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Preached at Straightway Bible Church on Sept 15, 2013.  Below you will find the study notes I handed out. James gives us an example of an ordinary man of extraordinary prayer.

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Here are the study notes:

James 5:15-18 Effective Praying

Brent Riggs –

  • James is talking about the spiritual restoration, strengthening and refreshing of downtrodden and defeated believers
  • “raise him up.” Is the word restore and it is most commonly translated in the New Testament as “save”
  • The prayer of the shepherd is a channel for God’s power
  • James also states that any sins, and that believers life will be forgiven as well, which is also evidence that James is speaking about spiritual health here, and not physical illness
  • An important part of restoration and spiritual encouragement is not only praying for strength and joy and hope, but also confession of sin
  • When we confess our sins, we purge ourselves of sin which separates us from God’s Fellowship; praying for one another, heals us in the sense that we reestablish our relationship not only with God, but with each other
  • James realizes that hiding your sin in keeping it a secret is destructive to your spiritual health and that by being honest and confessing our sins to our Christian brethren helps keep us accountable and spiritually healthy
  • “effective and fervent” is the word “energeo” which is where we get the word energy;
  • “avails much.” Literally means is very strong
  • When righteous Christians pray for each other, or the shepherds of the church pray for the weak believer, the energetic prayer of righteous believers is a strong and potent activity that avails itself of God’s power to restore us to spiritual health and strength
  • Hindrances to EFFECTIVE prayer: lack of fervency, presence of sin in your life, praying for selfish reason, unbelief and doubt

Condition for God hearing your fervent prayers:

Some truths about prayer from Scripture:

  • Our prayers must be divinely directed (1 Kings 18:36).
  • Praying must be done in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).
  • Pray according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15).
  • Pray based on Jesus righteousness and merit as opposed to our own (Romans 5:1-2 & Hebrews 4:16).
  • Pray with the motive of His glory not ours (John 14:13).
  • Praying must be done in faith (James 5:15, James 1:6-8).
  • Prayer should be divinely directed (1 John 5:14-15).
  • Pray according to Scripture (Romans 10:17).
  • We must be bold in our declaration (1 Kings 17:1, 18:44).
  • Pray effectually and earnestly –  (James 5:16-18).
  • Pray with persistence (1 Kings 17:19-21, 18:41-44).
  • Pray with anticipation (1 Kings 18:41-45).
  • James demonstrates the truth that prayer works by citing the story of Elijah. Elijah held a unique place in Jewish thought.
  • We tend to elevate the characters of the Bible as super believers so James make sure to point out that Elijah was just an ordinary person like us
  • Elijah was fearless in this proclamation because his prayer was based on God’s Word
  • James condenses the story of Elijah and says simply, “He prayed earnestly.”
  • Literally translated the Greek says, “in prayer he prayed.”
  •  James doesn’t emphasize or even tell about Elijah’s exploits.
  • He doesn’t point to Elijah’s emotion or zeal in prayer.
  • He says nothing about how often or long he prayed.
  • “He prayed … again he prayed” (vv17-18).
  • Elijah was a righteous man full of energetic prayer.
  • Elijah’s praying demonstrates a pattern for effective prayer.
  • Note here that if James was talking about physical illness the example of Elijah would be a strange illustration given that there are many examples of physical healing James could have spoken about instead


  • When we are weak and tired spiritually, we pray
  • We seek the strength and encouragement of the spiritually strong
  • Their righteous and energetic prayers are powerful and accomplish much
  • OUR righteous and energetic prayers are powerful and accomplish much
  • We don’t have to be SUPER BELIEVERS… men like Elijah were normal humans just like us but accomplished great things by praying energetically with faith…
  • James message to us is that we can be, and should be, just like Elijah