Book of James - How to Win Your Battles
Take a moment and read James 5:13-18.
"The battle is won in prayer" is something my youth pastor, Scotty Gibbons, use to say often when I was a teenager. As a new believer soaking up all I could about God and His word, these words were pivotal in who I would become. To learn early on in my faith that prayer changes things is something I very much cherish to this day. (Thanks, Pastor Scotty!)
I remember we use to have these Wednesday night prayer times before youth service called Warfare Prayer and to look back at those memories are endearing. To think a generation of teenagers were learning how to pray blows my mind! That principle carried over into my Master's Commission days as we would pray every morning in that same student center for an hour. Those formative years as a Christian really taught me a valuable lesson about prayer that has changed my life.
James gives a call to prayer in these verses and makes it very clear prayer is necessary! Are you suffering? Pray. Are you happy? Pray. Are you sick? Pray. Any and every situation requires it! Warren Wiersbe writes,
Prayer and praise are a key indicator of where any believer stands. As you mature through life you learn the importance and power of prayer and praise.
It's easy to praise when life is good, but prayer may go neglected. In reverse, prayer is never stronger than in the storm, but praise falls to the waste side. What I hope you can take away from this post is that both are necessary for a faith-filled life no matter the season.
James talks about the kind of prayer we should be praying in verse 15, which is the "prayer offered in faith." The prayer in faith is defined in 1 John 5:14-15,
Prayer must be confident that He who we pray to not only hears us but is able to respond. And wants to respond. However, we must ask according to His will. If you ask to be blessed financially just so you can have the nice house, fancy clothes, and comfortable life, God may not answer such a request because it is rooted in self-fulfillment. If you ask to get back together with an ex-girlfriend because it's what you want and it will erase your pain, that may not be God's will and this left unanswered to your liking. However, if you pray according to God's desires for your life, then you can be confident He will answer.
Honestly, as I've witnessed in my own life, God always answers prayer. it may not be in the way you had hoped our specifically ask, but God always works out a situation for the best possible outcome in the Kingdom.
Furthermore, a key to answered prayer is the confession of sins. Cultivate a repentant heart that aligns with God's heart, because this will help you to be further tuned into God's desires and removes obstacles from the heart.
I really love how James ends this test of prayerfulness with the story of Elijah (which can be found in 1 Kings 17-18). It's a pretty powerful and intriguing story so I would encourage you to read it. Essentially, a king by the name of Ahab is ruling over Israel and he is a wicked king. In fact, the Bible says, "Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him." Now there were many evil kings who ruled over Israel so this is a pretty strong statement to Ahab's character and disobedience.
No Elijah is a prophet at this time and goes to Ahab to let him know there will be no rain, and we know from James 5 that Elijah prayed this according to God's will. More than 3 years go by without rain, all the while Elijah is being used for some pretty miraculous feats. After these 3 years, the Lord tells Elijah to go back to Ahab to send the rain back but only after an incredible showdown between Elijah and the Prophets of Baal to call rain down on Earth. The story gives me goosebumps! And eventually, God sends rain at the prayer of Elijah.
The best part about these few verses in James about the story of Elijah is that it calls Elijah "as human as we are." It's as if God is speaking to our doubts that anyone can pray and see the miraculous happen. Elijah was just as human as any of use and look what happened! Why wouldn't God do the same for you or me?
I don't know where you're at today or what you might be going through. I do know that regardless of your season that you are called to pray. To pray with power and confidence. TO expect the unexpected to happen. To truly believe that the battle is won in prayer.
Go to battle today as you pray and watch God work!
NOTE: If you're looking for a great book on prayer I recommend Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker.
What is your prayer habit? Consistent or not so much? Make it a priority to create a habit of prayer every day.
What can you be battling for in prayer today? Identify it and go to battle now with confidence and expectation.