"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are. And he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruit."
James 5:13-18 KJV
The other day while meandering around the Cleveland Museum of Art, I was struck by a new exhibit. Reading the piece’s descriptive placard, I had to pause and smile. Before me stood an intricately carved, highly-polished Dutch prayer nut.
I am Dutch on both sides of my family, so my blood pumps pretty purely from that small wooden-shod land across the ocean. I grew up in a predominantly Dutch area in which somewhat stereotypical Dutch behavior prevailed, such as the vital concept of daily coffee-time, judging character by the cleanliness of someone’s windows, and highly esteeming hard work. Love the Dutch or hate them, one thing cannot be denied. They are wildly practical.
So many years ago, during the 1570’s to be somewhat exact, one of my forebears struggled with the same issue I struggle with--remembering to pray. That ancestor decided to carry a carved nut around in their pocket to remind them to go directly to Christ with their confusion, heartache, praise, and sorrow. The small memento reminded them of the almighty omnipotence of their Lord and Savior.
These passages from James used to convict me when I read them--sure, the prayers of a righteous person move God’s heart, but what about me? What about the prayers of a forgetful screw-up who should be carrying a nut around as a reminder? Yet,
God’s Word says that positionally, I am righteous. Jesus’ blood covers my sin, and I am no longer condemned. I have been given Jesus’ righteousness--I stand before God in that reality. Therefore, I have plenty of reason to believe my prayers have an impact.
Prayer connects us with our Lord--changing our hearts through the process and heightening our awareness of His power. It is a fascinating tool of evangelism also, as even the most hardened hearts are often open to being prayed for. The Psalmist says that when we pray, God inclines His ear to hear us. Like Elijah and all of us who stand redeemed by the Gospel, our prayers matter. They make a difference.
Call me a prayer nut.
How do you remember to pray? Is your method working?
Effective prayer is both planned and spontaneous. What about your prayers?
What motivates God to listen to our prayers?