The Power of Believing Prayer

Lesson 2 on Learning How to Really Pray

James 5:13-18


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

DATE: 27 April, 2008 AM

PLACE: BBC Ballincollig


I.         Introduction (Luke 11:1)


A.      We are finishing our month dedicated to learning about prayer. I called it “Bowing the Knee in Dependency” – learning how to Humbly Pray


1.        We heard first from Bro Kevin O’Keeffe on “How to Get Into and Enjoy God’s Presence”

2.        Then Bro John Mahony taught us about “Listening to God” – inclining our ears to God

3.        Then last week I spoke about “Gethsemane Praying” – having our own Gethsemane place where we regularly pray and battle and defeat our enemies before we ever engage them at work, at school, or anywhere!

4.        This morning I want to try and conclude with “The Power of Believing Prayer”


B.       Some fundamental truths about prayer:


1.        There are no easy prayers – praying is not chit-chat, it is a definite effort to communicate how you feel to God, and a desperate effort to hear God reply! That doesn’t happen flippantly!

2.        You only learn how to pray when you have to – they are not memorized words you pray, but words and feelings that come out of need!

3.        There are no convenient times to pray

4.        Real praying is borne out of confident faith – it is not a guess, or a hope, or a feeling, or a stab-in-the-dark – it is a firm belief that you are being heard in heaven, and will be answered from heaven!

5.        Praying is the most life-and-death act you will ever do as a Christian. Preaching, soul-winning, loving, giving, caring, blessing, ministering, sacrificing… they all are empty acts without prayer!


C.       The Bible is Our Prayer Book


1.        It teaches us how to pray – every chapter of every Book in the Bible shows us our need for reliance on God instead of on ourselves

2.        Better than that even, it teaches us about how to get answers to prayer – how to obtain what we need, on a moment by moment basis

3.        Prayer is not an act that you just do, but rather an interaction, with God, that unlocks what you need!

4.        The Epistle that James wrote talks about prayer – and more than that, it shows us the power of Believing Prayer

5.        That’s what I want us to have because of this study this morning – to go out of here, not only believing in the power of prayer, but having power in prayer. We all know when we have wasted our time in prayer, and when our prayers are powerless! Really, there is nothing more grieving than to have prayed and known that it was useless

6.        I am here to tell you, that may be your experience, but that is not what prayer was designed to be!

7.        Prayer, real prayer, is powerful, and effective! It actually is THE most powerful act you will ever do


a.        More than preaching

b.       More than fighting

c.        More than loving

d.       More than dying

e.        Prayer is powerful!


D.      James is writing this letter to Christians who are encountering a variety of trials in their lives. They are finding that their faith in God does not keep them from having to deal with difficult and often very painful circumstances. James does not write them to tell them how to avoid all trials and live a pain-free life. He says that the trials are going to come. Instead, James tells us how to go through our problems the fastest!


II.       Message


A.      The Opportunities for Prayer (James 5:13-15) – look at all the opportunities you and I have to pray…


1.        When Afflicted – under attack, troubled, like Job was. Okay, so that was MY week… how was YOURS?

2.        When Blessed – when your are on the mountain top, and you find life easy… that’s time to praise God in prayer

3.        When Sick – Instead of turning only to pills and doctors alone, when you find yourself sick, and bed-ridden, that is time to pray. We have lost the idea that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in men! Doctors are fine, and thank the Lord for medicines, but whatever happened to praying?

4.        When in Bondage to Sin – Oh here is a big one! What hypocrites we are when sin and temptation enslaves us and ashames us, that we do not cry out to God for deliverance and complete victory over the devil! The name of Jesus is still mighty!

5.        There really isn’t any time that you shouldn’t be free to pray (“Men ought always to pray” Lk 18:1) – there are no inappropriate times for prayer.


B.       The Five Big Obstacles to Prayer (James 5:13-16a) - all of these are iniquities/sins (Psalm 66:18) that need to be pondered and looked for in your heart!


1.        Neglect – I think we forget/neglect to pray too often. It is no longer part of our culture!



a.        It ought to be something we instantly remember when we are sick, when we’re in troubles, when we’re blessed, when we’re battling sin

b.       Hey, if you have to, write these words on every wall in your house… “Pray… NOW!”

c.        What a terrible reason not to pray – simply because you forgot!

d.       It would be like getting into your car and driving away and not putting your seat belt on, simply because you forgot!

e.        It is like too many Christians today sitting down to a meal, and just diving in and not stopping to be thankful! Oh how far a small act of gratefulness before a meal will go in helping you remember to pray at other times too!

f.         I believe prayer is nearly gone, not because the world doesn’t pray, but because Christians think it isn’t important anymore!


