The book of James contains several amazing verses on prayer.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” ~James 5:16-18, NKJV
There was an incredible response to Elijah’s prayer. And while Elijah’s calling was unique and likely much different than yours and mine, this text clearly states that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” The word translated here as “effective and fervent” indicates that we are not to simply go through the motions. God is not impressed by outward appearances. He looks at the heart.
Scripture does not teach us the secret to making prayers “work.” There are no special words. God is not a genie we activate with magic words. Rather, God looks at our motives and our hearts. There are even times when words may not be necessary. Because God already knows our heart.
Countless passages show that when God’s people cry out to Him, He hears. By throwing ourselves on God’s mercy, we participate in the advancement of His purposes through times of great trial and blessing.
We should desire to pray biblically, which is why our Lord gave us the example we call the Lord’s Prayer. What we see in the Lord’s Prayer and throughout Scripture is that our chief end ought to be that God is given glory and that His purposes are advanced.
Certainly, there is a place to pray for our own needs and our daily bread. We pray for God’s protection and care for us, knowing our weaknesses. But still, Scripture tells us the greatest end for prayer is not what we want, but rather what God most desires for us. Scripture tells us that when our goal is to commit ourselves to the Lord, He will imprint His desires in our hearts. ~Psalm 37:4-6
Praying like this can be difficult. We so often focus on what we want and what we need. But keep in mind that God will provide that which we need when we seek Him first. ~Matthew 6:33
Praying with a focus on God’s glory should be freeing, but we cannot do it in our power or ability. It is for God to work to accomplish what He promises.
We are rightfully angered to see our nation continue to embrace a culture of death and perversion. The most recent elections show that even in somewhat conservative or red states, there is a lack of horror over the killing of the unborn. It is shameful. We are, understandably, tempted to call it quits. However, our chief end no matter how we feel or think remains to seek God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom.
The great English theologians who assembled the Westminster Standards gave a great deal of thought to the petitions of the Lord’s prayer. Here is their profound explanation of what we are saying when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”
In the second petition, (which is, Thy Kingdom come,) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrates; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him for ever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.
This was written almost 400 years ago, yet remains true today. It is difficult to keep in mind that God’s ways far exceed ours. We get impatient waiting an extra five minutes for something. God is never frustrated; His plan is often advanced without our notice. Our focus in prayer and our actions must be God’s glory, the advancement of His kingdom, and our submission to His purposes.
This prayer avails much.
Here are some additional prayer guidance in the days ahead, and as we prepare for a season of Thanksgiving:
Praise and Thank God
- Praise God for religious liberty in the United States. Thank God for Mariyah Green, a Bogan High School student who was award a $150,000 judgement against Chicago Board of Education over a mandate to practice Transcendental Meditation and other Hindu rituals.
- Thank God for the exceptionalism of our Founding Fathers, their vision and faithfulness. There is little doubt that the Biblical principles upon which the United States was founded has had great influence in the early years of our nation. As we drift away from God and His Word, we see a rise in lawlessness. Pray that we return to being a people who love and fear Almighty God.
- Praise God for our First Amendment rights to freely exercise our religious beliefs, our right to assemble, our right to free speech, our right to peaceably assemble, and our right to petition the government when they move in the wrong direction. May we utilize these freedoms for the spread of the Gospel and for His glory and honor.
- FOR THOSE IN AUTHORITY: The new Speaker of the U.S. House, Michael Johnson (R-Louisiana), has confessed his Christian faith publicly, which will only give the godless Left incentives to attack him and his agenda. Pray that God would grant our new Speaker wisdom and courage in these volatile times so that he may lead the U.S. House in accordance with Biblical truth and all justice.
Additionally, for the next several weeks, please pray for the political leaders listed below. Of course, this includes praying for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and those who serve in their administration.
- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)
- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)
- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)
- U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois)
- U.S. Representative Jared Golden (D-Maine)
- U.S. Representative Carol Miller (R-West Virginia)
- U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-Illinois)
- State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago)
- State Senator Craig Wilcox (R-Woodstock)
- State Representative Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa)
- State Representative Travis Weaver (R-Pekin )
- YOUR local County Board Members
- Pray that god fearing candidates would be successful running their campaigns for the primary election on March 19, 2024.
For the Church
- Pray that Christians would take seriously the process of humbling ourselves, praying fervently, honestly seeking God and repenting from sin. (2 Chr 7:14).
- Pray that Christians would become more engaged in exposing the lies of the culture and advancing Biblical truth in the culture, despite the potential backlash.
- Pray that pastors would preach/teach about the moral issues of the day and encourage their members to take a stand for what matters to God.
- Pray that the witness of Christ in the public square would be untarnished.
For our Nation
- Thank God for His mercy and praise Him for continuing to be at work in our state and nation.
- Pray that enough lawmakers will demand that we secure our nations borders and end the immigration crisis.
- Pray that we would stand boldly with Israel during this war against Islamic jihad.
- Pray that lawmakers would be wise in foreign entanglements.
- Pray that God would expose the plans of the enemy and the lies that seek to divide us by race and ethnicity and fuel a spirit of hate.
For Illinois Family Institute
- Pray that we would remain strong and not grow weary in doing good.
- Pray that God would provide every resource we need to engage the enemy in the public square.
- Pray that our efforts be multiplied and amplified throughout the state.
- Pray that our work would change hearts and minds.