The Bible says that, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16 NASB) But what exactly is an "effective" prayer? The verses above in First John offer us some valuable insights on this subject.
First, we must pray "in agreement" with God. One of the best ways to do that is to become very familiar with the Scriptures. The Bible contains promises from the Lord that pertain to every situation and circumstance we will ever encounter in our lifetime. We can go before God with an open Bible and ask Him to show us a promise or two that will reveal His will for our situation. Then we can get into agreement with His plans for us by laying claim to those promises in prayer, and standing on them until they come to pass. Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7 NASB) When we allow the Word of God to shape our prayers, we will see our percentage of answered prayer multiplied many times over.
Next, we see in these verses from First John that as we pray in agreement with God, we are to pray with "boldness". Jesus didn't sacrifice His life so that you and I could approach Him with fear and uncertainty. No, He died so that we would understand and take advantage of the "privilege of boldness" that is our inheritance in Christ. Hebrews 4:16 (AMP) says: "Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners)…" It is our faith in Christ that gives us the privilege of approaching God without reservation. As Ephesians 3:12 (AMP) says: "Because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear)." It is an insult to God when we approach Him as if we doubt His greatness and goodness toward us.
Lastly, our "effective" prayers should include giving thanks for the answer. If we are praying in agreement with God, and we are petitioning Him boldly and confidently, then First John says that we can "know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him." Now, if God gave you (past tense) something you asked for, wouldn't you promptly thank Him for it? Wouldn't that be the proper response? Well, according to this Scripture, when you pray effectively, what you asked God for is actually your "present possession," so the right thing to do is to begin thanking Him for it, even if it hasn't manifested in the physical realm yet. Don't expect your feelings to support you in this part of the process - but begin thanking and praising God by faith. Then watch how your belief level starts to increase more and more.
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, then you are a "righteous" man or woman of God, and you have the potential to pray effective and powerful prayers. I pray that the Lord will show you how to put these principles to work in your life, so that you may receive all the answered prayer He has for you!
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray in agreement with Your will, Your plans, and Your promises for my life, and those of others. Help me to discipline myself to spend regular time in Your presence and Your Word. Show me how to approach You fearlessly, confidently, and boldly every time. Thank You that as I follow Your Spirit's lead in these areas, I will reap an ever-increasing harvest of answered prayer!
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