“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
My grandfather, on my dad’s side, loved the Lord. (This statement is also true of my mom’s dad, but we’ll cover him another time!). When he gave his life to the Lord as a young man, he was radically changed and took off on a path that would see him pastor several churches in the foothills of Virginia, over the course of many years, as well as preach at many, many others.
He was a godly man, a man that sought to live his life in obedience to God’s Word and God’s call on his life, and as such, he was also a man of prayer. I can’t remember any sermons that I heard my grandpa give, but I can most definitely remember his prayers. And the prayers I remember most were not the ones he prayed from the pulpit (or while presiding over communion in all the weddings of me and my siblings). No, the prayers I remember most were the humble, quiet ones he prayed prior to eating his breakfast every day.
My papa would sit down with his glass of grapefruit juice and his bowl of grape nuts (at least, that’s what I remember…I’m sure there were cow brains and eggs in there at some point, but I choose not to remember that part!), bow his head, and begin to thank God for all his blessings and for His goodness.
And then he would pray for his children, and his grandchildren, and his great grandchildren.
I come from a pretty good size family. This was not a short list. Yet, everyday, he prayed. For us. By name.
I must admit that, at the time, I didn’t get it. I mean, I thought it was cool, but I didn’t get it.
But I do now.
You see, I get it because I see the answers to those prayers every time I look at my family.
I see it in my own life, and how the long-haired, hippie kid who was just going through the motions, faking it until he made it, no real knowledge of the goodness and mercy of God, would one day humble himself and give his life to God because that very goodness and mercy led him to repentance.
I see it in the godly wife that I have been blessed with, the one who has stood by me through thick and thin, who has encouraged me, prayed for me, endured with me, loved me. Who has truly been my helper, my gift, my living sacrament of grace.
I see it in my kids, who are now the 4th generation since my grandfather gave his life to Christ. I see it in how his prayers are bearing fruit in our lives, and thus in my kids’ lives.
I see it in my parents, who have raised 5 kids of their own through many trials, blessings, ups and downs, and have remained steadfast in their faith, and in their love for one another. I see God’s faithfulness to them, and I rise up and call them blessed as a result.
I see it in the lives of my brother and sisters, their marriages. How faithful God has been. How good he has been.
I now I see the answer to those prayers in my nieces and nephews, the great-grandchildren who were but babies when my grandpa lifted their names up to God. Half of them are grown and beginning their own families, careers, lives. I see God working in their lives. I see hearts that are changed, given over to God. I see another generation rising to praise God, to bless Him, to serve Him.
I see the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much. Not because my grandpa was holy in his own right. No, he was flawed and broken, just like the rest of us. But he knew the faithful God who sent His Holy, Righteous Son to take my grandpa’s sin, and my parent’s sin, and my sin, and my brother’s sin, and my sisters’ sin, and my nieces’ and nephews’ sin, and my kids sin…and your sin…so that we could be made forgiven, redeemed, purchased, set free…saved.
And because my grandpa knew Jesus, I write this today, just one more example of those prayers from long ago still bearing fruit in the hearts and lives of my family.
So parents, grandparents, great-grandparents…don’t give up. Pray up. Lift up your family to the Lord. And trust Him with the family He’s given you.
2 thoughts on “The Prayer of a Righteous Man”
He has quite the legacy, doesn’t he? Thanks for the beautiful reminder of Papa’s prayers.
Mattie, I could almost hear Papas voice as I read that. Such sweet prayers he would say. Of course, all of us kids wanted him to be done so we could eat back then! Thank goodness we never cut him off. We all need those prayers!! A beautiful post from the heart!