It is said that the apostle James had knees that were worn hard by his constant habit of kneeling in prayer. If this is true, we have the testimony of a man who had proven the power of prayer in his own life. He practiced what he preached. He wrote, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV). The inference of these words is that there is a kind of prayer that avails little or nothing and could be described as ineffective, vain, and useless. Perhaps you have felt at times that your prayers were ineffective or powerless. Could your prayers have been characterized by the following?
Prayer with a wrong motive cannot prevail. Selfish prayer is the reason why some do not receive that for which they ask (James 4:3). Maybe the reason why your prayers don’t prevail is because they are so self-centered that God is crowded out.
If sin is practiced, prayer cannot prevail. If we knowingly harbor sin in our life, God will not hear us (Psalms 66:18). Conversely, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9).
An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer (Mark 11:25-26). “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15, ESV).
An unwillingness to be reconciled to another hinders prayer (Matthew 5:23-24). Maintaining a proper relationship with a brother in Christ is a priority if we expect God to hear our prayers. We cannot be right with God and remain estranged from our brethren. The initiative in seeking reconciliation resides upon both the offender (Matthew 5:23) and the offended (Matthew 18:15). Harboring ill-will toward someone who has offended us only harms us. There is the possibility that the offender is totally unaware of their offense and calling attention to the affect their conduct has had upon you provides the opportunity for the two of you to reconcile. If you are the offender rather than the offended, being so calloused that you do not seek reconciliation is also harmful.
A wrong family relationship hinders prayer (1 Peter 3:7). If our relationship with members of our family is not all that it should be, prayer is obstructed. When a husband and wife regularly join hands in prayer, they remain joined together in life.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” May we take this admonition to our hearts and be encouraged to pray effectively to God’s glory!