“Are you living where God answers prayer?” These words to a popular hymn can be quite thought provoking. Where is that place? How do we get there? James 5:16 says, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This verse will be our road map to that place where God answers prayer. We’ll focus on who the “righteous man” is and what the Word of God says about “effectual fervent prayer.” Then we’ll look at Biblical examples of prayer. God’s Word gives us simple, clear directions to that place where our heavenly Father answers prayer, where our prayer to Him works powerfully.
First, who is the “righteous man”? Knowing this will get us headed in the right direction to answered prayer. Romans 5 gives us important background for our journey.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
By Adam’s disobedience, many were made sinners. Mankind lost that spiritual connection with God and that perfect righteousness before Him. But Jesus Christ repaired that broken connection between God and man. By his obedience, now many can be made righteous—as many as accept the benefits of his life, death, and resurrection. According to Romans 10:9, when we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe God raised him from the dead, we are saved, made whole. At that moment, we become sons of God and as such we are legally made righteous in Christ. We are forever God’s sons, His righteous ones. What a great way to begin our journey—knowing we are righteous!
“Righteousness” can be defined as “the God-given justification whereby a person stands in the presence of God without any consciousness of sin, guilt, or shortcomings.” We can claim our righteousness before God every time we pray. We stand before God with all confidence that we are worthy through Christ Jesus to have our prayers answered. We don’t try to work out our own righteousness with good works, but by believing action we show forth our righteousness.
I John 3:7:
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
It takes righteousness within to do righteously and show it forth. Because righteousness cannot be earned, but rather is given by God, we need only to believe it and let our life-style reflect what we have been given.
As a son of God, the righteous man no longer worries, fears, or feels unworthy. He simply has confidence that he is worthy through Christ Jesus. He has confidence to claim answers to prayer. As sons of God, we each have what it takes to be that “righteous man” who gets powerful answers to prayer.
Next, knowing what “effectual fervent prayer” is will keep us moving toward answered prayers. The Amplified Bible describes it as “earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer.” God has a part in this effectual fervent prayer, and so do we. Our part is to pray and believe, and God’s part is to supply, to answer our prayers.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
To receive we must believe, not question or doubt, that God is able and willing to do His part. I learned this lesson when I was prayed for by a woman I had never met before. She saw my physical distress and followed me into the ladies’ restroom. She clasped my hand and prayed, “Father, thank You for this believer’s heart.” Then she let go of my hand and left.
“My heart? There’s nothing wrong with my heart!” Indignation rose within me; my thoughts swirled in doubt and unbelief. “How can God heal me with that prayer?” But then I stopped and acknowledged God: “Well, she prayed; I can believe it or not. Thanks for healing me.” And God brought the answer of healing—instantly!
Believing allows God to do His part. Something that can keep God from doing His part is man’s self-condemnation, that feeling of being unworthy. As long as a man’s heart condemns or accuses him for any reason, he cannot get answers to prayer because he does not have confidence toward God. Our heavenly Father is willing, but condemnation can limit God and not allow Him to answer the prayer.
I John 3:21 and 22:
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
I John 5:14 and 15:
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Knowing these truths helped me believe at another time in my life. After many months of physical therapy and much prayer to God, I still had chronic pain from head to toe. When asked, “Why do you think God’s not healing you?” I was taken aback. I knew God was not to blame.
That question challenged me to get honest in my heart. I responded, “I don’t feel I deserve to be healed. I haven’t carried out my doctor’s instructions perfectly.” (I had been faithful, just not perfect. I did not feel I had “done my best,” so how could God “do the rest”?) Then I was asked, “What are you going to do about it?” I replied, “Faithfully do my workouts with no condemnation.” Just four days later, I was pain free! When my heart was confident in God, He was able to do His part….
This is an excerpt from the July/August 2011 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2011 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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