When a believing person prays, great things happen. —James 5:16 NCV
I accompanied Denalyn on some errand running recently. We stopped at a store called OfficeMax so she could buy a calendar. As we walked through the parking lot, I pointed at the sign and said, “Honey, this is my store. OfficeMax!”
She was unimpressed.
I hurried to the front door and held it open.
“Come into my store.”
She rolled her eyes. I used to think the rolling of the eyes was a gesture of frustration. After thirty-five years I now realize it is a symbol of admiration! After all, she does it so often.
I continued my posturing as we shopped, thanking her for coming to my store to buy products off my shelves. She just rolled her eyes at me. I think she was speechless.
When we reached the checkout line, I told the clerk my status. I arched an eyebrow and deepened my voice. “Hi, I’m Max.”
She smiled and processed the sale.
“As in OfficeMax.”
She looked at me and then at Denalyn, who rolled her eyes again. Such admiration for her husband. I was beginning to blush.
“I am the boss of this place,” I told the clerk.
“Really?” She looked at me with no smile.
“Why don’t you just take the afternoon off?”
“Take the afternoon off. If people ask, tell them that Max of OfficeMax said you could go home.”
This time she stopped and looked at me. “Sir, you’ve got the name, but you don’t have the clout.”
She was right about me, but the same cannot be said about you.
If you have taken on the name of Christ, you have clout with the most powerful being in the universe. When you speak, God listens. When you pray, heaven takes note. “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action” (Matt. 18:19 THE MESSAGE).
Your prayers impact the actions of God.
For proof, consider the story of Elijah. He lived eight centuries prior to the birth of Jesus. The Northern Kingdom had twenty kings, each one of whom was evil. The evilest of the monarchs was Ahab.
His life is described in this sad summary: “There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel” (1 Kings 21:25–26).
This was as dark a time as we ever read about in the history of Israel. The leaders were corrupt, and the hearts of the people were cold. But comets are most visible against a black sky. And in the midst of the darkness, a fiery comet by the name of Elijah appeared.
The name Elijah means “My God is Jehovah,”1 and Elijah lived up to his name. He gave King Ahab an unsolicited weather report. “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1).
Elijah’s attack was calibrated. Baal was the fertility god of the pagans, the god to whom they looked for rain and fertile fields. Elijah called for a showdown: the true God of Israel against the false god of the pagans. How could Elijah be so confident of the impending drought? Because he had prayed.
Nine centuries later the prayers of Elijah were used as a model. “When a believing person prays, great things happen. Elijah was a human being just like us. He prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years! Then Elijah prayed again, and the rain came down from the sky, and the land produced crops again” (James 5:16–18 NCV).
Max Lucado, Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2018).
I have just completed a 7 Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Max Lucado’s book Unshakable Hope. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book.