The Prayer of a Righteous Man

Prayer is not to be devoid of power. In the Bible are records of the power of God that is invoked by praying. Yet, this kind of power is extremely rare in this world today. When the religious, theological blinders are removed and cast aside, the Bible can reveal exactly how prayer is to work.
 
Matthew 21:18
18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
 
Is the tree withering a normal physical response to human speech? Do you expect plants to instantly respond to your voice and the words that you speak? The instantaneous, remarkable work that was done here was beyond the normal, natural laws. The words which were spoken invoked spiritual power. 
 
Matthew 21:20
20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”(They saw the effect, but did not discern the cause.) 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith (believing) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith (believing).”
 
Verse 22 is a “promise of God” often referenced when teaching about the power of prayer. Once hearing or reading this verse I would start again, praying various prayers, without the type of results Jesus demonstrated here. Then the self condemnation would start – “oh, I just must not be believing…”. By the context of this section, we know that whatever is asked for in prayer here in verse 22, the expected result is the invocation of spiritual power in order to have the impossible come to pass at our command. So, what kind of prayer is this? 
 
Romans 8:26
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints (believers) according to the will of God.
 
We have a weakness. By the senses, in the flesh, we do not know what to pray for as we ought. It requires the operation of holy spirit to overcome this weakness. The instruction, the wisdom is this – as the gift of holy spirit is operated, it intercedes for us, it intercedes for the saints (the believers) according to the will of God. This intercession is associated with speaking in tongues – that is one way in which we act upon these instructions from God and overcome this weakness.
The Epistle of James is written to Hebrew believers whose background and culture is the law and the Jewish religion. In most instances they continued to practice this religion. So there are references in this epistle which we may have difficulty understanding. 
 
James 5:13
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith (believing) will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven
 
Here is a promise of God, again related to prayer. There is nothing magical about oil. Anointing with oil does not initiate the energizing of holy spirit power. This is a custom that the Hebrews practiced in their culture. 
 
James 5:16
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 
 
Is our flesh righteous? No! Our righteousness is in the new creation in us, the inner spiritual self. It is spiritual. This confession to one another is not a religious act, it is that we minister to each other and strengthen each other. 
 
James 5:17
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
 
In this record in James, Elijah is given as a practical example, an illustration of one who prayed, with the result that spiritual power went into operation. This illustration applies to this context of prayer, here in James 5.
To the people raised in the Hebrew culture, this record of Elijah would be very familiar, and would communicate clearly to them. The word 'prayed' here in the Greek is the root of the word 'pray' used in Matthew 21:22, so these verses are referring to the same thing. Remember we are examining the Word to find out what kind of prayer this is that results in the invocation of spiritual power.
Lets briefly check the record of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 so we can see what James is referring to. 
 
1 Kings 17:1
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab (the king of Israel), “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years (he did not say how many – but the length of time would be in years) , except by my word. (or 'except at the command of my word')”
 
Elijah communicated the promise of God which had been given to him. This record does not mention Elijah praying, but until he gives the command of his word there would be no rain. James says that he prayed and the rain stopped. At the time of 1 Kings 17:1, the rain had stopped; the spiritual power of God had been invoked by the words of Elijah. 
 
1 Kings 18:1
1 After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
 
They were close to the end of the three years and six months. Here God give Elijah word of wisdom and word of knowledge by the operation of holy spirit which was upon him. 
 
1 Kings 18:41
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
 
How did Elijah know what to pray for? How did he know when to pray? He knew because of revelation, word of knowledge and word of wisdom. God taught him what to pray for, how to pray, and when to pray.
This is the nature of prayer that the verses we examined are referring to, not prayer initiated in our flesh, by our senses! Remember Romans 8, that we have a weakness – we do not know what to pray for as we ought. It is by way of the operation of the gift of holy spirit that this weakness is overcome.
Revelation is one way in which we can know what to pray for according to the will of God. Then, as we move according to the word of wisdom, spiritual believing is energized, and God's will comes to pass.
So, back in James, the Elders are to pray for the sick, and the believers are to pray for each other. What kind of prayer is to be prayed? This prayer is according to the will of God, as he directs by the operation of the gift of holy spirit, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and spiritual discernment. That is the kind of prayer which produces the spiritual power to bring deliverance to those in need.
Back in Matthew, what kind of prayer allows the believer to bring to pass the impossible at his command? The same kind of prayer as in James; prayer which God teaches by way of the operation of holy spirit. Then spiritual believing goes into operation and the impossible comes to pass. This is how we learn of the specific promises of God to us, or those we minister to. This is how these promises come to pass in our lives.
 
