The following blog post was originally published in the Berkeley Independent.
Before I begin this week’s column on the praying faith, I want to take time to thank the staff at The Berkeley Independent for allowing me to write this column every week. As a former journalism major, the love of writing has always been close to my heart, therefore, I am very appreciative to be able to share with you my thoughts on God’s Word each and every week through this venue.
To illustrate this point, James gives us an example of Old Testament figure in verse 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.” Verse 18 adds, “Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
The purpose of Elijah’s prayer was for the people of Israel to turn back to God. To prove God’s power, He used Elijah to make it rain and then make it stop raining, so that the wicked King Ahab understood who was really in control. God wanted Ahab to personally repent and lead his people to repentance. The praying faith prays for repentance and God loves you so much He is willing to go to extreme measures for your obedience in this area.
Finally, the praying faith prays for all people, especially “prodigals.” Look at what verse 19-20 states: “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
To “wander” means to be deceived or misled. Believers are to bring those prodigals back. In so doing, a person will save the other’s soul. This idea of “saving the soul” can mean “saving his emotions” from death. When we’re out of fellowship with the Lord, our emotions and mental capacities are sure to break down. There is such a thing as mental illness. But there is also such a thing as mental distress that Christians bring upon themselves when they know they are wandering from the truth. If you are wandering, don’t be surprised when God makes life difficult for you in order to save you. That is what love is.
Are you sick? You need prayer. Are you joyful? You need prayer. Are you suffering? You need prayer. Have you strayed away from the faith? You need prayer. And you need to come back. I imagine many of you reading this today, have loved ones in your life who have strayed from the faith. Never quit praying for them. You never know just how far the power of your prayer will go.