“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed, earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” James 16b-18
In January 1973 the United States Supreme Court issued a most tragic ruling, which cost the lives of millions. The case was Roe vs. Wade and the outcome was that women had a constitutionally protected right to abortion. No longer was life protected in the land which framed itself on “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. The great beacon of liberty that was the United States of America suddenly had dimmed in its light of freedom to the world. Abortion which had been illegal and restricted for most of the history of the United States suddenly and unthinkably became legal. The Roe Vs. Wade decision changed the landscape of America, and by extension the Western World.
Abortion was championed by feminists as the way that women were able to be equal to men. No longer could women have their lives “ruined” by an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion catapulted women to the top in the workforce, no longer were they going to stay and look after their kids. Rather, they could choose, even if pregnant to continue in the workforce. Much to the godless capitalist desire. To think of abortion as merely something that liberated women propelled them to equality with men, and gave them an equal share in the world is to minimize it. Abortion became the blasphemous sacrament of dystopian secularism. Which cried much like the Lord’s Supper “This is My Body”, but it wasn’t given as a selfless sacrifice for sin. Rather, “This is My Body” was the blasphemous chant of godless autonomy, and selfishness.
The church in this environment was taken aback, what was once unthinkable wickedness had with the stroke of seven justices become a right. The church did, as the church does though. God’s people began to pray. At the moment, certainly, it seemed hopeless, but Christ would have His Church to pray. In James, 5:16b-18 James exhorts the church to pray. He used the example of the prophet Elijah, who he tells us prayed that it would not rain. This prayer against rain was designed to chastise Israel to turn God’s wayward and wicked people to repentance. The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, even though he was but a man.
God in hearing Elijah’s prayer was being merciful to His wayward people. Even, though they wouldn’t have acknowledged it. Further, Elijah prayed again for rain to come upon the land, and again the Lord heard his prayer.
Elijah is given to the church as an example of the power of fervent prayer. The overturning of Roe vs. Wade also serves as a powerful reminder of the power of God’s people praying. Ever since the ruling the church collectively began to pray that it would be overturned and that abortion would be brought to an end. Individual Christians made petition daily with their heavenly Father to end the bloodshed. The church of Christ pled knowing that the blood of the unborn cried out from the ground like Abel’s (Genesis 4:10). The church interceded and plead with God.
Nearly 50 years went past. Nearly 50 years of prayer for the end of Roe, and ultimately the end of abortion in the United States. On June 25th, 2022 finally the decision to overturn Roe came. Many said it was impossible. Many Christians thought that abortion might not ever be brought to an end. There is a temptation to look at the human factor. To look at the current makeup of the court, to look at President Trump’s pledge for pro-life judges. Even the efforts of senators to see the Justices confirmed. While some measure of credit is due, this was but a means the Most High was pleased to use.
Just as Elijah prayed and God answered his prayers, so also nearly 50 years of the church’s prayers have been answered. This ruling stands as a reminder that God’s Cause triumphed because of the prayers of His people. God in overturning Roe answered the prayers of His people. As James said “The prayers of the righteous man availeth much.” This means something rather profound going forward for the Christian church. The church should persist in prayer, and not lose heart!
First, we have seen God answer the prayers of His people, and the appropriate response to this is thanksgiving. This Psalmist in 103, opens the Psalm with Blessing the Lord, praising Him. And goes on to remember the Lord’s wonderful benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2). The Psalmist also noted that God did not deal with His people according to their sins, but rather God is merciful (Psalm 103:8-10). The correct response for Christians after this decision is profound gratitude to God because the Lord has in some measure turned away this shameful practice from the United States. The Lord has treated the United States with grace and kindness. The response to God’s Grace is always to be gratitude.
Secondly, given that fervent prayer does avail much, this should be a great encouragement for the Lord’s people to continue to pray. To continue to pray for Christ’s cause in the world. To pray for the advance of the Kingdom of Grace. For the putting away of immorality. The Lord hears the prayers of His people, and those prayers avail with Him. What a source of encouragement, that God heard the prayers of the saints for nearly fifty years, and in His time he granted their request. The Christian should be actively praying for the advance of righteousness and retreat into the shadows of wickedness.
The overturning of Roe Vs. Wade serves as a potent reminder to the church, of the power of prayer. It must primarily be seen that way. Yet, there is a word of warning here for the church. Elijah enjoyed his prayers being answered in regards to no rain and then rain. Elijah witnessed the power of God throughout his prophetic ministry. Yet, that did not mean Elijah did not endure difficulties. In fact, in 1st Kings 19 right after the might work of God on Mount Carmel, which one could consider the “high-point” of Elijah’s ministry, he went through a deep low. Where, despite the mighty power of God and the victory of the cause of Christ over the cause of Baal he was forced to flee for his life. Elijah was in such desperate shape he felt as if he was the only one faithful and the Lord had to remind him that there were also 7,000 faithful in the land( 1 Kings 19:18).
The overturning of Roe Vs. Wade must be seen primarily as a triumph of the prayers of God’s people. Prayers were offered, and they were answered. The blasphemous sacrament of the Sexual Revolution has been in the United States in large measure curtailed. To minimize the role of prayer is to reveal our spiritual impotency. It must also be remembered that while the prayers of the righteous avail much at the throne of grace this does not mean it is over. Throughout the Western World babies will still be murdered in their mother’s wombs, and the church must ceaselessly pray and preach against all sin, offering forgiveness in Christ. Lastly, it must also be remembered that when a triumph happens at Mount Carmel it does not mean you might not end up fleeing for your life, or in deep discouragement. Let the Christian and the church remember, that the Lord may yet bring us low.