The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV
I love reading missionary biographies and my favorite are the Hudson Taylor journals. What a wealth of daily living with Christ is given to us to read. He was a normal guy, but he led an extraordinary life. And his life is marked with fervent prayer. And belief that God would answer that prayer. Hudson would not move forward without God’s leading. He trusted explicitly in God’s divine guidance and he was confident in every step that he took whether on the crowded streets of China or cobbled stoned ones in London.
I reread those journals at the beginning of the pandemic because I wanted to be reminded of modern-day people having a real walk with Christ in the midst of great difficulties. These books do not disappoint. Hudson was challenged in overwhelming situations over and over again, yet his faith did not waiver. His prayer life was exceptional. It was from his daily habit of praying for China Inland Mission at noon that I, too, realized I needed to establish this habit. Not out of obligation, rather a habit that I wanted to instill in my own life.
CHRIST SHOWS US HOW TO PRAY
Prayer is not only important but it availeth much. It is powerful and effective. Christ modeled it for His disciples so much so that they wanted what He had so asked Him to teach them.
Jesus would go off on His own to pray with His Father often and the disciples noticed. We know Jesus’s response. It is what we call the Lord’s Prayer.
But, is prayer effective in the here and now? Are we seeing answers to prayer daily, or are we limping along praying the same prayers for years without much traction?
Honestly, my answer to that question is both. I have prayers that have been answered immediately, and others, not answered for years and years. How do I reconcile this? By going to Scripture to see what it says. My ways are not God’s ways, so I cannot begin to figure this out (Isaiah 55:8). If Jesus prayed, and prayed often alone with His Father enough for His disciples to want in on the action, then I need to stand up and take notice. If James writes about the prayer life of the prophet of Elijah and bookends that with prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective, then I have got to engage fervent prayer.
Sometimes my prayers are short and urgent. Others are long, in tears and a part of an impromptu worship moment. One thing we can be assured of – God hears every single prayer. It’s His timing and Sovereign will that is the deciding factor on the answers to our prayers. When we pray the prayer that never fails – "Thy will be done," then we can be confident in His response.
Because God is Sovereign, He directs us in every decision that we make. He even directs those who do not acknowledge Him as Lord. The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. Proverbs 21:1 NIV
POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE PRAYER
Setting out in San Luis, Mexico, on my own, driving and not knowing the language, but confident that God would lead, was an epoch moment in my life. A team from California had come to serve that week in Mexicali and their village was unknowingly scheduled to have another group of high schoolers. The team was crestfallen and discouraged by the time I was talking to them.
Before breakfast the next hot clear morning, I hopped in our yellow truck and began praying, “Lord, direct me.” I had not been to this part of Baja CA before, as we were part of a team exploring options for expansions of Mexico Missions. It did not deter me – God would lead and show me that morning so the discouraged team could actually go out that day (Tuesday) and minister for the remainder of the week.
God did lead. I drove up to a small poor village to an outdated building that ran along some railroad tracks. People were milling about in the coolness of the day trying to get their ‘que haceres’ done before the heat settled in. It didn’t take much to be the center of attention – a girl in a nice truck who did not speak Spanish. Soon a crowd a gathered and between my hand gestures, attempted rough sign language and my mediocre 5 or so Spanish words, God made it clear that this village would indeed welcome Americanos for the week. There were many children and families who were eager for receiving God’s love. By the time I left, smiles were abundant, including my own. I wrote down the specifics so I could find my way back and headed to tent city to share the good news and enjoy breakfast.
He is our Shepherd, leading His flock. He marks out the ruts for our feet to walk in. He creates where we are to go and directs us there. That watercourse – a meandering river or a planned irrigation system, maybe a straight line or zigzag course that goes where God intends it to go.
The looks on the faces of that team at tent city are etched in my memory. Sheer delight and praise to God. After chapel that morning, I retraced my path, followed by the many vehicles carrying a grateful, excited group. God was with them, cared for them and led them forth. That week was very powerful for 3 sets of people – the village, the team and me.
Lord, thank You for Your leading and Sovereign will. Thank You that we can pray to You and talk with You about our lives in every facet. I will commit to pray and pray fervently without giving up. AMEN