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Prayers That Heal the Sick and Alter the Weather, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 7, 2024 9:00 am

Prayers That Heal the Sick and Alter the Weather, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 7, 2024 9:00 am

In this final teaching from our series through the book of James, Pastor J.D. Greear reminds us that in the end, we can be encouraged that God does indeed hear the prayers of his children, and it is often through them that he chooses to accomplish his work on earth.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Powerful prayer is not about you being a faith superhero. It's about discovering what the Savior wants and asking Him for it. You can pray like Elijah and the effects of your prayers can be just as dramatic.

That's James' whole point. The key is figuring out what God wants and asking Him for it. Thanks for joining us today for Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. I don't know about you, but I have loved this series through the book of James, and it's been filled with so many practical applications that we can all learn and grow from. Well, I'm glad to say that today is no different, but I'm also sad to say that this is our final message of the series. In this final teaching, Pastor J.D. Greer reminds us that in the end, we can be encouraged that God does indeed hear the prayers of His children, and it's often through them that He chooses to accomplish His work on earth.

That's really good news, isn't it? So let's buckle in for the conclusion to our series in the book of James. Let's join Pastor J.D. You see, the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours. He prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months, it didn't rain at all on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Prayer not only heals the sick, James says, it's the means by which God gets His work done on earth. And for his example, he uses Elijah, whose prayers literally altered the weather. In case you don't know the story of Elijah, here is the Cliffs Notes version. Elijah served as a prophet during the reign of one of Israel's worst kings, King Ahab. And after years and years and years of unfaithfulness by the children of Israel, Elijah goes to confront the king face to face. And Elijah tells Ahab that as a sign of God's wrath against the nation, God is going to withhold rain. There would not be so much as a drop of dew on the ground until Elijah said so, and it came true. For three and a half years, not a single drop of rain fell and a terrible famine came over the land. Well, for three and a half years, Elijah goes back to King Ahab and said, see, I told you, but Ahab still would not humble his heart before God. So that led to the big showdown on Mount Carmel, where they built two altars, you might know this story, one altar to God and one altar to Baal, and then both of the prophets of Baal and Elijah prayed to their respective gods to see which one would answer prayer.

The prophets of Baal danced and prayed and for several hours cut themselves, nothing happened. The whole time Elijah basically sits over there making fun of them. Oh, your God must be asleep. Maybe he's on the potty. It's hilarious.

It is top tier sarcasm. You should read the story if you haven't. And then when it's Elijah's turn to pray, he calmly gets down on his knees. There's not even a pad in the background, just him on his knees. And he says, show him, Lord. And fire falls from heaven instantly and absolutely incinerates the altar. And all the Israelites present are like, whoa. And they're like, the Lord is God. Then Elijah goes up to the very top of the mountain.

This is the part of the story you never get to because you're so excited about the first part, but this is the best part. Elijah goes up the very top of the mountain, puts his face to the ground and asks God to send back rain onto Israel. You see, the book of Deuteronomy said that when God's people strayed, he would withhold rain.

And when they repented, he would send it again. So Elijah is just up there saying, God, this is what you said in Deuteronomy. So after praying for a while, Elijah sends out his assistant to look out over the horizon toward the sea to see if he sees any rain clouds headed their way. And the assistant comes back and says, nothing.

There's nothing coming. So Elijah keeps praying. And in a few minutes, he asked the assistant to go look again.

Still nothing. He repeated this process seven times until on that seventh time, his assistant said, I just saw a cloud come up out of the sea about the size of a man's fist. But this cloud grew larger and darker as it approached them.

And by the time it got over the land, it poured out this incredible monsoon rain on the land. And this kind of experience, James says, is not supposed to just be for Elijah. You and I can and should experience that kind of stuff too. And James knows that you're going to find that unbelievable. He hears what you're saying in that little unbelieving head of yours.

So he addresses you directly. Verse 17, he says, no, no, no, wait a minute. Elijah was a man with a nature just like yours. He's just like you. We tend to see people like Elijah as some kind of faith superhero with a direct line toward God.

James was like, he's not. He's just a dude who perceived what God wanted and prayed it into existence. You see, here's the thing about Elijah's prayers.

And this is super important. Elijah wasn't just out changing the weather willy nilly because he wanted to. As I pointed out, he knew from the book of Deuteronomy, what God had said would happen when the people strayed. And so he prayed for that. And he knew what God had said would happen when the people returned to him. So he prayed for that. So he prayed God's stated intentions back to him.

That's what we're supposed to do. We are to scour the scriptures to learn God's intentions and pray them into existence. I've heard it said that the Bible is a book of promises, more than 3000 of them.

