September 28, 2009

Powerful Prayer

James 5:16-18

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16


“Prayer changes things!” Maybe you’ve heard that statement before. Maybe you’ve heard ministers preach on today’s verse: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Maybe you’ve heard testimonies of people who said “the power of prayer” affected their own lives or the lives of others. And you want to believe what the Bible teaches about prayer.

But sometimes that’s difficult. Maybe there have been times when you prayed, and nothing seemed to happen. Why would God answer one person’s prayer while apparently ignoring the prayer of someone else? How could it be that within a church family a newborn baby was miraculously brought back from near death, when just a few weeks earlier a toddler had died of illness in spite of the many prayers of the same people?

There is no human answer to such questions. But one thing we know is that God hears each one of our prayers when we call on him. And God answers our prayers. God is a listening God, but he answers in his own way, according to his plans. As God reveals through the prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Someday when Jesus comes again, perhaps we’ll see how God has answered our prayers, and we may also understand more about the ways God works through our prayers.

Father in heaven, help us to believe the teaching in your Word about prayer. Teach us how to pray, and help us to discern your answers, in line with your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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