Many people across the world may feel helpless right now. Images of the devastation and carnage wrought by the recent Tsunami in Asia and Africa appear on newscasts every night, leaving many of us feeling powerless as we witness the after-effects of this tragedy.
What can we do? Does God expect us to contribute in any way? Fortunately, there is much we, as believers, can do to help remedy this devastation across the world. First, there are multitudes of Christian charitable organizations that have stepped to the forefront in an effort to reconstruct both the countries and the lives of the millions of people affected by this tragedy.
Let's examine this verse: Does James say the effective prayers of a righteous country, church, or group of people? Not exactly. Of course, community prayer is a wonderful way to communicate with God, but one person--one single person in a world of billions--can release the supernatural power of God in any crisis. How comforting to know this truth!
Now, what does James mean by "effective" and "righteous?" An effective prayer is filled with passion, emotion, and is specific to a need. A rehearsed prayer that we've spoken to God one thousand times over is not effective. And while praying for "everyone to be blessed" is wonderful, an effective petition to the Lord involves specifics. When you see a homeless mother and child on television, pray specifically for them right at that moment. When you hear a husband speak about the loss of his family, ask God right then to comfort and watch over him. Effective prayer reaches God.
What does James mean by "righteous" prayer? Anyone who has come to know God as Lord and Savior is righteous in the eyes of God because we are His children. But righteous, in this instance, also refers to our everyday conduct. If we are living in willing disobedience against God, we are not engaged in "righteous" living and our prayers will not be effective. This, of course, is remedied by sincerely repenting to the Lord and asking forgiveness. When others look at us and see Christ in us (Philippians 3:9), we can know that our prayers to the Lord will be effective.
Take heart in knowing that God will hear your prayer. Satan may tell you that the prayer of one person means nothing, but remember James 5:16 and pray unceasingly for the lives of the millions affected by the devastating Tsunami.
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