Each one activated as we claim it. Some of you have as a goal reading through your Bible. That's great. More important though is for you to pray through it. Just like Elijah, we're to find God's promises, learn Jesus's intentions and pray them into existence through prayer. Y'all, this is hard for you to believe.

I get it. Hard for me to believe too, but you can pray with the same miraculous effects that Elijah did. You can pray with the same miraculous effects that Elijah did.

When you perceive what God wants, like he did, to do in our generation and then believe him for it. We're not supposed to try to mimic his miracle, but we can and should replicate his faith. We need to discover God's purposes in our generation.

See? And pray them into existence. Because y'all see, listen, the same miraculous power that brought Israel can bring spiritual awakening to Raleigh-Durham and to our families and our communities when we pray. Powerful prayer is not about you being a faith superhero. It's about discovering what the savior wants and asking him for it. You can pray like Elijah and the effects of your prayers can be just as dramatic.

That's James's whole point. The key is figuring out what God wants and asking him for it. I love Martin Luther's definition of effective prayer. He said this in a letter to his barber. One of the best little things you can read on prayer. It's a 40-page letter he wrote to his barber who was named Peter.

He says, effective prayer, Peter, is catching Christ in his own words. You're like, ha! You said it. You said it. You said it. You said it.

You said it. Jesus, this is who you are and what you said you wanted to do, so do it here, Lord. But I want you to know, James gives you two requirements if you're going to experience those kinds of answers to prayers. Two requirements. They're right there in your text. Requirement number one, verse 16, the prayer of a righteous person has great powers.

It's working. Requirement number one is you got to be righteous. God heard Elijah's prayer because Elijah was faithful to him. Even when nobody else around him was, you high school, middle school students, are you faithful to God at your school even when so few others around you at your school are? If you want answers to prayer and you can receive them as a middle and high school student, then you will be faithful to God even when nobody else around you is.

How cool would it be to know that your prayers are causing effects in people around you? Righteousness is the first requirement for this kind of prayer. In Psalm 66, King David said, if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. What that means, y'all, is that if I've got unconfessed sin in my heart, I put a block between me and God hearing my prayers. So the question is, have you fully surrendered to him? If you're not God's child, you're not fully surrendered to him, he puts himself under no obligation to hear your prayers. I'm not trying to be mean.

I'm not trying to be exclusive. In fact, you can take care of that right now. You can acknowledge your sin and surrender yourself to God right now and receive his forgiveness. Only the prayer of a righteous person has great power. Only the prayer of a righteous person has great power.

And I know for some of you that raises another question. You're like, well, yeah, JD, I mean, I have surrendered to Jesus, I've received him as my savior, but I am still such a weak Christian and my track record is so bad, I don't ever see how I could be righteous enough for God to hear my prayers. I mean, I'm no Elijah.

There's no way. There's no way God is going to put me in the same category with him. I don't belong in the same category as an Elijah. How am I supposed to have confidence that my prayers are going to get answered?

And that's where I've got really good news for you. You may not be that righteous, but if you're surrendered to Jesus, you got somebody praying on your behalf who is. I actually love the way the old King James version translates this verse. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. The implication is that the more righteous you are, the more your prayers avail. And that would mean that the prayers of a perfectly righteous man would avail perfectly.

And we got a perfectly righteous man interceding for us. Paul tells us that Christ stands on our behalf at the right hand of God, ever living to make intercession for us. And that Christ's spirit prays for us and through us with groanings that cannot be captured in words. You don't see it.

You may not even feel it. But when you're walking with Jesus, when you are trusting in him, he's always there with you when you're praying, translating your prayers and praying for you. He's like, here's what they're trying to say, Lord. My pastor going up, I've told you this, but when somebody would ask him for prayer, would often say, I'll pray for you.

In fact, I'll do it right now. But more importantly, Jesus is praying for you. And when I don't pray perfectly, he does. When I don't know what to ask for, he knows exactly what you need. And when I stop praying for you or I forget later, he never does. Hebrews says, he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea. A great high priest whose name is love, whoever lives and pleads for me. So when I don't feel righteous enough to pray or wise enough to know what to ask for, I know that he is praying for me and I just depend on that.

JC Ryle, a British pastor of 1850s said, sometimes we come to God like one of our kids comes to us. They're hurt. They don't even know how to describe their hurts. They just point to the part of their body that hurts. And they expect us to fix it.

Your kid ever do that to you when they're young. They come running to you. They're sobbing.

All they can do is point to their bloody elbow. Sometimes I come to God and I don't know what to say about one of my kids. I don't know what to say about my broken heart. I don't know what to say about my marriage or my loneliness or my disappointment or whatever.

