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“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:16

     THIS IS A simple little statement, yet how richly it is packed with profound truths! I will briefly demonstrate the wisdom of this marvelous verse, by beginning with the term “fervent”. If prayer is to be effectual, it must be fervent, for it is not simply “talking to God”; it is wrestling, pleading, earnest beseeching and begging of God. It is not a mere moving of the lips; the heart must be engaged, and the Holy Spirit must be its driving force. We read in Isaiah 29:13 of a people which honored God with their lips, and drew nigh with their mouths, but their hearts were far from him. This must not be the case with you, my brethren. If your heart is not in your prayers, can we really call them prayers? They are but empty words, ritualistic murmurs which serve only to exercise your tongue, and no more. Fervency in the power of the Holy Spirit, by which you come boldly to the throne of grace, and being fully persuaded that, what God has promised, he is able also to perform – this must be the personification of your prayers.

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;”

We move next, to this very term of “prayer”. We hear much of “prayer” in our modern world, but seldom do we hear of a “prayer” which fits the biblical definition of the term. And what the Bible says of prayer, and delineates what prayer should be, ought be the only things we concern ourselves with. The heathen will pray to dumb idols, to inanimate objects, to dull beasts which can neither hear nor understand. They will convey their sentiments in vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7) and through unknown tongues (1 Corinthians 14:14). But this is not the prayer of which God speaks. The prayer mentioned in my text, is prayer directed solely to the one, true God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It is not recited from prayer books, but pulled directly from the heart. It is not babbled in a “heavenly prayer language” of mumbo jumbo, but spoken in the speaker’s native language.

Next, we move to whose prayers are effectual. My text does not say, “The effectual fervent prayer of a religious man availeth much.” My text does not say, “The effectual fervent prayer of a sincere man availeth much.” My text says “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Who is a righteous man? Not the man who thinks he can earn his own salvation. Not the man who thinks he can be saved through the merits of his own goodness. Not the man who thinks there are many avenues to eternal life. The only righteous man, is the man who has realized he is a sinner, and believed that Jesus Christ died for his sins, was buried, and bodily raised from the dead. Since God heareth not sinners (John 9:31), only the man to whom the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed (Romans 4:22-24) has a right to come boldly to the throne of grace.

This leads to this wonderful term, “availeth much”, for God answers prayer. Now, he does not always answer in the way we would desire, or in the timing we would prefer, but prayer which fits the classifications above listed can move the heart of God in a way no other thing can. Oh, child of God, do you not believe the wonderful promises which your heavenly Father has provided in his Word? Now, if you believe his Word, what keeps you from claiming those promises, and the wonderful confidence, the assurance, the hope, the comfort, and the joy which they bring? Why are you so hesitant to lay hold upon those wonderful words of life? Your Father loves you. He cannot lie to you. He eagerly awaits to hear from you, and desires fellowship with you. He has granted you permission, that you may come boldly to the throne of grace, and find grace to help in time of need. Nothing is too hard for him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think! You must simply ask, and plead, and beseech, from your heart, with all your heart. Does this always mean God will give you what you ask for? No. It does not. Yet, still, you are to pray. Does this always mean you will understand why God has withholden that which you asked for? No. It does not. Yet, still, you are to pray. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). One day, you will see how God was working through your life, though we could not then understand. But you need not worry yourself with that now. Seek not understanding, O Christian. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek the face of your Savior continually; and look unto him, and be lightened.


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