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This Week's Teaching: "The Prayer of a Righteous Person is Powerful & Effective!"
You know, it's possible that the reason your prayers aren't being answered is because you're not living a righteous life. Now, I know some of us have been taught to totally react to what I just said because we think that we've just set up a legalistic system, a conditional love of God that we have to live life just right or else he won't care enough to answer our prayers.
But let's look at scripture and see what it actually says about it.
James, chapter five, verse 16 says, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." It says, "Elijah was a human being even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it didn't rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops."
Prayer can effect so many changes. We can talk to God and ask him to do incredible things, and he can do them for us. But the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. I wonder if you've given enough thought to that recently.
I've been chewing on that. Am I living my life in a way that when I go before God and make my appeals and inquire of him, that he's saying, "I see how you live and I can tell that you really want this because of how you live." Am I living my life in a way â€” am I making choices, in the mundane, that would support, that would back up my appeals to him? Am I living a righteous life?
Now, I get it. I understand that there's a doctrinal emphasis that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. I get that. Set that over here. You don't need to undermine that understanding in order for what I'm saying to make sense.
To live a righteous life is to choose to do what's right. It's to choose to be right in your heart and in your conduct before God. Right in your heart, your words, and your action. To be right before God, to live a righteous life.
Are you living a righteous life?
James, a chapter earlier, he says, " You do not have because you do not ask God. And when you do ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." And he says, "You adulterous people. Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God?"
How we live affects our prayers. How we live affects our prayers.
Peter writes about it in his first epistle. 1 Peter 3:7, he says, "Husbands in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect... so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
How we live does affect whether our prayers are answered.
Many of us have been taught that we need to claim things with faith. We need to declare things with faith, that there's power in our words. And I get that there's power in the things that we speak. The word doesn't create power. But there is power in training our hearts.
There's declarative power. That's not the same as generative power. So we can declare things as a decision, and our words don't have generative power. You don't find that in scripture. God is the one with generative creative power. He can do anything, everything, totally. And we can declare things with power, with authority. We can appeal to creator God, Redeemer God, savior God. We can appeal to him with confidence, with authority.
But when our lives don't reflect that we are followers of him, when our lives don't reflect that we have laid down our lives for his honor, if our lives reflect that we're still just pursuing the things of this world, that we're still just friends with this world â€” I'm talking about the values of this world â€” that we're still just scratching the itches of the flesh, if our lives still indicate that we are fully in the flesh, is it no surprise that God would hear our prayers as a mockery to not be entertained? As a mockery, to not be answered?
I don't mean this as a word of condemnation. I mean this as a word of encouragement.
What's that thing that you're asking God to do? What's that thing that you, oh, you just want God to do it so bad? Let the process of it, not just refine what you're asking him, but also refine your life.
Every time you're aware of that desire, that need, that thing that you cry out to God from the depths of your soul â€” every time you're aware of that, let it make you aware that "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
Check your life. Is there anything in your life that looks more like friendship with the world? If it does, if it does, James would say to you, "You adulterer. Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God?" Don't be an enemy of God. Be someone who's righteous, who pursues the things of God, who is godly.
Now this doesn't earn you any favor with God. God's grace bestows his love on you. But it does give you the ability to make your requests with integrity. As one who has laid down your life for the kingdom, you can now make requests: "your kingdom come, Lord, your will be done here on earth, here in my life, even as it is in heaven."
Be encouraged by this: "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
Now, if you've never put your faith in Jesus, turn to him. Turn from all the things that are opposed to him. Turn from sin, bow before him. Just give him your heart. Lord, I confess that I am a sinner, that I need you. And I call out to you, Jesus, forgive me of my sins. Pull me into a relationship with you. Show me who you are." Just give him your heart. Start laying down your life for him. Open up scripture. Get to know it. And find a group of people who can help you with that.
In our X242 network, we meet in very small groups. I love it. Microchurches. Reach out to me. I can help put you in one. I can help you start one. Whatever makes most sense. But reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll talk.
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So be encouraged. God wants to hear your prayers. He wants to know what you desire. And he wants to know that you desire it from the place of a righteous heart, fully committed to him, fully devoted to seeing his glory and his honor, because this is the establishment and the foundation of all that's right and true.
This is glory. In Jesus' name.
Thank you so much!