God wants me to be a person of prayer.
There are lots of mnemonics we use to remember the different kinds of prayer, like ACTS and PETAL. This passage suggests one that isn’t quite so memorable: SPIC
SUPPLICATION: Pray about hardships I’m suffering. Ask God to do something about them.
PRAISE: Sing praises when I’m happy.
INTERCESSION: Ask the elders to pray over me when I’m sick
CONFESSION: Confess my sins to other Christians and ask them to pray for me; pray for them in the same way.
The promise is that my prayers will be powerful if I pray earnestly and if I’m righteous. I’ve never really believed that promise was for me. After all, the example James gives is Elijah. Of course God answered Elijah’s prayers. He was one of the greatest prophets. In fact, God’s sending him back to prepare the world for Jesus’ return. It’s not a great surprise that when he prayed for drought, it happened, and that when he prayed for it to end, it ended.
I know I don’t have to worry about the righteousness half of the equation. I’m righteous because God made me so by the blood of Jesus. But I don’t think I’m usually that earnest when I pray. Elijah’s life was at stake when he poured water on the altar and then asked God to light it on fire. He needed his prayer answered. I don’t have that kind of urgency when I pray.
It’s so easy to toss off a quick prayer, especially when someone asks me to pray for them. “Sure. Did you hear that God? That’s what I ask for.” But even little requests are important to God.
I think sincerity means entering into the request. Before I pray, I should understand the person and the problem. I should try to relate it to my own experience to try to know what they really need and talk to God about them as if it were my problem.
If your child is sick, I’ll remember how I felt when mine was. If you need a job, I’ll think about the times I’ve worried about finances. If you’re lonely, I’ll ask God to remove that aching I’ve felt at times.
Then I can be confident God will answer my prayers. Not because of how I’ve prayed, but because He promised to hear and answer.
Prayer isn’t just my communion with God. It involves others. God always brings me back to thinking of others. I can’t stay in the garden alone with Him.