prayer.

Here’s your freedom for today: it’s okay not to be okay. The Christian life is not about getting it all right. It’s about acknowledging when you have it wrong. It’s about being honest and vulnerable with others, loving instead of marginalizing when others are honest, and aligning yourself in a position underneath God in deep humility. The prayer of this kind of person is effective. There is no question about that. Our experience of prayer is often limited to a half-version where we see half-results (or no results). Let’s not accept this as the norm, but press harder into all that the Bible describes here and move deeper into all that prayer can be.