Over the years I have met and/or known many people, some whom you could consider famous, and others whom you would see as more than a little unknown. I’ve met the likes of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had coffee with the right-hand man to the president of Israel, and more. And yes, there is an air of greatness to such as these, but their impact on my life is, in many ways, considerably less than was and is the impact of some of the aforementioned obscure folk. And as I think it over, it seems to me that the people you may never have heard of, but that deeply impressed me, were people of abiding faith, great and kindly gentle love, and fervent and frequent prayer. Indeed, the wisest people I know are saturated with the Word of God found in Scripture and nearly constant in prayer. Such persons are giants of God among us.

Yet, as true as it is that centering one’s life in the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, I see too many of us who follow Christ passing up the close fellowship with God for the plenteous distractions available in our times. Now and then we hear of someone who devotes him/herself to prayer and other service to the Lord, and a lot of us may admire that person, but we feel uncomfortable because we believe that such incredible commitment is beyond our grasp. And believing that, we never challenge ourselves to do just a bit more, a bit better, and a little more often. Yet when one of these stalwart followers of Christ passes on to glory, their absence is keenly felt. Only God can say how much they strengthened, encouraged, built up, and interceded for others. Only God knows what would have been much worse but for this or that soul’s constant prayers. And we cannot know all the ways their influence in our lives has made us better. Now, more than ever, we need more like them for much that was good and safe has been rendered vile and dangerous as less and less people dedicate themselves fully to the Lord and more and more people reject God and sell themselves to the pursuits of various evils disguised temporarily as pleasures.

If anybody ever knew someone whose life was so impressive that it could just make you feel like you had no chance of even coming close to measuring up, it was James, the brother of Jesus. Talk about being compared to the “perfect” sibling, this was literally the truth, but on this matter of prayer James 5:16-18 (New Living Translation) states: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”

James lays out first that we always need to abandon our sins and encourages us to pray for each other in that regard. Confession is a powerful means of aiding us in uprooting various sins and then when we are healed and forgiven, we can pray unhindered. Any sincere, believing, and humble person can pray prayers that accomplish great things. As a way of helping people grasp this truth, James references the prophet Elijah; probably one of Israel’s greatest prophets. Surely many would say, “I could never be an Elijah!” Yet James tells us that Elijah was no more or less human than any of us, but his prayer was answered because of his relationship with God. We can be powerful in prayer if we are purposeful in our commitment to God. You may say that you can’t be like this or that super-saint (in your view) but the truth is that you can seek the Lord, you can love the Lord, you can obey the Lord, and you can meditate on God’s Word and pray. All relationships take effort in order to be good ones. God will always do His part. Will you do yours? Your prayers can shake the pillars of creation if you will but make God the greatest part of your life. Try it, increase your times with God incrementally and build stamina as the relationship deepens. God wants you to succeed, so if you are willing, you can be great in the kingdom of Heaven.

God bless you!

Contact Pastor Lamb at imlayumc@yahoo.com.