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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


James 5:16 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.

An effectual fervent prayer is one that produces the desired remedy or result. It is made passionately, ardently, and is intensely earnest. Can we say that for a prayer to be effective, it should be made earnestly? Yes, indeed! If such a prayer is made to God from a righteous man, it availeth much. A prayer that avails much is one that is needed and requested of God in a right, and humble manner. The reason for the prayer is accomplished; the desired end is attained. Since a righteous man is specified by James, we know that the prayer of an unrighteous man will avail little or nothing.

Who, then, is a righteous man? Many Old Testament scriptures tell of the righteousness of Abraham. They tell of his belief and faith in God's commandments, as well as his obedience to them. Because of this, Abraham was said to be righteous in the sight of God. Similar to the way Abraham was made righteous, Moses instructed the Israelites to do likewise. As recorded in Deuteronomy 6:25, Moses wrote these words to all Israel: And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us.

Paul discusses the righteousness of Abraham at length in his letter to the Roman Christians, especially in chapter 4. There, Abraham's belief, faith, and obedience are noted, and because of this, Paul says, ...and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Rom. 4:3), and also, was imputed to him for righteousness (Rom. 4:22). These scriptures tell us that Abraham was not righteous of his own merit - he was not righteous simply due to his inherent goodness. Rather, righteousness was imputed, or given to him, by God. How does mankind become righteous today? Paul tells us in the last two verses of this same chapter of Romans. But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Rom. 4:24-25).

Like Abraham, Christians today do not become righteous by their inherent goodness. Righteousness is imputed, or given to all that believe, accept, and obey God's plan of salvation, as found in the pages of the New Testament. Righteousness is imputed to all men and women that identify themselves as Christians through obedient acts that result in baptism into the body of Christ, His church. Through baptism we come in contact with the atoning blood Jesus Christ, which was for the sins of the world. It is this act of obedience by which we become Christians and are ...reconciled to God by the death of His Son...(Rom. 5:10). The righteous man, whose effectual fervent prayer...availeth much, is an obedient Christian; one that is right with God, having put on Christ through baptism in obedience to His will.

From verse 13 through the end of the book of James we read of the power of a righteous man's prayer to God. Here we find examples of righteous people praying for themselves, praying on behalf of others, and praying mutually for each other. God will grant the lifting of afflictions, the curing of sickness and disease, and the forgiveness of sins, through prayers that comf from those that are righteous.

Afflictions, referred to in James 5:13 are not specified, but cover a multitude of things that bring about suffering. Whether it is disappointments, dangers, the loss of property, ill health, the death of a loved one, or any other such trial, God expects us to pray. We have examples of elders of the church praying for those that are sick. Certainly those that are ill can, and should pray to God on their own behalf, but the prayers of the elders, and other Christians, are also beneficial, especially for those that, due to the extent of their sickness, are not capable of making prayer on their own behalf. In our lesson text, we are to confess faults and pray for each other ...that ye may be healed. Healing referred to in verse 14 pertains to physical healing. The healing noted in verse 16, more than likely, refers to spiritual healing available from confession and the prayers of those seeking forgiveness.

To every Christian, God is only a prayer away. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.