James 5:16b KJV
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
This is probably one of the most well known verses from the book of James. We will look to this verse to verify that God hears and answers our prayers. After all, it tells us that our prayers do hard work and will deliver good results, right? Isn’t that what it says? I am going to break this verse way down and see what Jams is telling me to make sure I understand it completely.
Effectual fervent prayer – these words paint a dynamic picture of prayer. This is not a passive prayer. It’s not a sweet little prayer that we remember at the last minute. It’s not a prayer that we just say in passing, or that we say when we are taking prayer requests at church.
No this is a prayer of action. A prayer that comes from deep within our hearts and souls and expects a return. It’s a prayer that runs through us like electricity runs through a wire. It brings change the moment it is spoken. It produces faith in the hearer. It proceeds out of our mouth expecting to make a change wherever it is directed. This prayer is prayer that comes from a working faith, because it is a prayer that works.
This actually brings us full circle in this book. Remember back at James 1:3, he writes that the “trying of our faith works patience”. Faith working in us is the idea here as well. Faith that can move mountains. Faith that can calm the sea. Faith that can raise the dead or open blinded eyes. Faith that produces patience!
Why would we need patience if we have this kind of faith? Isn’t this miracle producing faith? Won’t my prayers be answered immediately if I have this kind of faith? That is never up to us, my friends. The word avail means these are powerful prayers that produce extraordinary deeds. They are prayers that produce results. But the timing of those results is up to God, not us. An instant miracle always seems like the best answer to our prayers, but we do not always know what God is in store for us if we go trough the trial.
How many of you can say that you have grown in your faith by this blog? How many would say the poetry on my other blog has lifted your spirits? Have you been blessed by the words here, or maybe by a comment I made on your blog? I don’t ask these questions to get a pat on the back or anything. I ask them to make a point.
If the prayers prayed for me at the beginning of this cancer had come to pass at that time, and a miracle took the cancer completely out of my body before any treatment started, I would have been thrilled! Believe me, there were plenty of prayers to that affect. It was our prayer as well! I loved my work and my health and did not want anything to come and interfere with that.
If those prayers had been answered, this blog would most likely never have materialized. The growth I have experienced in my faith would probably not have happened. I am sure my poetry would have continued, but perhaps I would never have started my WordPress page for poetry and just stuck with my Facebook page. The people close to me would be rejoicing, but then they would not see how God would bring me trough a trial like this A miraculous healing before this began would be forgotten, or thought of as a missed diagnosis.
Now people can see my progress, my healing, week after week, and their faith is growing as a result. They can hear my voice get stronger as I lead worship. They can sense the deeper passion I have for the Lord in my words and my songs. Much of this would not be so if I had received instant healing. And I most likely would not have met you!
Even though I did not receive that miracle, the prayers for me were still prayers of action and power. They did work, and continue to work to bring complete healing to my body. I rejoice daily as I feel better and better, and I grow stronger and stronger. Effectual, fervent prayer that avails much.
The last piece of the puzzle to this effective prayer is the righteous man (or woman). If we expect our prayers to be effective, we must do our best to fulfill this part of the verse. The word righteous means holy, without fault, conformed to God’s law, full of integrity – pretty much what we expect it to mean. If we fulfill that part, then we can use this verse to encourage ourselves in prayer. If we do not, we should not expect an answer to our prayers. It’s that simple.
When this study in James finises up in a day or two, I am going to spend some time blogging through an in-depth study I did almost 30 years ago on prayer. I found my notes a few weeks ago, and have wanted to redo this study because I loved it so much. I hope you enjoy it as well. It will be entitled simply A.S.K.