Summary: Fervency in prayer is like the tension a string puts on a bow, it transfers its energy to the arrow to make it fly straight and true. An effective prayer is one that is successful in producing a desired or intended result.

Effectual Fervent Prayer

PPT 1 Series title

We are in our study of the book of James entitled: Getting the right angle on things.

Today we are going to talk about, why and when prayer doesn't work, and why and when prayer does work.

By getting the right angle on this we can see more prayers answered. Anybody want more prayers answered?

PPT 2 scripture

Jas 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (NAS)

Jas 5:16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)

Jas 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (RSV)

From this text we are going to see:

PPT 3 what makes prayer work

For prayer to work it must be:

It must be effective

It must have fervency

It must come from a consecrated life

1. For prayer to work it must be effective

Not all fervent prayers are effective

The NAS translation of our text speaks of prayers ability to be effective, it can accomplish much. The RSV amplifies it slightly and says it has great power in its effects, (I like that wording its power radiates outward like a sun going supernova) but the KJV seems to describe the elements of prayer and what they should be: effective & fervent. This is one of those texts that helps me understand why there are so many versions, the thoughts of God are sometimes bigger than one wording of that thought.

There is only one Greek word that is translated effective in the NAS and in the KJV, there is no second word from which the KJV gets the word fervently. So where do they get it from?

First the Greek word that we translate effective is energao from which we get our English word of power/energy. So then it could simply mean energized prayer (fervent), or effective prayer is full of energy. KJV translators decided to incorporate both meanings and that is why they translated it as two words. I think they are correct because the very next verse says:

PPT 5 scripture

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

Notice the phrase prayed earnestly. The Greek word prayed is prosukamee and it means to pray, and the Greek word earnestly is prosukay it is simply a different form of the word pray (prayer). Straight Greek to English translation would be he prayed with prayer. IOW it would be like us saying, he didn't just pray, HE PRAYED!

He prayed vehemently, with passion, with emotion. Another example is Luke 22:15 "with desire I have desired." John Gill in his commentary says: "... the phrase here seems to design something more than bare praying; a praying, not merely externally, or formally, and with the lip only, but with the Spirit, and with the understanding, and with the heart engaged in it, with inwrought prayer. The prophet prayed with much earnestness, with great vehemence and intenseness of Spirit, as this Hebraism denotes; his prayer was fervent, and it was constant, and importunate, and was continued till he had an answer:..."

So it makes sense that the KJV translators would say that effective prayer is fervent prayer.

BTW the dictionary defines effective as:

PPT 6 definition



1. Successful in producing a desired or intended result.

So for prayer to be effective it has to have an element of fervency attached to it. I will talk more about fervency in a minute, for now I am concentrating on what makes prayer effective, or as the dictionary says makes it successful in producing a desired or intended result. Fervency is only one element.

When I began this message I said James also teaches us not only what makes prayer work, but what also makes it fail to work. So lets back up in his letter and we read this:

PPT 7 Scripture

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. (KJV)

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend [it] on your pleasures. (NAS)

I don't doubt for one moment that people have prayed a lot of prayers with great fervency and yet they were completely ineffective. Prayers for relationships, prayers for money, prayers to get out of trouble. Fervency alone is not enough to get your prayers answered. Just because you want something very badly doesn't change the fact that it will be very bad for you. And if its bad for you God won't give it to you.

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