Day 23 in the School of Prayer: Be Righteous!

imageThe prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Ask and it will given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)

Saved is saved but saved is not always righteous. When salvation is graced upon us, we are recipients of the righteousness of Christ. This transfers places us in right standing before the Father, cleansed and released from our bondage to sin. A newborn in the world, weak and needing to mature. Many Christians never leave the cradle and then ponder aloud why their prayer seems to be weak and ineffectual.

The fact that their lives bear no fruit may have something to do with it.

Our Savior repeatedly teaches us that we are to be growing into a life of increased righteousness and piety. We are to be diligent about becoming better at keeping His commands and obeying all that He has taught us. Only with this obedience will come the power in prayer that we so earnestly desire. We cannot have one without the other. Christ must be first and foremost in our life before our prayer will have the depth and response that it was meant for. Anything else would cheapen the unfathomable price of the grace we receive.

image jf sebastian

Thanksgiving Two

3 A.M. is a lonely hour. There is little to sway your thoughts as you peer into the darkness outside to try to determine what that howling wind is doing to the trees in the neighborhood. You look over and notice that the lights are on in a neighbor’s house and you wonder what they might be doing up at this hour. Mostly, you are alone with your thoughts, undeterred by the work of the day ahead.

You examine your life and reflect upon how you come to find yourself precisely where you are. The struggles and heartbreaks that you have endured have not always been welcome companions. As a follower of Christ, perhaps you thought that things would be different. Maybe things would be easier and a certain level of comfort and success might be yours. As your mind looks out into the early morning blackness you wonder why things couldn’t be different. Your Bible opens to James and you read a well known passage…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

This may be one of the greatest challenges that the Christian faces on their journey through this world. The message that bombards us is that trials are not what we should be facing, the road should be smooth and wide. When travails become the norm, well-wishers ask us to look at what we might have done to bring this on ourselves. “Are you being punished for something?” they unknowingly ask. The Bible reader, on the other hand, discovers that these things are from the hand of God for the benefit of his sons and daughters.

James says to consider it PURE JOY when trials come into our lives because this means that our Father is strengthening us and maturing us for what comes ahead. When we begin to  look at things in this way, suddenly our perspective on everything that comes our way shifts. Our reflection on struggle A or trouble B moves from the woe is me, why is this happening stage to the thank you God, what should I be learning from this stage in life vantage point. When each trouble, big or small, increases our trust in the ultimate goodness of God we become more and more aware of how thankful we should be for these troubles. And thanks we will give…