I have been preaching through the book of James and sooo enjoying it. What a rich letter written by Jesus' half-brother who knew Him very well and yet addresses Him as "the Lord Jesus Christ." It's always helpful in evaluating a person's claims when someone very close to them validates those claims.
James closes his letter in chapter 5 by trying to get his readers to understand how powerful and effective their prayers can be if they get hold of 5 things:
1. Trusting God at all times.(5:13)
Whether you are feeling crappy or happy.
2. Recognising spiritual authority. (5:14-15)
Kids to parents; wives to husbands; saints to elders; civilians to authorities etc. God's power flows through channels of authority. To be dislocated from these channels of authority, I think, will render our prayers less powerful and effective.
3. Praying with faith.(5:15)
This has got to mean that it is possible to say prayers that have no faith in them. Not much point.
4. Confessing our sins to each other.(5:16)
Do we actually do this? I think if we did, we would all be a lot more healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically. The Roman Catholics got it half right. The half wrong bit is that we are not meant to confess in a box to a priest but to one another anywhere it's convenient. I think that this is something largely lost to the modern church. Where are the genuine friends that we can confess to? Well, just confess to somebody you trust.
5. Knowing we are righteous. (5:17-18)
Heb 10:14 tells us that by Jesus' once for all sacrifice we are made perfect yet that we are also being made holy. Huh? Which is it? Perfect, or being made holy? The only way this verse makes sense is if we understand that when we called on Jesus to save us, we were clothed with Him. Now when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. But we know that from our perspective inside Jesus, there is a whole lot of "being made holy" happening! That's why there is no contradiction between this point and point 4 above. The Bible says that Jesus became sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God! Wow.
These 5 truths grasped and lived out will make our prayers powerful and effective.