Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed…
We are often told that no prayer can be effectual in securing the blessing sought unless it is consistent with God's will to grant it. But the all-important question at once arises. "How can I know what is and what is not consistent with God's will?" Suppose I have a sick child for whose recovery I am intensely anxious. I am told that if his restoration to health is in harmony with God's will, I may pray for it in the confident expectation of receiving an answer to my prayer. But how can I know whether or not it is so? Clearly, I cannot know it unless God Himself informs me. What, then, shall I do? Shall I leave the sick one in the hands of God to have the issue of his sickness determined simply and alone by the will of God? This would be to deny the utility of prayer. But though I know not what God's will concerning my child may be, I am most diligent to use the power of prayer for his recovery, just as I use the power of medicine or of nursing. Is it said that I am to pray with a submissive spirit? Very true; as soon as any occasion for submission appears. But there is neither occasion nor room for it, till I learn that God cannot grant my request. I saw the other day a man attempting to split a rock with a sledge-hammer. Down came the sledge upon the stone as if it would crush it, but it merely rebounded, leaving the rock as sound as before. Again the ponderous hammer was swung, and again it came down, but with the same result. Nothing was accomplished. The rock was still without a crack. I might have asked (as so many are disposed to ask concerning prayer) what good could result from such a waste of time and strength. But that man had faith. He believed in the power of that sledge. He believed that repeated blows had a tendency to split that rock. And so he kept at it. Blow after blow came down all apparently in vain. But still he kept on without a thought of discouragement. He believed that a vigorously swung sledge "has great power." And at last came one more blow and the work was done. That is the way in which we ought to use prayer. God has told us that "the earnest prayer of the righteous man has great power." We ought to believe it, just as that man believed that his sledge had power. And believing it, we ought to use prayer for the attainment of spiritual results with just such confidence of success as that man used his sledge. But says one, "I don't know whether the thing for which I am praying is consistent with the will of God." No matter whether it is or not. That is not a question that there is any need of determining or asking. We don't know God's will about any of our plans for the future. But that doesn't paralyse our efforts or lead us to distrust the efficiency of the means we use for accomplishing those plans. A young man wishes to secure an education. He knows nothing of God's will in the matter, nor does he hesitate a moment because of his ignorance. He simply knows that God has established certain means to be used for attaining the end desired, and that if he faithfully and perseveringly uses these, he may reasonably hope to succeed. It is true he may fail. It may be God's will that he should die within a year. Or some one of the many obstacles in his path may prove entirely insurmountable. But he is to take no notice of any such possibilities. He is to commence and prosecute his studies as if he knew that, if industrious and persevering, he would certainly succeed. This is the way to succeed. And this is the only way. Earnestness, perseverance, unflinching resolution, have ten thousand times made not only possible, but actual, what would otherwise have been impossible. It is just so with prayer. We are no more to concern ourselves about God's will concerning the things for which we pray, than about His will concerning the things for which we toil. We are to recognise and hold fast the fact with both hands, with memory, mind, and heart, that prayer is a means appointed of God for securing spiritual results, as industry and resolution are for achieving results in temporal things. And that is a universal law of God's government, that the more earnestly and perseveringly we use any means that God has appointed, the more certain are we to attain the end we seek. And believing these things, we are to act accordingly. We are to use prayer with just as much expectation of accomplishing something by it, as we use industry. We are to believe with all the heart that "the earnest prayer of the righteous man has great power."
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.