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People genuinely desire to make a significant contribution in the world. Our typical strategy is to be better, do more, and try harder. These are helpful strategies, but they are incomplete. The Apostle James tells that we can bring about a great accomplishment when we realize that there is a power greater than ourselves:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16

We must learn to tap into God’s resources, however, to do so, we must come to God with a clean heart. The Apostle Paul makes the same point in his letter to Timothy,

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. — 2 Timothy 2:21

The Old Testament emphasized the necessity of having a clean heart before God as the prophet Hanani admonished King Asa:

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars. — 2 Chronicles 16:9

A clean heart starts with confession. The word confess is a present tense imperative that indicates that we are to practice a lifestyle of confession before God. The Greek word for confess literally means “to say the same thing” so confession is agreeing with God about your spiritual condition. We must realize that our unconfessed sin saps our vitality, whereas confession can bring healing to our soul. In the Old Testament, David expressed the freedom of a clean heart before God as he confessed his sin:

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! — Psalm 32:1-2

The person who has confessed his sin may be described as a righteous person. James revealed a tremendous promise for the righteous person. God hears and answers the prayers of a righteous person. You may be thinking that James is discussing the spiritually elite, but what about me? He then gives an example of one of Israel’s greatest prophets, Elijah:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. — James 5:17-18

Did you notice that Elijah had a nature like ours? Answered prayer is not dependent upon the length of your prayers or upon your eloquence, but upon God’s perfect will. You are praying to the same God as Elijah. God can do amazing work through the person who is abandoned to Him.

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