James 5:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 5:17, NIV: Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

James 5:17, ESV: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

James 5:17, KJV: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

James 5:17, NASB: 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.

James 5:17, NLT: Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!

James 5:17, CSB: Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.

What does James 5:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, James wrote that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Now he offers the example of the prayer of Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of God, but even so he was nothing more than a fallible, mortal, limited human man. And yet, when he prayed that it would not rain, it didn't rain.

Of course, neither James's readers nor modern Christians easily think of Elijah as just an ordinary man. He was used by God to do amazing, miraculous things. This, though, is part of James's point. Elijah's power came from God, in response to Elijah's prayers.

There is no logical or spiritual reason for Christians not to pray, even when the situation seems dire. Why should we doubt that God can do powerful things in response to our prayers? We're not relying on some power within ourselves. We're not conjuring magic; we're asking God, and He is the one who is acting.