By Jill Briscoe
What sort of person do you need to be in order to be effective in your prayer life?
1) You Need to Have Been Forgiven by God.
Notice that it is the righteous man who has power with God. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (Jas. 5:16). Another way of looking at that word righteous is to realize that it means, among other things, that a person has been forgiven. Are you forgiven?
Years ago I invited a good friend to a meeting. She was not a believer, and she listened carefully to a clear explanation of the gospel. Realizing she was a sinner needing salvation, I introduced her to the speaker at the end of the service. He shook her hand and then said to her, “Tonight you will either sleep as a forgiven sinner or an unforgiven sinner!” She was startled but thought about it and decided to sleep forgiven. Praying a simple prayer of repentance, she asked the Lord Jesus to enter her life, which He graciously did. Now she was ready to pray prayers that were effective.
2) You Have to Learn to Be Passionate in Your Praying.
Elijah “prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain” (Jas. 5:17). Elijah’s heart was in His work. Many times we kneel to pray and we really don’t care if God hears and answers us or not. Fervency is a condition of the heart that is developed through our growing relationship with God. As we grow to love Him, we find ourselves caring about the things He cares about. Prayer turns our thoughts away from our selfish concerns because we are putting ourselves into the presence of a selfless Being–and a little of that rubs off.
3) You Need to Be a Persistent Pray-er if You Are to See Your Prayers Work.
Elijah prayed continually about the work of God. He climbed a mountain and got to work. He set himself to watch and pray until the rain came (1 Kings 18:42-46). Most of us give up far too soon when we are praying. We hit an obstacle such as an unanswered prayer and stop dead in our tracks. When Elijah set himself to pray on the top of Mount Carmel, you get the impression that he settled down until the answer came. God likes us to be persistent. Jesus told a story about a woman who persistently asked a judge to grant her request (Lk. 18:1-8). And Jesus commended the persistent, blind beggar (Lk. 18:35-43). He wants us to go on asking until it’s the right time to get an answer.
I think that prayer is a bit like jogging. Years ago I took up running. Everyone in my family was into the sport in a big way, and I didn’t want to be left out. They talked enthusiastically about “going through the wall.” I wondered what they meant. They explained that if you persisted when you felt you just had to give up, then you went through an invisible wall and got a second wind. It only happened to me once, but I do recall the sense of exultation and the sudden belief that I could run forever.
I think there is a wall as we engage in prayer as well. It’s my belief that when many Christians practice prayer, they live on this side of the wall. They get to what I call the point of push, and they stop instead of pressing on. Next time this happens to you, press on; be persistent and you will find yourself in a new country, a land of joy and freedom, with new hope and expectations. Persistence takes your prayer life into a whole new orbit. “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray,” James tells us (Jas. 5:13).
Just Between Us (JBU) understands the immense importance of prayer. We have pulled together numerous articles to help you in your pursuit of a deeper relationship with God through prayer. It is our hope that as you read, learn and begin to apply these prayer tips and advice, you will not only experience a richer prayer life, but a more meaningful connection with God.