The other day I had one of those things that happens here as a pastor on the reservation with some regularity, but not on any kind of schedule. A man and his friend had come by the parsonage, looking for me to talk and pray with them, and they were intoxicated.
The man was distraught, with good reason, but his emotions ranged a bit wider than normal because his alcohol intake. The presence of alcohol also made the entire interaction a bit incoherent. I could listen to him, talk with him and pray with him, and I did all three, but it was impossible to make any one point stick. At that moment as a pastor I wanted to reassure him of God's love and presence but it was almost as if there was a Teflon barrier causing that message to fail to stick.
The time that the three of us spent together was nearly an hour and during the second half I found myself coming back to a verse I used to support a point during last Sunday's sermon, the last part of James 5:16:
"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
In the conversation and prayer behind the parsonage I found that in regard to that verse I was continually wondering "How do my prayers here have any power? How are they supposed to work?"
Perhaps the key is in the words "righteous person." I know that I can’t claim any righteousness on my own merit. Whatever righteousness I have comes as a gift from Christ Jesus, my Savior and Lord. He is the One who is truly righteous and I only share in His righteousness through my faith in Him.
And so I am called to pray and to lift up the concerns of my heart, along with the cares of those who stop at the parsonage looking for help, and to trust Him to sort out the ways to put those prayers to work. All of the power is His, and I know that I can trust Him to put it to work in the best ways. Each time. Every time. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.