The Purifying Power of Prayer

“Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” (James 5:15 NLT)

In the last church I served something that elicited the greatest positive response was our time of prayer on Sunday morning. As James 5:13 instructs, we invited people with all kinds of issues, not just for physical healing, to come forward and be anointed with oil and prayed over.

These were precious moments as we prayed and wept together, seeking a touch from God. The tradition in which I pastored wasn’t very emotional as a rule, but when God showed up, inhibitions were set aside, and people felt free to cry or hug one another. A lot of healing occurred in those moments on many levels.

There were some very godly people in that little church, so when they sang or prayed or spoke, God was liberated to do what He pleased, which often brought people’s needs to the surface. It wasn’t simply a display of emotion, though emotion was sometimes involved. It was more an effort to allow the Lord to do what only He could do, in terms of illuminating things in us that needed attention.

James MacDonald wrote: “Prayer is purifying – as you pray, you learn to want not just right things, but right things for right reasons.”

That is true on an individual level as well as in a corporate environment. Often in the church we do the right things, but for the wrong reasons. We preach, sing, pray, serve, and on and on, filling roles with an empty heart, that leaves us drained and God deeply saddened.

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Too often, like with so many other areas of our lives, we do things for God that are a means of checking off our proverbial “boxes,” hoping somehow God will be honored and others will be helped. Sadly, because our heart’s not in it, little of eternal value is accomplished. If we pray, too often prayer becomes an obligation we fulfill, not a conversation we cherish through which we grow closer to our Father.

We’re all about doing what’s right but derive less and less pleasure and satisfaction. Sitting before the Lord, allowing Him to search our hearts, giving Him permission to point out areas where we’re lacking, can be healing.

Prayer is not a solitary event, it’s a partnership between us and God that when approached with a contrite spirit can result in the release of the Holy Spirit’s purifying power that will touch our souls, healing us in ways nothing else can.

The root of every effective prayer is faith. The foundation upon which prayer is built is absolute trust in the One to whom we pray. If we don’t believe He will hear and respond, why waste our time? But if we speak to our Father in heaven as a loving child speaks to their caring parent, He will withhold no good thing from us. He may not answer like we desired, but will bring good that will bless us more than if He had.

My most effective seasons of prayer, those times when I sensed God’s presence with me most powerfully, and was able to trust Him without reservation, were those times I sensed my own brokenness, thus, my greatest times of personal need. We don’t need to approach God from a position of power and authority. We derive those things from Him.

He just invites His kids to come to Him with all concerns, knowing He will hear, that He cares, and that He will give us exactly what we need in exactly the way we need it. Then we’ll not be so focused on ourselves and will finally be able to do what is right, for the right reasons, because the purifying presence of our loving Savior will be our guide.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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