Summary: Do you obtain little or no results fron your prayers? This could be why!
THE PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER
In the book of James, we read about a wonderful qualification on prayer:
James 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.
The above passage says the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” In this single sentence, a man could be effectual, fervent, and righteous. By simple word re-organization, if we remove the word “effectual”, it becomes the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. That means the righteous man could pray fervent prayers that are not effectual.
Likewise, if we remove the word fervent, the sentence becomes ‘the effectual prayers of a righteous man availeth much’. This also means that a man could pray effectual prayers that are not fervent - there are problems again. ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a man availeth much’. Here, we have omitted the word righteous. And if we do that, nothing happens still, meaning that all three qualities must work hand in hand in man for his prayers to be effective.
When I was a young Christian, the verse quoted below used to bother me a lot.
James 5:17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
So, there was a turmoil within me. I used to quarrel with myself, saying, “You see, Elijah was a man like you; he prayed that there should be no rain in the land, and it came to pass. He was not a super-man, but a human being like you. It is therefore a shame that you cannot do likewise.” This single feat of Elijah bothered me a lot in those days.
From the passages we have read, we can see that prayer has principles - “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” By fervent prayer, I mean concentrated prayer; focused prayer where your mind does not wander about. So, if you refuse to learn to pray fervently you will allow your enemy to have a free run.
It is very easy for a man of God to stand on the pulpit, stretch forth his hands and pray for the entire congregation for thirty minutes or more. Yes, God will honour it and things will happen. But he is not helping the congregation; neither is he training them. “Give a man a piece of fish, you give him a meal, but teach him how to fish, he will eat all his life”, so goes the old adage.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, means that your prayer must be focused and fervent in order to move the hands of the Almighty.
If you are a righteous Christian, your protection from God Almighty is also guaranteed as shown in the scripture below:
Isaiah 54:17: No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
God is saying here that your righteousness is of Him and that all you need to do is to come forward with boldness to the throne of grace. Perhaps you are righteous in Christ; and you pray fervently, yet you cannot say that your prayer availeth much. Are you puzzled and do you keep asking yourself why you always obtain very little results from your prayers? Why God does not speak to you; Why He does not instruct you on which step or way to go? The answer could simply be lack of understanding of the principles of prayer.