The Bible says: ‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.’ (James 5:16–17 NKJV) There are two words in this portion of Scripture that you need to pay particular attention to:
(1) ‘Fervent’. This describes the intense heat you get from a blazing fire. The Amplified Bible puts it like this: ‘The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].’ If you’re not careful, you can fall into the trap of thinking you have to ‘work up’ strong emotions before you pray or while you’re praying, in order for your prayers to be heard and answered. Not so! Your feelings may move you, but only your faith will move God. The Bible says, ‘Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) Just because you felt God’s presence in a special way yesterday when you prayed, and you don’t today, doesn’t mean your prayers aren’t being heard and won’t be answered.
(2) ‘Righteous’. Elijah was a righteous man, but he certainly wasn’t a perfect man. Yes, his prayers were effective. But he was also given to bouts of fear and deep depression. Here’s the key: because you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness you’re always worthy and acceptable before God, therefore you can be confident your prayers will be heard and answered (see Romans 5:17). Knowing that, you can pray effectively.