The Apostle James tells us, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
How is your prayer life? How often do you pray? For what purpose do you pray? Are your prayers “fervent?” Are your prayers effective? Are you righteous? These are questions I ask myself when I read James’ statement. Let’s examine our prayer lives by looking at these issues.
Are your prayers effective? If you are thinking “yes” let me propose something.
Of course, God answers prayer, but did He answer yours? If you prayed for something and it came to pass, one of three things may have happened; God may have answered your prayer, God may have answered someone else’s prayer, the event could have just been what was going to happen regardless.
Please don’t think I’m attempting to belittle prayer. I believe prayer is an essential part of the Christian life and is indispensable in the plan of God. However, some Christians act like God is a genie ready to grant our wishes whenever summoned. My goal here is to get people to think about their prayer life.
Are you righteous? A person is made righteous by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9); our righteousness is not our own. A person moves from unrighteous to righteous not by the good works they do, or the evil things they don’t do, but by the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:10, 23; Romans 4:1-5).
For what purpose do you pray?
We all have people we know that the only time we hear from them is when they need something, a favor, a loan, something that only benefits them. Hopefully, we have people in our life where we have meaningful conversations. People we laugh with, share our innermost thoughts, hash out decisions and discuss the events of the day.
I would ask which person you would rather have a conversation with, but I believe the answer is clear – the person with whom the conversations are deep and meaningful, not the fellow who is coming every time with hat in hand.
When you pray is it only because you need a favor or is it more like one person laying out their heart to another. Which conversation do you think God would rather have?
Are your prayers fervent? When a person is fervent, they exhibit high emotion. Their soul, their passion, is wrapped up in what they are doing. When a person is fervent whatever they are doing comes from the heart.
Many churches have prayer lists, and this is a good thing. Christians should bring their request to God’s people for additional prayer. However, sometimes a person’s prayer life can be reduced to reading God a list. The heart is gone. Instead of having a grave concern over the things needing prayer there is indifference. Prayer becomes routine, something done out of duty and not from our relationship with God.
Remember when you were a teenager and those Saturday nights when Dad would not give you the car keys? I’m sure he had his reasons and just as parents have reasons to say, “no” to their kids every so often God has reasons to say, “no” to us. As mentioned earlier; God is not a genie.
One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
As a husband, I understand if I don’t put my wife on a pedestal; God will not listen to me.
Other reasons God will not answer prayer – Secret sin (Psalm 66:18; Disobedience (1 Samuel 14:37); a hatred of the Bible (Proverbs 28:9); stubbornness (Zachariah 7:13); self-indulgence (James 4:3) and many more.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous ma availeth much.”
How’s your prayer life?