The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 (KJV)
If you’ve never seen the moving movie Invictus with Misters Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, I’d suggest you pop yourself some corn, talk to that fancy TV of yours, and strap in for a soul stirrer.
When Brother Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, after spending 27 years in prison under Apartheid, he governed with an uncommon approach: forgive and unite. Like times in our own country, racial tensions tore communities in two. After decades of oppression, the blacks saw an opportunity for revenge. On the other side of the tracks, the white folks were certain their homeland was doomed to ruin. Uniting the country was Mr. Mandela’s mission. And like we’re told in the Good Word, he was intent not only on forgiving his former enemies, but embracing them.
Have you ever noticed sometimes healing happens in the most unlikely places? Well Nelson had a hunch, (or was it divine direction?) that most considered crazy. The South African rugby team, the Springbok, was a symbol of white supremacy and a stick to demean blacks. “This is our sport and our team and you are not welcome.” Except for Mr. Chester Williams, the players were all white, and their playing was pitiful. Honestly, they were a bit of an embarrassment. But the president had a vision. He called the team captain, Mr. Francois Pienaar, into his office and gently spoke into his heart. Magic happened.
I don’t want to ruin your movie night, so let’s ponder for a moment the passion at athletic playoffs. Regardless of whether it’s high school or college or professional sports, people get all riled up come tournament time. Envision the scene: It’s the final game of the NCAA boys basketball tournament. The lead has bounced back and forth since the start. There are 30 seconds left and the score is tied. What’s the atmosphere inside that stadium? Are people patiently awaiting the final result, seated sedately, hands clasped in their lap? Heavens no! The place is pandemonium! Everyone in the house is standing, yelling, waving their arms wildly. Both teams’ cheerleaders are wielding their poms like the final points depended on it. People are passionate about their team pride. And they’re shoutin’ like it matters!
At the end of his letter, Brother James prods God’s people to pray fervently. Passionately. Intensely. Zealously. Do you? Or do you sit on the sidelines, quietly awaiting the outcome of the game of life? Stand up, sisters! Come boldly before the throne of grace! Pretend your pleas are as important as takin’ the tournament trophy. The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.
Consider your heartache over your declining body, and your dismay and defeat over your battle of the belly. How serious are you about training to win? Are you earnest about transforming your temple? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is it time to put ol’ Satan in his place and shout, “Get behind me! I will be healed! I am a new creation! I claim the abundant life God died to deed me! I am an adopted daughter of the King, done with eating sorry street food and sluggishly sittin’ around like a loser. No! I’m in it to win it and I’m gonna play the game like an athlete who’s destined to victory!”
Pray passionately, saints. Ask God to be your inspiration and coach. Train your temple like your country’s future depended on it. Gather your gals and watch Invictus, then together, commit to the vision and discipline of champions.