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The second half of James 5:16 is a snippet of scripture that travels well in Christian circles. You have probably heard it in a variety of versions. There’s the NKJV, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Or the NIV, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Or the one I read the other day, the ESV, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” When I read this version I saw something completely new. My paraphrase of James 5:16b prior to reading this verse in the ESV was, prayer works. I know that is simple and leaves out some of the details, but I was the one in high school who never could quite get to the lower word limit on my essays. The words that struck me in the ESV were,”…has great power AS IT IS WORKING”. This seems to be referring to what happens while we are praying or after we have prayed, before we actually have any end result. The action that is going on in the interim. So prayer works and it works so well, that it works even during the time we feel like we are waiting. In fact it has “great power” during this interim period. So after we have prayed with a heart that is right with God (James 5:16a), that prayer is working with great power. In thinking about this I realized that so often the best part about the prayer isn’t the eventual answer, but what we gain from the power of the prayer itself. Peace-knowing that God has this. Wisdom-we have access to all of God’s wisdom and are guided by the Holy Spirit. Joy-Knowing that we have all life in Christ. Hope-Our hope is Life forever in Christ. Truth-We have access to the only unchanging truth for all time. So, it would appear that I need a new paraphrase. Something like, Prayer works while it is working. It makes me want to pray!
Praying Much Grace for you!