The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

When I was a young boy, I remember seeing a plaque on someone’s wall saying “Prayer Changes Things.”  It was so simple yet so profound.  We want prayer to change things, but sometimes we wonder if it really does.  Do our prayers do anything to influence the sovereign God of the universe?  The answer is definitely yes.  God says so.  He promises they do in James 5:16.  There are 2 conditions given before the promises are stated.

Condition 1: We must pray.  This seems so obvious we hardly need to say it, but it must be stated.  How many people today are satisfied with their prayer life?  How many of us really tap into the wonderful resource of prayer as we should?  James says we don’t have because we don’t ask (James 4:2-3).  We underestimate the power of prayer.  Someone said that prayer isn’t preliminary to the battle, prayer IS the battle.  How true that is!  It doesn’t matter how many wonderful promises about prayer are in this verse, they don’t do us any good if we don’t pray.  By the way, how is your prayer life these days?

Condition 2: We must be righteous.  Prayer is for God’s children, those born into His family who have received His righteousness by faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1-11).  We are righteous in God’s sight when we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  But there is a double meaning in the word here, for the verse also means we must do our best to live a righteous life.  When we sin, we must admit (confess) our sins (1 John 1:9).  A child cannot live in rebellion and disobedience to their parents and expect their parents to do whatever they want when they demand something.  Broken relationships must be restored first.  That’s true of God and His children as well.  “We know that God does not listen to sinners.  He listens to the godly man who does His will”  (John 9:31).

All right, now the promises to praying believers not willfully living in sin:

Promise 1: Prayer is powerful.  Prayer does have the power to change things.  Samson prayed and God gave him strength to defeat his Philistine enemies (Judges 16:28).  Elijah prayed and a dead boy came back to life (1 Kings 17:17-24).  He prayed again and fire came down from heaven burning up his altar, stones and water (1 Kings 18:38).  Elijah prayed and the rain stopped.  Years later he prayed again and the rains returned (James 5:17-18)  Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still and it happened (Joshua 10:12-13).  The Bible is full of hundreds of examples.  I’m sure you have heard stories from friends about the power of prayer.  You should take a minute to make a list of times when God answered your prayers in a powerful way.  Unless we write them down, we have a way of forgetting them.

Promise 2: Prayer is effective.  Prayer isn’t a way for us to get God to do what we want.  That’s not what it means that prayer is effective.  It refers to the fact that praying makes a difference.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  Abraham’ prayer to have Lot delivered from Sodom before judgment was effective (Genesis 18:16-33).  Nehemiah’s prayer to go back to Jerusalem to help the people there was also effective (Nehemiah 1).  The list can go on and on.  Prayer is effective.  God says so!

Prayer and the Word are powerful weapons in spiritual warfare.  Make sure there isn’t sin in your life and don’t neglect your time with God in prayer.  Don’t just pray for what you want, spend your time thanking and praising Him as well as praying for others.  When praying for yourself remember to pray the problem, not what you think is the solution.  Prayer does change things.

This is a short but powerful promise to memorize.  But don’t just learn it, practice it!


Christian Training Organization 



(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)

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I have posted almost 40 blogs about God’s Promises to us today in my India and Spiritual Warfare blogs.  If you would like a PDF document containing all of them, email me and I will send it.  Jerry@Schmoyer.net

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