2.        Pride


a.        Unable to be honest with God or people – Unable to confess your failure to God, your fault towards other people


1)       This is NOT about the confession of sin – you confess to God

2)       But rather admitting that you are at fault – not constantly rejecting your fault

3)       Admitting you have hurt someone, and agreeing that it was wrong, and destructive


b.       Unable to be exposed for the fraud that you are – people fight and run away because they would be exposed as frauds


1)       No one in this room is without sin

2)       It is wonderful to be amongst sinners who don’t go around claiming to be perfect, only forgiven, and growing!


c.        Unable to submit to the help of Christian leaders, elders


1)       Never joining up with a church, and leaning on spiritual leadership – always the rogue, always so independent

2)       Elders, mature Christians are here for a purpose, just like parents are – to help you THROUGH afflictions, sicknesses, struggles with sins


3.        Unforgiveness (James 5:16)


a.        Mutual forgiveness is mandatory – “one to another”

b.       Pray for one another – not judge each other

c.        When you hold grudges and bitterness aginst each other, especially when they are trying to get right and do right, you put up and instant wall between you and God


4.        Unbelief


a.        People turn only to doctors, and drugs, and depression

b.       If you believed God answers prayer, you would pray all the time

c.        What stops most people from praying, truly, passionately praying is unbelief – they only go through the motions!

d.       Is it true that God wants to answer our requests? See Mk 9:14-24

e.        The problem, most often is unbelief


5.        Impatience with God – part of prayer is being willing to come to God with your request, and being able to rest, while you wait for God to work everything out. If you are impatient with God, you won’t pray – you will end up turning to another source of help, or just end up doing something yourself about your problem – end up messing things up worse!

6.        I believe all five of these things are all on the same level – not one of them is less powerful in blocking, or more important to get rid of! ALL have to be removed for powerful prayer to be experienced!


C.       A Great Example of Powerful, Believing Prayer – Elijah (James 5:17,18)


1.        James uses the illustration of Elijah to show just how effective prayer can be from a righteous man.

2.        He chose Elijah because the biblical story of this prophet brings out his passionate—and sometimes still carnal—nature. Nevertheless, he prayed earnestly for drought, and God responded: No rain fell on the earth for three years and six months! When he prayed again for rain, God again heard and acted. What tremendous power can be unleashed through determined prayer that conforms to the will of God!

3.        Elijah was not perfect, but he was righteous

4.        And he had four great characteristics that we all need, in order to pray through our days, and win our battles


D.      The Kind of Prayer that Works (James 5:16b)


1.       Effectual Prayer


a.        The kind that work


1)       The ones that get answers, are the ones we should be after

2)       Not Novenas, or Rosaries, or any kind of prayer that is formulated, or pre-written. You all have seen the listing of novenas in the back of newspapers that are “Guaranteed to work”

3)       Most people only know ineffective prayer – God invites us to be effective in our prayers


b.       Prayer is nothing less than contacting and employing the power of God; it is the channel through which the strength and grace of God is brought to bear on the troubles of life.

c.        Simply then, Effectual prayers AFFECT your world: Move mountains; Open doors; Rebuke devils

d.       Effectual means (Eph 3:7; Gal 2:8)


1)       A prayer that is full of confidence in the God you are talking to – not wavering

2)       A prayer that is thorough – not in bits a pieces. Not “general” but specific and well thought out! You hate it when you go to a mechanic and he is not thorough in repairing your car! Well, the best praying is thorough!

3)       Effectual Prayers are “To the point”


a)       That’s why you should have a list of people and needs to pray about

b)       That’s why you should never try and hide your sin from God – don’t beat around the bush – be open, honest, straight up with God. A lost art that is!

c)       You don’t have to pray for 8 hours about something to be heard

d)       You definitely don’t have to repeat yourself over and over to be heard

e)       Just get to the point, and believe!!!