Excerpt from the book "Godly Abundance and Prosperity" (C)2014 Keith S. Radcliffe
 
My book "Godly Abundance and Prosperity", Kindle edition, is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HKJKXHE
The paperback is available at https://www.createspace.com/4552448
Leave a comment, or contact me at keith@ksradcliffe.com
(C)2014 Keith S. Radcliffe 

Sons of Abraham – Isaac and Ishmael

The conflicts in the middle east and elsewhere in the world defy logic, reason and solution. This is an age old conflict which is spiritual in nature. Inappropriate, out of control rage seems to embroil most of the world. It is difficult to discern the causes of the conflict and ones role in that conflict. The angry trouble originates with the original two ancestors of the main protagonists, Isaac and Ishmael.

The origin of these two individuals are recorded in Genesis. The narrative here mainly reveals and emphasizes the causes of events. Initiation and causation would be lost if a simple sequential, historical narrative were recorded.

Genesis 21:8 – 13 (Net Bible)
8 The child (Isaac) grew and was weaned. Abraham prepared a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah noticed the son of Hagar the Egyptian – the son whom Hagar had borne to Abraham – mocking. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Banish that slave woman and her son, for the son of that slave woman will not be an heir along with my son Isaac!”
11 Sarah’s demand displeased Abraham greatly because Ishmael was his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be upset about the boy or your slave wife. Do all that Sarah is telling you because through Isaac your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make the son of the slave wife into a great nation, for he is your descendant too.”

The first battle between the Hebrews and Ishmaelites is recorded in verse 9. Ishmael, a young man, was molesting young boy (not a baby). The mother, Sarah, noticed. She was inspired by God to take action; after all, she knew the promises that God had made to Abraham. Sarah was a top spiritual woman in her time! Additionally, God backed up the words which she spoke, confirming them to Abraham. Sarah declared the will of God "…the son of that slave woman will not be an heir along with my son (of the promise) Isaac!" The Ishmaelites will not inherit the promise of Abraham. They are banished, separated from the promise, its blessing, and those that inherit.

Note what God says to Abraham regarding Ishmael – "…But I will also make the son of the slave wife into a great nation…" The nation of the Ishmaelites continues in the world today.

Jesus gives fresh insight into the significance of membership in the family of Abraham. For those who think their salvation is secured through their descent from Abraham (e.g. the Ishmaelites and unbelieving Hebrews), Jesus prophetically declares:

Matthew 3:8, 9
8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, 9 and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones!

By Revelation from God, Paul declares God's confirmation of these things to the new sons of the promise who are grafted into the family tree through Christ Jesus:

Romans 9:6b – 8
6b For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, 7 nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” 8 This means it is not the children of the flesh (Ishmaelites and unbelieving Hebrews) who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise (Isaac, the believing Hebrews and those born again) are counted as descendants.

Furthermore:

Galatians 3:13, 14
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.

We can KNOW (not doubt or question) we have received the blessing of Abraham and are counted among the children of promise. Our standing before God is confirmed every time we manifest that gift of holy spirit which is in every single person who is "born from above" or "born again".

The Ishmaelites are always so angry at us, no matter what we do. The spiritual cause for this is apparent as we have read. By revelation, the apostle Paul mentions the persecution as well:

Galatians 4:28 – 31
28 But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now. 30 But what does the scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman. 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

If Jesus Christ is your savior and your director, then you are a child of promise like Isaac. Because of this, you continue to be persecuted by the one born by natural descent (Ishmaelites). Rest assured that they will not share in your inheritance!

2 Corinthians 4:15 – 18
15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

The Bible verses are from the NET Bible, http://bible.org/netbible/index.htm

My book "Godly Abundance and Prosperity", Kindle edition, is now available at
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HKJKXHE
The paperback is available at https://www.createspace.com/4552448

Leave a comment, or contact me at keith@ksradcliffe.com
(C)2014 Keith S. Radcliffe