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Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Prayers that avail much" (pt. 3)

(Part 3 of 3)

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 (KJV)

Another key component to developing a prayer life that avails much is praying effectually! Effectual is defined as being successful in producing a desired or intended result; effective.

Prayers that are successful in producing a desired or intended result are those prayers prayed in alignment with God’s Will and God’s Word! When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus responded with Matthew 6:9-10:

This, then, is how you should pray:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Effective prayer flows from a life that is aligned with God’s Will and prayed in agreement with God’s Word.  Matthew calls this seeking first the kingdom of God:

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

                                                                                                Matthew 6:33

Our prayers become ineffective and unfruitful when they are not properly aligned with God’s Holy Word. Let’s look at some examples. Let’s say a single Christian gets involved romantically with a non-believer. When the relationship turns south, they pray and ask God to move in that situation. The dilemma is that God’s Word tells us not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers. That individual is praying a prayer that God has already addressed in His Word. There is no other answer needed.

How about this scenario, a family struggles with major financial issues, and they call out to God to intervene. How effective will their prayers be if they do not honor God with the tithe, according to His Word.

What about the individual that is struggling with sickness and needs healing? They have prayed for God to heal, yet not one time have they, in agreement with the Book of James, called on the elders of the church to lay hands on them.

What about couples who are struggling in their marriages and praying that God would work in their situation? However, the couple doesn’t honor marriage as a covenant, are not mutually submissive, sacrifice little, and show no respect or honor.

In order for prayers to be effective, they must be prayed in alignment with God’s Word and from a life aligned to it as well.


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    


"Prayers that avail much" (pt. 2)

(Part 2)

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 (KJV)

Another key component to developing a prayer life that avails much is fervency! Fervency is a strong feeling of excitement or enthusiasm marked by passionate intensity and zeal.  It is not some emotional exercise we put ourselves through to display our spirituality, but instead it is the outflow of our right relationship with God.

For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

                                                                                                Romans 10:2-4

Zeal outside of a proper relationship with God, leads to sensuality, spiritualism, and legalism. Proverbs 19:2 declares that “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.”  In 1 Kings 18 we read the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It was a supernatural confrontation for the ages. Four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal against Elijah, whosever god answered by fire; he was God.

The altars were built and the sacrifices arranged. The prophets of Baal spent hours dancing, shouting, and even cutting themselves. They cried out to their god to send fire on the sacrifice, but nothing happened. They were certainly intensely passionate, fervent, and zealous; but it was misguided.

When it was Elijah’s turn, he prayed a thirty second prayer and God consumed his sacrifice with fire. Why? His zeal was directed toward honoring God. In Numbers 25 we read about another man zealous for God, named Phinehas. He was a priest in Israel, who took a bold stance against the sexual immorality that was corrupting God’s people. God recognizes him this way in Numbers 25:10-11:

“The Lord said to Moses, Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them.”

The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:18, that it is fine to be zealous as long as the purpose is good. Honoring God in our prayers is noble, good, and right. Honoring God in our prayers lines up with Scripture and the will of God. The fervent prayers of the righteous will always glorify God!


Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Prayers that avail much"

(Part 1)

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 (KJV)

What happens when you pray? I am not asking a generalized question about the process of prayer that we all commonly go through. I am asking, what happens when you, personally, pray? What does your time spent engaging the presence of God “avail?”

James 5:17-18 tells us:

“Elijah was a man just like us. 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.”

Scripture tells us that Elijah was just like us. This means that there was nothing special given to him, which would enable him to pray with such power that has not also been made available to us. However, unlike many of our prayer lives, his prayer life was marked by very tangible results.

James’ use of the story of Elijah is not meant as a means of condemning us for a weak prayer life, but rather it is intended to encourage us towards a prayer life that is more productive and aligned with God’s Will.

Nestled within the context of James 5:16 are three components that can help us pray more effectively: righteousness, fervency, effectualness.

The first is more of a matter of position and standing than a manner in which we pray. Our standing with God plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of our prayer lives. Prayers that flow from a person who is in right relationship with God are powerful and effective.

God is under no obligation to answer the prayers of those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. However, prayer is the privilege of the righteous:


“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

                                                                                                1 Peter 3:12

Who then are the righteous? Romans 3:22 tells us:

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

It is not derived from doing right things, but through faith in Christ:

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.”

