Sunday, Feb. 21                                                          Subverting Prayer

But back to James 5:16.  Jesus’ prayer has been and continues to be effectual.  Yet we don’t see all Christians united to the degree that one might expect as a result of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.  And for that reason evangelization is also weak.  The last two words of James 5:16 might be a clue.  I’ve always been puzzled by those two words “availeth much.”  Why not “totally effective?”  Perhaps there is some kind of condition involved.  Many N. T. instructions carry that same caveat.  We are told to “put on” and “put off” for example.  While the sanctification process is a gift of God and can only be accomplished by divine power, we evidently have a part to play in it, too.  There appears to be a condition involved before God can do His thing.  The evidence supports this view.  Some Christians reach spiritual maturity quicker than others.  There are some who have been Christians for years, but are still spiritually immature.  And it can’t be God’s fault.  The other two strands of the cord—love and truth—are also notably weak in those same immature Christians.  The writer of Hebrews speaks of Christians who are still babes in Christ when they should be much farther advanced in their Christian maturity (Heb. 5:11-14).  Paul uses similar language, calling some Christians “carnal.”  So we have a part to play in our own sanctification.  We can advance it or we can hinder it.  We can become mature Christians quickly or take a life time to get there.  Our response reflects on how prayers are answered, too.  So I guess the words “availeth much” make sense.  I don’t like the thought that I might be hindering Jesus’ prayer way back in that upper room about 20 centuries ago.  The struggle to be spiritually mature is worth the effort.

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