There are a number if situations at Wildwood that we are praying for at the moment. James 5:16 tells us that “the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. Whatever and whoever we are praying for, we want our prayers to “avail much,” so if we want to see our prayers answered we can do worse than take on board what the apostle is saying in this verse.
What is effective in us is the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13). God has magnified His word above His name (Psalm 138:2). This can be interpreted on many levels (just look up a few sermons on google!), but a literal understanding is always a good place to start. Without exploring any other possible implications, Psalm 138:2 tells us that praying in the name of Jesus is obviously good, but praying the Word of God in the name of Jesus is even better.
Any word of God? No. Any relevant word of God? Maybe sometimes. The specific word of God that is given to us by the Holy Spirit as we are praying? Yes. We don’t know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit helps us. (Romans 8:26) The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, as we know from Ephesians 6. It’s the sword that belongs to the Spirit, and He is the one who knows best how to wield it. This word is “living and active” (Heb 4:12), so it isn’t going to be the same every time. If we take the word that He gives us, and not just the one that we think fits the occasion, we can expect it to be effective.
Fervent is passionate, burning with God’s love. We can’t be passionate if we just repeat a formula. We can’t be passionate if we pray just because we feel we ought to. When the Israelites cried out to God in the Old Testament, He often said, usually through one of His prophets, “I have seen your tears,” or “I have seen how you have humbled yourself.” I believe God wants to see us emotionally engaged with Him over the people we are praying for, and above all to seek His love for them. The Shunammite woman had to make a journey to seek the man of God (Elisha) for her son, and sometimes we have to make a journey as well before we have truly taken hold of Jesus and cried out to Him to see a need met.
So if want our prayers to avail much, they have to be guided by the Holy Spirit, rich in the word of God, and inflamed with His passion. Jesus prayed differently for every situation he was in: He put mud on eyes, stuck His fingers in ears, told people to get up on their feet and told demons to leave. He was the living active Word Himself, He was guided supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, and was always demonstrating the love of the Father. If we can learn to do this too, I think we will start to see some significant results.