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DESPERATE PRAYER!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 9, 2009

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).


Dr. Henry M. Morris said that “effectual fervent” is one word in Greek (energeo) meaning “energizing” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, Word Publishing Company, 1995, p. 1391; note on James 5:16). We could paraphrase the word “energeo” as, “The energized, desperate prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” “Availeth” means “can do” (Strong). So we could give the text as “The energized, desperate prayer of a righteous man can do much.” Dr. John MacArthur, though I do not agree with him on the Blood of Christ, was correct when he said of this verse, “The energetic, passionate prayers of godly men have the power to do much” (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, p. 1935; note on James 5:16).

Brian H. Edwards spoke of the prayers that the Christians prayed at Pentecost,

When the Holy Spirit saturated the 120 on the Day of Pentecost, they had been in desperate prayer. And I use the word “desperate” carefully. Our Lord left them alone…they were terrified of the…Romans…locked in an upper room. That was the position God wanted them in. He wanted them at the end of their devices and without any confidence in themselves. They must have been praying in desperation. This was the moment God came…Only when we realize and admit our true condition will we long for revival. Praying for revival is not enough; we must long for it, and long for it intenselydesperate for the answer (Brian H. Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated With God, Evangelical Press, 1997 edition, p. 74).

That’s it! We need “energized” and “desperate” prayer for God to come down and draw the lost to Christ in revival!

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Sing “Teach Me to Pray.”

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer!
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!
(“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Brian Edwards said,

God frequently brings his people to the point of desperation before he sends revival; only then will they learn that “without me ye can do nothing” (Edwards, ibid, p. 75).

Again Brian Edwards said,

Commenting upon [the] revival in Wales in 1904, R. B. Jones looked back to the latter years of the previous century. From 1897 many younger ministers were meeting together to pray for revival: “This fellowship intensified their hunger, bringing [them] at last to a pitch near desperation.” One minister recalled that [when] he spent time in prayer…“There would come upon him such a power as would crush [him] to tears and agonizing prayer” (Edwards, ibid., p. 76).

In Germany (Saxony) Nicholas von Zinzendorf, a 27-year-old count, was discouraged at the lack of spiritual life among the nine girls in his Bible class. He began to pray desperately for them. Mr. Edwards said that Zinzendorf’s desperate prayers,

…led directly to the revival that began on 13 August 1727: truly the great Moravian revival of 1727, which reached its climax on August 13, was preceded and followed by most extraordinary praying…many other brethren began to pray as never before…At midnight there was held…a large meeting for the purpose of prayer at which great emotion prevailed (Edwards, ibid., p. 78).

There is no question in my mind that the great Moravian revival, that began in 1727 in Germany, spilled forth into the First Great Awakening which, under Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley and others, brought countless thousands into real conversion, and changed the course of Western civilization for the next one hundred and fifty years!

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Sing it!

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer!
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

Brian Edwards said,

James McQuilkin had been converted in 1856 at his home town of Ballymena by the witness of an English lady, and before long he had led three friends to Christ. The four of them agreed to meet every week for prayer…Two more joined them, including an old man named Marshall, but it was not until New Year’s Day 1858 that they saw their first conversion. By the end of the year the prayer meeting had grown to fifty. They prayed “for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit…This was the one great object and burden of our prayers. We held right to the one thing and did not run off to anything else.” The prayer group was ridiculed for praying this way “but we kept right on praying until the power came.” It did come, and by the close of the following year 100,000 people had been converted in Ulster [Northern Ireland]. You will notice that urgency and determination about the prayer meetings in Ulster: “We held right to the one thing and did not run off to anything else.” Today few have learnt this. We pray occasionally for revival but not consistently; we pray casually for [revival], but not urgently. Surely this is what Paul meant by urging his readers to “pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17). He did not mean that we should pray without a break, but that we should never give up. If revival is to come, some Christians, somewhere, must pray continually [for revival] and never “run off to anything else” (Edwards, ibid., pp. 79-80).

Brian Edwards said,

Before God began the revival that swept across Borneo in the 1970s, He had been preparing the ground by giving the missionaries a burden to pray. One missionary comments: “At the Field Conference in 1970 and over the following years God began to work in the missionary team. There are frequent mentions of an increased urgency in prayer for revival…” But the turning-point came when a group of Bornean students spent the whole night in prayer…until a great wave of student prayer was reaching God for revival in Borneo (Edwards, ibid., p. 82).

Brian Edwards said,

Following a conference in the Philippines in 1975, 200 participants returned to their home countries determined to raise prayer for China, then in the grip of Mao Tse-Tung. In Britain…many [committed] themselves to pray for [revival in China]. What has been happening in China can only be understood in terms of revival. In 1980 in one area of the province of Zozhou alone, 6,000 new believers were baptized. It was reported that in one city in the province of Zhejiang there were now 50,000 Christians, or one in eight of the population, meeting in some 600 house groups. Today it is estimated that there may be as many as [70,000,000] Christians in China. Not that all this has been the result of that one prayer burden in 1975, but all over the world many Christians have never ceased to pray for China since the last missionaries were expelled in 1948, when there were fewer than 1,000,000 Christians in [that] country (Edwards, ibid., pp. 83-84).

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Pray for God to send revival among us! (all pray).

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer!
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict the lost “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). (all pray)

Pray for the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus Christ – and make Him known to the lost (John 16:14). (all pray). Pray for God to “draw” them to Christ (John 6:24). (all pray).

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer!
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

Pray for God to help us pray during our day of fasting and prayer next Saturday (all pray).

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer!
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!

People have been praying for you. They have been asking God to convict you of sin. They have been asking God to draw you to Jesus Christ, for cleansing from sin in His precious Blood! Oh, how we pray that you will come to Jesus. He died in your place on the Cross!

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

He poured out His Blood to wash away your sins. Oh, how we pray that you will come to Jesus and be saved!

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Sing “Just as I Am.” Sing it!

Just as I am, without one plea,
   But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
   O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
(“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: James 5:16-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: “Teach Me to Pray”
(by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).