And all I can do is just point to it and cry. And in that moment, Jesus knows exactly what to pray. The first requirement is that you're righteous. Surrender to Jesus and trusting in Him to pray on your behalf. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer, and we'll get right back to today's teaching from the book of James in just a moment.

But first, I wanted to make sure that you heard about a brand new featured resource that we're offering to our faithful supporters this month. It's a 60-day devotional written by Pastor Kyle Eidelman called One Day at a Time, a 60-day challenge to see, serve and celebrate the people around you. You know, this time of year, we focus a lot on relationships, specifically around Valentine's Day, but the Bible has a lot to say about all of our relationships.

After all, He's commanded us to love all people at all times. So how do we get better at doing that? One Day at a Time offers a 60-day plan full of rich teaching from the Bible, as well as a daily challenge for how to practically love God and love other people.

Invest the time to make this vital habit a part of your life. With your gift of $35 or more, we'd be delighted to send you a copy. Just give us a call at 866-335-5220, or you can always visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's return for the final moments of our series through the book of James. Once again, here's Pastor JD.

Here's your second requirement. Fervent. Fervent means, verse 17, persistent. You all love the image of Elijah, praying for a while, right?

And sitting on an assistant, look for a cloud, seeing nothing, and then continuing to pray. Seven times, he does it seven times. Now you ask, if you're like me, if it was God's will to send the rain, why didn't God just give it the first time Elijah asked? I don't know. I don't know. I've answered a lot of questions for you guys this weekend on this one.

I don't know. But y'all, if there's one thing Jesus taught over and over and over and over, it is that God rewards persistence in prayer. Some things only come through persistence. It's not enough to pray once about something and then drop it. Jesus said that we should be like the man at midnight, desperately trying to wake his neighbors up because he has surprise houseguests, and he needs to borrow Pop-Tarts so that he has something to eat, and so he just won't stop knocking until the neighbor gets up, or the poor widow, he says, who has no money to fight in court, and instead shows up at the judge's front door day after day after day after day after day to demand justice. Jesus says, that's how you should pray. It means there's some things about which we gotta pray and pray and pray and pray and pray and refuse to quit until God responds. You see, I fear that a lot of you stopped praying in the 11th hour when God intended to answer you in the 12th. Some of Christian history's most powerful prayer warriors have testified to this. The 19th century American evangelist D.L. Moody, whose preaching spawned an incredible revival in our country, carried around in his pocket a list of names of a hundred people who needed Jesus that he prayed for every day. He did this for decades. At his funeral, 96 of the 100 had become Christians. 96.

A 96% success rate isn't bad, but it gets even better. At his funeral, the remaining four were in attendance, and they all accepted Christ there. I've told you about George Mueller in his book, Release the Power of Prayer.

Mueller tells the story of how he committed to pray for five young men, friends of one of his sons. He prayed for them to be saved. He committed to pray daily until they became believers. It was 18 months before the first one came to Christ, which is a long time.

18 months is over 500 days. Have you ever prayed for the same thing 500 days in a row without seeing an answer? When that first young man got saved, Mueller wrote in his journal that he prays God for the answer, but God, there's four more left. So he kept praying. After another five years, the second one came to Christ. So Mueller kept praying. Another six years, the third one came to Christ. He kept praying. 52 years later, 63 years after he had started praying and a few years after his death, 63 years after he started praying for these five young men by name, the final two were brought to faith in Christ. Mueller kept meticulous prayer journals, and over his lifetime, George Mueller cataloged 50,000 answers to prayer.

But here's the thing. Of those 50,000 answers to prayer, only 5,000 came on the day that he asked for them. For 45,000 of them, 90% of them, he had to persist for a while. And so George Mueller wrote in this book, he said, don't let yesterday's seemingly unanswered prayers stop you from praying in faith in faith today. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, those prayers for your kids, those prayers for your campus, those prayers for your husband, for your wife, for your mom, for your dad, for your friends, for that people group. God hears them.

Don't ever, ever, ever give up. Just this week, one of our summit team members, Kelsey Fowler, shared how in 2020, she got diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases that began to greatly affect her abilities to do her job. It was affecting all her relationships. And so she came to the Briar Creek elders, Summit Church Briar Creek campus elders, and asked for this prayer in James 5. And they prayed over her, and they anointed her with oil. And she said, she said, you know, I'd like to say that I walked out of that prayer meeting immediately healed of all the pain.

She said, but it wasn't like that. But God did begin a work of healing in my heart on that day, however. He began to remove anger and bitterness and a lack of forgiveness and a lack of trust from me. Then a few months ago, she said, the rest of the miracle started to come, too.

