Monday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

James 5:17-18

Prayer and Godliness

James continues discussing prayer.  It is chiefly through prayer that we are healed—and confession of sin as we saw yesterday.  But let us be clear, it is not just any prayer but the prayer of faith—and not just any faith but the prayer of a righteous man: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

I am reminded of the account in Mark 9:14-29 in which the disciples were unable to heal a boy with an unclean spirit.  When our Lord, coming down from the mountain, discovered their impotence, he moaned, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me!”  After healing the boy, the Lord’s disciples approached him, asking: “Why could we not cast it out?”  And Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”  (Other ancient manuscripts add, “and fasting.”)

Well, James understood our Lord’s call for prayer.  Remember that this was the bishop with camel’s knees from kneeling for long hours.  But James also understood what else was needed per our Lord’s words to his disciples, namely, righteousness, or what the Bible also calls blamelessness, holiness, or godliness.  And so James takes Elijah for example—he would have to take one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament!  “This man…” James tells us, “…Be like him.”  After all, he prayed that it might not rain for three and one-half years, and then prayed that it would rain—and it all came to pass.  Now, we might complain, “Could you not have picked a lesser saint to copy?”  But then James reminds us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours,” as if to say to us, “What’s your next excuse?” 

I want to make two points: 1) If our prayers are to be effective, they must be accompanied by holy lives.  We must be pursuing holiness and godliness, walking with the Lord daily.  We cannot expect God to answer prayers from profane lips and lives; and, 2) We can and must do this; we have no excuse.  To be saved is to be freed from the power and dominion of sin; to be saved is to have the Holy Spirit living within us who is constantly remaking us after the image of God’s Son.  No, we shall never reach sinless perfection, but we must be growing in grace: a) to prove that we are of the Lord, and, b) to have effective prayers.  Yes, God will bless the prayers of his people who pray in faith—but it must be a pious faith, a sincere faith, a faith working through love.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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