The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand


I was reflecting this morning on what James tells us about Elijah and prayer.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruitJames 5:16-18

A sense of unworthiness is one of Satan’s most effective tools to keep us from prayer. After all, why should God listen to me? What can I and my praying hope to achieve?

Scripture promises us that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power”, but Satan persuades us of our sinfulness and spiritual shortcomings and says, ‘That might be true of a righteous person, but that obviously doesn’t include you.’

Brother or sister, you may at this moment in time feel very unrighteous, profoundly aware of your sinfulness and spiritual shortcomings, and that’s what we call practical righteousness, and it is good to be sensitive to these things.

But it doesn’t negate your positional righteousness. If you are a born again, blood bought and redeemed, child of the living God, then however practically unrighteous you may feel today (Romans 7:21-24), you are still a positionally righteous son or daughter of the living God (Romans 5:19), and the promise of James still applies.

The answer is not to dwell on your sinfulness but to repent of it. It’s not the presence of sin in our lives that, in and of itself renders our prayers ineffective, it’s unrepented sin that closes God’s ears to our cries.

  If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, 
  the Lord would not have listened. 
  But truly God has listened; 
  he has attended to the voice of my prayer. 
  Blessed be God, 
  because he has not rejected my prayer 
  or removed his steadfast love from me! 
Psalm 66:18-20


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