4)       Effectual Prayers get down to business and get business done – they don’t float around with flowery words, or empty words, but like when you are talking to your Doctor – you get right to what you need! Amen


2.       Fervent Prayer


a.        Everything about a Christian should be this way! Passionate, full of energy (1Pet 1:22; 4:8) – “on fire” – fanatical!

b.       Not wimpy in your prayers – whimpering, mumbling


1)       Wimpy prayers are the norm instead of the exception. God hears the weakest of prayers, but He delights to answer the most fervent of prayers – the most desperate of prayers, like David prayed in the Psalms!

2)       Most of us are too used to our problems


a)       So we are not desperate anymore to get God to answer our prayers

b)       Not willing to stay praying about a need

c)       Not willing to clean up our lives so that we are worthy of great answers to our prayers


c.        Not depending on will-power


1)       Will-power won’t change anything, but fervent prayer can change everything

2)       Why? Because it invites into your life and into your troubles the ALMIGHTY, ALL-POWERUL GOD!


d.       Here is where faith comes in – belief in God (Jer 33:3; Ps 50:15)

e.        Fervent prayer is when “all your heart” is in it


1)       Like at Salvation (Act 8:36-38) – not flippant

2)       Like when reading our Bibles (Luke 24:25)

3)       Just all the time (Rom 12:11)


3.        Righteous Prayer - God hears only the clean heart


a.        God CAN’T hear you when you pray with sin in your heart (Isa 59:1,2; Ps 66:18)

b.       When you start off praying, get right with God – on HIS terms! That is the first part of prayer so that he can hear the rest of your praying!


1)       Examine yourself, find out what is blocking the relationship

2)       Deal with every obstacle to getting answers to prayer


c.        Answers are worth doing whatever it takes


1)       Answers to our needs are the supply lines in the battle – like in WW2

2)       An army HAS to have a constant supply of food, ammo, fresh troops coming in – supply lines

3)       If they don’t keep those supply lines open and free-flowing, they will starve, run out of ammo, and die!


d.       Starts with God’s righteousness – imputed righteousness

e.        But answers to prayer are linked to how clean our hearts are (James 4:8; Listen to David in Psalm 18:20)

f.         Did you know that if your heart is right with God, you can ask God for absolutely anything, and He will give it to you?

g.       I think it is worth it to live clean – no MTV, no filthy mouthed friends, no porn on the internet, no erotic romance novels

h.       And when that stuff has affected you, then purge it, dump it, switch it off, and confess it, and start getting answers to prayers again!


4.        Availing Prayer (Philp 4:19)


a.        How rich is God?

b.       Just how MUCH can you ask for? How BIG a problem can you ask God to fix? How much help can He actually give you?

c.        Availing Prayer is when you and I gain access to that great storehouse that is referred to as God’s riches


1)       It is like a great Hardware Store for the builder

2)       It is like a great Pharmacy for the sick

3)       It is like a great Bank Vault for the poor

4)       It is like a great Justice Hall for the oppressed


d.       Here is the point


1)       God is not poor – His arm is not short – His grace is not limited

2)       We come only so far in our asking things of God…


a)       Without really believing we are going to get anything

b)       And without believing it will be enough

c)       When all the while, there is enough for everyone, for all time!


3)       Availing prayer means prevailing prayer

4)       It means, actually accessing the biggest bank account in the universe

5)       It means actually finding the cure to your deepest hurt

6)       It means actually gaining access to all the tools you could use to fix your situation


e.        God makes “”His Riches” available to us – and waits for us to “avail” of them – to access them, to get our hands on them!


1)       He doesn’t have grace on display only for show

2)       He doesn’t put His love only on a pedestal

3)       He simply waits for someone to really want what He has to offer


f.         What does God offer? (Heb 4:16) Get access to absolutely everything He has to offer!!!


1)       Salvation from hell – the Forgiveness of our sins

2)       Strength for every day

3)       Sustenance

4)       Satisfaction to the highest level


III.     Conclusion


A.      I want to pray knowing that it is going to work… that means:


1.        Effectual Prayer

2.        Fervent Prayer

3.        Righteous Prayer

4.        Availing Prayer


B.       When prayed like Elijah, it is the most powerful act you will ever attempt

C.       What do you need? Come boldly to God; let’s ALL get answers to our prayers


1.        For forgiveness for sins so awful

2.        For help through dark valleys

3.        For grace to strengthen you

4.        To a new heart, soft heart

5.        For a renewed passion for God, and for souls