James 5:16 is commonly referenced when it comes to the topic of prayer: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
This simple sentence reveals three significant attributes of prayer:
The Holy Spirit wants to bring reformation to our prayer lives, so we can be truly powerful reformers in the culture. It is good and healthy for us to periodically allow Him to “take inventory” of our lives, so He can fill any areas where we may be lacking.
As we come before the throne of mercy and grace, we must come in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we walk in His righteousness, our desires align with His—for things on earth to be as they are in heaven. We become willing and open for His kingdom to be manifested through our lives, our attitudes, and our confident faith in His wisdom. We experience new levels of trust that He knows how to navigate through the morass of confusion and despair stirred up by the world’s systems.
Ask the Holy Spirit to align every area of your life with the life He has made available to you. Let Him show you if you have been relying on your own righteousness, rather than be truly robed in His righteousness.
Romans 12:11 encourages us to be “fervent in spirit.” The RSV translation says to “be aglow with the Spirit.” We are to be so consumed with a fiery passion for the will of God to be done that we shine forth His glory.
The word translated as “fervent” implies that we will have an unflagging passion, a zeal for those things that are good.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you have become weary. Perhaps you have been praying under a weight of disillusionment, rather than praying with fervor. He can breathe new life into your heart and your prayers.
We continually face situations where we simply do not know how to pray; therefore, we start wondering if our prayers are even effective anymore.
Paul addresses this issue in Romans: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
The Holy Spirit always prays the will of God. We can trust His intercession; we can trust His word when He communes with our spirits and gives us the knowledge of what to pray. When we ask for guidance in our prayers, we must learn to be still, to rest in His presence, and to listen for His direction.
Often I find myself praying, “Oh, Lord, I want Your best in this situation.” With our finite minds, we cannot fully grasp the infinity of His understanding (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
We can ask Him how to pray; we can ask Him for wisdom in praying. James 1:5 reminds us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
In the last several years, as I have asked God how to pray in difficult situations, He has frequently give me only a word or two to declare. I am currently declaring “restoration” over our nation. While I am aware of many areas where restoration is needed, only God knows the depth and breadth of what is taking place. As I declare “restoration,” my spirit joins with the Holy Spirit in declaring restoration in all areas where we have departed from the truth.
As my family has increased generationally (I am now a great grandmother), I have asked God how to pray effectively for our many needs—financially, physically, emotionally, and especially spiritually. God has given me a vision of holding all my loved ones in my arms and presenting them to my heavenly Father. As I pray for them, I no longer always feel the necessity of using words. I hold out my arms as though I am embracing my entire clan. Then the peace and comfort of God flows through me in power. God loves each one of them more than I do. He desires the best for each one of them more than I do. He longs for the salvation of each one more than I do.
In allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers, we will be praying into the solution and not into the problem. As we then lay our petitions before His throne, we are learning to declare and to proclaim. We are also learning discernment. The answers to our prayers will rarely look like what we have envisioned. The answers will be greater—more than we can think or imagine.
When we pray in the righteousness of Christ with fervency for all things that are good, when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into praying the will of God, our prayers will accomplish much.