We talk about and study about prayer, but in the Christian life, it’s probably one of the areas of greatest failure. Prayer is a privilege; we are able to talk to God. The Book of James says that prayer is “powerful and effective.” James instructs us to pray when we are suffering—when misfortune comes our way, when we are ill, when we are hurting spiritually. Paul tells us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything. (Phil 4:6) God wants us to come to him with all of our needs and concerns. Our prayers won’t all be answered exactly as we want them to be, but we can rest assured that God who sees all and knows all has our best interest at heart, loves us, and will never leave us or forsake us. Prayer is our direct line to God. We get to know him when we pray. As we know him better, we grow to love him more. Prayer is a powerful and effective tool that God has given to us!

Mt 7:22-23; 1 Pe 4:19; Hb 13:8; Js 1:6, 4:2-3, 5:13-18, Pr 17:17; Ps 66:18, 122:1

Are any among you suffering? They should pray… (Js 5:13) Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (Js 5:14-16)

James gives insight as to why prayers are not answered. Often, we simply don’t ask God. We have to ask and be specific about our needs! At other times our heart is not in the right place and our motives are wrong. We pray because of our own selfish desires and God doesn’t respond to that. And sometimes our prayers are hindered because of sin in our lives. We can’t expect God to come through for us, when we are blatantly disobedient to his word. Doubt also hinders prayer. What’s the point of praying if you don’t believe God can answer the prayer? Pray with confidence; God is able to do above and beyond what you ask, hope or imagine! James says that the prayer of a “righteous” person is powerful and effective. Maybe you don’t feel very righteous, but righteous doesn’t mean perfect. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, his blood has cleansed you and made you righteous. When you are doing your best to live for Jesus and to do his will, you get an audience with God! That’s mind-blowing! The Creator of the universe has time for his children, so why don’t we make time for Him? Your prayer life defines your relationship with God. It’s directly related to your spiritual health and wellbeing. If your cellular network is down, you are in despair. If your prayer life is down you are cut off from God, the source of life and hope. Use your minutes! Everything depends on it!

Is prayer on your schedule? Do you talk to God throughout your day? Does he talk to you? How do you know? What does “praying without ceasing” look like? Share about a prayer that God has answered. Share about a prayer when God said “no.” What is your greatest hindrance with prayer? Who do you ask to pray for you when you have a need? Why do you ask that person? What does a prayer warrior look like? Is prayer your natural response to a situation? Explain. Is praise a natural response to a blessing? Explain. Why is Bible reading coupled with prayer important?

Keep a prayer journal. Write down specifically what you are praying about. Track the date and the outcome over time. Share your experience with a Christian friend.

Dear Lord, I am often discouraged and disillusioned. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Help me to praise you in the high times and to seek you when life is low. I want to live in your presence. Thank you for always being with me and for allowing me to have open communication with you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!