Just Like Elijah [Part 2]
By Alan Wright — January 08, 2019
Are you ready for some good news?
Because you’ve become the righteousness of Christ, your prayers have unspeakable power.
Today’s Text: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)
In describing the incredible power of every believer’s prayers, James makes an astounding comparison: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” (James 5:17, ESV). The implication is shocking. God didn’t work miracles through Elijah because the prophet was better or less human than you are; Elijah was just like you. And God stopped the rain on account of Elijah’s intercession.
In describing the healing ministry that God has entrusted to the local church, James is building the believer’s faith for miracles. The one qualification that James highlights for a powerful prayer life is that the intercessor be “righteous.” The “prayer of a righteous person has great power.”
Some might stumble here saying, Ah, there’s the difference. Elijah was righteous and I am less so. To understand James’ point, we must be clear about two truths: 1) no “superhero” in the Old Testament (or New Testament) was perfectly righteous; 2) every Christian has been reckoned as perfectly righteous by God through the meritorious work of Jesus.
Not one of the spiritual giants was without sin. Abraham lied about his wife. Moses disobeyed, struck a rock and was banned from the Promised Land. David was a murderer and adulterer. Jeremiah complained to God. Jonah ran away from God. Peter denied Jesus three times. If God can only use the prayers of perfect people, He can use no one’s prayers.
More importantly, every Christian has been declared “righteous” through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life so that, when He took your sin on the cross, God could impute Jesus’ righteousness to you. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19, ESV). When you accept Christ, you are not only forgiven of all your sin; you are also credited with the meritorious life that Jesus lived. God looks upon you as if you had never sinned and, more, as if you had lived Jesus’ righteous life.
Therefore, you are the righteous one James speaks of when he declares that the prayer of the righteous person is powerful. And that’s the Gospel!