Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16 (King James Version)
The brother of Jesus, James, reminds us that prayer is powerful and effective in the hands of the righteous. For those who are faith followers of Christ, what does it mean to be righteous and who tells the believer that they are? Furthermore, if being righteous is essential to having powerful prayers, how does a believer become righteous?
In the Webster’s Dictionary, righteousness is defined as an act of being morally good. One becomes good when somebody, according to the dictionary, follows all the laws of a certain religious system. This definition of righteousness is a sharp contrast to how the Christian faith views the subject.
For the Christian, righteousness is not achieved by following a moral code, but by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Why can’t we just follow a set of rules to become righteous? We must remember that God is holy and any person who wishes to be in His presence, must also be holy; just like Him.
The quest for holiness is impossible for humanity. Even if the Almighty gave us a list of commands to follow (like He did for Israel), we would fail to follow them completely. That is because the sin in our natural flesh resists the commands of God, even though they are good for us. As a result, God is unable to accept us as we are. Even if we broke just one law of His, His nature will not declare us right because our God demands holiness.
It was for this reason that Jesus came into the world; to become righteousness for us. While He was on the earth, Christ followed all the commands of His Heavenly Father without wavering. He obeyed even to the point of dying on the cross for all the sins of humanity, because that was what the Almighty wanted.
As a result of His obedience to God’s will, Christ received honor and was declared righteous before the Father. Now any person who accepts Him as their Savior, they too become right before God. That is because when we put our faith in Jesus, He begins to dwell within us, so when God see us, He sees His Son in us and will declare us in right standing with Him.
Before we can be declared righteous, we must first make confession. We need to humble ourselves and accept the fact that we fall short of the Lord’s Holy Standard and confess our transgressions towards Him. Once we have done this, we must accept Jesus as our Savior and that in Him, we are saved from our sins. It’s important that we acknowledge the work that He did for us and that it is only through Him, we are made righteous before the King of Kings.
Once we have done all these things, we can now approach the Lord with confidence because we are accepted through Christ. Now when you pray, are you sure that He is listening? If you are unsure or doubt that God will answer your requests, you need to examine your heart and see what it is that is keeping you doubtful. Is it an unconfessed sin or is it an issue in your life that you have not given to God yet? What ever it is, you must surrender it to the Lord. In Christ, we are made righteous, therefore let’s make our prayers resonate with power.