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When Rain Stopped Falling
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: It’s easy for those who have a high view of God’s sovereignty—those who confess that God is in control over all things and is continually working out His eternal plan—to minimize the actual effectiveness of prayer. Statements like this resound: “The point is not that God is changed by prayer but we are changed.” And, “We don’t go to God to tell him our will, we go to discover His will.” But there’s something missing in that mindset that James uses a powerful illustration to correct.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. Who is the “righteous person” in verse 16?
2. What are the characteristics of “fervent” prayer? How well do your prayers reflect those same attributes?
3. How does the practice of mutual confession of sin to one another (verse 16) foster an atmosphere of grace and humility?
4. When is the last time you confessed a sin to someone else? What were the results of that exchange?
5. What is the connection, if any, to sickness and confession (see verse 16b)?
6. What is the significance of the phrase “with a nature like ours” in verse 17?
1. “There is no indication that the sick believer is to be preoccupied with discovering some secret sin that may have been committed; rather the implication is that the sick believer would know full well the nature of the sin.” – Christopher Thomas
2. 01. Harbored and unconfessed sin typically has spiritual and physical consequences (and invites the Lord’s discipline).
3. > Generally speaking, private sins should be confessed privately.
4. > Sins of the heart that are unaccompanied by actions, are often to be confessed to God alone.
5. > Public sins are to be confessed publicly.
“God intends prayer to bring the body together, so that when one person falls ill, physically or spiritually, others in the community may intervene redemptively. Likewise, confession is not merely a mental activity as we talk to God in our individual prayer times, but a corporate activity that involves the people we have hurt or offended. Whether to bring humility and unity to a body of believers or to effect reconciliation between estranged parties, God clearly intended confession to be as much a part of life together as prayer.” – Craig Blomberg
7. “It is not that our prayers are founded on our own worthiness, but the heart must be cleansed by faith before we can present ourselves before God.” – John Calvin
8. 02. The righteousness we need to approach God is not something we possess or could ever earn but is ours by faith in Christ.
9. “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” – James 4:2b-3
10. 03. Fervent prayer is the vehicle through which God pours out his grace and power in our situation.