                                                                                    Philippians 3:9

Prayers offered outside of this relationship with Christ cannot be expected to be answered consistently. On some occasions, God chose to answer some prayers as a demonstration of His mercy, but typically these prayers are prayers of desperation; not prayers of faith.

Prayers that avail much are born out of a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.




Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



Friday, February 7, 2014

"Salt and Light" (pt. 3 of 3)

(Part 3)

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

                                                                                                            Matthew 5:14-15

You are the light of the world.  This passage is especially meaningful when you take Jesus’ words in John 9:5 into consideration:

“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus declared that while He was in the world, He would be the light of the world. After He ascended into heaven, that responsibility would fall to you and I. As Christians, we are called to be light bearers, shining the light of Christ in a dark world.

Whereas salt was significant in the preservation process, light is all about proclamation.  One of the amazing qualities of light is its ability to travel. Light can travel great distances at amazing speeds carrying with it tremendous energy. These traits when focused properly make light an amazing communication tool.

In fact, light has many valuable qualities.

Light promotes visibility, illuminates darkness, comforts us, facilitates healing, and promotes life.

The nature of light, therefore, is not to be contained or constrained, but rather released and given out:

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

                                                                                                Matthew 5:15

As believers we are called to be light. We are called to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ, illuminate darkness, comfort others, facilitate healing, and promote life. Jesus said to His disciples:

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

                                                                                                            Matthew 5:16

Just as light, hidden under a bowl, is ineffective; so are believers who conceal the light of Christ in their lives. We have a responsibility to shine, not so that we can be seen, but instead to draw others to Christ and bring praise to God’s Holy name.

Pastor Scott Burr                                                                    



"Salt and Light" (Pt.2)

(Part 2)

“Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg?” 
Job 6:6

Salt makes tasteless food more palatable! Salt when applied to certain foods cuts through bitterness and provides balance to sweet and sour flavors. As the salt of the earth, we as Christians ought to make living in this corrupt and perverse world a little more palatable. Through encouragement, demonstrating God’s love by serving others, and sharing the Good News of Christ we can cut through the deep held bitterness in people’s hearts and help bring balance to those who are hurting.

Engaging others in this way will result in the same by-product we experience when we consume salt. Thirst! Contact with Christians ought to leave others thirsty for the things of God. However, you have to have contact to have influence. Meat isn’t preserved unless the salt comes in contact with the meat. Thirst doesn’t occur unless the salt comes in contact with the taste buds. Christians cannot have influence with unbelievers, unless we come in contact with them. Nevertheless, a lack of contact, isn’t the only way we can lose our influence and usefulness.  

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Matthew 5:13

Saltiness comes from being connected to Christ. As we remain in Him and live according to His Word we retain the saltiness (influence) needed to have a positive preserving influence on those around us. Jesus, however, cautioned that it is possible to lose our saltiness. How does this happen?

Our influence is diminished when we compromise our faith and embrace the immorality of this world, compromise our convictions, and attempt to blend-in with the culture. We lose influence when we develop selfish attitudes, walk in negativity, continuously take from others, and become complacent. In this way, we lose our potency (strength and effectiveness) and can actually become a deterrent to others. Jesus said that salt that is no longer salty is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

Although it has lost its usefulness to preserve and to make that which is bitter palatable, it still retains one devastating potency. Its ability to destroy plant life!

Some ancient texts discuss how conquering armies would sometimes take salt and spread it out to kill the vegetation around a defeated city. This was done for two reasons, one symbolic an one practical. Symbolically it was used to proclaim a curse over that city. Anyone who arrived would see the city devastated, the people killed or taken into captivity, and all the plant life dead. It would look like a place that was cursed and uninhabitable. Practically speaking, it would hinder the town’s viability for growth. It would not be easy to resettle and repopulate that area because crops would be difficult to grow.

If we fail to operate in righteousness, we can have the opposite effect we intend to have on those around us. We can actually hinder their desire to come to Christ or cripple their spiritual growth. We have a responsibility to maintain our saltiness. In this way, we remain a positive influence while at the same time keeping ourselves from potentially hindering others from coming to Christ, but just as important as our being agents of preservation is; the significance of us being agents of proclamation is equally important.  
Pastor Scott Burr