“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b)
We read on social media, we see it on TV from various news anchors and celebrities and sports figures, “we send our thoughts and prayers”. On the surface this looks all fine and dandy, a virtue we can applaud. However there is a lesson with God with prayer.
James said “the prayer of a righteous man avails much”. So if we use logic here, he isn’t saying that the unrighteous prayers are not being heard by God, they just don’t avail much. And the term James is using here “righteous man” is indicative of a saved sinner, placed in Jesus Christ’s righteousness, the only way that man could be righteous.
I know before my salvation came, before I was born-again, I prayed and some of those prayers were answered, many were not, they didn’t avail much. So it doesn’t mean prayers cannot be answered by God if one is not saved, what does mean though they are most likely put in the back of the line so to speak. And I do believe that those who have been elected by God are being drawn by God to a rebirth all of their life, so those prayers are answered accordingly as well.
After my rebirth, I was blessed to have prayed for many people. Now placed in Christ’s righteousness, those prayers are now availing much. And I find it highly enlightening that some who have come to me know of my salvation, and have asked me personally to pray for them some of whom I know were not believers, but somehow God placed it in their heart to reach out to me.
1 Kings 13:6 Then the king responded to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him as it was before.
How does God answer prayers? It is always according to His will and purpose, never to our will. We can pray to “win the lottery” for example, and for decades never win the lottery because that is NOT God’s plan and purpose or maybe it is, and He’ll answer that according to His timing which is part of His purpose. We can pray to Him to heal someone of a disease, and if that person sadly perished, it isn’t as if God ignored the prayer, it was because it wasn’t His will.
The reason why a saved “righteous” sinner’s prayers avail to much, is because they are in tune with God’s will and are resting in His will. So the prayers are said accordingly. They are not praying for example so that one sins and gets away with it, or praying for sinful desires, because at the very least we know God has no part with sin. So they won’t be praying for example that because you cheated on your wife, you should bestowed His good graces. They’ll be praying that God opens your eyes and that He grants you repentance from that sin.
In your walk with Jesus, He is teaching many lessons in prayer! Listen to Him! If honest, we are all weak in our prayer life. Some days we give it our all, some days not so much. So a lesson I personally learned, is for the help in growing in my prayer life and listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
An awesome lesson in prayer is reading the Psalms!! Read them, study them, notice the focus and what is being prayed and this will definitely help you in your prayer life.
Lastly, the simple prayer ALL should be praying constantly is “THANK YOU LORD!”. When you see His sovereign merciful hand, you have no choice but to praying that prayer!
2 Chronicles 30:20 So the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people