We have to be in right standing with God for our prayers to produce results. I have done a word study on James 5:16: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," (KJV).
Let's look at these definitions:
- Effectual: Prayers that produce the desired results. The root word is "effect," which means "power that has influence and brings results."
- Fervent: Zealous, earnest, hot-off-the-press prayer that is so on fire that it spreads and catches hold of everything it comes in contact with.
- Avail: Prayers that have advantage or benefits by praying them.
Based on the definitions above we can summarize the verse by saying that our prayers must release power that has influence, benefit and advantage to produce results.
The opposite of releasing effectual prayer is praying amiss. Sometimes we take praying amiss lightly. It is a serious sin in the eyes of God! The word "amiss" is kakos in the Greek, and it literally means to pray evil prayers.
James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (NKJV). Oh, how we have misinterpreted this Scripture in the church. Many would say this verse means that we do not have what we need because we have not asked for it.
Not so! This verse actually means that we have been asking, but we are asking out of the will of God. The Bible does say that the Lord will give us the desires of our hearts, but God gave me a specific revelation about this (see Ps. 37:4).
When I was first saved God was answering my prayers so quickly that I was actually concerned. I appreciated His love and all He did for me, but I did not know anyone else for whom He was moving as He was moving for me. One day I asked God why He was moving on my behalf like He was.
God told me that He had appreciated how I had given up everything for Him. There was not a person, place, or thing that I would not have given up for God. I met Jesus, and it flipped every script in my life. I wish I could bottle what I felt and give it away. People did not understand, and, guess what—it did not matter! God went on to tell me that when I had given up everything, He took the desires of those things away from me and replaced them with His desires. He said to me, "You see, when I answer your prayers, I am only answering My will for you!"
This revelation has never left my heart. I have since prayed that God would remove any desires from my heart that did not line up with His will for my life. I came to grips with the fact that God knows what is best for me.
When the Word says that He gives us the desires of our hearts, it has a deeper meaning to me. God does not just answer the prayers that are already in my heart. He removes anything that is not His will for me and literally gives me the desires of my heart. It is as though God is answering His own prayers for me. This is perfect prayer—the perfect will of God!
When Jesus interceded, He did not pray His will but the will of the Father. Motives are very important to God when it comes to prayer. When we are praying, God does not just hear our words; He also looks at our hearts. Jesus did not pray selfish prayers. He gave Himself to the purpose of the kingdom. His intercession was kingdom-centered and not self-centered. Ours should be the same.
This article is adapted from "Give It Back" by Kimberly Daniels, copyright 2007, published by Charisma House. In this book, Daniels teaches powerful principles for doing spiritual warfare that will prepare and equip you to step into greater spiritual authority to confront Satan and be victorious over him.