Contrary to all expectations, I've had no symptoms for over four months, and I've come off my medication completely. I truly believe, she says, that God is a healer. She said, we took the Lord at his word when he said, if any of you are sick, that we should pray and trust him with the outcome. Praise God for the healing that came on so many other levels than I was expecting it to. God is a healer. Verses 19 and 20 close the book. My brothers, he says, did anybody among you wonders from the truth?

And somebody brings him back. Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James ends his book thinking about people around him who need Jesus. And in context of prayer, it raises this question. Of all the things that you're praying for right now, how many of them involve people who need Jesus? Are your prayers about yourself? Lord, get me this job, give me a spouse, fix this, heal that? Or are you praying kingdom prayers?

Here's another way to ask it. If tonight God answered in one fell swoop all the prayers you prayed last week, how many new people would be in the kingdom tomorrow? If God answered in one fell swoop all the prayers you prayed last week, how many new people would be in the kingdom tomorrow? How many new people would be in the kingdom tomorrow? Are your prayers kingdom focused or are they you focused? God has given us prayer to bring his kingdom to earth. Here's the question, are you using it? He's given you prayer to bring his kingdom into your family.

Are you using it? Back in 2013, WestJet Airlines out of Canada ran a TV campaign in which they had filmed real passengers who, as they scanned their boarding passes, had the option of chatting with a virtual Santa on a big screen. If they clicked yes, virtual Santa would pop in like a FaceTime call and he would give his signature ho ho ho and he would ask them what they wanted for Christmas. It seemed weird and random and hokey and they would answer and go on through the security line to their gates. What they didn't know was that once they got the request, WestJet sent people out to buy the Christmas presents at their destination city and so when they got off the plane and stood at the luggage belt, along with their luggage came everything that they had asked for for Christmas. It was an amazing advertisement, but there was this one guy in the commercial I always felt sorry for because not realizing what he'd been offered, he typed in socks and underwear.

So as all these people are standing by the luggage belt, you're watching these people see widescreen TVs and iPads and golf clubs and an ATV come out on the belt with their names on them. One dude gets a pair of socks and some tighty whities. I don't want to get to heaven with just socks and tighty whities in my hand.

I want to bring with me a multitude of souls that I've prayed for over a lifetime and I've prayed them away over a multitude of sins. Summit, do you realize what has been offered to us? Look at the brokenness around you.

Look at it. Look at the brokenness in your family. Your prayers can heal the sick. Your prayers can alter the weather, literally. Your prayers can bring the wind of his spirit to the dry bones all around you. Your prayers can change the destinies of your children. Your prayers can restore, redeem, and renew.

Don't stand at the luggage belt of heaven with socks and tighty whities. If God can send rain to the dry barren land of Israel because of prayer, then he can send revival again to the dry and barren land of Raleigh-Durham because there is a church filled with ordinary people who have confidence that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. I can't say it better than John Chrysostom, the fourth century Christian preacher.

Keep in mind this quote is 1,700 years old. The potency of prayer, the potency of prayer has subdued the strength of fire. It has bridled the rage of lions. It has expelled demons. It has broken the chains of death. It has assuaged diseases. It has rescued cities from destruction. It has stopped the sun in its course.

It has arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. There is in prayer an all-sufficient armory, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by any storm. Prayer is the root, the fountain, the mother of thousands of blessings. Or as James would say it, you have not because you ask not.

You have not because you ask not. Be encouraged. Your heavenly father cares about you and he loves you enough to hear your prayers. Well, we made it through the book of James and I think it's impossible to hear James's teaching and not search our hearts for some area where God wants to draw us closer to him. I mentioned this earlier in today's broadcast, but if you haven't heard, we are offering a new featured resource to our Summit Life family this month. It's a 60-day devotional written by Pastor Kyle Eidelman of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, called One Day at a Time, a 60-day challenge to see, serve, and celebrate the people around you. One of the consistent themes from the book of James and really all of Scripture is God's command to really love other people. One Day at a Time is written to help you view all of the relationships that God's given you in light of that commandment.

It's a 60-day devotional that'll walk you through what it looks like to see people the way God wants you to see them, serve them the way he's commanded us to, and celebrate who God has made them to be. We'd love to send you a copy when you support this ministry with a gift of $35 or more. Just give us a call at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can donate online right now at jdgrier.com. If you'd rather mail your donation, our address is J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O. Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 27709. I'm Molly Vitovich inviting you to join us Thursday as we begin a new teaching series about how to really make sure that we are prioritizing God and his kingdom first in our lives. Don't miss it Thursday on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-07 12:28:21 / 2024-02-07 12:38:40 / 10

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