Effectual fervent prayer avails or benefits much. What hinders prayers from being answered?
James 5:16-20 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. Elias 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 by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him …he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
The psalmist said if we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord won’t hear us (Psalm 66:18). Sin separates us from God. Many are praying but have sin in their life. Our prayer won’t be answered if there’s sin in our life. We must be completely honest to have effectual, fervent prayer. If we’re unwilling to study in God’s word and are only depending on ourselves, we’ll hinder prayer. One who is self-dependent fails to ask for God’s direction or has selfish motives. Our motive is wrong if we try to lift ourselves or the church above God. Effectual prayer isn’t for a man to get glory but for God to get glory. Praying with vain repetitions is not effectual prayer. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man will avail much.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
If there’s a breakdown in the family between husband and wife by bad attitudes and contention, it will hinder prayer. We need to have unity in the home and with God. There can be differences of opinion without having a bad attitude or being contentious because of it.
I Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
We know that God wants everyone to be saved, so we can have confidence God hears our prayers for them.
I John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
God wants us to pray continually. We should have an attitude of prayer in our heart no matter what we’re doing.
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
The enemy wants us to faint in prayer or give up praying. It takes faith to keep praying, especially when we don’t see God answering right away. When we want someone to be saved, it takes fervent and continuing prayer.
Luke 18:1-8 And he spake a parable…that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man…a widow in that city; and she came…saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said…Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Elijah was a man like us and prayed so it didn’t rain 3 years. He lived in Gilead. Ahab wanted to kill Elijah and lived 20 miles away in Samaria. When it didn’t rain there was a famine so God told Elijah to go to the brook Cherith. He said ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening. Ravens are smart and can be taught to do things. They usually eat berries, nuts, rats, and mice. Whatever the ravens brought, Elijah was glad to have it. When the brook dried up, God told Elijah to go to Zaraphath about 90 miles away where a widow would feed him.
I Kings 17:1-9 And Elijah the Tishbite…of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came…saying, Get thee hence…and hide thyself by the brook Cherith…And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord…And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass…the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the Lord came..saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
The woman was not an Israelite but she had faith that Elijah was a prophet of God, and believed what he said to do. If Elijah had not obeyed God when the brook Cherith dried up, his prayer wouldn’t have been answered. He had to go to Zeraphath for God to supply him. We have to obey God regardless of what we see or our prayers will not be answered.
I Kings 17:10-16 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came…the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he…said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And…Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse…I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said…Fear not…do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord…The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain…And she…did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the…meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord…by Elijah.
It was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus said there were lots of widows, but God only sent Elijah to the one at Zeraphath. There were lots of lepers in Israel but God only healed Naaman, a Syrian according to Elijah’s word. These were both Gentiles, not Israelites. The people Jesus spoke to were very mad he said it, but it was true. They would not recognize Jesus to accept or obey him so their prayers were not answered.
Luke 4:16-30 And…as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read…where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord…This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words…out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said…Ye will surely say…this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here…No prophet is accepted in his own country. But…many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias…when great famine was…But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta…unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus…none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue …filled with wrath…led him…of the hill…that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through…went his way,
Enoch and Elijah were the only people who didn’t die. The disciples said Elijah had to come. Jesus said John was that Elias.
Matthew 17:1-8…Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John…into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured…face did shine …his raiment was white as the light…there appeared…Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter…Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee…Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake…a voice…said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him…the disciples heard…fell on their face…sore afraid. And Jesus…said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up…they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Matthew 17:9-13…Jesus charged…Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked…Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?…I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not…Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Malachi prophesied God was going to send Elijah before the Lord, to turn the hearts of the people back to God. Elijah had problems – fear, depression, discouragement. He ran 70 miles and was discouraged – wishing to die, but God didn’t forsake him. An angel gave him food and encouraged him. He was depressed and thought he was the only one serving God. God didn’t find fault with Elijah but gave him a job and encouraged him. God has a job for us and will encourage us.
Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the…day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I… smite the earth with a curse.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)