“…the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”.James 5:16 NKJV
By quality, I mean effectiveness. The quality of prayer is determined by its ability to bring about an effect. Before I go ahead, I would like you to note that a prayer of good quality is not determined by your eloquence in the place of prayer, neither is it determined by your ability to construct words into a well-linked sentence. God is able to understand everyone at their level of expression. Nevertheless, there are a few things that influence the quality of our prayers.
No one likes to be around an entitled person, not even God. Scripture makes us understand that he resists the proud (Jam. 4:6). Effective prayers come from a place of humility, acknowledging God and putting away self. For perspective, we can turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14). The Pharisee rendered a prayer full of boastful pride while the tax collector prayed to God in complete humility. Jesus acknowledged that the tax collector who had prayed in humility had rendered a prayer of better quality, of greater effect. Quality prayer is made in humility.
Faith defines the quality of your prayer. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that if we are to come to God (in prayer) we must believe in His existence and that He rewards those who seek Him in earnest. Seeking God earnestly is impossible without faith in Him. Again, James 5:15 makes us understand that prayer can restore the health of one that is sick, however, the prayer must be offered in faith. Jesus tells us that even if we desire something as huge as a mountain being moved into the sea, we can see the result of this when we offer prayers in faith (Matt. 21:21-22). You could spend hours and maybe even days on a particular prayer point but without faith, that prayer is deficient in quality.
Many times we make the error of rendering general prayers, but specificity is important in the place of prayer. God says in His word to ask and it shall be given. In asking God, we get specific with the particular thing we want and that is exactly what God wants. When Jesus was on earth in flesh, He passed through a place where a particular blind man was. This blind man got wind of the information that Jesus was passing through that area and began shouting “have mercy on me thou Son of David”. When Jesus got to where he was, He asked the blind man “what do you want me to do for you”. Of course, Jesus knew what the blind man not only wanted but needed. Nevertheless, He asked him what he wanted specifically (Luke 18: 35-43). God knows all our needs and Jesus acknowledges this already (Matt. 6:32) but He still desires that we ask that it may be given to us (Matt. 7:7). Quality prayer is specific. Along with having faith and persistence, God wants us to be specific.
Most importantly, our anchor scripture gives us the last key to saying quality prayers. It says “the effective fervent prayer of the righteous avails much” James 5:16. Essentially, what makes your prayer quality is not just about the prayer itself but the person saying that prayer. It is the righteous man who prays that has effective prayers. To be righteous is the be in right standing with God. Ordinarily, no one could get to this position by their own strength. It is Jesus that places us in right standing with God. In fact, 1 Cor. 1:30 makes us know that He Himself is our righteousness. Therefore, through Jesus, we can claim this identity of righteousness and say prayers that avail much.
Again, quality prayer is not about grammatical correctness or eloquence. It is first about the way we render the prayer (in faith and humility), then about the specificity of the prayer, and finally about our position in Christ. Only the person who has been declared to be in right standing with God through Jesus Christ is capable of making prayers that are powerful and effective. (Jam. 5:16 NIV)
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