James 5:16-18 – Fervent Prayer

by | Updated August 2nd, 2021

There is great power in fervent prayer. Fervent praying can accomplish much for and in the kingdom of God. James gives Elijah as a prime example of what fervent prayer can do.

James 5:16-18 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

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Confess your faults

Notice it says faults and not sin. We are to confess sin to God alone. We confess our faults to one another for accountability, comfort, encouragement, and for prayer. It’s important we do not confess our faults and struggles to just anyone. We must take every precaution to make sure the one we confess to is trustworthy. If we’re the one to whom confession is being directed it’s imperative we keep it in the strictest confidence.

A group of pastors were meeting together for accountability, prayer and support. They were confessing things they were struggling with to one another. One said, “I’m having a real problem with lust and fear and I am a womanizer.” The second said, “I’m struggling with drinking.” The third one said, “I really like to gossip and can’t wait to get out of here!” We must make sure those we confess to are trustworthy.

A Righteous Man

When we fail the devil accuses us and says, “See you really messed up. It says a righteous man. You’re not righteous. You have no reason to expect God to answer your prayers.” Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). It’s important we realize that our righteousness is not predicated on anything we do or don’t do. Our righteousness is predicated on our faith in Jesus Christ and that alone.

Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Isaiah 61:10 – “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of His righteousness.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

A Man Subject to Like Passions as We Are

We tend to think of certain people as spiritually superior. They seem to be on a higher level than we are. They appear to have a connection to and with God that we can’t seem to attain to. They’re on a spiritual plateau that few aspire to or ever reach. Elijah is one such man.

He actually controlled the weather for three and a half years. He was supernaturally provided for by ravens and a widow lady for three and a half years. When he returned he called the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel, had a contest as to which was the true God, Baal or Jehovah. He called fire down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, and when he asked God to cause the rain to return it did (1 Kings 17-18).

Shortly thereafter, Jezebel, enraged by what he had done and how he humiliated Ahab the king, threaten to take his life in revenge by the same time the next day. This same mighty man of God “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).

He was subject to the same passions we are. He had times of victory where he felt unstoppable. Then he also had times of doubt, despair, discouragement, and failure. After such a great victory he felt like giving up and just wanted to die. That should encourage us. If he had such power with God in prayer so can we. We too can touch heaven and see great things accomplished for the glory of God.

Effectual Fervent Prayer

The English word fervent simply means “impassioned, forceful, passionate, heartfelt, powerful, and wholehearted.” The verse, as translated in the King James Version, seems to indicate that a passionate, wholehearted prayer will accomplish much, implying that a half-hearted prayer will not be as effective.

Effectual fervent is translated from a single Greek word, energeo (ἐνεργέω), a cousin to our word for energy. It conveys the idea of “energizing,” similar to an electrical current that brings energy to a circuit. This suggests a type of prayer that is “passionate, heartfelt, heated, persistent, energetic, and laborious.”

Pastor Chuck Smith tells of, when he was around five or six years old, he hurt himself and ask his mother to pray for him. She prayed and he was still hurting. He turned to his mom and said, “Pray again mom, but this time pray like you really mean it!” Effectual fervent prayer is praying like you really mean it.

Too frequently we don’t pray like we really mean it. “Lord, I’m asking You for this and if You want to answer my prayer that would be great. If You don’t want to, that’s okay too.” Prayer like that isn’t praying like we really mean it. We’re to pray in faith really believing and expecting God to answer our prayer and grant our request.

1 John 5:14-15 – “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”

Jeremiah 29:12-13 – “Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.”

Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers.”

Joel 2:12-13 – “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God.”

Psalms 141:1-2- – “Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

Galatians 4:19 – “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.”

Accomplishments of Fervent Prayer

  1. Fervent prayer ushers in revival. John Knox saw such a tremendous move of God in Scotland but prior to it it was said that he agonized before God. He prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die.” How bad do we really want what we’re praying for? Are we putting our entire soul into our prayers?

    David Brainerd was a missionary to American Indians. He saw a revival break out and change an entire tribe. He had a lot going for him. David was engaged to Jonathan Edwards daughter, Jerusha. He was young, he loved the Lord, He had a desire to see the unreached reached for Christ.

    He would ride horseback for miles and miles no matter the weather. He slept on the ground. Often He would kneel in the snow and pray to the Lord. His fervor for the Indians’ salvation and God’s glory was so great that when He finished praying, the heat from His body had melted all of the snow within two feet of him in every direction.

    Acts 1:14 – “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” The result was the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost where 3,000 were saved.

    Acts 3:1 – “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” The result being a lame man was healed and another 2,000 people were saved.

  2. Fervent prayer brings a shaking from on high. Oh how we desperately need a shaking in the church today! We need the Holy Ghost to shake the complacency out of us and set us on fire once again. Removing all that’s not of God so that only He remains, both individually and corporately as the body of Christ.

    Acts 4:24 – “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God.”

    Acts 4:31 – “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.”

    Hebrews 12:26-27 – “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

  3. Fervent prayer activates angels and sets captives free. “Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). When he saw that it pleased the Jews he also arrested Peter. Peter was thrown in prison and chained with two guards by his side and two at the door.

    Acts 12:5 – “But prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

    When the church gathers in fervent prayer captives are set free. Peter lay securely in prison and an angel appeared and struck him in his side and his chains fell off. The angel then led him out of the prison, out of the city gate, and he was freed. He proceeded to the house of Mary, Mark’s mother, “where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12).

    2 Kings 6:16 – “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

    Psalms 34:7 – “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

    Hebrews 1:14 – “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

  4. Fervent prayer emulates Jesus. What better example can we mimic the the Lord Himself. In the days of His earthly dwelling among us He was a man of fervent prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed so fervently that He sweat great drops of blood from His brow (Luke 22:40-46).

    Hebrews 5:7 – “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared.”

  5. Fervent prayer brings forth healing. It heals both the afflicted and the sick. If we’re going to see people healed of all that ails them it will be through the fervent prayers of God’s people. Fervent praying can bring physical, emotional, mental, and spirital healing into the lives of God’s people.

    James 5:16-18 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

    It can also bring healing to the church. The church, particularly in America, is in need of a touch from on high. The body of Christ is sick and therefore not functioning as it ought. If we’re going to see the church healed and brought back to life it is going to take His people laying hold of God in fervent prayer.

    Isaiah 64:7 – “And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee.”

    Where are those of yesteryear who laid hold of God in fervent prayer? That generation has overall passed on to glory. God is looking for those who will cease playing church and will begin to lay hold of the horns of the altar again. He’s searching for those who will not only lay hold of God themselves but call their people to do the same.

  6. Fervent prayer will usher in the latter rain. I’m convinced that if we will really begin to seek the face of God in fervent prayer we’ll see an outpouring of the Spirit of God the likes of which we have never imagined.

    James 5:17-18 – “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

    We are living in a parched land as during the three and a half years of Israel’s drought. As in Elijah’s time, God has caused it. He has caused it because we’ve drifted far from Him as Israel had done. He’s caused it that we might turn back to Him again with all our heart and thirst for Him once more.

    Just prior to prophesying of the latter day outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Joel called the leaders, the priests, and all of the people to seek the face of God. If we’ll truly begin seeking the face of God with all our heart we’ll see an outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon all flesh. “There is a sound of abundance of rain” (1 Kings 18:41)! If we seek God in fervent prayer we’ll see the latter rain.

    Joel 2:16-17 – “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar.”

    Joel 2:28-32 – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.”

Let’s stop playing church and begin seeking the face of God in fervent prayer as in the days of old. If we do we’ll see a mighty move of God in these latter days.

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