The rationale for James’ exhortation to “confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” is that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
In His great sermon on righteousness, Jesus states (in Matthew 6:5-9) three essential ingredients of effective fervent prayer. These are:
- Exclusion. “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (v. 6). Fervent prayer requires a complete freedom from pretense. As is so wonderfully illustrated in Luke 11:5-13, genuine prayer arises from a sense of desperate need which results in reverent shamelessness and extreme boldness. Find and use a private place which allows you to shut out all distractions and interruptions; Jesus repeatedly did (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16, 6:12). Exclusion provides the fertile soil necessary for fervent prayer.
- Conviction. Prayer is one of the most revealing exposures of what you genuinely believe. It displays the naked truth about your faith. Fervent prayer on the lips comes from a heart overflowing with the conviction that “your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” and He actually “knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (vv. 6, 8). One who is fervent in prayer knows God answers prayer and joyfully trusts God’s omniscience, wisdom, love, sovereignty, and providence. Without the passionate fire of these convictions, fervent prayer has no fuel.
- Realization. Though your body may be entering a secret place (v. 6), when you pray your mind and spirit are entering into the throne room of the universe. You are entering into the hallowed presence of heaven’s Sovereign (v. 9). There is a throne set in heaven, and it is occupied (Revelation 4:2). There are many Scriptural names for the One who sits upon this glorious, lofty, unique throne—God Most High, The God who sees me, God Almighty, Jehovah Provides, God Everlasting, Jehovah of hosts, The Holy One, The Jealous One, et. al. The name Jesus instructs us to use is: “Father”.
“Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).