Summary: How effective is your prayer life?
Intro: We all want to have a more effective prayer life. In order to do so, our prayers must have certain qualities.
- James 5:16b …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.
I. Prayer should be specific. (v.16-18)
- Turn away wrath
- Provide Mercy
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
• David asked God for one very specific thing, which was that he would dwell with the Lord.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
• The church was praying specifically for Peter to be released from prison, and he was.
• Often our prayers are ineffective because they are so general that we would not know they were answered anyway.
II. Prayer should be simple. (v.16-18)
- Turn away wrath
- Provide mercy
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
• Just because our prayers should be specific, does not mean they have to be complicated. On the contrary, a specific prayer can be quite simply, perhaps even only two or three sentences.
III. Prayer should be persistent. (v.23)
- At the beginning of your pleas a word went out….
Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
Though we want to use prayers that are simple and specific, that does not mean that we only pray them one time. We must be persistent in our prayers. Luke tells the story of an unjust judge who eventually did the right thing for a widow simple because she kept pestering him. Jesus makes the parallel that if an unjust judge would finally do what was right, how much more will a God who loves us and cares for us do what is right for us.
IV. Prayer should be humble. (vs.4-6)
- Daniel confessed his and Israel’s sin
- He included himself although there is no record of any rebellion from him.
You hear, 0 Lord, the desire of the humble, you encourage them and you listen to their cry.
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breasts and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Though God invites us to be persistent in our specific and simple prayers, that does not mean that we should become demanding of God. We must always approach God humbly. God owes us nothing; therefore we can demand nothing from Him. We approach God as a humble sinner in need of a touch from the Devine.
V. Prayer should be confident. (vs.7-9)
- To You belongs righteousness
- To us belongs open shame
- To the Lord our God belongs mercy and forgiveness
. . . through faith in Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
• Hebrews 10: 19
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is his body.
Though we approach God humbly with our specific, simple but persistent prayers, the Bible also says that we should pray in confidence that God will hear our prayers. Though it may sound like confident praying somehow contradicts humble praying, that is not the case. We pray humbly because God owes us nothing. We pray confidently because we know that come before the Father in the name of the Son. The Father loves the Son and since Christians are clothed in His righteousness, then the Father will listen to us. Our confidence comes from our position in Christ, not our own spiritual position.
VI. Prayer should be done in faith. (vs. 2-3)
- Daniel perceived the timing according to scripture
- Daniel made his request to God based on scripture and the will of God.
Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, Go throw yourself into the sea and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.