Sept. 2, 2020

What Does James 5:17-18 Mean?

What Does James 5:17-18 Mean?

James 5:17–18 (NIV): 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.


In today's Bible Study, James helps us understand that our prayers as believers have the ability to be as powerful as Elijah's prayers. 


Today we finish our study of prayer and healing found in James Chapter 5. 

James showed us that we are to pray at all times:

  • When you're troubled, pray.
  • When you're happy, pray.
  • When you're sick, call the elders to pray over you. 
  • When you've sinned, confess your sins to God and others and pray

But why prayer? 

James tells us that the prayers of a righteous person (i.e. a follower of Jesus Christ who is forgiven of his/her sins) are powerful and effective. 

But what if you don't feel like God listens to your prayers? 

James knew you were going to ask that question, and he answers your question with today's verse.

In today’s 2-minute Bible Study, you will discover:

  • How Elijah is just like you.
  • What mindset is stopping you from praying powerful prayers?
  • What essential action is necessary to have your prayers answered?


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James 5:15 – If we have enough faith will God heal us?


James 5:16 – Why does James tell us to confess our sins to one another?


James 5:16 – A look at one of the most quoted verses on prayer and how it can be interpreted 2 different ways


James 5:17-18 – How does James say that you are like Elijah the prophet?


James 5:19-20 - What do we do when a believer leaves the faith.


Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth. 

As a Christian, your most powerful resource is your relationship with God through prayer. 

Yesterday, we learned that as a righteous believer, your prayers are powerful. More powerful than you probably give yourself credit for. Now, you may be thinking, “I’m just an ordinary person. Why would God listen to me?”

And James answers you right here in James 5:17-18 says, "Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."

Elijah was just an ordinary person, just like you, that allowed God to use him to perform extraordinary miracles, and God did it, James says, because Elijah prayed. 

Now, the original recipients of James’ letter would’ve known the story of Elijah. 

They would’ve remembered that Elijah called down fire from Heaven and literally wiped out 450 prophets of Baal. BUT once he got word that Queen Jezebel was out to kill him for what he did, Elijah ran in fear. He literally collapsed from exhaustion under a juniper tree and pleaded with God to take his life.  

And James is saying here, “You guys, Elijah was a man with flaws and weaknesses, just like you. But he prayed passionate prayers of faith, and God answered them in miraculous ways.”

Perhaps the difference between Elijah and us is that Elijah went to God first. He had this incredibly intimate relationship with God. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I see prayer as the last resort. Like, when all else fails, pray. And James tells us this is so backward. 

Fellowship with God must come first. Partnering with God and releasing his will on earth through prayer can do miraculous things, and these are so much more powerful and effective than what we can do on our own. 

So, your simple Truth for today: James’ overall point in this section of his letter is that God commands us to pray. For ourselves. For each other. For healing. For others entangled in sin. Why? Because God hears the prayer of his righteous saints (that’s you) and He responds.

Join again tomorrow as we finish the book of James and look towards what’s coming up next on The Simple Truth. 

Thank you for continuing to share this podcast with someone God lays on your heart. And as always listen in on your amazon smart speaker by simply saying “PLAY BIBLE STUDY.

I’m Julie Carruth and I’ll see you again tomorrow.