Touching heaven and changing earth
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:16
17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!
18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain, and the earth began to yield its crops.
Charles Grandison Finney was born in Warren, Connecticut, on August 29, 1792. He grew up on a farm with eight siblings. On October 10, 1821, while he was a law student at age 29, Charles Finney became concerned about the salvation of his soul. He entered the woods near his home to come to terms with God. That night, he had a dramatic conversion experience. In his own words, he felt “waves of liquid love throughout his body.” At the age of 29, he became a licensed minister. In 1835, he became a professor at Oberlin College, teaching systematic theology. Eventually, Finney became president at Oberlin College.
Charles Finney was not your average minister. He went far above and beyond. He became one of American history’s most influential (and controversial) revivalists and purportedly converted 500,000 people (Christianity Today). Finney is considered responsible for the Second Great Awakening Revival.
Finney was a man who believed in the power of prayer and letting God move in time. Here of some of his more well-known statements.
“Prevailing prayer is that which secures an answer. Saying prayers is not offering prevailing prayer. The prevalence of prayer does not depend so much on quantity as on quality.”
“Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. They never love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”
“If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out.”
“Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.”
“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”
“There can be no higher enjoyment found in this world than is found in pulling souls out of the fire and bringing them to Christ.”
“You hear the word and believe it in theory while you deny it in practice. I say to you that ‘you deceive yourselves.’”
“When you come back to God for pardon and salvation, come with all you have to lay all at his feet. Come with your body to offer it as a living sacrifice upon His altar. Come with your soul and all its powers, and yield them in willing consecration to your God and Saviour. Come, bring them all along everything, body, soul, intellect, imagination, acquirements-all, without reserve.”
“Christ is not only in heaven but Christ within us, as really and truly inhabiting our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves. This is the teaching of the Bible, and it must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation to secure our abiding in Him.”
“Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe. Nothing else can cost so much.”
REFLECT & PRAY
No child of the King is greater than their prayer life. The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both born in and maintained by prayer (Ravenhill).
Father how I desire to touch heaven and change earth. Teach me and strengthen me to be a man with a passion like Elijah. May I hear Your voice and follow your directions.
James 5:16 The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
In Greek, the word translated as effective is energoumen. Energoumen could be well translated energized. The English word energy is derived from it. Successful prayer is energized prayer.
When James speaks of effective prayer, the unspoken implication is that there is also ineffective prayer. How can we tell the difference?
By the results!
Effectual prayer is prayer that accomplishes something. More particularly, it results in the will of the Father being accomplished on earth.
Charles Finney was a man who prayed effectively. He touched heaven and changed earth.
The Father is always at work around you. The Father invites you to become involved with Him in His work. He does not ask us to dream our dreams for Him. He does not invite us to set magnificent goals and then pray that He will help us achieve them. The kingdom of God is not a democracy. It is a theocracy.
The Father already has His own agenda when He approaches us. He desires to invite us to leave behind our plans and aspirations and to accompany Him where He is working. He leads us from being self-centered to being God-centered. When the Father reveals to you where He is working, that becomes His invitation to join Him in His activity (Blackaby).
Effective prayer is a science whose laws can be learned. Effective prayer is praying the Father’s will into existence. To pray effectively, we must know what the Father wants to accomplish and pray toward that end.
James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
What is the difference between Elijah and us? This is not a trick question. There is a simple one-word answer: Nothing! Elijah knew what to pray and how to pray because he knew the Father’s plan. He heard the Father’s voice and told him what to pray and say. Elijah’s task was to pray what he was told into existence.
1 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
1 Kings 17:2 The word of the LORD came to him, saying
1 Kings 18:1 Now it happened after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.”
Praying is not a shot in the dark. It is not a net cast into the sea hoping for a good catch. Praying is working with God to fulfill His divine plan (A.W. Tozer).
To pray effectively is a skill that can be learned. Any child of the King can master it. Prayer is the hardest thing we will ever be called upon to do, and being human, it is the one act we will be tempted to do less frequently than any other.