"Prayer that Availeth Much-Part I"
Study Text: James 5:13-20
Key Verse: James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one
for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous
man availeth much."
We’ve all probably heard the statement, "There’s power in prayer."
Well, over the past year or so (especially within the last few months) the Lord
has opened up level upon level for me in my prayer life. And each time that
I’ve moved up in Him, I’ve come to understand and see even more the awesome
power that comes when we devote ourselves to an effectual and fervent prayer
This week’s key verse is one that most of us are probably familiar with. But
you know what? As I sat and thought about the number of times I’ve heard this
scripture used, I realized that this verse is often misquoted or twisted to
mean something that it does not. It was not until I studied this scripture and
paired it with the wonderful things that the Lord has done in my life that I
realized the awesome statement that it makes about prayer.
Of course we all want to see our prayers manifested. We all want to know
that we will get the desired results. But why aren’t many of us seeing those
results? Well, there could be a number of reasons. If we break the latter half
of this scripture down, we’ll discover a few.
First let’s look at the type of person this verse is referring to: The
RIGHTEOUS!!!! You see, many Christians are praying and expecting to see all of
these miraculous results. They say, "my prayers have power." They
say, "I’m a Christian, so the Lord will honor my prayers." And that’s
true to some extent. They probably will get some results, but not the
"availeth MUCH" type of results. This scripture says the righteous
man (person), not the saved. Believe it or not, salvation does not
automatically make you righteous. Many people have accepted Jesus as their
Savior, but not as their Lord-and that’s where He draws the line. These people
only get, as my husband would say, "the fire insurance" (salvation
from hell); they deny all of the other policies that they can have—-life,
health, auto, home owner’s, flood, etc.
Sure, we have all heard the testimonies of those who were perhaps not
righteous but still cried out to the Lord in desperation and He answered their
prayers. However, these are usually one time events in those people’s lives,
and these miraculous, often near-death experiences are usually the ones that
lead those people into a closer walk with God. But remember, when placed on the
end of a verb, "eth" means continuously or an on-going process. So
we’re not talking about one time results. This scripture is referring to prayer
that AVAILETH MUCH—–1. prayer that continuously and consistently benefits or
profits to a great extent –OR– 2. prayer that continuously and consistently
produces or brings forth greatness. (The definition depends on whether you read
"much" as an adverb or a noun.) And such awesome and powerful prayer
can only come from one category of people—-THE RIGHTEOUS!!!
So who are the righteous? Those who are upright, those who are Godly, those
who have made Jesus their Savior AND Lord. If that definition doesn’t do it for
you, try this one: "Be IMITATORS OF GOD, therefore, as dearly loved
children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up
for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2,
NIV). If you’re in doubt about some of your actions, look to the Word. Find out
what Jesus did, and then do it. Find out what God has commanded you to do, and
then do it. That’s what it means to be righteous.
If we refer to one of the earliest references to the word
"righteous," we find ourselves in Genesis 7:1 which reads, " And
the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee
have I seen righteous before me in this generation." You see, at this
time, wickedness was rampant. Out of all of the people on earth, Noah was the
only righteous one. He was the only one who "was a just man, and perfect
in his generation, and . . . walked with the Lord" (Genesis 6:9). Just
think about it. The Lord was getting ready to do a clean sweep. He was getting
ready for a major drive-by. But as He scanned the earth, His eyes fell upon
Noah, and His heart went out to him. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the
Lord" (Genesis 6:8), so the Lord spared the lives of Noah and his family.
Hebrews 11:7 describes the Lord’s actions this way: "By faith Noah,
being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark
to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became
heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Noah’s righteousness got
God’s attention, so God moved on Noah’s behalf. God let Noah in on His plans
for the earth. The Lord showed Noah how he needed to prepare for the flood.
Why? Because he was righteous. That’s awesome!!! As I write this my spirit is
welling up inside of me——because that’s one of the great things that
happens when "the righteous" pray.
Jeremiah 29:11 reads, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected
end." The NIV states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares
the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and
a future." This scripture tells us something that most of us already know
and believe— that God knows our futures. But God doesn’t have to be the only
one who knows. If we are righteous, when we pray God will give us glimpses of
the plans He has for us and for others. If we are righteous, when we pray God
will lay on our hearts those who are in need of intercession.
Now, let me explain why God will lay others on the hearts of the righteous.
In the first part of our key verse, James instructs the Church to pray
"one for another." Sure there will be times when we should pray for
ourselves, but in this scripture James is stressing the power that comes when
we pray for others. Unselfishness is righteous behavior. Intercession is
righteous behavior. If we study the ministry of Jesus, we’ll see that He had
compassion for others. He prayed for others and guess what?——HE HEALED
OTHERS. Our key verse says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray
one for another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16a). That’s right,
healing comes when the righteous pray—-healing, not only for the ones who are
being prayed for, but also for the ones who are doing the praying. I can
testify to this.
About this time last year I had a scalp condition that had bothered me for
years. I went from doctor to doctor, but nothing seemed to clear up the
problem. The last doctor I saw, a dermatologist, gave me antibiotics and a
salve to put on my scalp. He said that I would probably have the condition for
the rest of my life and that I should lessen my medication when I was having a
good week and double-up when I was having a bad week. But instead of getting
better, the sores got worse. They hurt and bled. (Sisters, imagine trying to
get a lye perm or touch-up with open wounds in your scalp. It was quite
I suffered for several years until I shared my problem with a righteous
woman who then asked me one question: "Did you pray for healing?" I
said, "No," and then I thought to myself, "Duh!! Self, why
didn’t you think of that three years ago." So she started interceding for
me in this area, but I also started praying for myself. Then one of my friends
was diagnosed with a health problem, and she needed surgery. Immediately, I
forgot all about my own healing and starting interceding on her behalf. Things
went well; the Lord was faithful and delivered her safely through surgery. I
rejoiced with my friend and went on my merry way. I had totally forgotten about
my own healing. Well, one morning after shampooing and drying my hair I started
massaging my scalp. As I touched the places where the sores should have been, I
realized that THEY WERE GONE!!!! HALLELUJAH!!! THEY WERE GONE!!! The Lord
healed me-when someone else was praying for me, and when I was praying for
someone other than myself. What a revelation!! And this all took place within
the span of two months.
So we must be RIGHTEOUS (upright and Godly) in order to avail much in
prayer. Just think of how much more effective the Church would be if all
Christians were righteous. We would all be imitators of Christ. We would all be
interceding for one another. And we would all be healed in every area of our
lives. I tell you, that’s awesome power!!
Stayed tuned next week for "Prayer that Availeth Much-Part II,"