Beloved Christian Americans; Beloved Christians everywhere; revival and spiritual awakening are necessary for America to survive. The world would greatly benefit if America would fundamentally return to God. It will not happen unless God’s people pray, getting right with God through genuine repentance, and seeking His face solely for His powerful presence!
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
I want to share the kind of praying it may possibly take to turn this country around.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b)
And also from the Amplified Bible:
“The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”
Key Words and their Meanings:
1) Effectual – Capable of producing the desired result.
2) Fervent – Hot! Burning! Intense!
3) Righteous – Morally right, justifiable, in Jesus!
James, by the Spirit, says to us, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” But then, he goes on to give us an example from an Old Testament hero of the faith.
“Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
James was referring to an incident in the life of Elijah, which begins for us in 1 Kings 17:1. There we find that Elijah tells King Ahab, “as the LORD God of Israel lives, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
This, of course, did not make King Ahab very happy, so Elijah ran for his life and hid out for 3 ½ years. After which, God tells Elijah to return to Ahab. Elijah, having a price on his head, was naturally not pleased at this divine instruction.
Folks, the thing that used to bother me about James, chapter five, is that James used “praying for rain” as an example of “effectual prayer!” What about “calling down fire from heaven?” . . . I mean, that is pretty impressive to me!
I had to see if I could discover the why of this choice, so I went back in time to the Old Testament account in 1 Kings 18, and I meditated upon verses 41-45.
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.”
Being from Missouri, as I am, this bothered me too, because of what God told Elijah in 18:1: God said, “Go show thyself unto Ahab, . . . and I will sent rain upon the earth.”
Did you catch that? God said He would make it rain! Why, then, all this praying for rain by Elijah after God had committed Himself to bringing rain?
I had to know what God was trying to reveal to me about effectual prayer, so I asked Him. The LORD seemed to say in response, “Jerry, look at Elijah’s position in prayer.” So, I returned to verse 42:
“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees.”
Again, in the Amplified Bible: “And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down to the earth and put his face between his knees.”
Elijah was in a squatting position in prayer, which I soon discovered was the normal position for childbirth in those ancient days. Elijah took on a spiritual burden, birthing an answer to prayer! He was in great spiritual and physical travail!
Listen carefully, my friend. God was showing me, not so much a position of prayer as it was a concept of prayer . . . birthing prayer! (An attitude of prayer)
Then, God shared something with me that grabbed my attention: “You cannot birth something that has never been conceived!” Let that sink in deeply.
In my quest for understanding, the Spirit led me to Genesis 4:1. You see, in God’s original design, knowledge was relational; knowing someone implied an intimate, personal relationship. We see this in Genesis 4:1 where it says, “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.”
There is an important Hebrew word here for our understanding of our intended effective relationship with God. The word, knew, is the active past tense of the word, know, and know in the Hebrew is yada, and yada, in its most significant meaning refers to, a deep, personal, intimate relationship.
Before their fall, Adam and Eve knew God, not in the physical sense of course, but in the spiritual intimacy of a close, personal relationship! They knew God by being with God! Listen, they knew God! Yada! . . . deep, personal, intimate relationship!
Daniel 11:32b has some helpful insight for us: “. . . the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
The word, know, here is the same word, yada! The idea is, the people that do touch their God (intimacy, spiritual intimacy, relationship) and, seek His face, will do exploits!
Beloved, remember the example of Elijah praying for rain, and the birthing position of his praying? Conception only comes through yada (deep, personal, intimate relationship), and birth only after conception, and birth always has travail! It is not easy to birth something!
Notice with me the words of Jesus from John 15:4-7:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
The word, abide, in the Greek carries the same root meaning as the word, know, in the Hebrew. Yada! Abiding is yada, a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ! Abiding!
Now, this is important to understanding effectual prayer: God’s purpose or will becomes conceived, or revealed, through yada (intimacy with Christ). His purpose birthed through travailing prayer! Biblical yada is a spiritual reality that is empowered through an on-going relationship with a longing to know and understand more about Jesus Christ! Abiding! Yada! Intimacy! Deep, deep intimacy that honors and adores!
This knowledge was vastly important to the Apostle Paul, as revealed in his words in Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him.” (Become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him!) Paul knew intimate knowledge of Christ released power!
Beloved, the degree of your power and authority in prayer is equal to your degree of submission and intimacy with Christ. –Abiding! –Yada!
Here, then, is the bottom line with my original questions concerning Elijah and his praying for rain: Elijah knew it was going to rain because God conceived it in him through the intimacy they experienced! However, he also knew he must birth the promised purpose in travailing prayer!
Jesus said it rightly: “You must abide in Me, for without Me you can do nothing.”
If God prompts you to pray about anything, and you do your part, it will happen. He conceives His purpose in your heart; you birth it through much prayer. Passion in praying prevails. There is a prayer that births and the Holy Spirit is the power behind it! When we do not pray about what God conceives in us, we commit spiritual abortion; God’s purpose dies in the womb. Yada! Pray On!